Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

The Punter: Cheltenham beckons for festival hopefuls if the weather relents

Cheltenham's annual festival is less than two months away but the current cold snap is playing havoc with preparations for the leading hopefuls.

Hence, fingers will be crossed that British turf racing returns no later than this weekend for the Cheltenham trials and top-class racing at Doncaster.

A host of stars are set for the Cotswolds, such as Sprinter Sacre, Oscar Whisky, Bobs Worth, Grand Crus, Tidal Bay, 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander and up and coming novice hurdler The New One.

Whether any of them gets a run is in the hands of the weather and the work of groundstaff. If it's snow-go, then plans are afoot to reschedule the meeting next week.

The Victor Chandler Chase, carried forward from the abandoned Ascot card last Saturday, will see the Queen Mother Chase favourite Sprinter Sacre going off a warm favourite against the likes of Sanctuaire and last year's winner Somersby, now trained by Mick Channon.

Rubi Light was initially the only Irish runner entered but he now waits instead for the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park next month.

But the bet of the weekend has to be Overturn in the Racing Post Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster, if racing goes ahead.

The 2012 Champion Hurdle runner-up has really taken to fences with two imperious victories and should be more than capable of stepping up to Grade Two level at the expense of Lucinda Russell's promising Tap Night.

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