herald

Friday 13 December 2019

Slate looking like real deal

Pop Rockstar another horse we'll be hearing a lot more about

UPTURN IN FORM: Pop Rockstar
UPTURN IN FORM: Pop Rockstar

Virtually all bookies are offering extra places on the BetVictor Gold Cup and I fully expect these two to at least make the frame.

Both have something to prove but look well capable of making a strong impact.

It was two years ago that SLATE HOUSE (2.25, Cheltenham) announced that he was going to be a force when winning the Grade Two novices' hurdle at this meeting but it just did not happen for him after that until his reappearance this term.

Two wind ops later he looked absolutely the real deal last time and significantly he was well backed, so connections must have been confident that he is over his problems. It certainly looked that way.

He travelled well throughout and won without exerting himself too much, yet put up a very good performance on the clock despite the heavy conditions.

It is possible the breathing operation won't hold up under the more severe test this race demands but the fact that he was been supported continuously ante-post suggests the Tizzards are confident once again.

Slate House has only ever won at Cheltenham so track and conditions are fine for him and this could easily be his breakthrough moment.

Happy Diva is one of the best and most consistent mares around. Her issue is she has a habit of coming second.

However, she was travelling extremely well and looking certain to be involved in the finish when brought down four out in last year's race.

She is 3lb higher but I believe she might have ended up on a much higher mark had she completed and her 3lb claimer was riding a perfect race on her before that unfortunate exit.

Her form is largely in small, good-quality fields but this is largely due to the programme for high-class mares.

My opinion is that a fast run big field enables her jockey to ride her to come through late, and as a result not give her the opportunity to idle away victory.

I feel she represents a cracking each-way bet here. Kerry Lee is almost synonymous with heavy ground and this mare is well proven over trip and conditions.

Although I don't think much of the name of POP ROCKSTAR'S (1.50, Cheltenham) name, I do expect him to be a name we will be hearing a lot more about this season and beyond.

His form has taken a massive upturn on his past two runs and the handicapper has attempted to steady him.

However, a 12lb rise did not stop him last time at Carlisle and he won so convincingly that a further 8lb hike is unlikely to be the reason he gets beaten on Saturday afternoon.

He has become an accomplished jumper and looks a real stayer, so I don't think the trip will be a barrier and he has a win on heavy ground under Jonjo O'Neill Jr to his name.

TREASURE DILLON (3.30, Cheltenham) is another handicapper who might be advantaged by carrying a lower weight on the heavy ground.

He ran an encouraging race over course and distance last time against a well-handicapped horse, as well as a Charles Byrnes improver.

He has only gone up 1lb for that effort and in a race has cut up a little he can make the frame at least.

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