‘The Showcase’ Review (2019/20)

A sure sign that we were back racing at Cheltenham over the weekend was the cold blustery winds and persistent rain, but that didn’t stop us turning out for what was the curtain raiser of the new national hunt season in the Cotswolds. Unlike previous seasons I will only be doing a short review of the two days with the main horses I believe are the ones to take out of the meeting.

I’ll work my way through in chronological order of races and the first horse who caught my eye was the Colin Tizzard-trained L’AIR DU VENT who finished third in the opener on Friday. He won his sole bumper before making his hurdling debut here and though a little green in the jumping department he’s sure to come on for the experience and the way the five-year old travelled into the race was very encouraging. It’s unsure at this early stage where he’ll go but he’s certainly one to keep on side for the foreseeable future as he’s quite highly thought of at home.

Al Dancer won nicely on chase debut but for me it was the third-placed horse who is the one to take out of the contest, GETAWAY TRUMP. Paul Nicholls’ horses are needing the run so far in the early parts of the new season and his gelding held every chance approaching the second last before lacking in match fitness and subsequently eased down. He jumped well in the main and was quite clever at a few jumps when getting in slightly tight, so with that run under his belt I’d be keen to follow him going forward, he’s a nice big horse with plenty of scope and if there was a rematch I’d have him beating Al Dancer.

It was nice to see Saint Calvados back in the winners’ enclosure despite being dropped into handicap company, he jumped well having been ridden with slightly more restraint than usual and with a rise in the ratings forthcoming he’ll most probably step back up into graded races now he’s got his confidence back. However, it’s yet again the third horse KNOCKNANUSS, from the Gary Moore yard, that I will be following next time out, hopefully the handicapper is kind with him as he’s on a mark in which I think he can win off. He usually improves for his reappearance run and if doing so next time out he’ll surely be in the thick of things as he jumps so well. I think I read that his main target for the time being was the BetVictor Gold Cup at the November meeting, and if so, this was a nice preparation for it.

David Pipe’s RAMSES DE TEILLEE won a novice hurdle on Saturday in good style at short odds, as he should in ground conditions that he just loves and I suspect connections will target the Welsh Grand National again, a race which last year he finished a close second after making a shuddering error four out. That was a nice beginning to his season and still only a seven-year old he’s certainly got what could be an exciting season ahead, I’d be very interested in backing him for the Chepstow feature if things go to plan in the build up to that race as I’m sure he’ll have his conditions as it’s usually pretty soft there come the end of December.

The final horse that impressed me at The Showcase meeting was a second Colin Tizzard gelding, SLATE HOUSE, who won as he liked on first start after a wind op. He won at this meeting two years ago before following up a month later in a Grade 2 Supreme trial when beating eventual Supreme winner Summerville Boy. He’d not really fired on his first four chase starts but it’s possible that having his wind done could improve this horse further. I mean the ground was pretty atrocious on Saturday, so his winning margin may need to be taken with a pinch of salt but he couldn’t have been more impressive in the way he jumped and travelled throughout the contest. He’s still unexposed in this sphere and being a son of Presenting he’s more than likely to appreciate a further step up in trip in the not so far future which again could unlock further improvement.

Horses To Follow:

L’AIR DU VENT (Colin Tizzard – 5yo gelding)

GETAWAY TRUMP (Paul Nicholls – 6yo gelding)

KNOCKNANUSS (Gary Moore – 9yo gelding)

RAMSES DE TEILLEE (David Pipe – 7yo gelding)

SLATE HOUSE (Colin Tizzard – 7yo gelding)