Day 1 was largely dominated by team Mullins (and his two jockeys Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend – much to my chagrin in the last – riding 5 of the days 7 winners)
The ante post selections in the blog today seemed to be too fond of 4th place scuppering the place angles of their respective bets.
It was left to the two selections in the last to return some investments and finish 2nd and 3rd.
The ground looked pretty quick today and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they watered this evening to prevent it getting too fast.
Assuming Best Odds Guaranteed on Generous Ransom who returned at 8/1 there were 9 pts staked on Tuesday’s day of race markets and 8.81 pts returned.
10 pts were lost on Ante Post wagers today but there are some nice positions to run on tomorrows cards which I will go through now:
1.30 Neptune Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur
Generally ¼ odds 123 available http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-03-11-cheltenham/13:30/winner
Surprisingly this race has thrown up some future Champion Hurdle stars in the past despite being over a trip much further. The last two winners, Faugheen and The New One, being ideal cases in point.
It’s usually a competitive affair and despite having an open feel to it it’s a bit of a shock to see only a field of 10 lining up – 7 of which are officially rated within 9 lbs of one another.
It’s a race I have already covered Ante Post and have a good position on having put up Windsor Park at 12/1 a few weeks ago – he’s now around 5/1.
I do think his form behind Nichols Canyon is the strongest coming into this and that he should be the likelier one of the two to benefit from the better ground and the longer trip. I don’t think there’s any value left in him at current odds but am very happy with the position I have on this race.
Parlour Games has arguably the strongest form of the English but stats followers will be well aware that Challow Hurdle winners have a bad record in this. I also have a feeling he may need softer ground to be most effective. – a remark I could also give to Outlander who has no form on such a surface
At bigger odds, Ordo Ab Chao is the most appealing outsider (14/1 best with Paddy Power). He won what looked quite a strong novice event at the course in January and has been a little overlooked in the betting for me.
No Bet for now at current odds
1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1
2.05 RSA Chase 3ml
Generally ¼ odds 123 available http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-03-11-cheltenham/14:05/winner
Another race where the blog has a strong Ante Post position, having tipped Southfield Theatre at 20/1 in January. He’s now around 6/1 and fits the stats perfectly as a 7yo – the age that has dominated this contest in recent years.
Only 3 horses aged under 7 have triumphed since the late 1970s, and one of them was a 5yo and getting a much bigger weight concession than is received by them now.
This is too big a negative for me to support the current favourite Don Poli, The Young Master, Wounded Warrior and Adriana des Mottes.(of these I do think Wounded Warrior could be one to follow in coming seasons and may be a touch overpriced but is more one for softer ground)
Kings Palace won’t have to worry about vying for the lead with Coneygree any more now that one has been rerouted to the Gold Cup. This will help his cause but it’s hard to forget how disappointing he was at last year’s Festival when strongly fancied for the Albert Bartlett hurdle.
If In Doubt did amazingly well to win a big handicap comfortably at Doncaster considering his jumping was so bad. It shows he must have an engine but this is a much harder course to jump around and it’s a bit of a surprise to see him turning up for this race.
I still think Southfield Theatre is the one to be with and is hard to see out of the frame given a clear round on ground that will suit him so well.
Having already got a very good price on him I don’t see the need to reinvest more but wouldn’t put anyone off supporting him with Paddy Power currently offering a tasty 15/2. Paul Nicholls has been putting him forward as one of his strongest chances of the week at recent Preview nights
So for blog purposes it’s No BET but for anyone not already on the selection I wouldn’t pass him by
1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1
1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 (NR and therefore a losing bet)
2.40 Coral Cup 2ml 5fur
Many firms offering ¼ odds 12345 and you really need that in this highly tricky handicap
It’s hard to spot anything that looks well ahead of the handicapper. The obvious exception could be Paul Nicholls’ French import Aux Ptits Soins but its impossible to tell if his mark of 139 is a fair reflection of his form or not. It’s certainly a tough baptism to throw the horse into a race like this on his British debut.
I’m going for two small each way investments in the race.
I used to think 5yos had a disadvantage in this race but 3 have now won in the last 10 years so am less dissuaded. Baradari performed well at the Festival this year and looked an improved performer when tackling a longer trip last time. Venetia Williams must always be respected in any Cheltenham handicap and at 20/1 is worth a poke.
It’s anyone guess whether a Tony Martin runner is fancied or not – the market will surely tell us tomorrow if it is. Marinero had the misfortune to come up against Douvan earlier in the season but creeps in near the bottom of the weights here and with a decent 5lb claimer on board.
There’s always a good chance that anything sired by Presenting will be a better horse on good ground and that’s what sways me in his direction here as he is unexposed under the conditions tomorrow
0.5pts ew each
Baradari 18/1 Skybet ¼ odds 12345 (16/1 still acceptable as long as 5 places offered)
Marinero 16/1 Skybet, Bet Victor, Hills, Paddy Power – all offering a 5th place
An extra selection here which somehow eluded me last night. Dell’Arca was favourite for this race last year and was bang there at the last before finishing 5th. He is on a slightly higher mark but this year’s renewal doesnt look quite as strong in my mind. While he operates on soft ground his best form is at this track and on good ground which he gets here. I’m happy to ignore his last run at Taunton where he kept to the inner and the first two raced very wide – almost certainly he was on much worse ground.
Corals have upped the place game by offering 1/4 123456 and with that extra place thats where we will go for this one
0.75pts ew Dell’Arca 22/1 (Corals 1/4 odds 123456) – (25/1 is available for 1st 5 and acceptable also)
3.20 Queen Mother Champion Chase 2ml
Winston Churchill once said that Russia was ‘ a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ but I think that could easily apply to this race as well this year.
Sprinter Sacre is the best 2 mile chaser of the recent era but has only raced once since a heart problem was diagnosed. It’s just so impossible to gauge how good he still is and that makes it so difficult to back him or lay him. I do worry about him coming up the hill with all of the problems he has had
Sire De Grugy has also had injury issues but looked back to himself when winning at Chepstow last time. He won this race last year when everyone wanted to lay him as it was always known this was not his favourite course. It was a weaker race than this year though and this is a stiffer test
Dodging Bullets is this year’s form horse and like so many of Dubawi’s stock has improved with age. The issue with him is how his form in March has not matched up to earlier in the season in previous years.
Champagne Fever doesn’t seem to have a trip right now. His novice form last season doesn’t look quite strong enough for me and he has since been campaigned over as far as 3 miles.
Mr Mole is a reformed character this season having been the bad boy of jump racing in his younger days. He was presented with a win at Newbury after Sire De Grugy’s fall but won well enough to suggest he could have beaten him anyway.
Special Tiara is a fantastic jumping front runner who will ensure a proper pace here but may just be a little below this class when a stiff finish is involved. His presence in the race should help the one who I think is the best outsider Simply Ned – a horse who desperately needs a sound surface to show his best.
Like most of Nicky Richards’ he a slow developer but has a consistently upward profile through his carrer and is a fluent jumper. He will be sitting out the back in this race and picking up the pieces but I can see him running into the frame at decent odds. 20/1 is available and worth a small each way investment
0.5pts ew Simply Ned 20/1 (Betfred/Totesport)
4.00 Cross Country Chase 3ml 7fur
¼ odds 123 generally available
Not run over conventional fences this race this spectacle is nice to watch but doesn’t tempt me for punting purposes. Experience over the course is usually a must but most of the field have that
It’s a definite NO Bet race for me
4.40 Fred Winter Hcap Hurdle 2ml
Generally ¼ odds 1234 offered here though it would be a surprise if a few didn’t offer 5 places come the day
A great race for the blog last year selecting a 40/1 winner and a 20/1 place. Both were based on the previous record of decent flat performers in the race. Last year’s third Orgilgo Bay had the highest flat rating in the field at 103 and that stat has produced 3 winners in the past 10years.
Having had only the requisite 3 previous runs to gain a handicap mark has produced 70% of the winners in the same period.
We don’t have anything that has reached a rating of 90+ on the Flat competing this year but 6 horses have achieved ratings in excess of 80; Dai Bando, Arabian Revolution, Starchitect, Zarib, Mr Gallivanter and Sebastien Beach. Of these Arabian Revolution and Zarib have had just the three runs and they are the two for my shortlist.
Arabian Revolution was unlucky to come up against leading Triumph Hurdle contender Beltor on his second run and it was no disgrace for him to lose there when conceding 7lbs. Sebastien Beach was over 4 lengths back in 3rd that day and reopposes on only 1 lb better terms. John Ferguson’s charge has won well at Huntingdon since and the form has been boosted by the third in that race since (jockey Noel Fehily commented after the race that he had the class to run in Triumph). His hurdling form is all on soft ground but better going shouldn’t be a problem as has won on good ground on the flat. The booking of Barry Geraghty to ride is an obvious bonus.
Zarib also came up against a leading Triumph contender at Cheltenham in January when comfortably disposed of by Peace and Co. That was a very false run race and so hard to interpret the form literally. He won a very weak race easily since. I have the utmost respect for his up and coming trainer Dan Skelton and he doesn’t appear harshly handicapped on a mark of 133.
Of the two marginal preference goes to Arabian Revolution however as I see his form a little stronger and he appeals as a slightly stronger stayer
1pt ew Arabian Revolution 10/1 (general)
Alas only Racebets who I do not use have come up with 5 places so far. If anyone else does come up with 4 places and 12/1 Zarib I may well add him to the portfolio but nothing done for now
5.15 Champion Bumper 2ml
Look for a few firms offering 4 places here
A breeding ground for future Festival winners for sure this is often a race to get stung on. If I backed everything in the field that I heard was ‘best in the stable’ I could easily have 7 or 8 running for me.
I think Supasundae’s Ascot win is the best piece of UK bumper form on show here (Yanworth second) but he has since been sold to Henry de Bromhead’s stable and now represents Ireland.
General Principle and Wait For me are two I have heard talked up a lot recently and the Wille Mullins stable is once again represented en masse.
I heard very good things about Stone Hard at the beginning of the season and he would be my pick if pushed. He doesn’t appear to be the stable first string on jockey bookings but that doesn’t always work out in this event and Paul Townend has already had 2 winners today so is hardly a disadvantage. What might find him out would be quicker ground.
He’s more of a hopeful selection and for the purposes of recommendations this remains a NO Bet race
Thanks for reading once again
Comments welcome as always and good luck
Initial Bank 50pts
Current Balance 16.31 pts
Ante Post Bets Staked 17 pts
Day 2 Cheltenham bets staked 6.5pts