Great Britain Preview Dec. 10, 2022: Spot Plays
The biggest concern about racing in Britain and Ireland this weekend is weather. Cold weather and resulting icy or frosty conditions have already caused two raceday cancellations, along with the Cheltenham cross-country event scheduled for Friday (the races on the normal circuits are still on). Inspections are also due at several other tracks.
However, if they go ahead, there’s some very good action scheduled on both sides of the Irish Sea, featuring some of the best jumpers in commission. Here are some spot plays, though keep an eye out to make sure these races are going ahead.
Doncaster, Race 3, 7:55 a.m. ET: December Novices’ Chase (G2), 3 miles, novice chasers
An even-looking eight-horse race, with the top six in the betting between 3-1 and 8-1 on local markets. A couple of these horses, #3 Gentleman At Arms and #6 Mahler Mission, were stakes-placed as novice hurdlers, but were very well beaten on their steeplechase debuts this season; whether they can turn that form around is a major poser for punters.
I’m going to support one of the few horses with proven form as steeplechasers. #4 Jet Plane may not have beaten much at Hereford Nov. 15, but he did beat them by 24 lengths, and that’s enough for me to support him. #8 Bellatrixsa is the most interesting of the others.
Doncaster, Race 4, 8:30 a.m. ET: Summit Juvenile Hurdle (Listed), 2 1/16 miles, juvenile hurdlers
Nine horses are set to face the starter here, and it’s hard to go past the Irish raider #5 Nusret. Trained by Joseph O’Brien, he made his hurdle debut at Punchestown Nov. 20 and easily beat 15 opponents, careering away for a six-length victory. He looks to have a lot of improvement in him.
The toughest opponent is clearly #2 Scriptwriter. Enough was thought of him that he took on an Epsom Derby trial, the Ballysax (G3) in April, finishing fifth; since turning to obstacles, he’s won both his hurdle races. He looks the most likely to trouble Nusret.
- $10 win: #5 Nusret
- $1 trifecta: 2, 5 with 2, 5 with all
Cheltenham, Race 4, 8:50 a.m. ET: December Gold Cup (Premier Handicap), 2 9/16 miles, steeplechasers
As the rich handicaps tend to do in Europe, this race has drawn a deep and even field, with 15 set to head to the start. A number of these ran in the Paddy Power Gold Cup here Nov. 12, and I’m going to support one of them in #9 Il Ridoto. A youngster at five years of age, he put up a great effort to finish fourth in that race, and he looks set to improve out of what was his first run this season.
The ones that may be the toughest to beat could be #3 War Lord, third to the well-performed Greaneteen at his last start, and the improving #15 Deyrann De Carjac. I’m also going to include #1 Stolen Silver and #8 Fantastic Lady in exotics.
- $10 win/$20 show: #9 Il Ridoto
- $1 trifecta: 3, 9 with 3, 9, 15 with 1, 3, 8, 9, 15
Cheltenham, Race 5, 9:25 a.m. ET: International Hurdle (G2), 2 1/8 miles, hurdlers
Only five go to the post for this Grade 2 hurdle, surprising for a £130,000 race. There are some good horses here, but it’s hard to see them beating the class mare #5 Epatante. In recent seasons, she’s had to play the bridesmaid role to horses like Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill, but with neither of them here she looks very hard to beat.
Epatante’s stablemate #2 First Street, Elite Hurdle (G2) winner #1 Knappers Hill, and Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (G3) victor #3 I Like To Move It can all get some of the minor money.
- $4 trifecta: 5 with 1, 2, 3 with 1, 2, 3
Cheltenham, Race 6, 10:00 a.m. ET: Novices’ Hurdle (G2), 3 miles, novice hurdlers
Six horses are entered for this novice stayers hurdle, and at least four look to be decent chances. The one to beat may be a gelding part-owned by Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench. #4 Outlaw Peter is in grand form, having finished second in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (G2) at Chepstow Oct. 7. He then won at Exeter Nov. 4 by 19 lengths; he looks the type to run well again over three miles.
#6 Weveallbeencaught was third in the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle (G2) here on Nov. 11, and should go well again, while #5 Thomas Mor — a 57-length winner Nov. 17 — and #2 Grand Soir are other exotics possibilities.
- $20 win: #4 Outlaw Peter
- $2 trifecta: 4, 6 with 2, 4, 5, 6 with 2, 4, 5, 6