What a difference a day makes! After some abject performances yesterday the blog se;lections have steamed back today to record a 48.75 pt profit on the day and 36.75 points ahead on the meeting so far. O’Faolains Boy got the Ante Post selections off to a lovely start, Sire De Grugy cemented the profit and then there was a lovely surprise when Hawk High (as high as 50/1 available today) won the Fred Winter.
It would be too much to hope we can match those type of figures but we can but try!
1.30 JLT Novices Chase
¼ odds 123 generally available
The change of this to Group 1 status has really elevated this race last year and attracted many that would normally have plumped for the Arkle or the RSA. For me, it is the classiest race of the three this year.
Because of the change in conditions, previous stats may not be too relevant
I advised Oscar Whisky in my January update blog at 10/1 and he’s still here with a fine chance on ground that should suit. Some judges have crabbed his latest win but that was on terrible ground and this should be his optimum conditions. I expect him to uphold his form over others he has beaten this season now that he won’t have to shoulder all of the donkey work up front himself.
Djakadam has been well touted by the Irish shrewdies recently as a Gold Cup horse of the future but his price is more about potential than actual form,a remark I would also give to Harry Fry’s Vukovar. Neither can be totally discounted it but I’d want a bit more juice in their odds
Taquin Du Seuil needs softer ground we have to think (same for Double Ross)and the main danger is Felix Yonger back on the kind of surface he looked so impressive on earlier in the season (soft ground just doesn’t show him in the same light). A saver on Felix, who seems a very professional jumper might not go amiss
But I rely on the ante post bet here
3pts ew Oscar Whisky 10/1
2.05 Pertemps Final
¼ odds generally but search out for those offering ¼ 12345
Very tricky handicap – a rating stat would tell us to avoid anything that is 143+ though. Some will have been laid out specifically for the race and expect the change in ground to bring about some notable improvement in some contenders. These weight stats are being beaten this week it has to be said and the better ground must have something to do with that so I am less inclined to dismiss the higher weights than normal.
What I am loathe to do in such a tricky race is to back anything at single figure odds so despite strong claims for both I can’t back Fingal Bay or If In Doubt.
It’s the kind of race where I look for the overpriced outsiders but definitely not a race to go overboard on.
There aren’t many that scream out as being ahead of the handicapper but two take the eye for small stakes.
Grand Vision was a very useful novice (3rd in Albert Bartlett 2 seasons back) who then suffered an injury and missed a season. He seems to be gradually fin ding his way back to form this season and it was no disgrace not to match Saphir Du Rheu and today’s Coral Cup winner Whisper over an inadequate trip last time. A mark of 142 is fair on his novice form and that also shows he operates on this course/distance/ground
The other one has been to this well many times before – Cross Kennon. He’s a front runner who can be very hard to pass and 139 is not a harsh mark. He ran well off the same mark here in November and is better off with Southfield Theatre was 3.5 lengths in front, and also Pineau de Re who finished a neck behind. Expect him to be in the van throughout and trying to beat them off from a long way out. This tactic is not strange to see in winning this race – Buena Vista, Kayf Aramis and one of my all time favs from past years, Willie Wumpkins all did it that hard way too.
1pt ew Grand Vision 16/1 (Hills ¼ 1234)
0.5 pts ew Cross Kennon 33/1 (Skybet & Paddy Power where ¼ 12345 is available)
2.40 Ryanair Chase
Generally ¼ odds 123
I have to admit to this being a bit of a graveyard race for me in the past – it often seems to be the consolation prize for horses who can’t quite get into the Champion Chase or the Gold Cup. 3 mile form seems to outweigh form from shorter trips and a previous win at Cheltenham is a notable must have.
Benefficient and Dynaste represent last year’s JLT form but Dynaste has yet to perform to his highest level at this meeting in the past and I’m not sure if the JLT form is quite up with what others have achieved.
Al Ferof is my marginal preference but I would be very wary of Menorah, whose form at the back end of last season is arguably the strongest in this race. He hasn’t done much this season but is the dark one here.
Not a strong enough view to recommend a bet though
3.20 World Hurdle
Generally ¼ odds 123
The inclusion of Annie Power into this event has kind of robbed it of betting interest to me. She could well be a class above them but is untested over 3 miles and that has to put me off taking any short odds. Her price will be shorter still after the wins of Vautour and Faugheen for the Mullins team will see liabilities running onto her and stablemate Briar Hill on Friday.
Big Bucks still has question marks after his reappearance from a long injury lay off – he is the best staying hurdler I have ever seen but he is 11 now and we can’t tell for sure if he retains all of his ability.
Expect Big Bucks’s stablemates to make this a true stamina test to expose any weaknesses in their rivals.
Given the doubts about the top two, I would normally be looking for something each way to oppose them with. At Fishers Cross would prefer much softer ground though so not to expose his jumping flaws. More of That hasn’t raced over the trip either, and his full brother Eastlake’s record wouldn’t give any confidence for him staying it.
Rule The World is the interesting outsider for me. Second to The New One in the Neptune last year he looked a serious prospect for the future then but got badly injured on his next start. It’s great to have him back and his astute trainer, Mouse Morris, will have him trained to the moment for this I’m sure.
He just isn’t quite big enough to recommend but we may look at this race again tomorrow if firms offer markets without the two favourites
4.00 Byrne Group Plate
Generally ¼ odds 1234 but again there are firms who will pay that extra 5th place if you can get it
My mail box was swamped earlier today with ‘Racing Post Tracker’ info of horses I was looking out for being entered in this race.
There are several possibilities for me
There is a weight stat favouring anything rated less than 142 but as previously mentioned I am less inclined to stick rigidly to that with the ground.
Previous soft ground could also be responsible for a good record for French bred horses in this.
A previous run at the Festival is a must though for me – and the Irish have a terrible record in this race.
These two stats are enough to put me off the fancied Sraid Padraig.
Tap Night went into mine and many other notebooks for this race with an eyecatching display here in January. It also went into the handicappers notebook though who raised him to 145 – and the fact that AP Mc Coy deserts him for Colour Squadron puts me off there
Johns Spirit and Colour Squadron were the 1-2 in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last November on the course. This hasn’t been a good guide here in the past and the handicapper appears to have their measure now but I am interested in the favourite for that race, Champion Court, who disappointed then and was found to be not right subsequently. He finds himself here, despite being allotted top weight, about a stone better off with both of them – and has the great assistance of Ryan Hatch to claim 7lbs to bring his mark effectively down to 150. This really is an attractive mark for a horse who has enough class to be a Ryanair chase runner. Hatch is very good claimer who has already won the Betfair Hurdle this year and has Festival winning experience from Same Difference last year. Stats may not be in his favour but I like his chances here.
Third Intention is a cliff horse for me – I will follow him over one most probably but won’t desert him here at his price. I don’t think he’s been campaigned that well on ground that has been too soft for him at times and for me this is more his ground/trip. He’s also slipped from a mark in the 150s to 143 and I’m sure he can win something decent off that if things go his way. Timeform give him a squiggle as being unreliable but I think that’s a little unfair and his third at Ascot last time got a nice boost when O Faolains Boy took the RSA today
At the bootom of the weights, Tartak is a bit of a lurker getting in off 131 (should be 129 but the minum weight is 10st). He was third in this of 134 last year and showed in October he can still be effective in this type of race. I’m always happy to ignore runs in Haydock’s awful soft ground as he had last time
1pt ew Champion Court 14/1 (365 paying 1st 5, Paddy Power 1st 4)
1pt ew Third Intention 16/1 (sportingBet 1st 5, others 1st 4)
0.5 pts ew Tartak 33/1(888 1st 5, others 1st 4)
4.40 Kim Muir Trophy
Generally ¼ odds 1234 but again some firms offer 12345
Another competitive handicap but this time for amateur riders.
For amateurs it makes a huge difference to me how much experience they have and if they are claiming weight that’s a big turn off. The best amateurs can have a significant advantage in ability and experience.
The market is dominated by Indian Castle and Cause of Causes and there is a natural inclination to think both have been laid out for this race.
Donald McCain likes this race – Cloudy Lane was his first Festival winner here and he came very close with Super Duty last year. Indian castle won well last time and easy to see why he’s fav with a top rider on his back. The worry though is that his best form comes on softer ground.
Cause of Causes had several entries at the meeting but has come for this with the excellent Nina Carberry to do the steering. The handicapper hasn’t missed the move though and 140 isn’t exactly thrown in on his chase form although he was weighted higher over hurdles. He can’t be discounted but I feel others are overpriced as the bookies try to keep these two short.
Roberto Goldback is a bit of a veteran now but it’s a very long time since he got the good ground he wants and a mark below 150 (144 here). Sam Waley Cohen has won a Gold Cup so I think we can’t crab him when it comes to experience! He is both top rated on Racing Post ratings and Timeform to highlight his form chances. I am a little concerned about previous course form but the price is too tempting to ignore
Spring Heeled was an eyecatcher over 4 furlongs further here in November when he appeared not to get home. This ground appears best for him and on this shorter trip I can see him being a big player here with another top amateur on board. He’s another I suspect has been mapped out for this race but the price is far more to my liking
1pt ew Roberto Goldback 20/1 (Stan James and Betfair Sportsbook both pay out 12345)
1pt ew Spring Heeled 18/1 (Stan James)
As always comments are welcome – thanks for taking the time to read the blog and best of luck once more!
Not many firms wanting to get involved in markets without the favs in the World Hurdle – further muddied by Quevega still sitting in the race and far from guaranteed to be a runner. Will leave that alone.
Despite the Ryanair being my bogey race at the Festival though I think Al Ferof’s form at the track is a bit too solid and the 5/1 available this morning is making him an each way proposition as I struggle to see him out of the frame. Not going mad here given my record in the race before but adding in
1.5 pts ew Al Ferof 5/1 (BetVictor, Paddy Power, Stan James)
(prices have moved on some of last nights selections I’m afraid – Racing Post pricewise put up Champion Court and Hugh Taylor of At The Races threw in Grand Vision http://www.attheraces.com/cheltenham/article.aspx?hlid=537628&lid=&raceid=&title=Hugh+Taylor&ref=Cheltenham+-+Left+Navigation&nav=barry+geraghty+blog&sub=&day=Thu. Third Intention has also come in for some overnight support)
Here’s hoping for another good day!