Trainer Nicky Henderson has his team in flying form and Champagne Platinum is strongly fancied to provide him with another winner in the 2m 4f Ryman Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on International Meeting day 2 this Saturday (12:45).
This five-year-old was purchased by leading owner JP McManus after impressively winning his sole start in an Irish point by sic lengths.
He then looked a very exciting recruit to the hurdling ranks when winning his first two starts last season after joining Seven Barrows handler Henderson.
After justifying heavy market support to win easily at Newcastle, the son of Stowaway could not have been more impressive when cruising home by 4 1/2 lengths from Percy’s Word in a 16-runner affair at Newbury.
Champagne Platinum tracked the leaders travelling ominously well. After being switched left two from home, quickened up smartly to win with any amount in hand.
Although what he beat is questionable, the manner in which he got the job done was visually impressive.
Henderson then decided to swerve the Cheltenham Festival with Champagne Platinum and save him for Punchestown a month later.
However, he ran below expectations in finishing a well-beaten fifth of six to Supreme winner Klassical Dream in the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.
His cause that day was not helped by some slow jumps. Champagne Platinum didn’t look strong enough for such a step up in class at such an early stage in his career.
In truth, whatever he achieved over hurdles was going to be a bonus as he is a strapping sort bred to come into his own over fences.
At 3/1 with 888Sport, Champagne Platinum is thus fully expected to make his eagerly awaited chasing debut a winning one en route to better things.
Irish raider Tremwedge taken to Triumph in opener
Having shaped with plenty of promise in two outings over the obstacles, Tremwedge looks decent value at 11/2 with Bethard to land the spoils in the 2m Triumph Hurdle Trial that gets proceedings underway (12:10).
Trained in Ireland by Ellmarie Holden, this three-year-old outran odds of 40/1 when an eye-catching third of 14 to Sacchoandvanzetti at Punchestown.
After racing at the rear of mid-division, Tremwedge made good headway to take up the running two from home.
He then got slightly outpaced before keeping on again to be beaten just over five lengths under tender handling. It was a fine effort.
The winner is a useful sort who went into the race having scored in good style in a decent looking 18-runner maiden hurdle at Galway. Tremwedge was then pitched into Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse.
He put in a similar effort to finish a solid 6 1/4 length third to Cerberus – a current 25/1 shot for the Triumph Hurdle itself next March.
The runner-up, A Wave Of The Sea, was also bidding to land a hat-trick, so the form looks solid and reads well in relation to this.
Tremwedge seems to be improving with each outing and there are undoubtedly races to be won with him.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson taking the ride also catches the eye and suggest connections mean business.
Another plus is that Tremwedge receives weight from the well-fancied duo of Botox Has and Langer Dan. He is thus a value play on International Meeting day 2 now eased in grade.
Dame De Compagnie of major interest on International Meeting day 2
Dame De Compagnie was a massive eye-catcher on seasonal reappearance, so now stepped up in trip looks the one to be on in the 2m 4f mares’ handicap hurdle (15:40).
Trained by Nicky Henderson, this JP McManus owned six-year-old was backed in from 16/1 to 6/1 and shaped really well in defeat when fifth of 14 to Harmabe in the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle here over 2m last month.
Dame De Compagnie raced sweetly on the heels of the leaders in the hands of Barry Geraghty until getting outpaced three from home and losing her place at a crucial stage.
She then rallied strongly and stayed on in taking fashion up the run-in to be beaten just under six lengths.
It was a highly promising comeback following 577 days on the sidelines, and one which suggested Dame De Compagnie was potentially ahead of her current mark of 132.
Prior to that fine effort, the daughter of Lucarno had shown real battling qualities to land a Listed mares’ contest over course and distance.
Judged on the way in which she finished off in the Greatwood, Dame De Campagnie looks sure to have more to offer when stepped back up in trip.
This class 2 contest also represents a drop in class and Dame De Compagnie is now back racing againt her own sex.
It gives her rock solid claims of getting back to winning ways. Dame De Compagnie looks a worthy 5/2 favourite with Unibet to do just that on International Meeting day 2.