Delving into the Tale of Two Horses
While the Greatwood Hurdle and Jonbon may dominate the headlines, there are two horses with an intriguing story running at Cheltenham. Wonderwall and City Chief, who faced off in a maiden hurdle at Doncaster earlier this year, will compete in the Cavani Novices' Handicap Limited Handicap Chase and Jewson Handicap Chase, respectively.
From January Showdown to Different Paths
In their previous encounter, Wonderwall emerged victorious, defeating City Chief by three lengths. However, their careers have taken different trajectories since then. Wonderwall has struggled in jumps and holds a rating of 132, while City Chief has seen success and boasts a rating of 142.
Wonderwall's Shot at Redemption
Despite the challenging nature of Wonderwall's race, I believe this could be the moment for him to turn his career around. With jockey James Bowen and trainer Richard Spencer, Wonderwall aims to bounce back from his recent appearance in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket. While it's a risky move, let's hope today is the day he secures a victory.
Truckers Lodge: A Veteran with a Chance
In the City Chief race, keep an eye on Truckers Lodge. Despite being 11 years old and unlikely to improve further, this seasoned horse has the advantage of a muddy track and a weight reduction of 5lb thanks to jockey Freddie Gingell. With his strong finishing last season and a handicap mark of 137, Truckers Lodge could be a solid each-way option.
JONBON: The Champion of the Shloer Chase
In the feature Grade 2 Shloer Chase, my top pick is JONBON. Trained by Nicky Henderson, this horse proved his caliber last season with victories in Grade 1 races at Aintree and Sandown. Whether he excels over two miles or two and a half, only time will tell. Nevertheless, this race should serve as a promising starting point for JONBON.
Gin Coco's Shot at Redemption
While Onlymatteroftime is a strong contender, I'm willing to take a chance on last year's Greatwood Hurdle runner-up, GIN COCO. With a handicap rating just 2lb higher than when finishing second last year, GIN COCO has the potential for a strong showing. After a lackluster performance in the County Hurdle, this race at Cheltenham could be the perfect opportunity for redemption.
Good luck to all the competitors!