Top racing tipster Kevan Minter, known as The Colonel, gives Mercury readers his top tips for the week ahead. Kevan, who lives in Stamford, is trackside most days and is regularly on television.
The Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup looks set to serve up another treat for Jump racing fans with a host of stars among the 44 entries for the highlight of The Open at Cheltenham next Saturday.
David Pipe captured the prestigious extended two and a half-mile handicap chase last season with Great Endeavour and the Somerset handler could bid to become the first trainer to win back to back renewals since his father Martin in 2004 and 2005. A pair of contenders from Pipe includes Grands Crus, who is Paddy Power’s 7/2 favourite.
The seven-year-old enjoyed a superb first season over fences last term that included a facile victory in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton and ended with a fourth place in the RSA Chase at The Festival in March.
Notus De La Tour (20/1), second in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December, could also represent the master of Pond House.
Hunt Ball (13/2) was one of the stories of last season, winning seven times for trainer Keiran Burke and owner Anthony Knott, including an emphatic victory in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival.
The seven-year-old acquitted himself well against seasoned opposition on his most recent start, coming home third in the Grade One Betfred Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Tipperary jockey/trainer Denis Hogan is hoping that the progressive Kalellshan (25/1), one of eight Irish-trained entries, can continue his upward curve over fences at Ascot this Saturday ahead of a potential trip to Cheltenham.
The lightly-raced nine-year-old is unlucky not to be unbeaten in four starts over fences, having won three times and fallen at the final fence when six lengths clear in a Grade Three novices’ chase at Roscommon in September, 2009.
After scoring over hurdles at the Galway Festival in July, Kalellshan posted an easy success on his latest appearance in a Killarney handicap chase over an extended two and a half miles on August 31.
Paul Nicholls, still bidding for a first Paddy Power Gold Cup success, has eight entries including dual Grade One winner Al Ferof (14/1), Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle second Edgardo Sol (14/1), last year’s fourth Aerial (16/1), Grade One runner-up Cristal Bonus (16/1) and course specialist Poquelin (25/1).
Nadiya De La Vega (14/1) may return to Cheltenham after taking the Betvictor.com Handicap Chase at The Showcase on October 20.
The six-year-old’s trainer Nicky Henderson is also responsible for last year’s runner-up Quantitativeeasing (20/1), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase runner-up Tanks for That (20/1), Giorgio Quercus (33/1) and Triolo D’Alene (20/1).
Nick Williams has given an entry to For Non Stop (10/1), a Grade One winner last term who made an impressive seasonal return with a 23-length victory over Wishfull Thinking (20/1) in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 27.
Other contenders include Menorah (14/1), successful in the Grade One Betfred Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree last season, Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase victor Champion Court (10/1) and Walkon (11/1), who was fifth in the RSA Chase at The Festival in March. Darlan has been backed this week from 7/1 to 5/1 for the Racing Post Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 18.
My eye-catcher for this week is Bastion. The juvenile lost his chance at the start, losing plenty of ground with a slow start out of the lids, and racing greenly for Neil Callan. Roger Varian’s (USA) bred two-year-old had been backed in the morning at all rate’s from 5/1 to 11/4 favourite for the Kempton Maiden and he should come on for the experience and repay his follower’s next time out.
Nicky Henderson’s Siomonsig is the clear favourite for the Arkle at the Cheltenham festival, the grey is best priced with Coral at 7/2.
The Seven Barrows star is my horse to stick with this jump season. I know that Barry Garaghty is over the moon with the horse and has given him a great feel on the schooling gallops.
At Doncaster on Saturday, in the 2.35 November Handicap, Sir Henry Cecil’s First Mohican can follow up his gutsy win at Nottingham in the season’s last big Handicap on the flat.
Ring the Colonel on 07850 602524 and stay ahead of the game.