The Mandarin’s Cheltenham Racecard for Saturday 29th January & Selections from Doncaster

Cheltenham

SSS Super Alloys Handicap Hurdle 12.15
Hydroplane
A trappy race to open the card on Cheltenham Trials Day, but we’ll chance our arm with Ian Williams’ Hydroplane. A useful performer on the flat up to a mile and a half, he’s won four of his twelve starts over timber, and although he’s pretty exposed did win last time out at Sandown Park. Solid each way claims with Tom Scudamore up in the saddle a big plus

JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) 12.45
Iceo
Paul Nicholls’ French import could not have been more impressive on his British debut, storming clear from two out to leave the field trailing in his wake. That was a class 2 contest, so this step up to Pattern grade should be well within his range. Runs under a penalty for that win but Harry Cobden takes up the reins, interesting

Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase 1.20
Goa Lil
A decent enough hurdler, but seems to have found his discipline now sent chasing, with a string of fine efforts going back to last August over both fences and timber. His last run at Newbury, coming home clear by a decent margin suggests he’s up to this grade. Sure to be thereabouts on ground to suit

Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 1.55
Farinet
The chance is taken on Venetia Williams’ unexposed young chaser, who put in a good shift at Sandown Park three weeks ago, justifying favouritism with a convincing win. The grey is a French import, so might be used to a bit more cut in the ground, but won’t lack for stamina around the testing Prestbury Park track

Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) 2.30
Chantry House
If it’s horses for courses around Cheltenham, then it’s probably best to side with Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House, who has winning form here. Simply The Betts also has winning form around this track, and now housed with Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, might have yet more to offer after just nine starts over fences, so rates the main danger. Chantry House does need to bounce back from a poor run in the King George VI on Boxing Day, when he never met a fence on the right stride, but is undoubtedly talented and can bounce back to form here

Welsh Marches Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) 3.05
Champ (nb)
Nicky Henderson could have the answer for this Grade 2 contest, with Champ, who seemed to relish the return to hurdling when he landed the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December. That takes his record over the smaller obstacles to six wins from eight starts, with a couple of runners-up spots thrown in. He’s sure to be a warm order favourite with course form around here, but is hard to oppose, despite this being the scene of his only fall under rules

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 3.40
Hillcrest
Surely the biggest horse in training on these shores, the imposing Stowaway gelding won this corresponding race on New Year’s Day. That 2 length win probably didn’t show the limit of his ability, and he was a touch awkward over a couple of the hurdles, but after just five career starts, there’s surely more to come. If the excellent Richard Patrick can get him into a decent rhythm, he’ll be a popular winner in the Trevor Hemmings silks, the one to beat

Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed) 4.15
Nell’s Bells
Donald McCain Jr and Brian Hughes can continue their fine run of form with Nell’s Bells. A stunning performance at Carlisle on her debut run on turf, finishing seventeen lengths to the good of her closest rival, she’ll be sure to attract plenty of support from the in-form trainer and jockey team

Doncaster

Sky Sports Racing Sky415 Handicap Hurdle 12.25
Gala De Corton
Up and coming claimer Angus Cheleda can add to his growing reputation in the opener with Gala De Corton, who won around here over the Christmas week. An extra two furlongs to see out, but he’s one very much going the right way out of Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat yard, and has to be high on the shortlist

Watch Off The Fence On attheraces.com Lightning Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 1.35
Third Time Lucki
He should have come on for his run in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, where he tried to take the sting out of the smart Edwardstone, a plan which ultimately backfired, but he’s the one to follow in this three runner field. The Skelton team have their string in fine fettle, and should collect this valuable pot with more patient tactics

Sky Bet Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2.10
Miranda (nap)
Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls should be winning this with Miranda. The flat bred seven year old won this race last year, and can go in again to make it seven wins from thirteen starts over timber. Bryony Frost takes over on the reins this time, as Harry Cobden takes her place on Iceo at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle Trial, but there’s no safer pair of hands to step in for this valuable prize. She’ll be a hot favourite to land this for the second season running, and deservedly so

The Mandarin

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