Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Chase Day

14 Mar
Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Chase Day

Day 1 started with a shock when Labaik finally decided to start a race and then decided to show just how much ability he had. Whether we will get to see this again remains to be seen – it’s quite easy to see a repeat of Browne’s Gazette happening when he went onto the Champion Hurdle the following season where all hope for the short priced favourite was lost at the start

The blog recommendations had a successful day – thanks largely to Apples Jade repelling the dual challenge from the Wille Mullins team in the Mares Hurdle. Singlefarmpayment went agonizingly close to getting another win but was beaten in a photo finish.

Edwulf looked like finishing 2nd before appearing to break down badly on the run-in. It looked very bad for him at the time but subsequent tweets appear to suggest that he may recover. Fingers crossed that he does.

Charbel wasn’t a recommended bet but gutting to see him fall when really giving Altior something to think about in the Arkle. I hope the fall doesn’t have any lasting effects on him because he has real potential at this division next year.

From a recommended outlay of 9pts, the suggested bets returned 18.13 pts. A 9.13 pt profit on the day and a good way to start the meeting

Onto the day 2 recommendations………..

(Wednesday lunchtime updates below each race where I have anything extra to add)

1.30 Neptune Management Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur

Neon Wolf probably put up the best performance for a novice hurdler this season when winning at Haydock. His sectional time was better than Champion hurdle contender The New One on the same card. (Elgin 2nd didn’t really advertise the form in the Supreme)

He will be all the rage here but it is worth remembering that the ground was soft that day. Connections intimated afterwards that his participation at Cheltenham wasn’t a given as might be ground dependent.

Bacardys is the main market rival having outstayed stablemate Bunk Off Early last time. The latter ran freely in the Supreme today and was well beaten so no advert for that form either

Of the home contingent, Willoughby Court‘s best run has come on much softer ground than he’ll get here but he is likley to make this race a good stamina test from the front. Messire Des Obeaux is battle hardened and consistent and may well benefit from this. He definitely is an each way option to consider

I have already made my bet on this race and it was stated in last week’s blog. Shattered Love represents the Irish mares division which has looked strong this year and I’m sure she will improve for this longer trip. (Stable won Tuesday’s opener with the enigmatic Labaik and then had 2 more winners so not exactly in bad form!)

If you followed me in at 25/1 we are ahead of the price now

(Previously recommended 1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1)

Wednesday update

Shattered Love has shortened again since last night and 10/1 best price currently. Pricewise selected her and I’m sure the rich vein of form the stable was in yesterday has a lot to do with it. Let’s hope the money is right! Looks to be nice weather there so I still harbour a little doubt about the favourite with ground getting closer to good all of the time. His price has stayed fairly steady with only a minor drift since last night




2.10 RSA Novices Chase 3 miles

The dominant performance in this division – or it would have been if had stood up – is from Might Bite at Kempton over Christmas. He would have won by 20 lengths that day if not for falling and presenting the race to Royal Vacation

No one seems to fancy this horse though at any of the preview evening (except Mick Fitzgerald – but that’s hardly surprising given that his old boss Nicky Henderson trains the horse!).

I don’t fancy him either. This could be a similar case to Sire De Grugy who got to a crazy price in the Champion Chase a couple of years ago with firms fighting to be the top price on Oddschecker. There were more things in Sire De Grugy’s favour that day though for me.

So what is wrong with Might Bite? Well he is sired by Scorpion and that usually signifies a horse that wouldn’t be wearing his heart on his sleeve when the chips are down. His previous form at Cheltenham is pretty mediocre – the Kempton effort came on a flat, right-handed track and you can’t get much more different than that here.

Then there’s that fall and the comments made after from the trainer suggesting he was a nervous horse who was unsettled by the crowd. If that’s the case how will he cope here?

If you fancy him still then wait to see how far the drift goes is my best advice.

Stats will tell you that it’s best to be with an Irish bred 7yo in this race. There are 3 of those in the race; Bellshill, O O Seven and Royal Vacation.

I’ve seen Bellshill a couple of times at Leopardstown and can’t say he has impressed me. He hasn’t performed well at Cheltenham in two previous efforts and he fell in what was meant to be a schooling session recently back at Leopardstown. I can’t really fancy him at all here

O O Seven looked smart winning here before Christmas but did wander about the run-in quite badly. I think this trip might just stretch his stamina a little.

Royal Vacation has done nothing wrong this year and won a competitive handicap last time to prove he acts on the track. He was the one who benefited from Might Bite’s fall at Kempton. He just might lack the class for me to win but has some place potential.

From the rest, Acapella Bourgeois got a completely uncontested lead last time and I’m not sure if the form can be trusted. He looks to need soft ground.

Alpha Des Obeaux looked an obvious one for this race here last year when being the only one to try and give Thistlecrack a race in the Stayers Hurdle. He didn’t look that comfortable in his early chase efforts and most worryingly broke a blood vessel in his last run. There is no better trainer to bring one back than Mouse Morris (First Lieutenant 2nd in this race previously after also taking time to get used to the bigger fences).

Whisper has won at the Festival and mixed it with the best in Stayers division. He has taken some time to get comfortable over fences but as a 9yo he finally seems to be getting there and has recorded two wins at the course this year in quite gritty fashion. Despite being older than ideal I think he can run close here.

Our Kaempfer is the other I like. The ground should be no issue and he is a horse who definitely needs to be held up off a strong gallop. He was probably given a little too much to do in the Coral Cup here last year in a 24 runner field. This 12 runner affair should suit his needs better. Don’t expect to see him on the scene until late – hopefully he is stalking them still on the home turn!


Place terms not greatly appealing at the moment here so we’ll stick to win only on this one for now



1.5pt win Whisper 7/1 (Bet 365, Hills, Bet Victor, Corals)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (hills, Boyles)

  • since writing Stan James have gone 18/1 on Our Kaempfer with 1/4 odds 123 – would happily take the 0.75pts each way on him with these terms if you can get on!


Wednesday update

No obvious move in the market yet and no one really setting out to get the favourite yet. Whisper has shortened a fraction on Betfair and the 7/1 has all but gone




2.50 Coral Cup (Hcap) 2ml 5fur

This is usually a very competitive handicap but there are two Irish raiders who could be very well in and stand out a mile to me.

Tombstone was 4th in last year’s Supreme Novices (todays Arkle and Champion Hurdle winners 1st and 3rd) and a mark of 149 looks pretty lenient on both that form and his defeat of former Champion hurdler Jezki last time.

Gordon Elliott was thinking of supplementing him for the Champion Hurdle after that run but changed his mind when he saw the mark he had been given. The stable struck in this race with Carlito Brigante before who ran away with the race for the same connections. He has been well backed already and is hard to ignore. My only slight concern is the ground with most of his form being on softer.

The ground is certainly not a concern for Peregrine Run whose connections would have been praying for dry conditions.

peregrine run

His form at the course before Christmas when beating Wholestone and West Approach looks very good now. Those two are now rated 145 and 157…Peregrine Run gets 142 here.

He has been beaten since at Warwick but the ground was far too soft for him that day. To my eye he still travelled like the best horse in the race that day but just couldn’t quicken in the going.

He is a novice, and while that can be a concern in a competitive handicap, he would have more experience that most novices by this time.

On the likely decent ground I like his chances a lot but with a big field we are always going to need that touch of luck in running so look for firms paying 5 places here


1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345 with Bet 365/Bet Victor)

Wednesday update

Peregrine Run another Pricewise selection has seen his price trimmed a little. Tombstone staying fairly solid at around 4/1…will take a bit for him to go lower than that in such a competitive race. There is interesting money for Wille Mullins’s ex French Tin Soldier here…was around 11/1 last night now generally about 7/1. It suggests there could be a third Irish runner in the race who the handicapper has let in leniently. Seems plenty short enough to me on his Irish form but the stable has to be respected




3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase  2miles

The feature race of the day and the unbeaten Douvan should be a class apart from these. I did think his presence would scare a few off and leave us with a very small field but to their credit there are 8 other still standing their ground

This does give some each value options with some firms paying ¼ odds a place.

Special Tiara and Gods Own were 3rd and 4th last year and again hold strong place claims. I was a little disappointed with Special Tiara at Kempton over Christmas were he might have been a little lucky to beat Sir Valentino. His form doesn’t seem quite up to the same level this season.

Gods Own will get the decent ground he craves and if he had been given a prep run I would rate him to obvious one to follow Douvan home. This race may be his prep for Aintree and Punchestown though and it’s possible he may not be hard fit yet. I still expect him to be a place contender though

Fox Norton had a setback after looking a genuine contender for this race before Christmas. He again has place chances but is a little short for me now.

As put up in last week’s blog my each way play is Simply Ned who will also get the ground he needs – and with Special Tiara in the race he should also get a good gallop.

Simply Ned

With 66/1 and ¼ odds now available I’m happy to top up a little more on this one. I just think he isn’t so far behind the others as these odds imply.


0.5 pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (taking ¼ odds 123 currently available with Bet365 and Unibet)

(Already recommended 0.5 pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5th odds 123)

Wednesday update

Not much movement here but if you are betting each way do take a price whatever you do. In yesterday’s Arkle (similar race with very short priced fav) on course show was much shorter on everything to allow for the place odds discrepancy so don’t be surprised to see a lower SP return on most of the runners



4.10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase – distance : seemingly forever but actually 3ml 7fur

As noted in previous year’s blogs this race isn’t really my cup of tea – I might well be making one when it is on.

I did note my old friend First Lieutenant seemed to be enjoying himself on such fences on Twitter today. I would love to see him do well. He wouldn’t stay this trip in a normal race but stamina not often at a premium here with the pace the race is run at.

Not really a betting medium for me though




4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (Hcap)  2 miles

Paul Nicholls French-bred runners have done very well in this race in recent years so his runners Dolos and Dreamcatching must be respected.

A stat I have always liked for this event however revolves around backing the highest rated flat horse in the field. There is a lot of French form here where we don’t have marks to go by which doesn’t help matters

Comfortable the highest rating on the flat this year comes from Percy Street who was rated 98 (next best Dino Velvet 85).

The likely strong pace and decent ground is what could be responsible for the good performance of such types in the past. I’m hopeful (but far from confident) that this will show him in a better light on his first venture into handicap company.

A bit more study will be going on from me on this race this evening so may be further updates to come on this one

Just a small recommendation here in a very competitive race for now

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 1/4 odds 1234 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook)

Wednesday update

Not much I can add to this despite more scrutiny last night. My selection has shortened up on the Exchange market to 24.0 so all 33/1 has now gone.




5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper  2 miles

Not a race for big opinions unless you have some stable info. I’ve seen three of these on the racetrack this year. Carter McKay was well touted before beating Bakmaj on his debut. I can’t say I was too impressed by his head and tail carriage when pressure was applied that day and wouldn’t want to have him on my side when the chips are down.

Debuchet’s finishing effort last time was much more likeable but I’m not sure of what the form of that race really amounts to

Someday has been favourably mentioned as the best Irish contender at some preview evenings.

However, the Newbury race in which Western Ryder finished 2nd to Daphne Du Clos looked a pretty smart contest to me and I think that could be the strongest form on offer here. Dans Le Vent was 3rd that day beaten another 2 lengths but is up against it on 7lbs worse terms. He’d by at the top of my shortlist right now

Cause Toujours is highly regarded by the Skelton stable who had such bad luck with Ch’tibello being withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle on the day of the race. He’s the dark one in the field but noticeable he’s getting well supported on Betfair Exchange today

No bet for now – am waiting to see more of the odds and place terms develop on this one this evening

Wednesday update

I think the support overnight for Cause Toujours is quite telling here. Currently 13/2 best on Oddschecker but only now 6/1 on the exchange. I believe he had had a recent wind op but is very well regarded and completely unexposed.

Gordon Elliott’s Fayonagh also has been well backed. The stable form again has to be respected and expect her to shorten again if that form continues earlier in the afternoon

With these shortening, Western Ryder has drifted a little and appeals most for each way betting purposes if 10/1 appears with firms offering 1/4 odds and 4 places. I just think his Newbury form is probably the best on offer here

(Someday now a non runner)


Thanks for reading once more.

Best of luck again with whatever you back






Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)

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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


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