Cheltenham Friday Preview - Day One December Meeting 2022

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 12:40
Sam Twiston-Davies

Master Chewy

J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Age: 5
Weight: 11-0
Days: 21

Next up is the first event over hurdles with the Novices' Hurdle over 2m1f and we can't get away from Master Chewy for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.

This event looks to be very competitive but with horses giving 6lb to the field and showing a less than consistent record already this season, we thought the race would be played out between Master Chewy and Gentle Slopes.

The former would be carrying a penalty in this race if not for falling at the last at Ascot last time out when going clear of a decent field but just over jumping the obstacle and coming down.

Before that he some nice form in a Novice Hurdle at Chepstow with the winner Pikar looking a very nice type for the Skelton's and the second Hullnback since winning nicely at Haydock.

Having already finished ahead of the second fav and now getting 6lb he holds a very big chance of getting off the mark in this if staying on his feet.

Gentle Slopes interesting on hurdles debut and one to watch.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 13:15
Harry Skelton

Hidden Heroics

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 5
Weight: 10-13
OR: 125
Days: 25

The event on Friday from Cheltenham with the smallest field going to post is the 3m 1 1/2f Novices' Limited Handicap Chase and although the favourite Mister Coffey could have the most class, Hidden Heroics could still be well handicapped.

The Dan Skelton trained five year old is much less exposed than the favourite only being seen once over fences to date.

A fairly decent hurdler last term when getting off the mark on his third run over timber at Newcastle and then finishing a narrow second to City Chief at Ayr, he got got back to winning ways at Uttoxeter in May when a heavy odds on favourite.

Seen for the first time this season over hurdles at Aintree in October he was pulled in a race that looked like a pipe opener for the season.

After that he made his chase debut at Exeter when last seen and taking to fences extremely well he ran riot in the four runner event seeing off previous winner Masters Legacy and highly touted Mr Glass, the latter by 23 lengths.

Up 9lbs for that victory he still looks to be on a workable mark of 129 and getting 11lb off the favourite he should go close again.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 13:50
A P Heskin

Her Indoors

J: A P Heskin
T: Alan King
Age: 5
Weight: 11-11
OR: 122
Days: 30

A very tricky event from a punting perspective on Friday is the Mares' Handicap Chase over 2m 4 1/2f and we are taking a punt on Her Indoors for Alan King.

A course winner over hurdles back in April 2021 when getting her preferred good ground in a Grade Three Handicap for fillies, she round off last season over course and distance putting up another one of her better performances when third of nine in a Listed Mares' Handicap Hurdle behind the talented Panic Attack and Eglantine Du Seuil over

Sent chasing this term by King, she started off her chase career at Bangor in a Listed Mares' Novices' Chase over 2m1 1/2f and she finished a fair fifth of eight in what was probably a hot event for her first try over fences.

Dropped back into calmer waters for this event, stepped up in trip and off a mark of 122 she does have a lot going for her.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 14:25
Charlie Deutsch


J: Charlie Deutsch
T: Venetia Williams
Age: 10
Weight: 12-0
OR: 142
Days: 244

The next race we move onto is one of the most valuable prizes on the Friday with the Dahlbury Handicap Chase over 3m2f and we have picked out two with big chances.

Commodore for the inform Venetia Williams yard won this event last year off 9lb lower on his first run of the season.

He was seen once more after that last erm at Aintree in the Grand National when running a solid race into 12th off 142 and off the same mark for this event he will go from the front and hopefully not be caught.

Freshness is the key to this horse.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 14:25
Harry Cobden

Switch Hitter

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 7
Weight: 11-6
OR: 134
Days: 252

Another interesting horse in the race is the Paul Nicholls trained Switch Hitter, who like Commodore is having his first run of the season in this event.

A seven year old that could be well handicapped having not had all that many runs, he made his chase debut in November last year at Hereford having been a fair horse over hurdles the season before.

Making a winning debut at Hereford over 3m1f, he then went to Ludlow giving weight away to the field and he could only finish a weak third.

Second back at Hereford when dropped slightly in trip, when last seen in April at Newbury he put up one of the best chase performances of his career to finish a two lengths second behind the progressive Java Point.

The Tom George was recently seen back at Newbury a good renewal of the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Chase where he finished a good third to frank the form.

However, back to Switch Hitter and racing fresh off a mark of 135, he could be better than that and looks interesting on seasonal debut.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 15:00
Jonathan Burke


J: Jonathan Burke
T: Milton Harris
Age: 5
Weight: 10-12
OR: 114
Days: 9

The penultimate event of the afternoon is the 2m1f Handicap Hurdle and again we have two selections, this time with a win and each way proposition.

The first is the Milton Harris trained Mullenbeg and the penny has really started to drop over the last month or so and she is truly turning into the horses we all thought she could be over hurdles.

A very smart bumper performer last term when winning on her first two starts at Ludlow and then Cheltenham in a Listed event and then off the back of that she finished fourth behind the smart Luccia and a narrow second back at Cheltenham behind another smart type in Queens Gamble.

Sent hurdling this term by Harris, she needed her first two experiences when third at Market Rasen and second at Huntingdon in events she should of been winning.

However, she improved massively on her third start for those experiences and jumping much better she landed a Mares' Maiden at Plumpton.

She has since landed two more events over hurdles to bring up a hat-trick at Fakenham and Ludlow and although going from a mark of 108 to 121, she still has more to offer.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 15:00
Harry Skelton

Too Friendly

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 4
Weight: 11-0
OR: 123
Days: 27

A horse that is very interesting at the prices from an each way angle is the Dan Skelton trained Too Friendly who was a nice horse on the flat George Scott but has been even better since switching codes to jumps racing.

A winner on hurdles debut last year at Stratford in a Juvenile Hurdle, he made it back to back wins at Newcastle in a better event giving weight away.

Managing only fourth in a hot renewal of the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster behind the likes of Knight Salute, Porticello and Impulsive One, he then went to the Cheltenham festival and was a good fifth of 21 in the Boodles, again behind some nice types in Brazil and Gaelic Warrior.

Ran once more last season the run came too soon at Aintree when he was plunged into Grade One company and it was all a bit much finishing back in fifth.

This season the four year old has been seen on two occasions, both to good effect with his first run coming at Chepstow when not beaten far in a Handicap Hurdle off 125.

Dropped to 123 when last seen at Wetherby in November he was a much better second of nine to Homme Public who went on to win that event well and has since franked the form in a better race at Sandown.

Big player off the same mark.

Cheltenham - December 09 2022
Cheltenham 15:35
Harry Cobden

Annual Invictus

J: Harry Cobden
T: Chris Gordon
Age: 7
Weight: 11-3
OR: 139
Days: 27

The final event on the first day of the December meeting is the Citipost Handicap Hurdle over three miles and we can't get away from Annual Invictus who showed last time just how good he is.

A very consistent horse over hurdles and fences during his career rounding out his season two seasons ago when a close fourth of 23 in the Betfair Hurdle behind Soaring Glory.

Sent chasing last term he was second on debut at Uttoxeter behind Faivoir, but at Cheltenham's October meeting got off the mark in good fashion when landing a Limited Novice Handicap Chase over 2m4f.

A winner in a two runner event at Plumpton after he could not recreate his form for the rest of the season and left trainer Chris Gordon scratching his head.

The move taken by the trainer was to send him back over hurdles and it paid off massively when making his seasonal debut at Cheltenham over course and distance and he went on to win a good competitive handicap hurdle.

only up 4lb for that win to a mark of 139 he could still be on a workable mark and at odds of 7/1, he is a big each way player from the front again.

Granted this event is tougher but he is a contender.