ITV Racing Tips: Song For Someone tuned up for second International Hurdle win
After another week of unwelcome headlines for racing, a return to racing from jumping’s headquarters can go some way towards showing the better side of the sport.
It’s not a vintage Cheltenham meeting but there is plenty to get stuck into as the venue shares coverage with action from Doncaster, where Bryony Frost is riding.
Unusually, the prime betting feature, 15-runner Racing Post Gold Cup Handicap Chase, in which Midnight Shadow tries to follow up his Paddy Power Gold Cup victory last month, kicks off the afternoon coverage.
But later on the schedule are a pair of Grade 2 races, the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (not the actual one but a trial for the Festival version of the same name) and the Unibet International Hurdle. Doncaster’s highlight is the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle in which Frost will be in action for Paul Nicholls.
There will be seven races in all, four from Cheltenham and three from Doncaster. Coverage begins on ITV4 at 13:25 and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
A 15-runner field for this handicap, which has a wide-open look to it. Gold Cup winner Midnight Shadow returns to the track to try to complete a double that has not been achieved since Exotic Dancer in 2006.
He has been raised 7lb for that win but, given the performance of runner-up Protektorat who won the Many Clouds Chase last weekend, that may not stop him.
It does, however, mean third placed Lalor and fourth Dostal Phil are better off at the weights against him. Coole Cody, who fell two out when challenging for a second Gold Cup win, is back too having finished well beaten in this race 12 months ago.
They could dominate the betting but the lightly raced Beakstown could be the pick in the race. Dan Skelton’s runners are always competitive and Beakstown has the look of a horse that has been laid out for this.
He returned from an 18-month absence to finish third at Aintree last month and if that has blown away some cobwebs, he should be taking a step forward.
Gary Moore trains the likely favourite Porticello in a field that includes runners from the stables of Paul Nicholls, Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson. On paper this could be a highly informative contest.
There could be value in the only horse in the field yet to run over hurdles. Time was when the bookmakers would be running a mile from a Pipe newcomer in this sort of race. Yet Kolisi has been installed 25/1 which may underestimate his true chance.
He was an improver for William Haggas on the Flat, running his best race on his last start at this track in October, where he was second to stablemate Titian, who is set to make his own jumps debut for the same connections at Cheltenham. If he can transfer that form to jumping, he could be a nice acquisition for the former owner of the prolific Lough Derg.
While unlikely to have any bearing on the Champion Hurdle, it features a couple of Irish challengers in Ballyadam, a Grade 1 winner over hurdles who started the campaign over fences.
Coral Cup winner Heaven Help Us is the other raider. Last year’s winner Song For Someone also runs having produced a highly creditable performance on his seasonal return at Ascot where the up-and-coming Buzz proved too good for him.
Song For Someone was conceding 6lb to the winner and the race-fit Guard Your Dreams who was back in third and he should confirm the form again as he tries to claim a second successive victory in this race.
He had Sceau Royal in arrears 12 months ago too and with a second bout of wind surgery appearing to have worked, he should prove hard to beat.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 11th December
13:50 Cheltenham – Racing Post Gold Cup
14:05 Doncaster – 2m Handicap Hurdle
14:25 Cheltenham – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
14:40 Doncaster – Summit Juvenile Hurdle
15:00 Cheltenham – International Hurdle
15:15 Doncaster – London National
15:35 Cheltenham – 3m Handicap Chase
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing