Tony’s Trends: Weekend racing preview

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Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and new racing radio station racingfm.com looks forward to the weekend’s racing.

Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Caid Du Berlais heads 16 six-day entries for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old came with a withering late run to land the November feature and he is one of two Ditcheat representatives pencilled in for Saturday with Sound Investment also entered.

Nicholls’ former assistant Dan Skelton could also be double-handed with What A Warrior and Workbench, while the former Nicholls-trained horse Edgardo Sol, now with Emma Lavelle, is also in the frame.

Nigel Twiston-Davies won the corresponding race last season with Double Ross and he relies on Splash Of Ginge this time around, while David Pipe also has the one entry in Easter Meteor.

David Bridgwater could run No Buts, who recorded an eight-length verdict over Sound Investment in a valuable two-and-a-half mile handicap chase at Newbury late last month. No Buts was beaten five-and-a-half lengths into fourth by Sound Investment on his reappearance in a similar contest at Sandown Park at the start of November.

Bridgwater said: “He is on the upgrade and ground does not really matter to him. Obviously, horses can make idiots of you but I would say Cheltenham is made for him. The stiff track will suit, as he will get three miles, and his jumping is very accurate.”

Jim Culloty has been able to give Lord Windermere a clean bill of health after his excellent return to action at Punchestown on Sunday.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner finished third behind Don Cossack and Boston Bob in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase over an inadequate two and a half miles. Culloty had hoped the ground would be softer than it eventually was to turn the race into more of a stamina test, but was delighted with the way he finished the race.

“I’m very happy with him this morning, there’s not a bother on him,” said Culloty. “It couldn’t have gone better, unless he’d won, obviously.

“We’d stated his plan some time ago and I saw nothing yesterday to make us deviate. It will be the Lexus next, (Irish) Hennessy and then back to Cheltenham.

“Last year he had a very interrupted season but this time we’ve had no hold ups, it’s all gone like clockwork and yesterday was the first test, which he passed with flying colours.”

Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen looks set to join stablemate Champagne Fever at Kempton on December 26 with owner Rich Ricci nominating the Williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle as his number one target.

The unbeaten Cheltenham Festival winner is likely to face a stern test of his credentials for the Stan James-backed Champion Hurdle from Fighting Fifth winner Irving but Ricci is favouring the race over a trip to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Nicholls appeared up for the challenge and the opportunity to pull Ricci’s leg at Monday’s William Hill-backed King George preview lunch in London. He said: “The Christmas Hurdle has always been the target.

“He’s got loads of speed and the best is still to come. Faugheen is very, very good but he beat a couple of slow stayers at Ascot the other day.”

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