Quartz has cutting edge
Our horse-by-horse guide to Friday's Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
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Planet Of Sound
Won the Guiness Gold Cup in 2010 and finished second in the Hennessy Gold Cup the following season so there's no questioning his ability. Has done most of his racing on a sounder surface but the handicapper has given him a chance (races off his last winning mark) and he can't be dismissed lightly.
Quartz De Thaix
Decent handicap hurdler who has clicked over fences this season, scoring wide margin wins at Bangor and Haydock. Inevitably the handicapper has had his say but he doesn't appear too harshly treated and has relatively few miles on the clock. Obvious claims.
Grade One winning hurdler who only managed to put his head in front once during his novice season over fences but that, at least, came in a valuable Aintree handicap. Connections were hopeful of a bold run in the Hennessy on his return only for his race to end at the fifth. Usually a sound jumper and no surprise to see better here although soft ground would ask a new question.
Has twice finished second at the Cheltenham Festival so clearly has an affinity for the track and shouldn't be inconvenienced by testing ground. Feasibly handicapped and took a step forwards from his seasonal reappearance when third at Thurles; another step in the right direction could see him take a hand in the finish.
Former Hunter Chaser who has been progressing steadily in the handicap ranks, making the frame in two runs at this venue this autumn. Raised another 5lbs for the latest of them which takes him to a perch 13lbs higher than for his last handicap success but has the scope for further improvement and should give it another good go.
Runners from Pond House have claimed this prize on no fewer than four occasions in the past decade. However, there was little to encourage supporters in the Midlands Grand National winner's run at Haydock last month and, even allowing for the differing natures of the track, he has something to prove as a result.
Back down to the mark from which he was last successful, at this course some 14 months ago but he's done all of his winning on a sounder surface so any rain would be a concern. Below par on his sole start this season but a return to the level of form which saw him finish a respectable fifth at last year's Festival could see him outrun his odds.
Made a very promising start to his career but hasn't gone on as might have been expected. Sole win over fences came over two and a half miles but stays this sort of trip well enough and more of a concern is his current well-being following a couple of dismal efforts last month. Perhaps the fitting of a tongue-tie will help him bounce back.
An interesting mix of progressive chasers and some reasonably treated old hands.
Planet Of Sound is temptingly treated and priced if you're prepared to take a chance but more solid claims are held by Quartz De Thaix.
His stable continues in decent form and the eight year old is finally cashing in on his undoubted talent and is fancied to continue his own good run.