HORSE RACING fanatic Josh Abley (@Josh_Abley) shares his early thoughts on Saturday's action from Cheltenham.
12.40 Cheltenham | JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle | Saturday 26th January 2019 | ITV
The first race of the day is a Juvenile Hurdle over 2m and I fancy Nelson River (8/1 Bet365) to turn over the short favourite Adjali who went down a head to the top juvenile on ratings in Quel Destin. It is worth noting he is the one to beat but I have found a form line that ties Nelson River closer to him than his odds suggest and gives him a genuine chance to put his name down as a genuine Triumph Hurdle prospect tomorrow.
His course and distance win last time, with Fanfan Du Seuil in second can be upgraded in my opinion because he hit a flat spot coming down the hill and lost several lengths and looked beaten. He then stayed on eye-catchingly up the hill to out-stay his opposition.
That one length victory reads well considering Fanfan De Seuil previously beat Our Power at Exeter, who is shorter in the market than Nelson River.
Moreover, Aim Power’s form is equally as impressive. His six length defeat of Style De Vole looks top quality form when remembering Style De Vole won on his hurdle debut at Newcastle, and the second that day gave Quel Destin something to worry about at Doncaster next time out. This form line looks to give Nelson River a proper chance at a track he clearly thrives on.
What is also likely to play into Nelson River’s hands is the rail movements at Cheltenham increase the distance of the race by a half furlong. This will play into the hands of Nelson River who clearly has stamina in abundance and relishes a stiff finish, like he showed last time out.
What's more, Tony Carrol has his horses in good form with 10 of his last 24 horses running into a place. I’m quietly confident Nelson River has what it takes to turn into a Triumph Hurdle horse and I suspect Tony Caroll will be bullish about this horses chances tomorrow and in the Triumph Hurdle come March.
1.50 Cheltenham | Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap | Saturday 26th January 2019 | ITV
The next bet of the day is my biggest hope of a winner and it comes in the Grade 3 handicap chase over 2m4f.
Janika (4/1 Ladbrokes) is well thought off at Seven Barrows and this was shown by taking him straight to a competitive Ascot handicap over Christmas. He only found one too good that day and it is likely he will come on for the run quite significantly, given it was his first run since April. What is eye-catching to me is the horse that finished in front of Janika that day was Hell’s Kitchen.
Although frustrating for connections, he has shown glimpses of genuine ability and I have a feeling he comes good around Christmas. In 2017, he gave Mister Whitaker 12lb and beat him fair and square.
Mister Whitaker is now rated 152 which puts Hell’s Kitchen rating in the low 160’s that day. Although his form before his win at Ascot has been nowhere near that level, he bounced right back and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran to a similar mark in the early 160’s that day, and he was getting 2lb of Janika.
Therefore, I expect Daryl Jacob’s mount to make a mockery off a mark of 150 and he should take all the beating.
3.35 Cheltenham | Cleeve Hurdle | Saturday 26th January 2019 | ITV
The last bet of the day comes in the race of the day.
Although it is ridiculously competitive, I think Wholestone is overpriced (10/1 Ladbrokes) considering he never runs a bad race at Cheltenham and think he could go one better than his second in this last year. His Cheltenham record speaks for itself having never been out the first three and with SkyBet paying four places it looks a rock solid each-way bet.
There is also a realistic chance of Wholestone getting his head in front however. Last time out, although well beaten by Midnight Shadow in the end I feel he can reverse the form with the winner stepping up in trip for the first time.
I feel Old Guard and Wholestone got racing quite far out and Clyne also took Wholestone on before faltering early.
Nigel Twiston Davies was in eye-catchingly bad form when the last race was ran and as he in better form now, I think Wholestone can improve from his performance the last day and mount a serious challenge to the market leaders, who all have a little bit to prove to me.