The November Meeting 2019 – Saturday
Neil Morrice brings you a preview of the Gold Cup Handicap Chase as well as his other best bets from Cheltenham’s November Meeting.
The November Meeting: 14.25 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
A wave of heavy rain that resulted in the abandonment of Friday’s card has ensured unusually testing underfoot conditions for what is traditionally the first major race of the National Hunt season in Britain.
The Grade 3 Gold Cup Chase has nevertheless held up well, with a final field of 20 headed by SLATE HOUSE who Hollywoodbets make 5-1 favourite to follow-up his silky smooth triumph over the same course and distance three weeks ago.
On that occasion the 7yo proved himself well suited by deep going by storming to an 11 lengths defeat of Garo De Juilley. The assessor reacted by raising the gelding 12lbs but this former exciting novice hurdler could have plenty more to offer. His trainer Colin Tizzard has an embarrassment of riches in the chasing department and granted normal development Slate House could be set for inclusion in the premier division.
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES has always been the apple of trainer Dan Skelton’s eye and has also been the subject of a steady gamble in the ante post market. The 7yo never quite lived up to his star billing last season and bled from the nose when flopping over this trip in a valuable novice chase at the Aintree Grand National fixture. However, he ran a corker over these fences when third to Sirius DunLac and Janika and that form looks rock solid, with the latter recently landing the prestigious Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
SIRUH DU LAC has commanded a place high in the pecking order for today’s race and his magnificent four-timer that was completed at the Festival is strong form to take to post. However, on the evidence of the form book he might struggle to beat Spiritofthegames.
COUNT MERIBEL comes right into the picture for Nigel Twiston-Davies and was the grittiest of winners over this course and distance exactly a year ago. He loves to get his toe into the ground and did nothing wrong when outclassed by Lostintranslation on his seasonal reappearance in a conditions race at Carlisle. Furthermore he will almost certainly improve for that, and his overall profile is one that should carry him into the frame at the very least.
Following the incessant rainfall over the past couple of days Harry Whittington is leaving the option of a switch or Sunday’s Schloer Chase with SAINT CALVADOS open. Although the BetVictor was the trainer’s preferred option earlier in the week, he is now not averse to targeting the conditions chase as he’s concerned about his stable star carrying top weight in bottomless conditions.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls fields a couple of lively outsiders in BRELAN D’AS and MAGIC SAINT. Brelan D’As was already beaten when unseating his pilot last time and tackles this in favour of a race on yesterday’s abandoned card whilst Magic Saint has been beaten when favourite for two of his last three starts, whilst showing a definite preference for competing in smaller fields.
GUITAR PETE is another to bear in mind as he’s a classy individual with few miles on the clock who looked as good as ever when stylishly delivering on his comeback in a warm race at Wetherby. He gives his northern connections more than a sporting chance of earning and deserves respect.
1st Slate House
2nd Count Meribel
3rd Guitar Pete
5th Siruh Du Lac
Race 3: WHOLESTONE
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies – Jockey: Daryl Jacob
The excellent hurdling form of WHOLESTONE and liking for this course was always going to stand him in good stead when he went chasing and in two outings over fences he’s looked every bit as good. He delivered first time back at Perth and when beaten a neck by Mulcahys Hill at The Showcase meeting here last month did everything but win. He’s the class act in this, and should deliver.
Race 4: WEST APPROACH
Trainer: Colin Tizzard – Jockey: Robbie Power
In what could be a red letter day for this stable WEST APPROACH can gain an overdue victory. The 9yo skipped a valuable opportunity at Wincanton to wait for this and can better his pleasing first run back when second to The Conditional here last month. Well supported, he seemed to do everything right that day and after being headed was closing with the winner in the final strides, suggesting this longer trip will prove even more agreeable to him.
Race 8: URBAN ARTIST
Trainer: Hughie Morrison – Jockey: Nico De Boinville
Morrison must always be respected with his runners in bumpers at this course and URBAN ARTIST looks sure to go well. She landed some good bets when returning at Ludlow last month where she did well to repel the useful Bit On The Side, while her subsequent form on the home gallops indicates she has gone forward.
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