Megan Nicholls Racing Tips – Cheltenham & Doncaster
BetMGM ambassador Megan Nicholls has her say on the world of horse racing, bringing her top-class knowledge and insight exclusively to our blog.
This week the former jockey, who rode more than 110 winners before becoming a highly-regarded TV pundit, runs the rule over the meetings at Cheltenham and Doncaster following Newbury’s cancellation due to waterlogging.
Frankie’s Fairytale Farewell
It was absolutely phenomenal how everything worked out for Frankie Dettori on his last day at Ascot – a dream ending to have ridden Trawlerman and King of Steel to victory on Champions Day.
To have won on Trawlerman in the Long Distance Cup for Godolphin would have meant a lot to him, as would the fact John and Thady Gosden trained the horse.
But then for his last ride at Ascot to be a winner in the Champions Stakes was just ridiculous. I didn't think King of Steel was particularly loving it out there; the ground didn't seem to be something he was enjoying too much. He really stuck to his task, Frankie never gave up and between them they managed to close down Via Sestina and give Frankie his dream ending.
The atmosphere looked and sounded incredible. You couldn't write it – it was such an important day for racing. We'll miss Frankie and his personality an awful lot over here.
He says it's his last ride at Ascot but he'll do well to stick to that as I'm sure he will be tempted to come over for the Royal Meeting. But as things stand it’s his last and I think the way it ended for him was phenomenal. I don't think he would want to risk spoiling his fairytale goodbye by riding again here.
It was an amazing day for racing and well done to everyone at Ascot for getting the day to go ahead. The ground conditions were tricky; hopefully the weather will take a turn sooner rather than later as it's been very tough for the clarks of the course and everyone involved in the sport over the last 10 days to two weeks.
Doncaster 2.10 – Futurity Trophy
I think the market has it right – Ancient Wisdom deserves to be the favourite. He was very impressive at Newmarket last time, absolutely bolting up in the Autumn Stakes (Group 3) to win by more than three lengths. He's stepping up in grade again but he's the most likely.
Diego Velazquez looked a bit laboured when we won the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2) at Leopardstown and the second-place finisher in that race, Capulet, did not boost his form next time out.
Although he's a big galloper and enjoys difficult ground, so the likely stiff test at Doncaster will suit him, his size means he will be much better as a three-year-old. Ancient Wisdom is ready now, so he is a worthy favourite.
At bigger odds the horse that will outrun his price is Devil's Point. I absolutely love this horse, he has plenty of ability.
He ran OK at Saint-Cloud last time and he's the one that could be overpriced – but it’s Ancient Wisdom for the win in my opinion.
Megan’s Tip: Ancient Wisdom WIN
Cheltenham 2.25 – Handicap Chase
I like Undersupervision – he's a horse that has run at Cheltenham plenty of times, he's run well there, is still relatively lightly raced and doesn't tend to have particularly busy seasons.
He likes a decent surface and, unbelievably, it looks like Cheltenham will have quite nice ground.
The thing that can let him down is his jumping so getting into that rhythm is really important. I'm sure this horse has more than enough ability but jumping well is massively important around Cheltenham.
He pulled up over four miles in the Scottish National when last seen but he's back to a more realistic trip of 3m 1f and it’s all about rhythm – he had a huge chance if he can find that.
Megan’s Tip: Undersupervision WIN
Doncaster 2.45 – Prospect Stakes
Al Shabhab Storm is in tidy form. He's progressed with each start and the fact he was a winner on soft ground at Goodwood last time out is a positive.
Trainer Andrew Balding has had another good season and it's nice to see a horse that looks to be a three-year-old type progressing through the back end of his two-year-old year.
I think it's a pretty open race, and he's improving at a quicker rate than most of the others. He's my selection.
Megan’s Tip: Al Shabab Storm WIN
Cheltenham 3.00 – Handicap Hurdle
I like the chances of my dad's runner here, Hugo's New Horse. He was really progressive last year with some strong form. There could easily be more to come from him and he's got plenty of experience now, which is a positive.
Now he's not going to be a novice anymore over hurdles, he has got to step it up against more experienced handicappers but he's got enough in the tank for me not to worry about his chances in a big field around Cheltenham.
He is up in distance for the first time and his stamina is unknown but the signs suggest he should get the trip with no problem.
As a rule, he travels and jumps well, which is important around this course. He might well take a bit of beating and he's a horse that is exciting for the future, especially when he goes chasing.
At a bigger price there’s Gortmillish for Gordon Elliott. He is slightly more unexposed but he looked to have gotten tired on his reappearance run at Killarney last time out and could take a big step forward from that start to now fitness-wise.
This is a qualifier for the Pertemps Final so no horses are in it just for the sake of it – but travelling all the way over from Ireland shows how highly Gordon rates this horse. He should be respected at a bigger each-way price of 14/1.
Megan’s Tip: Hugo's New Horse WIN, Gortmillish E/W
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