Paul Callaghan’s Cheltenham Racing Tips – Friday 13th November

Former national hunt jockey and now broadcaster, Paul Callaghan, takes a look at Friday’s action from Cheltenham, focusing on four of the six races we’ve got to look forward to.

1:50pm – Handicap Chase over 2 miles.

A horse I like in this is the Alan King trained Ballywood, ridden by Tom Cannon. His handicap mark has slid to 142, 2 lbs higher than his last winning mark. He had been running off a mark as high as 147.

Ballywood finished sixth on his latest outing over course and distance at the Showcase meeting last month and he was still in contention, on the approach to the final fence.

I’m not totally convinced he’s in love with the hustle and bustle of a big field. Facing just the eight opponents, I’m expecting a bold show once again.

2:25pm – Novices’ Chase (GBB Race) over 2 miles 4 furlongs.

A disappointing turnout with just the four runners going to post. The conditions of the race favour Protektorat, who had a beautiful introduction to fences when scoring on debut at Carlisle on October 22.

However, I fancy Southfield Stone for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden to make it two victories from two starts since returning from a wind operation.

Mossy Fen jumped poorly on his chasing debut, finishing a well held third behind Galvin at Cheltenham last month and I would be expecting a better display here.

However, my selection has the benefit of six starts over fences and I would imagine tactics would be to use that experience to put as much pressure on his less experienced rivals in the jumping department as possible.

As the Paul Nicholls stable continue in terrific form, I think Southfield Stone can collect here in what could prove to be a fascinating, tactically run affair.

3pm – Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (GBB Race) over 3 miles 6 furlongs.

Nine runners go to post here but what a treat we have in store! Potters Corner is looking to lay down his Grand National credentials, while the legend that is Tiger Roll returns to one of his happy hunting grounds and is partnered by BoyleSports horse racing ambassador Robbie Power.

However, it is the Frenchman, Easysland for trainer David Cottin and jockey Jonathan Plouganou who gets the vote, in his bid to show the opposition that there’s a new sheriff in town!

From two visits to Prestbury Park, Easysland has yet to taste defeat. Reports have been very positive on his homework, and on the day I could see his biggest threat coming from Potters Corner, with Tiger Roll’s long-term target being the Grand National at Aintree in April.

3.35pm, Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) over 2 miles 5 furlongs.

I can’t see passed the Kim Bailey trained Does He Know, ridden by David Bass. I’ve flagged him up as a horse to follow for the season and he put in a really taking performance when scoring over course and distance at the Showcase meeting last month.

Does He Know has yet to finish out of the first two in all five career starts, which include one win in a point to point in early April of last year.

It will be interesting to see where this horse ends up at the end of the year, as there’s surely more to come and I think the sky could be the limit for him – he’s a horse I like a lot. Likewise, with Paul Nicholls’ runners, Kim Bailey also has his team in cracking form.

For the second time this season we return to Cheltenham, not as we know it but thankfully we are racing, as more festival clues are set to be answered between now and Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!