Cheltenham Preview Evening 2014

The Weekend Sweep

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14:25 Newbury, bet365 Long Distance Hurdle (Grade 2) (Class 1)  (4YO plus) – 3m 110y
More Of That makes his seasonal debut tomorrow as he bids to maintain his unbeaten record. He was highly progressive last season and progressed from a class 3 handicap in November to the World Hurdle on the biggest stage of them all. He faces inferior rivals tomorrow and it is hard to see him getting turned over. He could prove to be the next National Hunt superstar.

Cole Harden is a progressive young hurdler and he looks the chief threat to More Of That. He returned this season with an excellent success from the front at Wetherby. I expect to see similar tactics adopted tomorrow as surely it is the logical way to try and stretch the favourite on his seasonal reappearance. Even adopting aggressive tactics may not be enough though and Cole Harden looks booked for 2nd place.

Medinas was 8 lengths behind Cole Harden at Wetherby and it is hard to see that form being turned around. He was also 2nd in this last season however he finished well adrift of Celestial Halo. Medinas looks to have it all to do tomorrow.

Lac Fontana is thrown in at the deep end once again. He ran a creditable 3rd behind Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen last week and now tackles the World Hurdle favourite! This will be his first try at 3 miles and he can only be watched tomorrow, although I am expecting another credible showing. 

Peckhamecho, Shotgun Paddy and American Spin look to be well out of their depth here however this is a nice starting point the last 2 as they gear up for their campaigns over fences.

VERDICT
An impressive victory will be expected of MORE OF THAT and he should have little trouble winning. Cole Harden is a hurdler to keep an eye on however and will try to find out the favourite should he be lacking in the fitness department.

14:05 Newcastle, stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1)  (4YO plus) – 2m
Irving is currently the market leader and he is still progressing over hurdles. He won 4 on the bounce last season before a tame display in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. His reappearance at Wincanton was most encouraging where he would have gone close to winning had he not fallen at the last. His jumping is far from perfect but he is well suited to flat tracks and his cruising speed is impressive. He is the one they all have to beat tomorrow.

Arctic Fire runs here for the all conquering Willie Mullins yard and he is greatly respected. He ran 2nd behind Lac Fontana at the Cheltenham Festival and reappeared this season with another 2nd, where he travelled like the winner but got tired late on. He will be a lot sharper tomorrow and ought to be competitive. It will be a tough ask to win but a bold showing is expected.

Aurore D’Estruval gets 7lb from the field being a 4 year old filly. She defeated her own sex with ease at Wetherby and she looks to have an exciting future. She impressed many judges with her turn of foot that day and a similar display entitles her to go very close tomorrow. She takes on the boys now but improvement is forthcoming and she could be the one to serve it up to Irving at the finish.

John Ferguson runs Sea Lord here instead of Purple Bay who won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. Sea Lord looks like he needs good ground to be seen at his best and it is unlikely he will get that tomorrow. He was a progressive novice last season before being found out against better opposition and has a lot to do tomorrow.

Swaledale Lad and Volcanic Jack are simply making up the numbers.

VERDICT
I expect Aurore D’Estruval to give IRVING a hard race tomorrow but Paul Nicholls’ runner looks a class act and conditions look perfect for him. Irish raider Arctic Fire can also run a big race.

In the Hennessy Gold Cup tomorrow I like the claims of FINGAL BAY and THE DRUIDS NEPHEW. You can see Jamie Taylor’s preview for a more in depth look at the race here

Horse Racing fan of both codes. Can be found in the Grandstand or queuing for the bar at most Cheltenham meetings. Love the festival and what it brings to my home town. Enjoy previewing races and hopefully finding some winners! Can be found on Twitter discussing racing and grumbling about Sunderland AFC. @RoyNicol.

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