12.45 CHELTENHAM CLUB CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE (CHALLENGER STAYERS’ HURDLE SERIES QUALIFIER) (Class 3) (3yo+ 0-125) Winner £9,747 20 runners 2m5f Soft RTV
This race will take plenty of getting in the ground and one of the most interesting runners in this race is MC ALPINE trained by Philip Rothwell. This horse should not be inconvenienced by the ground after finishing a very good second to Silver Sheen in Wexford on heavy ground last time out. He gets in here off a very light weight of 10-10 and that could be a deciding factor. He is very lightly raced and I can see more improvement to come over hurdles. He makes his handicap debut here and he looks solid each way value in a competitive race.
1.15 GLENFARCLAS CROSS COUNTRY HANDICAP CHASE (Class 2) (5yo+) Winner £15,640 10 runners 3m6f37y Soft ITV4
This race is a sight for many neutrals as it is over the Cross Country course and many horses here have already adapted well to this discipline. CHIC NAME is a horse who if he takes to the fences could be decent value. He won a very competitive handicap at Newbury last season off 125 and is only 4lb higher here. He finished a very respectable eight in the Scottish Grand National and that form should see him very competitive here. He had a nice pipe opener for this over hurdles at Chepstow recently and that should leave him spot on.
1.50 RACING POST #RESPONSIBLEGAMBLING ARKLE TROPHY TRIAL NOVICES’ CHASE (GRADE 2) (Class 1) (4yo+) Winner £19,933 4 runners 1m7f199y Soft ITV4
Small but select field and AL DANCER looks very hard to oppose on the basis of his win first time out over the larger obstacles when he defeated Not That Fuisse by four lengths over the course and distance. He jumped like a buck that day and he carries a penalty for that win. His jumping will be put under extreme scrutiny here in the ground but he is one that Nigel Twiston Davies thinks plenty of and he could be a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season. His hurdling form was very strong and no doubt should he be successful here his price will shorten considerably for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.
2.25 SHLOER CHASE (REGISTERED AS THE CHELTENHAM CHASE) (GRADE 2) (Class 1) (4yo+) Winner £42,203 4 runners 1m7f199y Soft ITV4
Another small but select field and the Paul Nicholls trained POLITOLOGUE could be the one to side with here. This is his first run since wind surgery and he could be a total different proposition here following that. He finished second to Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last March and that was an excellent run in conditions that were slightly better than what he would have liked. His only run on heavy ground was at Exeter back in 2016 where he won by 59 lengths. He will enjoy the ground here and even with the extra weight here, he will be very hard to beat.
3.00 GREATWOOD HANDICAP HURDLE (GRADE 3) (Class 1) (4yo+) Winner £56,270 15 runners 2m87y Soft ITV4
One of the most competitive races of the weekend and the Nicky Henderson trained DAME DE COMPAGNIE may be best caught fresh after a 577 day absence. She hasn’t been seen since April 2018 where she defeated Just Janice in a listed race but Nicky Henderson always had a high opinion of her and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a big run here. Her French form was very strong and she arrived in the UK with a big reputation. She was favourite for the Supreme Novice Trial and subsequently trailed in at the back of the field. No doubt she has been hard to train but if the ability remains she is one to pay close attention to. Her opening mark of 132 looks very lenient and she looks a solid each way play.
3.30 SUPREME TRIAL NOVICES’ HURDLE (REGISTERED AS THE SHARP NOVICES’ HURDLE) (GRADE 2) (Class 1) (4yo+) Winner £18,224 5 runners 2m87y Soft ITV4
This race again like many of the Graded races on the card is a small but select field and the David Pipe trained EDEN DU HOUX really catches the eye here. Even though he was beaten on his hurdling debut I think that the ground here could really be beneficial to this French bred. He was unbeaten in his first three runs and was very impressive in a bumper victory at Ascot in December 2018. David Pipe has said in many stable tours that this horse is one that he is looking forward to over obstacles and this is the race that he will hopefully be able to prove him right. Big run expected here.
4.00 HIGH SHERIFF OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND RACING REMEMBER STANDARD OPEN NATIONAL HUNT FLAT RACE (LISTED) (Class 1) (4-6yo) Winner £12,529 9 runners 2m87y Soft RTV
It could be a quick double for the David Pipe team as ISRAEL CHAMP takes his chance here and it is worth notice that he arrived in the UK with a very big reputation from the point to point field. He was very impressive at Monkstown where he won by 12 lengths. He made his debut at Worcester where he set his own pace and to be honest it really didn’t suit. He should be able to slot in here and come with a late run from off the pace. He will likely improve for that run and it looks interesting that the stable have applied a tongue tie for the first time. Solid each way play here.