By Richard Hoiles
It only took a couple of races at Cheltenham on Saturday to feel like the Jumps had returned. After a bold display of jumping, Foxtail Hill strained every sinew up the hill to gallantly repel Le Prezien in a finish reminiscent of so many at the track down the years.
Walking the course beforehand I was reminded how sharp the Old Course chase track is and any horse that can get into a jumping rhythm can be extremely difficult to peg back with the final two fences only just over half a furlong apart and the turn into the straight a sharp one. A fact to bear in mind for the three-day meeting in November.
No Cheltenham on Tuesday, I’m afraid, but a decent balance between the Flat and Jumps and it is a combination of both that provides the first selection.
Martin Todhunter is better known as a trainer of jumpers but has a similar record on the level, and while Chocolat Noir may well end up over hurdles it may be wrong to discount his chance on his first run for the trainer.
A maiden from eight starts in Ireland, Chocolat Noir was generally consistent and while parallels between UK and Irish marks remain a contentious issue he seems to have been allocated a reasonable starting point.
The booking of Callum Rodriguez is also a positive, having scored twice on the stable’s Question Of Faith in recent months from just three rides for the yard.
With him able to take another useful 3lbs off then Chocolat Noir looks worth speculative support.
Showed enough in Point-To-Points and on his bumper run at the course in February to suggest he may be worth chancing.
That bumper run came off the back of a victory in an Irish Point-To-Point and, while it looked Clondaw Rigger’s best run under Rules, he has shown glimpses in the other runs, including his handicap debut at Uttoxeter when last seen in May.
He checked out quite quickly that day, having comfortably held his place and if he does have issues with his breathing (he wears a tongue tie) then first up on reasonable ground could be the time to catch him with the yard having had a decent October.
Archie Watson has made a name for himself this campaign, and Zenovia looks interesting dropping in trip to six furlongs for the first time.
Having shown very little in four starts for David Simcock, he was in the market last time at Newcastle but did too much too soon and failed to last home.
From stall three on Tuesday he should get a nice trail in off likely front-runner Monarch Maid.
The yard are three from five in first-time tongue ties and four from 15 in first-time cheekpieces so, even allowing for the small sample sizes, their application looks a positive rather than a negative.
The most obvious of the four selections, having shown promise on her first start for Jennie Candlish at Beverley last time.
That day she got too far back in a race where being close to the pace looked an advantage.
Off a mark of just 51 she was supported into favouritism and races off a 1lb lower mark on Tuesday.
The main concern is stall 12, but there is a reasonable run before the first bend and hopefully confirmed front-runner Medici Moon can break the race up a little bit on the front end.
If she avoids getting held deep she could easily prove too good for these.
Richard Hoiles's Tuesday tips: (Prices corrct at 9am)
7.10 Wolverhampton: Zenovia at a generally available 4-1