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Monthly Archives: March 2020

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day

An ‘up and down’ week for the blog so far.  A great run from Happy Diva nearly sealed the day on Thursday but with one winner and some big priced places it wasn’t so bad

The performance of Paisley Park was the shock of the day. If anyone managed to find 50/1 winner Lisnagar Oscar in that race I’ll happily raise my hat to them

There are a few in form stables appearing…and a few whose form isn’t quite what I’d want to see. I’ll touch on some of those below


Thoughts for the final day of this year’s Festival:

 

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

The championship hurdling race for 4yo ‘juveniles’ kicks off proceedings and this years renewal looks sure to be run at a strong gallop

Allmankind, Aspire Tower, Goshen and Solo have all won trial races from the front and there is every chance they might kill each other’s chances off here if racing too hard.

Allmankind shouldn’t be winning in the style he has done given he races so freely from the front but somehow he is finding extra reserves each time. There is something of a freak about this horse and we still can’t really tell how good he is. It’s hard to see any of the others being able to lead him here as his hurdling is very slick. He also has winning course form on his side.

Aspire Tower’s preparation took a dent when falling last time out at Leopardstown. He was being seriously challenged by Cerberus at the time (that one held by Allmankind on Chepstow form). Before then he had looked clearly best of the Irish challenge.

That fall should have given the race to Cerberus but he then seemed to stop himself when being in front too soon and A Wave Of the Sea was able to catch him on the run in. Whilst the latter may appreciate the strongly run race and uphill finish here it looked more of a case of Cerberus losing the race to me.

Cerberus might have an outside chance in that regard but we have to worry about him in a soft ground uphill finish now

Goshen is another who has looked very classy with some wide margin wins from the front. He has been taken on and doesn’t seem to mind that – so I can envisage him being happy to sit behind the pace. The big concern is that all his wins have been on right hand tracks and he has shown a tendency to jump to the right. We have already seen with Asterion Forlonges this week how such a tendency can be a huge detriment here. Goshen’s jumping isn’t quite as slick as some as the others but he undoubtedly has a big engine

Solo is narrow favourite after bursting onto the scene with an impressive Kempton win last month ( race that has often thrown up Triumph winners)

The handicapper seemed to think he was the next coming when giving him an astonishing  mark of 157 after that. I have to question what he beat though with a clutch of low 120 rated horses in the field battling for third place.  He could win but is certainly not one for me at current odds

There are some quirky but very talented types here and the impact of the huge crowd here is also worth considering.

I’m not envisaging this as a confident betting heat and am therefore reluctant to make a recommendation

If this were a a right handed track I am sure Goshen would be a clear favourite. On this track, I give a marginal edge to Allmankind but it’s worth remembering the Triumph is run over a furlong more than his course win here.

Recommendation in these circumstances in NO BET


2.10 County Hcap Hurdle

Another competitive handicap hurdle.

We can assume that Mohaayed has been trained for this race. He has raced in it for the past 3 seasons and won it in 2018 off a mark of 139. He tried again last year but was only seventh from a much higher 153 mark and carrying top weight. That was a decent enough performance but he now comes here having dropped back down to 142. We should note that he has also had wind surgery since his last run so whether he retains the same ability is questionable

The JP MacManus/Barry Geraghty combo have already had a great week and here they team up with the highly unexposed Saint Roi.

This one has been well backed today and is down to around 6/1. It’s impossible to know if his mark of 137 is fair or not on what we have seen. His comparative lack of experience for a race like this is a negative and the price drop could be more about the jockey

In the same colours, Ciel De Neige is a much more solid proposition. He was placed here last year and narrowly beaten in the valuable Tote Gold Trophy. The softer ground here will suit him more than Sir Valentine who finished just behind. Off only a 4lb higher mark he has to go to the top of my shortlist

Back in 8th at Newbury was Stolen Silver who had no chance turning in but picked up very strongly in the closing stages.

The softer ground and uphill finish will be massively in this ones favour – as long as there is a decent gallop in this race. We cant guarantee there will be a good pace here but I doubt many will be finishing as strongly as this one up the hill.

It should also be noted that connections purposely skipped the Supreme Novices earlier this week to run this horse in this event

Aramon is also high up in the betting for Team Mullins. He has strong form in graded company but having seen him in the flesh he doesnt appeal as the type to be carrying a huge weight so I’m passing him over here

Recommendations

Relying on what looks strong form last time (and two horse who have already proven themselves on this course)

CIEL DE NEIGE and STOLEN SILVER both Each Way (again look for best price with extra places)


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (or to give it its affectionate name – the ‘Spud’ race)

A race that has thrown up a mixture of top class winners and some shock ones who have never reached the same heights again

Over 3 miles it can be a big test for a novice and sometimes class can be outweighed by the combination of experience/bottomless stamina

If the ground is very soft then the one who ideally fits the latter scenario is Ramses de Teillee. He was a good second in the Welsh National last year and has found great success back over the smaller obstacles this year.

He completely outstayed his rivals last time and if this race does turn into a war of attrition you would want him on your side

Monkfish looks the main contender from team Mullins and although he has yet to win over this trip look another whose forte will be stamina. The stable also field a similar type in Aione at bigger odds

Harry Senior in contrast looked to be winning over his correct trip here last time and I am a bit surprised to see him being upped to 3 miles – I am not sure he needs that at this stage of his carrer. Tizzard stable form this week is also a slight concern

The class angle for me comes from Thyme Hill and Latest Exhibition.

Thyme Hil was 3rd in the very hot Bumper at last years festival. He is unbeaten over hurdles this season and is the sort who will always do just enough to win his races. The trip is also new to him and whether it might stretch a bit too far is a concern – as is Philip Hobbs stable form this week. Both Defi du Seuil and Sporting John were way below expected levels so I have concerns in that regard.

This leaves Latest Exhibition as my main selection. He has mixed it with some very good types this season but has always looked like he needs a trip. His Leopardstown win last time (Cobblers Way held) is the best Irish form coming into this race. The race wasn’t run to suit him but it was stamina that got him home ultimately

This would be one of the most popular winners of the week for Ireland if Paul Nolan’s career were to get back into the spotlight with his stable star. I expect him to be well backed and to be favourite for this race come post time

The presence of quirky front runner The Cashel Man in this race should also insure there are no prisoners taken in this years renewal

Recommendation

LATEST EXHIBITION


3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

The centrepiece race of the meeting has Al Boum Photo returning to the scene of his triumph last year

As in the previous year, the presence of Native River in that race ensured a true gallop throughout and Al Boum Photo was able to pick them all off in a well run race

Al Boum Photo has had a quiet but smooth preparation again and he is going to take some beating. The recent record of winners defending their crown here is far from great though

There is no Native River this year and so the question of pace arises. With the possible exception of outsider Elegant Escape there would seem to be only one confirmed front runner in the race – Bristol de Mai.

What this horse does and what pace he sets will have plenty of bearing on the outcome

Bristol de Mai has run well enough here before but all of his best form has come on soft ground at Haydock. He had to give second best there earlier in the season to Lostintranslation – a performance which saw the latter verge on favourite for this race soon after.

That idea soon became less attractive after a poor effort in the King George Chase behind Clan Des Obeaux. He was beaten a long way out and his jumping wasn’t anywhere as impressive as normal

The Tizzard camp seem happy again with him now but they are another stable who don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders this week. With this and a less than perfect preparation I’ll have to pass on their main contender here.

Clan Des Obeaux was imperious in that King George – as he was the season before. If this race was run at Kempton he would be the favourite but for all the bullishness that has come from the Paul Nicholls camp I can’t pick him here. He may turn up her fresher than last year but he has never looked as if the uphill finish here is his cup of tea

Last years novice brigade bring two more strong contenders to the fray in Delta Work and Santini.

Delta Work undoubtedly has the strongest Irish graded chase form this season but he has some form to make up on Santini from last years RSA.

Nicky Henderson’s Santini was 2nd (Topof thegame the winner sadly out through injury this season) in that race nearly 2 lengths ahead. That came after his preparation had been badly affected by flu jabs and I’m inclined to mark his performance up – he also lost a shoe in the race!

Santini’s reappearance effort at Sandown was far from encouraging and anyone holding ante post tickets for this race might well have been inclined to tear them up

His win over this course in January when defeating Bristol de Mai erased all of those fears and it is that race that looks the best trial that I have seen this year.

There seem to be a lot of judges crabbing him as a slow horse still but he has long looked an ideal type for this race to me.

Capturesantini

Question marks of him being able to lay up off a strong pace aren’t concerning to me since the one he should have to be following is the horse he beat last time

With so many others willing to question his ability I can see his price drifting but he is a clear pick for me to win chasing’s Blue Riband event

Recommendation

SANTINI


4.10 Foxhunters Chase

As in previous years this isn’t a race for me to comment on too much – I don’t follow the point to point scene well enough to have a firm opinion. Amateur rider angle would lead us towards Minella Rocco has has previous Festival  winning form and the services of the excellent Derek O’Connor

This one once looked a future Gold Cup winner but went badly downhill and his jumping went to pot. He has suddenly found some form again but it’s only on his last run you can get excited about his chance when beating last years champion Hazel Hill

Last years second Shantou Flyer also returns and is the pick of several runners that could have run in this for his enigmatic owner David Maxwell

Mr Maxwell wouldn’t be the most stylish rider in the field by any stretch but with his horse having an ideal prep and good previous course form I make him an each way pick. I’m never going to be his biggest fan but its hard to crab the number of winners he does ride – and I have seen far worse successful in this race (…cue quick reminiscence of The Drunken Duck’s win in 1982)

Billaway is the real dark horse in the field for Team Mullins but its hard for me to get a handle on this ones form

Recommendation

SHANTOU FLYER each way for smaller stakes – look for any firms offering 4 places and hopefully 10/1 being available


 

4.50 Grand Annual Hcap

I’ve already covered my selection for this race in Tuesday’s blog when selecting the novice LISP.

He has been one of my main bets this week and the only reservation I have is the form of some of the King stable runners earlier this week.

He jumps exceptionally well for a novice and should be much better suited coming off a strong pace than by having to make the running as he did last time (where he still put in an excellent effort)

The only thing that worries me is the form of the Alan King stable this week. Edwardstone ran ok in Tuesday’s Supreme but a few others have underperformed.

He has been a confident selection for this race but maybe has dropped to 4 stars instead of 5 with that little niggling thought in the background now

 


5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

The’ getting out’ handicap for many and if no luck by this time I fear this race will be not any easier in making the situation any better

It’s been won by many in the past who have crept in with nice marks and gone onto graded race successes.

Last years winning team is represented by Front View but at around 5/1 no chances are being taken by firms that he will win. His mark of 139 is fair though

Gordon Elliott always targets this race as its run in the name of his old boss. Column of Fire looks to be his main contender this year but I think his trainer would have liked to see him get in with a mark lower than 143

Gordon also managed to squeak the reserve Escaria Ten into the race today by making another of his a non runner. That’s almost a tip in itself but the price soon collapsed today when this became apparent

Pileon is a strong contender for the home team and has good course form. His recent wins indicate he is on an upward curve and a mark of 138 could underestimate him. He also has the services of one the best conditional riders in the race in Ben Jones.

Stable form is a concern here and the running of Thyme Hill earlier in the day would be an influence here for me

At bigger three other for my shortlist would be Umbrigado and  the Kim Bailey pair Espoir De Romay and Happygolucky

David Pipe has obvious connections to this race and there has always been suggestions that Umbrigado has been rated better than this level. He lost a show when a disappointing favourite last time so could be excused that performance

The biggest clue for me that he is fancied for this is the booking of the excellent Jack Tudor for the ride

Espoir de Romay is definitely one to follow as a chaser but he had so much in hand last time that I think quotes of 25/1 are underestimating his chance here. He may still be a bit inexperienced for a race like this but that is built into the price

A similar comment applies to Happygolucky who isn’t badly trated for me off 137 on his earlier course form. He got bogged down in very soft ground last time and is likely to be ridden less aggressively here

A shortlist for this tricky race for me is

FRONT VIEW

ESCARIA TEN

UMBRIGADO

ESPOIR DE ROMAY

HAPPYGOLUCKY

 

With Front View being a bit too short and the value probably gone on Escaria Ten, I think the value probably appears in the other three for each way betting/extra places


Thanks for reading the final post of the week. I hope it’s been profitable and informative and we can finish with a flourish

Blog will be back for its usual Grand National posting the day before the big race – as long as that race is on! With current Corona Virus situation that is beginning to look doubtful this year

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 3

Anticipated drying out of the ground didn’t really materialise on Day 2. Times remained slow and many were struggling to finish up the hill. So for now I’m assuming similar conditions with only a slight improvement likely for Day 3

The big race of the day proved a huge anti-climax with only one of the ‘star trio’ turning up. Defi Du Seuil couldn’t match his earlier season form and was put in the shade by a bold jumping front running performance from Politologue.

Envoi Allen was the star of the day and its just as conceivable to see him as a future Champion Hurdle winner as it is a Gold Cup one after this performance


 

Day 3 thoughts:

 

1.30 Marsh Novices Chase

There may be few more popular winners this week than 12yo Faugheen. He has come to chasing very late in life but the ex Champion hurdler comes here with a serious form chance.

His chasing technique had me wincing a little on his debut but there has been improvement since. He holds a call already this season over Samcro (another who has had greater times and is on a recovery mission)

His likely front running tactics have also been greatly helped by the diversion of stablemate Allaho to another race.

I remain having a niggling fear that he shouldn’t really be in this race however and will be breathing a sigh of relief to see him get home in one piece. I’m not sure is jumping is quite up to the standard need to win this race

Stablemate Melon is also on a bit of a recovery mission since his career best of a Champion hurdle 2nd. He seems to be a horse who needs things to fall right for him and his last run wasn’t encouraging. His best form has seemed to come when allowed to run from the front – we have only seen that once this season. Will he be allowed to use effective ‘spoiler’ tactics agaisnt his stable companion? And if he does can he jump well enough to benefit from it. Both two big question marks that count against him for me

I favour a win for the home side here with Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet. Placed in last years Supreme Novices, he impressed with coping with Sandown’s tricky fences last time for one so inexperienced. That win over Midnight Shadow looks the best prep form for me

Mister Fisher is another strong contender for the home side but was behind Itchy Feet at the festival last year and I cant see a reason that he has progressed beyond him yet.

Reserve Tank had strong novice hurdle form last year but has never raced on this track. His chasing form this year has yet to reach the same level

With popular sentimental support likely to come in for both Faugheen and Samcro here there must be every chance that prices will increase on others during the course of the day

Recommendation

ITCHY FEET to win

I also think the Sandown 2nd, MIDNIGHT SHADOW , is over priced at around 20/1 and is an each way pick (particularly if 4 places are offered)

He is also one to consider with firms who offer betting ‘without Itchy Feet’


 

2.10 Pertemps Network Final

Another very competitive handicap with a few previous Festival graded race winners dropping back into handicap company

Previous Bumper winner Relegate ran an eyecatching trial last time. She stormed up the hill to win that race and we can expect her to be coming from behind again here. On the downside she did seem to be struggling with her hurdling last season and is still lacking some experience

When 20/1 was available after her last run it was well worth taking but at around 6/1 I think she has been well found in the market now.

We also have previous Albert Bartlett winners (they certainly wont lack for stamina) in Unowhatimeanharry and Kilbricken Storm

The former is now 12 and seems to be regressing. It’s hard to see him being successful under a welter burden of 11st 10lb.

Kilbricken Storm on the other hand still seems to retain some talent and is one for the short list at around 16/1. There is a slight concern that some of the Tizzard stable’s runners this week have been underperforming though

My main pick though is a progressive young horse who I think could be made for this test.

Hughie Morrison knows how to ready one for a handicap here and Third Wind showed he was coming back on an upward curve when defeating Jatiluwhih (re opposes here but probably has less improvement in him)  last time.

He won a very decent handicap at Sandown last season (Skandiburg behind and on worse terms here) that often throws up future graded performers.

He has yet to race over the trip but his style of racing suggests he will be suited by the 3 miles

16/1 was available earlier today but I am seeing no more than 12/1 this evening – someone may have beaten me to the punch here but he remains my main fancy

 

Recommendation

THIRD WIND each way (note some firms offering up to 7 places on this race)

 


 

2.50 Ryanair Chase

I already made a recommendation with this race on the Day 1 blog with ASO each way.

I put him up then to capitalise on Ante Post odds that would guarantee paying out on 1st 3.

With 8 runners still in the race 3 places will be paid – but note if there are any non runners that would drop to paying 1st 2 now (except on the each way option on Betfair Exchange where odds could be lower)

I believe his form over this course last season (including his second in this race) makes him a very similar animal to Frodon and that he simply should be 4 or 5 times the price (he was rated 168 – the same mark as Frodon now has at the start of this season to emphasise this

All his best form is on left handed track so I’m not too concerned by his last two substandard efforts – this was always going to be the race he was being tuned up for

Granted there are two new strong looking rivals also to beat here in A Plus Tard and Min. However I don’t see these two being quite so superior as the market suggests. Horse of a similar level were behind him in this race last year

Riders on the Storm didn’t look to enjoy the course last year and had a very hard race at Ascot last time. I’d be surprised if he is fully over that effort yet

Duc Des Genievres won a substandard Arkle last year and hasn’t done enough since to make me think he is up this level

Of the other outsiders, Saint Calvados is the other I can see running well after a strong handicap performance last time. It doesn’t quite match the handicap efforts that the selection and Frodon have produced here in the past though

Recommendation remains

ASO each way at 20-1+ if you can get it (but this play is all about getting 3 places on your bet)


 

3.30 Stayers Hurdle

This division has a star perfomer in its ranks and barring accidents I really cant see Paisley Park getting beaten

CapturePPARK

His only danger would be a slow gallop followed by a sprint. It’s hard to see anything wanting to make a strong pace as it would fall right into this hands.

Penhill won this race under such a scenario two season ago but such is his recent form that if he were to win again the Stewards should be enquiring into where the improvement came from.

Summerhill Boy tried to control the race when finishing 2nd to Penhill last time and I can see him doing that again

Being at the front in a slowly run affair is always an advantage so he looks one to add into each way bets at bigger odds

I cant see anything but a PAISLEY PARK win but at odds of no more than 4/6 its hard to put him up as a recommendation (my style is to look more for long priced value on this blog)


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Another handicap but with one obvious contender in Simply The Betts who may be better than this level.

His last win was boosted by both the second (Imperial Aura here on Tuesday ) and third winning since. His mark is 8lb higher but that may not be enough to stop him.

The odds of no more than 4/1 have already factored this in however and in value terms there is another I like more for each way bets.

Happy Diva is one of my favourite horses in training and she had her day in the sun here in November winning the Mackeson  Gold Cup (or whatever it is called now! – it will always be that race for diehards like me)

She never runs a bad race and although the handicapper may have found her mark in 149 now (6lb higher), I think she can still be competitive.

Her form is exposed but I think that comment applies to the vast majority of this field.

She had Spiritofthegames and Siruh Du Lac well behind when winning that big race. She also holds La Bague Au Roi on Doncaster form and yet that one is half the price here! Given the latter has been kept away from this meeting before as supposedly not liking the track this correlation is particularly baffling to me

If there is another unexposed type in the field that could be Deyrann de Carjac. I was a little disappointed by this ones finishing effort when running here last time though. I wonder if he may be better suited to a flat track

Recommendation

HAPPY DIVA each way – take 25/1+ if you can and 5 places is widely available

 


4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle

The Henry de Bromhead/Rachel Blackmore team have already tasted success in Mares events with Honeysuckle and field the favourite with Minella Melody here

She holds a few of these on here last win but both she and recent victim Colreevy look types that might prefer a bit further than this 2 mile trip

Two others appeal instead

Concertista narrowly failed in this race last year and showed that competitive big field races were what she wanted when running her best race since at Leopardstown last time. Her conqueror that day, Black Tears, advertised the form no end when just failing in the Coral Cup today.

Floressa appears the main hope of the English and I don’t think I’ve seen a slicker jumper of a hurdler in the novice ranks this year. That asset didn’t help her so much in her last race which was very slowly run and developed into a sprint. It should stand her in much better stead in what should be a more strongly run affair here

Recommendations

Back CONCERTISTA and FLORESSA


5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

We finish off with another competitive handicap for amateur riders.

As with all such races having a top amateur on board is worth its weight in gold

The main two for me in that respect are Le Breuil (Jamie Codd) and Champagne Platinum (Derek O’Connor)

The former combination are already proven here and this is likely to be a prep race for the Grand National for them

Champagne Platinum is much harder to judge. On some form and previous promise he definitely has the look of a plot for this race – but on other efforts his odds of around 4/1 look monumentally skinny

Outside of these two its also worth noting that Kilfilum Cross and Alex Edwards were second in this race last year and have got back on the same mark.

This one hasn’t been in the same form so far this season but his stable will definitely know how to prime a horse for the big occasion.

He was only beaten by Any Second Now here last year – a horse that could well win the Grand National this year

Plan of Attack is another with a progressive profile who makes it onto my shortlist of 4

If I had to make a recommendation here it would be a win only bet on Kilfilum Cross as think he may be the best value at the prices.

I’d want to be able to narrow it down to more than 4 to have a stronger feeling on this race though so it would only be one for small stakes

 

Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 2

Tuesday’s card was one for the mares with Epatante and Put the Kettle On successes backing up a fine duel between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux

Times suggest the ground was pretty gruelling but with a dry night forecast it might be a little better tomorrow.

The Conditional was the star performer for blog selections with a few places elsewhere to back that up. Abacadabras and Fakir d’Oudairies both can be counted slightly unlucky seconds for different reasons


Day 2 is probably a quieter day for me tomorrow but here goes:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Envoi Allen comes into this race with huge expectation as one of the Irish bankers of the meeting. He won the Bumper here last year and remains unbeaten this season over hurdles

Quotes of 11/10 before Tuesday’s racing quickly evaporated after performances of previous victims Abacadabras and Darver Star enhanced his form again

There are three contenders up against him here who seem to have a lot of untapped potential and could prove troublesome – we just don’t know how good they are yet.

Captureenvoiallen

What Envoi Allen does have – and these don’t – is course form/experience and that’s enough for me still to think he is the likeliest winner but with odds on favouritism now looking assured there isn’t much value to be had on him

Sporting John is also unbeaten but hasn’t been competing at the same level as the favourite yet. He has been very impressive in what he has done though.

The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway are both well named types in that they are going to be dwarfing others in this event. Big horses sometimes find it hard to cope with the undulation of this track so I have small concerns that they might not act on it.

The Big Breakaway really impressed me in his Chepstow debut as a star of the future. However he did reportedly have a setback after his last win in December. That lack of ideal preparation could count against him now

The Big Getaway looks a pure galloper with a huge stride. He was unlucky not to win on his hurdling debut when making a complete mess of the last hurdle (winner Cobblers Way has advertised that form since). He made amends in no uncertain fashion since and should have the soft ground he needs.

Both these two are are only going to get better in time and it would be no surprise to see either/both contesting Gold Cups in a couple of seasons

Outside of these big 4, its also worth noting Longhouse Poet who is owned by the sponsors and has same connections as last years winner. He ran a bit too freely over a longer trip last time. He doesn’t have the form to match Envoi Allen but he could exploit failings in the others to be contending for minor honours here

Recommendation

Envoi Allen much the likeliest winner but too short a price for me to invest

Longhouse Poet is the one with each way potential at the prices – I’d also be interested in him for markets ‘without the fav’ if an each way option is available there ( a good run by him will also be a big pointer for Latest Exhibition’s chances in Friday’s Albert Bartlett)

 


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

Champ had looked lucky to get round twice before he came a cropper in his last effort here. I hate to see but whilst he has undoubted ability I think he might be a bit thicker than others. Not one I’d want to be supporting on what I have seen this year

Allaho and Easy Game should both be in the shorter March Chase on Thursday for me. I can only assume they have been diverted here to make life easier for the stable’s Faugheen in that race.

Allaho in particular is a lovely type but he was outstayed twice by Minella Indo last year and that one is the obvious one to beat for me.

Minella Indo’s surprise win in the Albert Bartlett was all the more meritorious as he ran freely and had run loose before the race. He confirmed the form was no fluke at Punchestown after.

He is obviously a horse who takes a couple of runs to get fit but his preparation for this looks to be ideal

The stable have already struck twice at this meeting to reinforce his chance some more

Copperhead can compete with him on stamina but I don’t think he can quite match him for class

Recommendation

MINELLO INDO to win


 

2.50 Coral Cup

A very tricky handicap as always and not one to risk the house on!

Look for firms offering extra places on a race like this.

Canardier is interesting now back over hurdles after a fruitless time in novice chases

He was 5th in the race last year from a 4lb lower mark and there might well be improvement now in his first race for the Willie Mullins stable.

The ground on Tuesday may have been a bit too soft for him but with a bit of overnight drying could come in his favour

At a slightly bigger price, a speculative selection is Black Tears.

This one has good course form and here best runs have seemed to come in big field races run at a good pace. She should get her optimum conditions here.

At first I thought her mark of 144 was high enough but Tuesday’s run of her recent conqueror Elfile has given the form a nice boost.

Recommendation

Small ew bet on BLACK TEARS at 16/1+


 

3.30 Champion Chase

The withdrawal of Altior from this race on Tuesday has taken the gloss slightly off one of the clashes of the week

This still leaves a mouth watering face-off between Defi du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi

Chacun Pur Soi came out best of these two in their only clash at Punchestown last season. That was at the end of a long season for the latter. The winner did have less experience though.

Chacun’s last win over Min had time watchers purring and it could be the top piece of 2 mile form this season

Defi du Seuil hasn’t put a foot wrong this season and there is every suggestion in his last win that he is still improving. He does seem to be delivering late to make use of his turn of foot. The lack of Altior’s finishing punch in this race has enhanced his chance greatly as I think he may be able to sit behind his main rival now

The other 4 runners are all solid types but everything suggests they are just a little behind the two main protagonists

There is no recommendation for me on this race – it’s a race to watch and savour.

I can make valid cases for both of the big two to win but if a gun was put to my head I would pick Defi Du Seuil. This is simply because he has course form and his main rival doesn’t.


 

4.10 Cross Country Chase

Regular followers of the blog will know this isn’t a race for me.

Tiger Roll will of course be one of the most popular winners of the week. He is no certainty though with French challenger Easysland in opposition. The latter won over theses unconventional fences earlier in the season and was bought by JP McManus subsequently. The caution here comes from the jockey. Monsieur Plouganou was ‘hailing a cab’ at many fences and if I supported him here I think I may have to watch from behind the sofa! (same rider worth watching on Toutancarmont in 2015 to see he is a risky venture – a race that Nina Carberry won’t be forgetting in a hurry!)

Recommendation

NO BET


4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

A favourite old stats based pick for me here was finding the best Flat rated horse in the race.

The problem this year is that there aren’t that many that actually have a flat rating. Normally something 90+ on the flat would stick out. This year the highest rated would be Zoffee (85) and nothing else rated more than 77. This is comparatively low  and only 11 others (including the two reserves) actually have a rating

The influence of French breds and French provincial form on this race is responsible and its hard to judge who is well in on that

Mick Pastor cost JP MacManus a small fortune and it didn’t look money well spent on his first run. He has looked better since but has also been rewarded with top weight

This isn’t a race I’d be confident in but I like Repetitio’s course efforts this season and his form has an upward curve.

Nigel Hawke woudn’t be the most fashionable of trainers but he had Tiger Roll earlier in his career. I’m sure he knows how to get one ready for this

There may be something lurking in the French breds who is better handicapped but I’ll stick to what I have actually seen here

Recommendation

REPETITIO each way – again a tough handicap so smaller stakes with 16/1+ if possible


5.30 Champion Bumper

Appreciate It looked a really classy individual last time when routing the opposition at Leopardstown. (Envoi Allen won same race last year)

I really cant oppose him on that and I think he is probably a better bet than Envoi Allen in the opener.

The Glancing Queen was 5th last year when a selection on this blog. She was meant to be hurdling this season but suffered a setback. I have a lot of respect for this mare and if on song she can certainly compete at this level. The layoff and preparation are a big concern though

However given the strength of last years Bumper form a small saver may be worth going in her direction

Recommendation

APPRECIATE IT is hard to oppose and I suspect the biggest danger here is the large field which could cause traffic problems.


 

Thanks for reading once more – and good luck

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – day 1

It was starting to look unlikely to go ahead a week ago but thankfully the Cheltenham Festival looks likely to start as planned this week. The blog has therefore returned for another stab at pinpointing some value priced selections

Fingers crossed the meeting is able to continue without disruption throughout its four days!

As before I’ve included some stats for previous years in past posts.  For a thorough look at these I can once more strongly recommend  www.gaultstats.com for  a far more comprehensive job. There is a lot to digest here but careful study can reap rewards – but do remember to contribute to it if you do

Again this year’s blogs will be kept quite concise due to time limitations. Comparison of odds and place terms can always be found at www.oddschecker.com.  Extra places being offered by some firms will be seen here…and there can be some very generous offers to take advantage of!

It again looks as if the Festival will be starting on soft ground…something that would be very rare until recent years. This should be borne in mind when focusing on statistics from past festivals – many of which could be based on better ground. Weight in particular could be a much bigger factor as its harder to carry higher weights in handicaps when conditions are deep

Below I’ll cover my thoughts after seeing the entries for the opening day..plus a few others for later in the week that I’ve already had an interest in


Onto the action for Day 1:

1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

A very open looking event to start off the Festival.

Abacadabras was early ante post favourite but from an early stage I thought he might be vulnerable here. You cant knock his form and its easy to see him looking to travel better than anything on the home turn.

The downside is he looks all about speed and didn’t get up the hill as well as others in last years bumper after travelling similarly well.

I still think he’ll be in the shake up but have a feeling something could outstay him close home.

Shishkin has supplanted him as favourite after some highly impressive wins. He hasn’t done quite enough to tempt me yet at some low odds.

In the same colours, Asterion Forlonges is the chief hope of the Willie Mullins stable. His recent Leopardstown win was all the more impressive to me as he still looked far from the finished article in the paddock before hand. There is still some strengthening up to be done there and whatever he does on Tuesday, I think he’ll be better again next season. More of a concern from that run would be a tendency to jump to the right – that isn’t what you would want here

Chantry House has done little wrong this season but yet to face this grade. Fiddlerontheroof in comparison has won at this level and is on an upward curve – enough to suggest he can reverse earlier season form with Edwardstone.

At bigger odds, Elixir D’Ainay is also  interesting now that he is being dropped back in trip. This looks like a move that could suit after he patently failed to stay last time.

It’s hard to discount the majority of this field and that makes it largely a race to watch

With Hills offering 7 places on the race I would have to be most tempted by Abacadabras with that offer.

RECOMMENDATION

Add ABRACADABRAS to any each multiples with firms offering as many places as possible


2.10 Arkle Trophy

Last years Arkle wasn’t the best of affairs and quickly fell apart to leave a fairly uncompetitive affair

This year we should have a far more exciting contest with Ireland most likely to have the winner.

Notebook has beaten both Fakir D’Oudairies and Cash Back this season and on a pure form basis should do so again

He’s a lovely looking type but his only previous piece of form at Cheltenham isn’t inspiring – and he did get quite worked up before his last win. Both have to be negatives

There is a lot of pace and some very accurate young jumpers in this race.

As well as Notebook, Global Citizen, Cash Back, Esprit du Large, Fakir d’Oudairies, Rouge Vif, Maire Banrigh and Put the Kettle On have all won races from the front this season

There is every chance that they could all cut each others throats and let something creep in from behind. Brewin’upastorm would seem the obvious one to do that but it’s Fakir d’Oudairies that gets my vote.

He’s jumped like a natural throughout the season but he also looks like he doesn’t have to lead.

I can see him sitting behind the pace and unlike many others in this race has all important good previous course form in his favour

Recommendation

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES


2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

This race has often had a tendency to suit lower weights and I think it would be a massive effort for top weight Vinndication to justify favouritism in this. He is further handicapped by having shown a preference for right handed tracks in the past.

Top of my list is The Conditional who has crept in on a nice 10st 6lb weight. He has a course win and came close to winning a bigger race than this when second in the Ladbroke Trophy in November.

On his only start since he still looked a likely winner until stamina failing kicked in late (a bad mistake also served to knock some stuffing out of him at a critical point)

That result has helped to bring his mark down a little and he ticks all of the boxes I look for in this race.

I also like Who Dares Wins who jumps well for a novice and never seems to run a bad race. Expect to see him late on the scene. Trainer Alan King has won this race with a novice before (Fork Lightning) and might have had a second with Bensalem until a late fall

Kildisart also carries some money for me after a quite eyecatching performance last time at Kempton. This suggested a return to some very decent form was around the corner. 25/1 was available after that run but current quotes of around 10/1 seem more accurate. I cant really recommend him so much at those odds

Recommendations

Back THE CONDITIONAL and WHO DARES WINS each way – preferably with firms offering extra places


3.30 Champion Hurdle

The main event of the day has a large field than normal, mainly because it’s a wide open (and dare I say it has a ‘sub standard’ look to it)

Epatante comes in with best piece of form but I still cant quite forget a very bad run here last year (even if there was a supposed excuse behind it)

Nicky Henderson also has 2nd fav Pentland Hills who has looked to need to be produced at exactly the right moment so far this season,

I’m far more taken by the claims of two big prices here – especially with some firms now offering 4 places

Cornerstone Lad had the look of an improving type and benefitted from an inspired ride to beat former champ Buveur D’Air in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. His rivals definitely underestimated him that day and spent too much time watching each other.

However in his next run he proved it wasn’t all fluke when just behind re opposing Ballyandy and Pentland Hills at Haydock. He gave both rivals weight that day and on level terms has every chance to turn that form around.

He might have given the impression in both of those races that he needs to lead but I don’t think he is that one dimensional. There are others in this race like Not So Sleepy and Petit Mouchoir who can take that role this time and I think Cornerstone Lad might actually be better coming off a strong pace.

He doesn’t have any course form but wins at undulating Catterick give me enough hope that he wont mind Cheltenham.

CaptureCornerstoneLad

The most important thing is his favour would be soft ground. He has a very marked knee action which will always see him to best effect when conditions are deep

Silver Streak is the other for me with around 25/1 available. Placed in this race last year he looks a better horse again this year and has been trained more specifically for it. His second to Epatante over Christmas (Ballyandy behind) was a fine trial for me.

In contrast to my other selection, Silver Streak wants better ground. He was well beaten behind Cornerstone Lad when the ground was too soft. If it’s just genuine soft he still can operate…but on ‘good to soft’ I think the scales tip more in his favour

Recommendations

CORNERSTONE LAD each way on Soft or Heavy ground

SILVER STREAK each way on soft or good to soft

look for firms offering 1/5 odds 1st 4 places in both cases

Both horses are  overpriced in my eyes due to coming from less fashionable stables


4.10 The Mares Hurdle

Two top mares in Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle are due to battle this one out. With no previous course form for Honeysuckle I have a clear preference for 2018 winner Benie Des Dieux.

However she isn’t going to make anyone rich at current quotes of 4/6

There is another likely duel in the race – with two others being strong contender to get in the frame

Roksana and Stormy Ireland benefitted from Benie Des Dieux’s last fence tumble to finish 1st and 2nd in this race last year.

Stormy Ireland has had a successful season in Ireland so far but there isn’t anything in her form for me to suggest she can turn the tables on Roksana.

Recommendations

ROKSANA might be needing some good fortune again to win but she’s the obvious one to fill 3rd place to me and so that makes her worthy of inclusion in any ew multiples at odds of around 9/1

 


 

4.50 Novices Hcap

A Plus Tard was a graded performer masquerading in a handicap last year when dotting up in this.

The one horse who immediately strikes me as being better than a handicapper this year is Hold The Note. He just got outstayed over 3 miles last time after looking to travel all over Two For Gold last time when turning into the straight

He’s a big horse who is built to carry weight so I’m not too worried about him sharing joint top weight.

Connections have won this race before with Mister Whitaker but this one looks to have more class than that horse and still could be improving

Imperial Aura looks an obvious danger but is already plenty short enough at around 5/1. He should run his race again and will be hard to keep out of the frame

Recommendation

HOLD THE NOTE each way


530 National Hunt Chase

A slightly controversial race last year with Amateur riders pushing a few horses a bit too hard over 4 miles

The race has been trimmed by 2 furlongs as a result but in soft conditions having a top amateur on board who can judge the pace is a big advantage

Carefully Selected fits the bill with Patrick Mullins on board but on his last run you’d be forgiven for thinking he was only 50-50 to get round with his jumping

Forza Milan and Ravenhill are obvious dangers with top amateurs on board – but this seems to have been factored enough into their respective prices already

Consequently the recommendation here is NO BET


Looking ahead further into the week here are a few others already backed that interest me

RYANAIR CHASE, Thursday

ASO was narrowly beaten by Frodon here last year ( and was also placed the year before). He’s done nothing to suggest he is any worse this year. His form over this course and over left hand tracks is markedly superior to right hand tracks. Therefore, I’m not too bothered that his last two runs don’t appear to be good enough – he came into this race last year on back of a similar effort. His Wetherby effort confirmed to me that all the ability was still there until failing to stay.

With up to 25/1 still available I think this is a cracking each way bet (especially given his form proximity to Frodon last year who is at 5/1). Only 13 remain in the race at this stage and with likelihood of a few more coming out it may be prudent to jump in now. If less than 8 are left after the 48 hour declarations on Tuesday the each way angle will no longer be possible

Recommendation

Back ASO each way at 20/1+ while 1/5 odds 123 are still guaranteed


GRAND ANNUAL CHASE, Friday
LISP has already shown some cat-like jumping prowess in his novice season that suggests he is going to be a better chaser than hurdler

He has managed to retain the same mark over chases so far despite not getting the conditions that suited him best over hurdles – coming off a strong pace over 2 miles

He should get this in spades on Friday and granted the usual luck in running is at the top of my list of handicap fancies this week.

Off his 144 mark he should be getting weight from plenty here. Alan King won this with another novice (Oh Crick) in 2009 and its been an obvious target for some time as Lisp goes in pursuit of a £60,000 bonus courtesy of winning a race at Plumpton before this

Recommendation

LISP each way


 

The blog will return on Tuesday to look further at Wednesday’s card

In the meantime, thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you end up backing

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 
 
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