By Andrew Atkinson


  • Midnight Shadow out to thwart Lalor in Gold Cup

Cheltenham stages the Racing Post Grade 3 Gold Cup Handicap Chase over 2m 4f on Saturday and the Albert Bartlett Grade 2 Novice Hurdle over 2m 7f.

Sue Smith trained eight-year-old Midnight Shadow (1.50) tipped each-way, winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, is priced at 10-1 in the £130,000 Gold Cup.

“He seems in very good form and we’re very happy with him.

“He took the Paddy Power very well, and our fella is a strong-made horse,” said Smith.

“He loves it around Cheltenham and you’d have to say it was a career-best in the Paddy Power. “He did it in grand style, bar one little peck on landing, which steadied him, but he picked up and ran on well,” said Smith.

Midnight Shadow carries 11st 7lbs with Ryan Mania up and Smith added: “He’s up 7lb for that and you’d always like less, but it could have been worse.

“He’s pretty versatile and I don’t know how much difference being on Cheltenham’s New course will make, but he does go well there. I’m optimistic he’ll run a very big race.”

Paul Nicholls saddles Lalor (1.50) Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Paul Nicholls saddles Lalor (1.50) Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Paddy Power Gold Cup third Lalor (1.50) tipped by to win is priced at 4-1, under 11st 4lbs will go to post favourite: “Lalor runs after work and is in good shape – he’s all set to go. He was ready for the Paddy Power, but I suspect because he hadn’t had a race for a while and had struggled with his breathing he almost had half a blow going to the second-last and then stayed on strongly up the hill,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.

“I think the stiffer track on Saturday and the possibility of slower ground would be massive pluses for him.

“Sometimes it’s a case that if a horse has been struggling with their breathing, they get to a point and think something might hurt because they’ve been choking,” said Nicholls.

“They then have that confidence they can go through with it, and you can almost say that happened to him in the Paddy Power, because once he took a breath between the last two, he really stayed on strongly,” said Nicholls.

“Some are always going to improve and I think he’s one of them that, whatever I did.

“I was never going to get him as fit as he might be this weekend. That race has done him good, confidence-wise and fitness-wise and I’m hopeful of a nice run on Saturday.”

Gold Cup betting: 4-1 Lalor, 7-1 Dostal Phil, 8-1 Alnadam, Midnight Shadow, Silver Hallmark, 10-1 Coole Cody, Noble Yeats, 12-1 Fusil Raffles, Zanza, 14 bar.

Cheltenham also feature the Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle, which has attracted Sceau Royal (3.00) tipped by and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle second Ballyadam, trained by Henry de Bromhead.

Blazing Khal (2.25) gets the nod over Genilo Bello in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett.

CHELTENHAM selections: 12.05 Patient Dream (ew). 12.40 My Drogo. 1.15 Amoola Gold. 1.50 Lalor. Midnight Shadow (ew). 2.25 Blazing Khal. 3.00 Sceau Royal. 3.25 Trapista.


Rock on Tommy in Donny bet365 Hurdle

DONCASTER features the Class 1 bet365 December Novices Chase over 2m 7f and the Class 1 bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle over 2 miles.

Tommy’s Oscar (2.05) is tipped to win the bet365 Class 2 Handicap Hurdle.

Bridget Andrews rides the Dan Skelton trained Too Friendly (2.40) tipped to land the bet365 C1 Summit Juvenile Hurdle.

DONCASTER selections: 11.50 Gredin. 12.20 Sao. 12.55 Threeunderthrufive. 1.30 Shanton Sunset. 2.05 Tommy’s Oscar. 2.40 Too Friendly. 3.15 Two For Gold.


Tudhope eyes glory on Alignak and Beauzon

NEWCASTLE features the Class 2 Betway Conditions Stakes over 2 miles and the Coral Free Nursery Handicap over six furlongs.

Jamie Osborne saddles Alginak (2.20) tipped to win the Betway C2 Conditions Stakes with Danny Tudhope up.

Tudhope is booked to ride David O’Meara trained Beauzon (3.30) tipped by to win the Coral Free Nursery Handicap.

NEWCASTLE selections: 1.45 Chocolate Box. 2.20 Alignac. 2.55 Pallas Dancer. 3.30 Beauzon. 4.00 Eydon. 4.30 Blackheath (ew). 5.00 Birkenhead. 5.30 Trois Vallees.


Hollie Doyle rides Local Bay (4.15) Wolverhampton.
Hollie Doyle rides Local Bay (4.15) Wolverhampton.

Doyle noted on Local Bay

Wolverhampton’s evening meeting features the Class 3 Betway Handicap over six furlongs.

Hollie Doyle is booked to ride Local Bay (4.15) with Ceiren Fallon up on Corvair (7.15) both tipped to win at the Midlands track.

WOLVERHAMPTON selections: 4.15 Local Bay. 4.45 Diamond Jill. 5.15 Phoenix Aguilas. 5.45 Society Red (ew). 6.15 Angelsey Abbey (ew). 6.45 Sweet Glance. 7.15 Corvair. 7.45 Sands Of Time (ew).

HEREFORD selections: 12.12 Dhowin (ew). 12.47 Stag Horn. 1.22 The Toojumpa. 1.57 Seddon (ew). 2.32 Hardy Du Seuil (ew). 3.07 Vee Dancer. 3.42 Mr Sundancer.


Willie Mullins saddles Blue Lord, Stattler and Hi Ho Phoenix at Fairyhouse.
Willie Mullins saddles Blue Lord, Stattler and Hi Ho Phoenix at Fairyhouse.

Mullins trio in Fairyhouse raid

WILLIE Mullins trained trio Blue Lord (11.30), Stattler (12.00) and Hi Ho Phoenix (2.12) are tipped to win at Fairyhouse.

Henry de Bromhead saddles Arahecan (12.30). Joseph O’Brien trained Celestial Horizon (1.02) makes its jumping debut. Gordon Elliott is noted with Chernikova (3.22).

FAIRYHOUSE selections: 11.30 Blue Lord. 12.00 Stattler. 12.30 Arahecan. 1.02 Celestial Horizon. 1.37 Explosive Boy. 2.12 Hi Ho Phoenix. 2.47 Final Orders. 3.22 Chernikova.

Main Caption: Bridget Andrews rides Too Friendly (2.40) Doncaster.