Cheltenham Placepot: Sunday November 18

Paul Nicholls is fancied to have another good day at Cheltenham

After an agonising five out of six yesterday, Keith Melrose is back for more on the last day of the Open meeting.

"Nicky Henderson really is no fun at all, isn’t he? Darlan is out of the RP Hurdle, but to be honest he would have been merely an opposable favourite as far as this perm’s concerned..."

13:10 - Were it not for the shadow of his stablemate Simonsig hanging over the race, I think Captain Conan would be my early pick for the Arkle. He's a strong-travelling type who is also a brute of a horse, just the type to make a top two-mile chaser, and he's just the sort of horse to provide an early banker for our Placepot, for all his complete lack of experience over fences.

13:45 - It's been a Nicholls and Pipe jamboree so far this week, and we'll take that theme into the second leg. For the champion trainer, we have Ruben Cotter, who could be bound for a high level judging by his ready success in a warm race at Exeter back in May. Pipe is represented in our perm by Close House, who despite having just three runs over hurdles to his name has already shown what he can do in top company, fourth to Simonsig in March's Neptune, and is likely to be suited by whatever conditions prevail today.

14:20 - Anti-climactic doesn't begin to describe the Shloer Chase, robbed of its significance by Sprinter Sacre's withdrawal. Favourite by default is now Wishfull Thinking, but having held such high hopes for him last season it's a case of 'once bitten, twice shy' for me, so I recommend taking him on with Doeslessthanme, who was consistent as well as progressive for Paul Nicholls in 2011/12 and is all-but certain to be fit given the fettle his yard have been in this autumn.

14:50 - Nicky Henderson really is no fun at all, isn't he? Darlan is out of the RP Hurdle, but to be honest he would have been merely an opposable favourite as far as this perm's concerned, there being plenty of attractive alternatives. Chief among them is Kazlian, who only lost the Fred Winter because Tom Scudamore was apparently 'on tilt' following Grands Crus' flat run in the RSA the same day. Here's hoping a good night's sleep has put Tom in a better mood after Grands Crus' latest disappointment. Prospect Wells is a good option for our Placepot, too, as he's been consistent as a hurdler and could do even better faced with his stiffest test of stamina yet over timber.

15:25 -  In an attempt to save lines, we won't get too bogged down in this competitive Grade 2 novice hurdle and simply select who we see as the best prospect. That honour goes to Fox Run, a mightily impressive winner at Worcester on his debut for Paul Nicholls who we see as likely to be running in the best novice hurdles this season. 

16:00 - A bumper is almost never welcome as the last leg of a Placepot, and this one more than most as both Pipe and Nicholls have interested recruits in the form of The Liquidator and Fascino Rustico respectively. Nevertheless, we can take such tricky propositions out of the equation by banking on Monkey Kingdom, who has experience around here and is seemingly well regarded by a yard which has a reputation for doing well with bumper horses.


13:10 - 2
13:45 - 5, 6
14:20 - 2
14:50 - 3, 12
15:25 - 7
16:00 - 3
= 4 lines

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