The forecast rain materialised which meant the ground was testing for the second day of Cheltenham's November meeting. It was a poor day for November Update with no returns from three races. Hell Red was most disappointing in the opening Grade 2 juvenile hurdle and looked a shadow of the horse who bolted up on his UK debut at Chepstow. Paul Nicholls' French recruit was in trouble soon after the third last and was pulled up before the final flight. It was later reported that the Martaline gelding had a breathing issue and will doubtless undergo surgery to rectify the problem. The same happened with stablemate Mick Pastor in the race last year.
I think the lack of a recent run caught Lamanver Pippin out in the staying handicap chase for amateur riders. Colin Tizzard's gelding looked rusty early on and was off the bridle with a circuit to run. However, he kept responding and held every chance on the home turn. Eventually beaten around a length behind Storm Control, a number of the stable's horses have been needing a run and I feel the seven year old is a case in point. Lightly raced over fences, he revels in the mud and, while he may not be good enough to win the Welsh National, he looks tailormade for one of the provincial Nationals. There is some mileage in his rating of 132.
Neither of my two selections in the Paddy Power Gold Cup completed with the pair pulling up. Nicky Henderson felt the ground was much too soft for Mister Fisher even though he had finished fourth in the Grade 1 Marsh Novices' Chase at the Festival in similar conditions, while Brelan D'As was in trouble at the top of the hill.
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