Although Cheltenham draws ever closer we have plenty of good racing action to look forward to at the jumps meetings today with Newbury and Doncaster in particular having some competitive cards. The chases in particular look of interest with Newbury’s feature race looking made for a recent David Pipe recruit who has had to do his racing on unfavourable soft ground until now. No Deal was a winner in the previous column on Monday (advised 9-4).
Newbury 2.15: Golden Chieftain
Not the easiest horse to predict, Golden Chieftain has paid for a runaway 10l win at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, leaving himself badly handicapped ever since. However he is back on a favourable mark now, 3lbs lower than for that great day at Cheltenham and more comfortable on a left-handed track he can take advantage today.
Slightly drier ground than he has been running on recently will help as well, whilst he handles all types of going, good-to-soft is definitely his favoured surface. He travelled well for a long way at Exeter last time before fading, however he has invariably struggled going right-handed in higher grade races and he should find this track more to his liking.
Still a relative youngster at ten for a veterans race, he tends to run well at this time of the year, having won in March every season between 2011 and 2013 and his best run last year came when fifth at the Aintree Grand National meeting. 13lbs lower today, this contest offers him a fine opportunity of recovering his form with conditions in his favour.
Doncaster 2.35: A Doll in Milan
A mare who looks to be crying out for 3m, A Doll In Milan gets a first opportunity under rules to race at the distance at Doncaster today.
Second in her only point in Ireland at the trip last spring, she only started over hurdles with Nigel Twiston Davies as recently as November when winning a mares only novice over 2m by 11l. Very impressive on the day, it was more the soft ground which brought out her stamina, rather than the short distance that meant she excelled. She was outpaced in a similar grade race to today at Newbury over 2m next time.
However stepped up to 2m4f for an ordinary mares novice at Wetherby next time, she was ridden very forcefully by James Reveley, making all the running at a decent pace to ensure her stamina was made use of – again she won by a wide margin. I am not quite sure what went wrong in the Welsh Champion Hurdle last time at Ffos Las – perhaps the bottomless ground was too much for her, but she was pulled up some way out. This race looks more her level – it is a listed mares only prize, but does not look strong for the grade and I fancy the further step up to 3m is just what she needs, so provided she copes with the drier ground she could take a lot of passing once more.
Newbury 3.25: Easter Meteor
Transferred from Emma Lavelle to David Pipe in the summer, the move has yet to have the desired effect as Easter Meteor has yet to earn any meaningful prize money in three attempts for the new yard. However kept fresh for an assault on the Paddy Power at Cheltenham, it meant he missed out on running on his favoured good ground in the autumn, so we probably have not had the chance to see him at his best as yet.
Unfortunately the ground was very soft on Paddy Power day so it was no surprise to see him pulled up in that race. He did run a little better on good-to-soft at the next meeting at Cheltenham, racing in second until tiring up the hill over 2m5f, but the ground again was too slow for him at the same track last month.
He is better judged on a second place on similar ground to today over course and distance last season (from a 3lb higher mark) and he would have gone close but for falling two out in the Paddy Power itself last season when it was run on good ground. All his best form has come on a sound surface and the going looked to be drying out nicely on the chase course on yesterday’s card. If first time cheekpieces have a galvanising effect he could be nicely weighted at a venue where he has been placed on all three previous starts.
Doncaster 3.45: Streams of Whiskey
Tom Scudamore takes a rare mount for Nicky Richards in the days feature, the Grimthorpe Chase on Streams of Whiskey and the 8yo can continue the resurgence of the Cumbrian based yard this season.
His record over fences is rather patchy – two wins from seven starts but also four non completions including two falls. However those falls were novicey ones earlier in his career and he is normally a sound enough leaper, especially on his favoured good ground. That was the case when causing an 18/1 shock in a similarly competitive race at Haydock last spring, leaving his winter form well behind.
He made a disappointing reappearance on softish ground at Ayr back in October, but showed he retains his ability when a good second over hurdles a month later here. Kept fresh for a spring campaign on drier ground, he remains feasibly treated off 130 and this 3m2f trip should be ideal for him.
Newbury 2.15: Golden Chieftain (each-way) – 14-1 Bet365, Ladbrokes
Doncaster 2.35: A Doll in Milan – 3-1 general
Newbury 3.25: Easter Meteor (each-way) – 11-1 general
Doncaster 3.45: Streams of Whiskey (each-way) – 8-1 general
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