Time for Clock to Strike

Steve Hughes looks ahead to the best of the action from day two at Cheltenham

All the best action comes early at Cheltenham. On last year’s card Nigel Twiston-Davies had a big race double through Cogry and Foxtail Hill and I fancy both to repeat the feat in 2018. However the best bet of the day could come in the Pertemps Qualifier.

Cheltenham 2.00: Braqueur D’Or & Cogry

A cracking contest to open the card, worthy of taking two against the field.

Braqueur D’Or looked very promising in the first half of last season, winning easily on chasing debut at Ludlow. He then went on to finish a strong fourth in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (formerly the Hennessy). The finish to the season was not so strong, but the 7yo has been another recipient of the Paul Nicholls wind op during the summer (Copain de Classe and Grand Sancy being two that have won first time out after their operations. A fast ground specialist, he will enjoy the conditions at Cheltenham and has little weight to carry.

Cogry has been a standing dish in these staying handicaps for a few years now. However there is evidence he is most at home on good going and was a decisive winner of this contest last year in similar conditions. He didn’t really get his ground again until the Scottish National, by which time he might have been over the top. Nevertheless he battled into second in the Classic Chase at Warwick. Sam Twiston-Davies is back on board for the first time since riding him to win here last year and his overall record on the gelding over jumps reads 11812121.

Cheltenham 2.35: Redicean

The class act of the field – he was a decent tool on the flat as well, Redicean can successfully give weight all round here.

His effort in the Triumph Hurdle was perhaps a little underwhelming when only sixth, but he was still second best of the English runners and he had won all his three previous starts over hurdles at Kempton, showing a fine mix of speed and stamina in the process.

There is no obvious reason why he can’t act around Cheltenham and fast ground should be fine for the 4yo. He simply might be too pacy for his rivals here.

Cheltenham 3.10: Foxtail Hill

A brave winner from the front here last year, Foxtail Hill might be able to do so again in this smaller field.

He jumped superbly from the front that day on the fast ground, outbattling future Festival winner Le Prezien in the process. Whether that effort took its toll, he was not the same horse later in the season, though he did often run over longer trips and/or on softer going.

However his mark has plummeted to 138 now, 2lbs below that winning rating last year. He goes well fresh having won on his first completed outing for the past two seasons and only Bigmartre looks likely to provide competition for the early lead.

Cheltenham 3.45: Theclockisticking

I fancied Theclockisticking for the Silver Trophy at Chepstow two weeks ago, but Stuart Edmunds’ gelding got going too late on that occasion, so I am hoping compensation awaits over this longer distance.

Having looked likely to be well beaten, the 6yo rallied in the final 2f to finish just outside the frame. Previously he had flown from the rear of the field to be second in a listed hurdle at Market Rasen over just 2m1f. All the evidence suggests he needs a stiffer test of stamina.

Certainly this track suits as he ran a cracker here at the April meeting to chase home the classy Diese des Bieffes. He is also ultra consistent when faced with good ground and perhaps the morning rain that fell at Chepstow last time did not help him. He will have a big edge in fitness over a few of these.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Braqueur D’Or – Cheltenham 2.00 – 8/1 Bet365

0.75pts each-way – Cogry – Cheltenham 2.00 – 10/1 general

1.5pts win – Redicean – Cheltenham 2.35 – 2/1 William Hill, BetVictor

1pt win – Foxtail Hill – Cheltenham 3.10 – 7/2 general

1pt each-way – Theclockisticking – Cheltenham 3.45 – 6/1 Bet365, William Hill

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