Cheltenham November Meeting Review

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The sport of national hunt racing hit top gear at the weekend with Prestbury Park hosting Cheltenham’s November meeting featuring a plethora of horses who are likely to back on the hallowed turf next March for the 2018 Festival.

The three-day meeting got underway on Friday with the two most significant performances coming in the novice department courtesy of Finian’s Oscar in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase and On The Blind Side in the concluding Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The former’s jumping was a bit sloppy at times and the mount of Bryan Cooper looked in trouble after jumping the last at which point Barry Geraghty and Betfair Hurdle runner-up Movewiththetimes took up the running with a prodigious leap. Colin Tizzard’s charge however had plenty more to offer despite conceding 8lb to the Paul Nicholls runner, earning top quotes of 12-1 ( Ladbrokes ) for the Arkle and 7-1 ( William Hill ) for the longer JLT following his two and a quarter length victory.

 

On The Blind Side took a long time to settle the issue in the day’s finale after looking beat jumping the second-last and the race for him at the festival is surely the stamina-sapping Albert Bartlett. The 20-1 available with Ladbrokes and Boylesports for that race could prove a big price in less than four months time.

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The opening race on Saturday looked a match between the Philip Hobbs-trained Gumball, so impressive in two novice hurdle victories, and French import Apple’s Shakira. After tracking her market rival for most of the race the sister to the high-class Apple’s Jade stormed up the Cheltenham hill earning a top quote of 5-1 with Boylesports for the Triumph Hurdle.

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Paul Nicholls’ improving Black Corton can be backed at a general 25-1 for the RSA after beating his two opponents in the extended 3m novice chase while handicap hurdle winner Thomas Campbell entered the Stayers’ Hurdle market at a best price 20-1 with Unibet.

On Sunday 2017 Champion Chase runner-up Fox Norton advertised his claims to go one better in 2018 with an easy victory in the Shloer Chase and should the indisposed Altior fail to make the festival the 10-1 offered by William Hill about the seven-year-old would look massive.

North Hill Harvey made it two from two over fences in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial and the 16-1 offered by bet365 for the final looks fair enough at this early stage. Greatwood Hurdle winner Elgin is likely to be back at Prestbury Park in March with possibly the County Hurdle the most likely target.

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