Warwick appeared optimistic of passing Tuesday’s 2pm inspection ahead of today’s feature card which is headlined by a fascinating listed Mares’ Chase. Five go to post and four hold realistic chances although the hope is that a good run from outsider Destinee Royale will not impact on what I believe is a favourable handicap mark.
Of more interest from a betting perspective is the Novices’ Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles. There are races to be won with winning pointer Do It For Thy Sen but his jumping needs brushing up and he was beaten before stamina became an issue over 3m last time.
Quick Pick (1.30) has run two very good races over fences this term and this winning pointer can take the drop back to this trip in his stride having led four out when third at Wetherby last time in a first-time visor. Lily Pinchin keeps the ride and this winner between the flags has been dropped a couple of pounds in the weights. The ew recommendation is 11/2 with William Hill who are betting five places.
In the 3m 1f+ handicap chase Alberto’s Dream showed a bit more at Plumpton last time and the veteran returns to the scene of his latest win over 3m 5f from a 12lbs higher mark albeit nearly years ago. At 20/1 he might be a shade overpriced and might be worth a saver each way although I appreciate Katy Price’s 12-y-old is a bit of a cliff horse for me and the stable have not had a winner for over three months.
The 3m handicap chase won by Another Emotion (2.35) at Wetherby last month might be the key with the selection 6lbs worse off with the third horse home Ecossais who was 9L back but did race on the inside of the track throughout which might not have been the place to be. The grey – 7/2 with Boylesports – jumped well and readily saw off the well backed favourite Commit Or Quit from two out. This step up in trip should suit the 9-y-old whose upturn in form has coincided with the application of blinkers although he does have the steadier of 12st 1lb.
My one concern is the stable form with Warren Greatrex’s representatives failing to fire in the last fortnight.
The Hunter Chase is a cracker and The Worlds End bids to win his first race since landing the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle in December 2019. He was only beaten 20L in the same Ascot race on his first start for Olly Murphy last time, but his astute connections must have decided that their best chance of Cheltenham glory lies in this field. If back to his best he could turn the race into a procession, but I always felt he preferred better ground – despite that Long Walk success – and I will look for an each way alternative.
Highway Jewel thrashed former Festival winner Hazel Hill – winner since – in a point back in December and she is a fascinating contender on her debut under Rules. The mare has now won her last five between the flags, but this is a huge step up in class.
Vinnie Lewis (4.10) was a chaser I had a lot of time for when trained by Harry Whittington but showed he was no back number when winning a point by 25L on his first start for Chris Bealby. The softer the ground the better for this 10-year-old who gets the ew vote at 9s with BetVictor.
At Lingfield this afternoon Cinzento (1.45) drops back in trip having looked a non-stayer when fading into third at Kempton over 2m last week. Regular pilot Jack Mitchell returns to the plate back at 1m 5f and the hope is that he gets a decent lead today as he had to make his own running last week. Double Legend made most when scoring here last week and the hope is that Roger Ingram’s 6-y-old helps to force a decent gallop. The selection is 7/2 with 10bet.
Almodovar (5.25) has had two runs since coming back from a 900-day absence but showed enough over C&D on his penultimate start to suggest he could take a hand in the fast-track qualifier at Kempton this evening.
His last win came here over an additional three furlongs and a flat right-handed track clearly suits him very well. He is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time this evening and could get a soft time of things on the lead. He gets the each way vote at 8s with 10bet.