This weekend brings a nice mixture of Flat and jumps racing as the seasons briefly intertwine before the National Hunt stars take centre stage in a few weeks.
Chepstow‘s two-day meeting is the signal that the jumping is about get that little bit more serious and before looking towards the Flat card at Newmarket, there’s a potential stand-out bet at the Welsh venue.
Nigel Twiston-Davies landed the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (16:05) last year with Ballyoptic and the Naunton handler is back for more with Wholestone.
A progressive staying hurdler last season, his term ended when he finished third in the Grade One Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival over three miles. In the aftermath of that run, a minor injury was detected, making his effort all the more impressive.
Jockey Daryl Jacob has talked up Wholestone ahead of his reappearance at Chepstow, indicating there is confidence in the Twiston-Davies camp.
The two-and-a-half-mile trip and softish ground won’t be a problem and, at odds of 4/1, the six-year-old is the one they must beat, having won first time out in each of his two campaigns so far.
Earlier on the card at Chepstow, the Listed Novices’ Chase (15:05) will give a first glimpse of the exciting Colin Tizzard-trained Finian’s Oscar tackling the larger obstacles, though he won’t appeal as a betting proposition.
Headquarters stages the key Flat meeting of the weekend and Purser is tipped to give punters an early boost in the Group 3 Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes (14:25).
John Gosden’s colt landed a Newbury maiden on his debut in August and can be forgiven a slightly disappointing effort at this level next time out in the Solario at Sandown, given the race didn’t exactly pan out in his favour.
He’s since sluiced up on the all-weather at Lingfield and at odds of 7/2 looks set for a big run under Frankie Dettori.
Racing in the same colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Expert Eye is expected to take a world of beating in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (15:00), with Andrea Atzeni’s mount more than capable of justifying 4/7 favouritism for the Group 1 juvenile contest over seven furlongs, the highlight of Future Champions Day at Newmarket.
A weekend preview wouldn’t be complete without mention of the iconic Cesarewitch (15:40), the 2m2f handicap that spans two counties.
A mammoth field of 35 will go to post for what is routinely a punting nightmare and while caution is advised, odds of 18/1 seem fair about the Noel Meade-trained Snow Falcon.
The Presenting gelding was second in the Irish Cesarewitch at Navan last time out and should relish the extra two furlongs here. He’s got a wide draw to overcome, but Paul Hanagan can help him launch a challenge when they come up the Rowley Mile.
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