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Preview - 17 Apr 2008

2:55 Cheltenham MESSIER-DOWTY LANDING GEAR NOVICES' LIMITED HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 3) (5yo+,0-135) Winner Ł9.7K 2m 5F Good ground

1. Forest Green – Nichols enjoyed a good first day of this April meeting at Cheltenham and will be looking to continue suit today with his first string in this handicap being further down the weights thanks to the inclusion of forest green. The ground here today is likely to still be on the fast side of good with the time of year and the drainage system at the home of jump racing. Never seemed to be travelling at all after a break last time at Aintree and there has to be some concerns with that piece of form, however this is a much easier task set by the champion trainer for his horse and he may well have come on for that run. Not to terribly handicapped on the form he showed last summer to hold claims in this he just about gets the trip well enough to be a contender and loves this sort of surface, the claimer helps out at the weights and he shouldn’t be discounted lightly just yet.

My Rating – 145

2. Gold Medallist – Ran a cracker when chasing home Tidal Bay over this course and distance on come back run and often class horses are best caught when first returning from a long absence. Form since has been a bit patchy at the lower level as he looks to rediscover the form that had him strongly fancied for the royal sun alliance hurdle back in 2005. Hurdles seemed to suit him better on his achievements under that code, but he has had setbacks since and isn’t as good as he once was. Recent form suggests this with his effort in the Jewson Handicap at the festival not amounting to much of one and his best form being the small chase race he contested at Exeter where he was more then expected to land that race. Needs to find his form again as he looks handicapped to go well if returning to his hurdle form. This will be his 10th run under national hunt rules but he is quite exposed overall and there seems to be little improvement. Acts superbly well under the conditions, he may be seen to better effect when stepping up in trip on a flatter track.

My Rating – 139

3. Sir Bathwick – Has form tied in with Gold Medallist on Exeter running and if it wasn’t for the poor effort last time at Fontwell where he never really went a yard he could be quite well fancied in this handicap. Taking the form of the Exeter run where the ground did have some cut in it he has a chance to turn the tables on his victor, however he doesn’t look ideally handicapped and is quite exposed under the conditions so if Gold Medallist returns to his best form then he may well struggle to reverse the form. Suited to the better ground today and stay’s this trip well, he has yet to tackle a track as stiff as this but his sire Oscar offspring’s have often relished the Cheltenham hill.

My rating – 140

4. Warpath – winner the other week in a small Novice chase at the track and returns to handicap company today needing to improve on that run to have a chance of this mark today. The ground is very much in his favour having ran so well on it in the past and the Newbury run back in December can be discounted, as he didn’t handle the conditions underfoot. Not overly burdened with racing for a 7yo he has got something to find with the most of these but is one that stays this trip to good effect when given the correct conditions underfoot. The stiff track isn’t likely to be ideal and there will no doubt be lesser races to be won when dropped a few pounds in the weights.

My Rating – 131

5. Ocean Du Moulin – The second runner for Paul Nichols in this handicap and the apparent first string looking at the jockey booking of Sam Thomas for this ride. Lightly raced so far he makes his debut over fences today having shown some ability over hurdles in his limited runs. Marks down as one of the more interesting runners in this race he is open to all sorts of improvement with ground perfect for him. Was running a nice race when falling at the last at Kempton in a decent novice hurdle earlier in the season and looked booked for 2nd, that form may have been his best piece of form despite failing to complete and the trip today should suit. Open to all kind of improvement for a yard that aims the majority of their runners as future chasers he is well respected in this handicap.

My Rating – 144

6. Sprosser – Better of at the weights with Gold Medallist for whom he beat at Southwell back in January and was given a tough task last time out against seasoned chasers at Wetherby where his jumping would have been well tested. Stood up to that task well despite the ground being on the lively side and is interesting now dropped back in trip which has to be a concern with what he achieved over hurdles. The stiff is another uncertainty to the make up of this horse and even though he is potentially very well handicapped for a lightly raced horse he may want a return to further. The ground should be ok for him despite needing a bit of cut in the turf. Overall there will be better chances for this horse in similar company and today may just be against him a bit in the make up of the race.

My Rating – 139

7. Sarin – Form when beating Beat the boys was franked yesterday at this meeting and Venetia Williams continues her good form of recent weeks with her chasers and Sarin has to be respected from a shrewd stable at the moment. A desperate error last time put paid to his chances and maybe best discounted as a piece of form to use and often is seen having a couple of months in between his races. Now 10yo and not overburdened with racing he comes into this race needing to improve on that run at Exeter where he had to dig deep and even though the form has worked out, he needs prove that at 10yo he is going the right way. Could have further improvement being by Deploy and racing on better ground now, he stays this trip very well and well benefit from the stiffer test.

My Rating – 142

8. Mister Potter – Yet to show the form he achieved over hurdles in seven starts over fences, but is potentially well handicapped if it was to all click in to place. Not heavily exposed for an 8yo having only raced 13 times on the racecourse and could well improve further as he starts to get to grip with the fences. Warren Marston keeps the ride having given him his best spin over fences to date at Newbury last time and that represents solid form against his rivals today. The ground however has to a major concern with all form on a softer surface than he will be encountering today and looking at breeding and his action it isn’t likely to suit. The stiff track however is ideal

My Rating – 139

9. Nation State – Placed in the first ever Fred Winter handicap here back in 2005 and that has to be the most strong piece of form achieved by most in this handicap today and if he could transfer his best hurdles form to fences he would have a sold chance in this handicap today. Exposed up to the hilt he could be well handicapped if ever getting to grips with the chasing game, but the 7yo continues to disappoint over fences and clearly doesn’t stay this far. Trainer looks at a lost end with the horse and despite the improving ground enhancing his chances, he needs to be dropped back in trip in a race such as this to maybe start winning again, the course is ideal and could well run a place today providing it isn’t ran at a strong clip.

My Rating – 143

10. Commemoration Day – Nigel Twiston-Davies has enjoyed a great season so far and his horses usually come into them selves around this time of year so all his runners must be well respected. Limited runs over the winter for this horse ready for another summer campaign he is ideally placed over this trip today that has shown him in good light recently and on the best of his form he is regarded as well handicapped in this today. The run is a novice chase two runs back was a good effort proving that the horse in relation to the others in this race is fairly in good health with himself and with conditions underfoot of similar standards to that day he has the conditions to run well under. Certainly one to keep a eye on when on a less stiff galloping track and maybe taking on more exposed rivals as he is the most heavily raced horse in the field and unlikely to find anymore improvement as he slips back down the weights.

My Rating – 141

11. Dune Raider – the vet hasn’t enjoyed the season he had 12 months ago what was highlighted by his win in the Coral cup at the festival. His runner here has been quite consistent over fences so far with a win at Leicester over today’s trip the pick of his form so far this season where the quick ground underfoot really brought improvement out of him. Well Suited to the conditions underfoot today his lack lustered performances in his last two runs may have been down to the give underfoot which doesn’t suit him and the return to these conditions today should see a much improved performance from the horse providing he handles this stiff jumping track. Only 7yo there is time for more wins from this horse, as long as he is kept sound. Looks handicapped to go well at the time of year that often brings out the best in the horse.

My Rating – 139

12. Billesey – another quite lightly raced novice in this event for a 10yo and is open to improvement in what is a pretty poor looking class 3 handicaps here today. Didn’t beat much when putting up his best effort over fences at Huntingdon and needs to find improvement on that running, he is well weighted today receiving weight all-round. Best form has come on a soft surface and over shorter trips this step up in trip on better ground isn’t certain to help his chances today. Remains as interesting for when the ground comes up soft, but isn’t likely to improve on that Huntingdon effort today.

My Rating – 136

My Tissue – Forest Green 5/1, Ocean Du Moulin 6/1, Nation State 8/1, Sarin 9/1, Commemoration Day 10/1, Sir Bathwick 12/1, Gold Medallist, Mister Potter, Sprosser, Billesy 16/1, Dune Raider 20/1, Warpath 25/1.

Verdict – An open handicap and one of the more trappy kinds you will find through out the course of the season. Paul Nichols is very much likely to have the winner of this handicap as he seeks a hatrick and both his runners in this race have solid looking chances at the weights, His newcomer to fences is the most interesting on the pair and could be anything, but this track takes some jumping and it might be wise to stick to a horse that is a proven jumper. Forest Green can be forgiven his comeback run and is sure to have skinned fitter for that run, the price of 10-1 generally available looks fairly decent value, in against him maybe Nation State can be given another chance to run a big race here today with the ground ideal and the fair efforts he has recorded in the past. Providing his stamina lasts home he has a fair chance in a poor race from this current mark.

Selection Forest Green 1 pt win @ 9-1(BF’S9’S) & Nation State 1 pt win @ 9-1 (BF’s9’s)

Best of luck all

Well Chief