Last weekend was always going to have a major bearing on some of the Ante Post markets for the big festival.
Consequently there is another selection added to the portfolio for the March festival.
World Hurdle 12th March
I was a bit dismissive of Saphir Du Rheu’s chances before this race. Stamina for 3 miles was unproven and his sole previous venture at the course was less than inspiring. It wasn’t a surprise therefore to see him drift in price before the off.
What happened in the race itself has now seen me become a supporter as he firmly put to bed both concerns
I’ve been a fan of Nick Williams’s Reve De Sivola since his 4yo days and the heart dearly wanted to see him prevail on Saturday. It’s his performance which for me highlights the chance of Saphir du Rheu in the big one.
‘Reve’ has always been a bit hit and miss with hurdling but here I don’t think I saw a mistake once and this was a true stamina test with him and Cole Harden forcing the pace. Subsequent comments from many at the course that the 10yo was looking really well make me think he probably ran to one of his best performances here on ground that would have been to his liking. I certainly rate it better than his previous narrow Ascot defeat of Zarkandar where there were some notable jumping errors.
It is much to Saphir du Rheu’s credit therefore that he was able to sit happily behind the strong pace and then be produced to outbattle a supremely good battler up Cheltenham’s hill.
He was in receipt of 4lbs of the second for sure, but the winner is likely to have scope for improvement come March and will be the better suited by less soft ground.
It was an ideal trial for me. Paul Nicholls stated afterwards there was more to come and better ground would suit.
Favourite for the World Hurdle is last year’s victor More of That. If he returns in the same form he could well be a class apart but there is a big question mark hanging over Jonjo O’Neill’s charge. He hasn’t been seen since a defeat in November in very soft ground and has subsequently undergone a wind operation.
Annie Power is a low price in some lists but that is only with firms offering ‘Non Runner No Bet’ and last year’s second seems a much likelier runner in the Mares Hurdle instead.
Of the rest, Zarkandar remains a threat but I rate him a little behind the selection now as explained previously. Rock on Ruby hasn’t yet proved stamina over 3 miles and his optimum distance could well be half a mile shorter. Lieutenant Colonel has emerged as the main Irish raider presently but didn’t seem to cope with the hill too well here as a novice last season. Beat That also has to prove he likes this course
All in all, I rate Saphir du Rheu a decent bet right now with 7/1 still available.
2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 7/1 (SportingBet, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Betfair Sportsbook – the latter also has NRNB concession for the race so is the most recommended option)
Prices available here:http://www.oddschecker.com/cheltenham-festival/world-hurdle/winner
Thanks for reading – comments always welcome
- Initial bank 50pts
Current balance 38pts
Ante Post bets 12pts staked (with some updated info) :
2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 8/1 World Hurdle
1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 RSA Chase
1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1 RSA Chase
With Saphir Du Rheu now firmly on course for hurdles it would be hoped this is the main hope for Nicholls in the event – due to run at Newbury in November in a novice chase often used as an RSA trial
1pt ew Blaklion 12/1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle
Slightly disappointing when caught on the line at Doncaster last Saturday. That was a slowly run race however and will be completely different to the Cheltenham event. Remains similar chance with no obvious stars yet to emerge in his division
1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 Grand National
First run of the season last Saturday – didn’t expect too much and he got tired and was pulled up. It’s all about getting the right mark for the big race so not expecting to see him do too much before then to enhance his claims