Past Winners » Count Meribel


This is a tricky race on a tricky opening day of the Cheltenham November meeting, but I think that Count Meribel should be shorter than 9/2, and I am backing him at that.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse was impressive in winning a novices’ handicap chase on his chasing debut at Carlisle two weeks ago.  Always prominent that day, he travelled easily in the lead or in a dispute of the lead from a long way out.  His jumping was good, he jumped into a definite lead at the third last fence, jumped on again at the second last and stayed on strongly over the last and up the run-in to win well, avoiding the attentions of two loose horses.

It was a decent race, Count Meribel carried top weight, and he clocked a time that was one and a half second faster than the time that Mister Whitaker clocked in winning the Colin Parker Memorial Chase over the same course and distance later in the day.

Count Meribel goes well fresh, so it is not a given that he will improve from his first run of the season to his second, but he could improve for having his first run over fences under his belt.  Also, he improved from his first run to his second last season, he racked up a hat-trick of wins between October and November, and he ran a cracker at Cheltenham’s December meeting, when he only just gave best to subsequent Albert Bartlett Hurdle winner Kilbricken Storm in a Grade 2 race over three miles.  This is the time of year to catch him, and this two and a half miles is probably his ideal trip.

This is a fascinating race.  There are horses with lots of potential in there, and Mr Whipped is the biggest danger in my book.  However, Count Meribel is solid, he was a talented and progressive novice hurdler at this stage last season, he jumps fences well and he goes well at Cheltenham. He has to carry a 5lb penalty, but so do three of his six rivals, and that is factored into his odds in my book.