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Before we get onto the racing, a hat tip to Mike Henderson who has been in sensational form all week at the World Grand Prix Darts and is 8/9 in the individual matches heading into tonight’s final (none shorter than 8/11) plus he advised Michael van Gerwen at 21/10 at the beginning who is a best priced 1/5 to beat Robert Thornton. His thoughts on the final are now in Guest Controubitions where he has an 11/10 fancy. Ross Miles’s NFL Week 5 preview is now in Guest Contributions bidding for third cracking week on the spin. In the Presidents Cup golf, Danny Lee is out of contention to be Top International but if Jordan Spieth wins his singles game then he will be Top USA player which was advised at 9/2.
Can you name the only trainer to have had a winner at each of the last four Cheltenham Festivals outside of the powerhouse stables of Mullins, Nicholls and Henderson? Well, Chepstow stage a proper two-day meeting which signals the start of the domestic jumps season in my eyes and I fancy Rebecca Curtis to have a good couple of days. I mentioned in my blog two weeks ago that they are around three weeks further forward than usual and three winners from nine runners since the stable returned to competitive action following the summer bodes well. That included a successful 14/1 shot and her Cheltenham Festival winner, Irish Cavalier, impressed winning a graduation chase at Newton Abbot yesterday over 2m5f. He has to be Hennessy short list material if that is the plan as first and foremost he is a stayer and has been doing very well to win over that kind of trip.
Racing Pulse is particularly interesting having moved from John Quinn and he has been schooling with Irish Cavalier and very much taking the eye. He faces plenty of classy hurdlers in the novice chase at 3.20 including Blaklion who won the Persian War here last season but he had so much talent before he picked up an injury that kept him off the track last season that he could still go to the top. Other Curtis runners on Saturday are Carningli in the Silver Trophy (4.20) and The Romford Pele, Audacious Plan and Doing Fine in the staying handicap chase (5.05). I advised the latter at 33/1 for the NH Chase last spring and he ran well for a long way leading to the home bend and given how many of my Cheltenham ante-post bets last season have won since at big prices, I might have to chance him each-way at 16/1.
Beast Of Burden is the stable’s big hope on Sunday in the staying novice chase (2.45) though the unbeaten Definite Outcome is also a big player in the Persian War (4.30). Tara Road (3.55) and Master Ally (6.00) complete a nine-strong team for Curtis over the two-day meeting who has clearly targeted this fixture since it was announced there would be a significant prize injection.
I am afraid that the Cesarewitch has rather passed me by. However, as my token each-way selection hit the frame at 20/1 in the Cambridgeshire hit the frame I’ll try it again and nominate the David O’Meara-trained Big Thunder as a bit of each-way value who is as big as 50/1 with a couple of firms (Sky Bet and Betway) who are paying out down to fifth. You have to forgive his last run but he had previously looked all stamina when with Sir Mark Prescott and won a good handicap at York two starts back.
The weekend race previews don't officially kick in officially until November 12th for Cheltenham but I'll continue to give a brief overview of Saturday's racing in the weeks before then as above and I will be covering all races on the Champions Day card in Race Previews next Friday.