Jumping Ahead: Cheltenham November Meeting Tips

Whatever the opposite of a rain dance is, that is what jumps racing fans have been doing at the back end of this week after racing was called off at Cheltenham on Friday due to a waterlogged track.

Thankfully, a further inspection on Friday afternoon gave the all-clear for racing to recommence on Saturday with a bumper eight race card.

The Cheltenham November meeting is up there as one of the best fixtures in the calendar, so I’ve picked out a few names to follow this Saturday and Sunday.

Wholestone (1:15 Cheltenham – Saturday)

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jockey: Daryl Jacob

Wholestone has already featured in my blog as a selection just a few weeks ago when he was second by a neck at Cheltenham last time.

He’s a triple Grade Two winner at this track and has some brilliant form around Prestbury Park with four wins from 12 visits, and also acts on soft and heavy ground.

He has class and experience on his side this Saturday and also looks well at the weights considering he is rated 13 pounds better in the ratings than his nearest rival in the betting, yet carries the same weight.

With trainer Nigel Twiston Davies and jockey Daryl Jacob both in great form, I’m backing Wholestone to bounce back to winning ways.

Count Meribel (2:25 Cheltenham – Saturday)

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jockey: Mark Grant

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has enjoyed real success in this race in recent years, winning it four times in his career but more recently with the trio of Imperial Commander (2008), Little Josh (2010) and Splash Of Ginge (2017).

The Gloucestershire-based handler is currently operating with a 24% strike rate and always has his horses primed for big race success at this time of the season, with Ballyoptic a notable winner of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby already this month.

He has Count Meribel entered in this, with the early jockey booking of Mark Grant. He got the leg up on Count Meribel at Carlisle last time when he chased home the impressive Lostintranslation in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase, beaten only two-and-a-quarter lengths into second.

He was never going to catch the winner that day but was nine lengths clear of Kildisart in third and that might have just been a good pipe opener for this big race on Saturday. He’s now on a mark of 146, which seems more than workable, and given he is five from five in Grade Three’s or lower in races between 2m3.5f and 2m5.5f in October and November, you’d have to fancy him to have a good go at this.

Urgent De Gregaine (1:15 Cheltenham – Sunday)

Trainer: Emmanuel Clayeux

Jockey: Felix De Giles

National hero, Tiger Roll, used this race as a stepping stone to further glories at Cheltenham and Aintree last season and although he won’t be making an appearance this time around, there is still plenty to get excited about as we see the Cross Country course used for the first time this season.

Urgent De Gregaine has become something of a specialist in this code and despite seeing more of Tiger Roll’s backside when running up the Cheltenham hill on his last two visits, he has managed to finish second (2018) and third (2019).

In fact, his record around the Cross Country fences at Cheltenham is quite remarkable, reading 12323, which includes a third-place effort at this meeting back in 2017 when finishing just under seven lengths behind Kingswell Theatre. At the very least he’s a solid each-way shout if he makes the trip over from France.

Getaway Trump (1:50 Cheltenham – Sunday)

Despite being involved in horses with the Owners Group such as Alcala, Rainbow Rebel, Asdaa and Last Golden Ticket, I have to admit that I haven’t been blown away by Getaway Trump despite some of the billing.

He’s been a little short of top-class for me so far and has been found wanting in Graded races, despite winning some nice handicaps in good style.

However, I’m backing him to prove me wrong on Saturday as he goes up against Al Dancer once again, albeit three-pound better off.

Paul Nicholls’ horses have been needing the run as well this season, and given Getaway Trump travelled into the home straight like the winner at Cheltenham last time, being well in at the weights and race fit could be a winning combination this Sunday.

Add to the fact he won a point-to-point on very soft/heavy and a race at Exeter last season on heavy, he shouldn’t have an issue tackling the tricky conditions at HQ.

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