Cheltenham’s International Meeting concludes on Saturday with the final raceday of 2018 at the Cotswolds amphitheatre. It could be a final curtain call for The New One if he fails to sparkle, but can he roll back the years?
The Ryman Novices’ Chase is an interesting contest and the Nicky Henderson-trained Ok Corral is the early market leader. He was second over three miles in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival in March and now returns to embark on a chasing career. He should have a future in this sphere but is ceding experience today.
Top-weight Drovers Lane is already two-from-three over fences and appeals despite the terms now.
The forecast good ground favours him and the drop back to this sort of trip at Market Rasen last time really saw him excelling in a wide-margin win. He will have learned again from that run, and showed good agility after pecking on the landing side of two out.
This French-bred gelding arrived on British shores with a decent reputation and is now starting to produce the results expected of him.
He returned from a summer layoff to win last month at Ascot when stepped up to 2m5½f for the first time. He was keen and hung on the Flat after the final jump, but showed good resolution to earn his success by a slender margin.
The longer trip should suit and the Henderson team continues to be in exceptional form, with a strike-rate in excess of 32% lately. Noel Fehily’s mount is the one to beat here and should take some halting.
A competitive renewal of the International Hurdle and a race where plenty have questions to answer. Retirement beckons for three-time winner The New One if he fails to sparkle while Summerville Boy and We Have A Dream must prove they can transfer last season’s novice form into open company.
That could pave the way for Greatwood Hurdle runner-up Silver Streak to make his mark on this company. Evan Williams’ runner has scope for doing better things and, given the doubts over many of the likely principles, might not get a better chance to shine at this level.
Having Barry Geraghty for company merely enhances his hopes, with the jockey boasting a 23% strike rate around here over the previous 12 months (10-43).
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