1pt e.w Regarding Ruth in 2.40 Cheltenham at 7/1 (Hills - 1/5 1,2,3,4 - min 13/2)
1pt win Liberty Bella in 3.50 Cheltenham at 11/4 (BetVictor - min 5-2)
1pt win Northern Beau in 4.25 Cheltenham at 3/1 (William Hill - min 9/4)
It’s lovely to be back at Cheltenham in person after a year away, but my word it is eerily quiet. It reminds me of the times I used to walk around Alton Towers when it was closed (my second ever girlfriend, Jenny, knew people that kept the parrot show as part of the circus - that’s how far we’re going back) and that was eerie too. I only ever remember Don McLean’s “Vincent” blaring out over the loudspeakers as we walked around with nobody there. Starry, starry night indeed.
A word on Bourbon Beauty, who did the column a huge favour when winning the Grade 2 EBF Mares Final at Newbury last month, her excellent hurdling (apart from two out) a real feature of her front-running win, and she was always finding enough to hold off Marada on the run-in. A most game display, and one that, under the right circumstances, will see her win more.
Whether today is the right circumstances though, is another question. I’m less worried about the 9lb rise - which is perfectly fair - than I am about the venue, as this will be the first time she’s raced on an undulating track, and I’m far from convinced it will suit.
Regarding Ruth just about tops my list. She’s dropping back from three miles, but had the speed to win over this trip at Warwick last October, so I don’t see that being an issue, and the form of her Newbury win is working out well, with third home Colonial Dreams denied by the narrowest of margins in a very competitive Haydock handicap next time and fifth home Imperial Knight, after banging the door down for much of the season, finally found the key to it at Warwick earlier in the week. The form looks solid, and that extra bit of stamina she has in the tank can be no bad thing here. The ground is also ideal, and her hurdles record on yielding or quicker reads 3301131, as opposed to 440PP on soft or heavy, and her record looks much better viewed through that prism.
At the early prices, we must be with Liberty Bella today, in what is, in truth, quite a moderate race for a Listed contest. She was unlucky not to land us a few points when falling at Ludlow when we had her onside back in February, but she made no mistake at Warwick last time, always travelling well and having matters in hand some way out. I say no mistake, she did make one five out, but it barely got her off the bridle, and she soon took charge again.
She has the speed for this and, while strictly unproven on good or quicker, she ran well for a long way in the Listed Mares’ hurdle on this card two years ago on a similar surface, leading until the straight, and weakening only on the run-in. She is a much stronger mare these days, and there is no Indefatigable in this field, either.
Flower Of Scotland beat Pink Legend and Danse Idol at Kelso and the three meet again. The winner snatched victory there having looked beaten at the penultimate fence, only for the other pair to stop in front, and she might find herself outpaced on quicker ground here, while Early Morning Rain is also unlikely to find this enough of a stamina test and bar the selection, the interesting one might be Roseisaroseisarose, who in truth hasn’t lived up to her bumper promise over hurdles but wasn’t disgraced behind Liberty Bella at Warwick and it’s far from impossible that she will belatedly step up to the mark. She’s out of the handicap here but this ground might suit her better than a few and if the Warwick form is the form to concentrate on, then the forecast with Liberty Bella does make some appeal.
It was in this very race two years ago that Northern Beau pulled off a bit of a shock to beat Happy Diva half a length despite being 7lb out of the handicap, and she was again unconsidered when posting another success here in December that year. She was rated 125 for that success, which came in a 0-150, and has now dropped to 121, off which she almost won at Southwell two starts back.
She comes here in better form than it appears, and simply ran out of stamina when seventh of eight at Haydock last time, trading evens in running before being allowed to come home in her own time when victory was a forlorn hope. In this small field she looks sure to get her own way up front, and can beat Miss Amelia, who has some good-looking form figures to her name, but she has been taking on much weaker rivals than the selection, and only gets 2lb here.
Published at 1755 BST on 13/04/2021
Decor Irlandais - 50/1 (Placed)
Pink Eyed Pedro - 80/1 (Placed)
Fakir D'Oudaries - 3/1
Chase The Wind - 11/2
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