Steve Hughes has recommendations for the second day of the Cheltenham November meeting.
Not always great quantity at Cheltenham on Sunday, but it is top quality action all the way. I have selections for all three handicaps on the card. We hit the bullseye with Golan Fortune on Saturday (advised 33/1) and Thyme Hill (advised 13/8).
Cheltenham 12.45: Duc de Beauchene
This race has been farmed by both trainer David Pipe and owner JP McManus over the past decade (though not in partnership) but in Duc de Beauchene they have the obvious candidate for this opening contest.
The 6yo earned a modest handicap mark after being campaigned in 2m novice events, though he showed definite promise. Sure enough on his first try at 2m4f and in his first go in handicaps, the gelding duly got off the mark at Plumpton in February. He ran well when second next time at Sandown, but might have been over the top when disappointing at Punchestown.
Since then he has had a wind operation and a mark of 119 looks very tempting indeed. Jockey Jonjo O’Neill won this race last year and looks a significant booking for the 6yo – he landed his first Festival victory when scoring under one of JP’s in the conditional jockeys race at the big meeting.
Cheltenham 1.15: Kingswell Theatre
A convincing winner of this race in 2017, Kingswell Theatre has not had a great deal of racing since due to injury. However after a more than satisfactory reappearance hopes must be high for a repeat win from just a 1lb higher mark.
Not too many horses aim to go blasting off in front around the cross country track, but Tom Scudamore set a strong pace that day here and he saw it out well. He tried to do so again at the Festival in March, and kept going until five out before tiring. Given that was his first run for well over twelve months, he was entitled to need the run and that was at level weights, so he will find things easier getting weight from some chief rivals.
He has run two fine races since the Festival, placing a close second in the West Wales National before a fifth place in Sedgefield’s Durham equivalent last month. Again he had them all on the stretch until tiring late on, but he will be spot on for today as a result.
Cheltenham 3.00: Dame de Compagnie & Quoi de Neuf
The bookies are struggling to split them in this wide open Greatwood and I have two suggestions against the field.
It would be some training performance to get Dame de Compagnie to win on her first start for 577 days, but if anyone can it is Nicky Henderson. In fairness it is probably easier to win from such a layoff early in the season whilst most horses are yet to reach their peak. The mare showed plenty of good form as a novice and significantly looked brilliant on her British debut after a year off the track when bolting up at Uttoxeter. She finished the season off with a win over 2m4f at this track and I think she will be suited by a stiff 2m at a strong gallop. Jockey Barry Geraghty prefers her to useful stablemate Countister.
As an alternative Quoi de Neuf appeals. Also very lightly raced he had the stamina to win a 3m point in early 2018, but is not short of pace and ran well on his first try at 2m at Chepstow last month. He handles soft ground well and I am sure he will prove much better ultimately than his current rating of 129.
1pt win – Duc De Beauchene – 12.45 Cheltenham – 7/2 general
1pt each-way – Kingswell Theatre – 1.15 Cheltenham – 5/1 Bet365, William Hill
0.75pts each-way – Dame de Compagnie – 3.00 Cheltenham – 8/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
0.75pts each-way – Quoi de Neuf – 3.00 Cheltenham – 8/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 5)