Our racing ambassador Nick Scholfield discusses his weekend rides at Cheltenham and Fontwell
I’m off to Cheltenham on Saturday for a day where all owners and trainers will be dreaming they have a horse capable of returning there in March for the Festival. Although Saturday will be a good indicator on whether their runners could be good enough, it is important to remember that conditions this weekend will more than likely be very different to those they would face come Festival time. I go there for two for Emma Lavelle, with both horses holding solid chances.
In the 13.15 Novice Chase I ride FULL IRISH for the first time. He was very good at Lingfield when landing a handicap by seven lengths off top weight before disappointing somewhat at Haydock on ground he didn’t get home on. We should get better ground on Saturday which should help and he has a nice racing weight too. If you put a line through his Haydock run, his Lingfield effort puts him bang there. Of his rivals, I was impressed by Ballyandy’s run in a much hotter race then this and he’s the obvious starting point when looking for the winner but I’m hopeful my chap can run a big race.
My second ride is on DE RASHER COUNTER in the 15.00 Novices’ Hurdle. It looks one of the hottest races of its nature so far this season with a number of exciting prospects. The handicapper has Mulcahys Hill rated 147 which means it should take a smart one to win it and although bookies make mine a relative outsider, he’s a really straight forward type who should relish the challenge Cheltenham provides. He won well off top weight at Fontwell earlier this month and although on figures he has a bit to find I’m confident there is still more to come from him. He has a bit more experience than some of the market principles which could be useful too. One thing’s for sure, he will make a smashing chaser in time and is one to look forward to over fences.
On Sunday I’m (hopefully) off to Fontwell if it passes Saturday morning’s 9am inspection. First up I ride REDMOND for trainer Jack Barber in the 15.30. He ran well to finish second on his first start for Jack at Southwell when he didn’t get the 3m1f trip so Sunday’s drop back to 2m5f should suit. The ground is likely to be a bit softer than he would like but he should have come on for that Southwell run and it doesn’t look the strongest of races.
In the last race of the card I’m on GARRANE for Jeremy Scott. He ran well enough last time out in Warwick in a higher grade race although I do think the handicapper has been harsh enough with his opening mark based on what he showed on his first three runs. That said, it should still be one he is capable of winning races off and Sunday looks a good opportunity to do just that.
That’s it from me for this week, hope you all enjoy the racing and find a winner or two.