Monthly Archives: March 2021

Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Gold Cup day

Day 3 saw some exceptional front running performance from Allaho and Flooring Porter. Prominent racers seemed to do pretty well all round and it’s an angle to keep in mind for the final day.

Rachael Blackmore is proving the star in the saddle at the Festival this week. Expect anything she rides on the final day to be well supported now

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

1.20 Triumph Hurdle

Nothing has impressed me more in the juvenile division this year than ZANAHIYR’s success at Fairyhouse in November and I can’t oppose him here. He has had a break since Christmas (probably to avoid a hard race on deep ground) and if he is in the same form I’ll think he win this handsomely. The addition of a first-time tongue tie is something I wasn’t expecting and does plant one small question mark in my brain.

Alan King has had a great record in this race before and much of his quote of TRITONIC being his highest rated flat horse to go hurdling has been made. I find that a bit odd having seen his 7lb higher rated Scarlet Dragon hurdling before. His rating of 99 on the Flat makes him a decent type alright but I don’t think I’ve seen anything from him to make me think he will upset the favourite here

QUILIXIOS appeals more for second place but might have been suited more than the rest by a test on softer ground

SELECTION is ZANAHIYR though I think the value in his price has dried up now


1.55 County Hcap Hurdle

The Skelton team have a great record in this competitive race and field THIRD TIME LUCKI here. That record has undoubtedly forced his price down and I don’t see him in the same light as some previous Skelton winners who came into this on better handicap marks

I thought that Betfair Hurdle form would stand up better this week than it has and that now counts against FIFTY BALL (2nd), EDWARDSTONE (3rd), THYME WHITE (9th) and MILKWOOD (11th).

I think MILKWOOD will run better here as he may have needed that race after a break and should get the drier conditions he loves. However I do feel that a flat track may suit him better and the uphill finish is against him

GANAPATHI is dropped down considerably in trip and far too short for me at the front of the market (he does remian unexposed). Elsewhere from Ireland. YOU RAISED ME UP is progressive and breeding suggests the better ground should be right up his street. The handicapper hasn’t been kind with an 11lb hike from his latest Irish winning mark. Right at the bottom, CAPTAIN KANGAROO also appeals as the type who might benefit from better ground. He’ll have to brush up his jumping at this level but has a win over Wednesday’s Bumper second Klicruit if you go back on his CV.

In a very hard race, I will take a chance with a big outsider in LE PATRIOTE. At 9 years old he isn’t exactly under the radar but after a chasing spell this season he is back hurdling on a 5lb lower mark than when last in this sphere. That was when he was in last year’s Champion Hurdle and although finishing in the rear he didn’t run at all badly for a 100/1 shot

Good ground is most definitely a plus for this horse and he did win the competitive Swinton Hurdle off a 3lb higher mark in 2019. He also has winning form at this course. His trainer, Dr Newland is no fool in this sort of race and the 7lb claim from Cillin Leonard is no disadvantage in a race like this where every pound counts


A very tricky race but I’m happy to take a punt on LE PATRIOTE each way at 40/1+ with up to 7/8 places available if you shop around


2.30 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

Usually this is an attritional race and the best one to slog it out takes the prize. There is no standout performer here this year reflected in the fact that the top 8 rated runners sit within 4lbs of each other on official ratings. Additionally all of them have been performing on softer surfaces than they will see here so it’s a bit of guesswork who will come out best.

STATTLER came out ahead of FAKIERA and VANILLIER in the main Irish trial but that was over a shorter trip and the way FAKIERA finished suggested a reversal of form wouldn’t be a shock. VANILLIER ran badly that day but did have an excuse and wouldn’t be out of this either at big odds.

ADRIMEL impressed me most of the home contingent when stepped up in trip at Warwick giving the distinct impression he was just doing enough – a good trait to have in this race. He has only raced on soft but over this longer trip the ground may come to his aid if he can handle it.

STREETS OF DOYEN has course winning form and although a few more pounds behind on ratings he is the one who will know will appreciate the faster going


This is a very open race and hard to rule out anything completely as we are largely in the dark as to who will prosper or fall on the Spring ground. No Bet


3.05 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Blue Riband event would be so much easier to unravel if the ground were soft

I think the best performance in this race of recent years came from NATIVE RIVER back in 2018 and would be backing him again if by some miracle there was a deluge

On good ground he is likely to get outpaced but his presence at the front will still ensure a good pace with him and FRODON putting the others to the sword in the jumping department

FRODON would be a highly popular winner under regular rider Bryony Frost. He can operate on good ground but he is best when he can get all of his own way up front. He might not get that here with Native River in the race

AL BOUM PHOTO has won this race the last twice. Somehow he has never gripped the public imagination despite this feat. It could be that we just don’t see him on the racecourse enough but I also think having such a weird name doesn’t help his cause!

He again comes here with a strong chance but there is also a suspicion here he might want the ground to be a little bit softer

A PLUS TARD is going to be very popular and has good past form at the Festival at shorter trips. Rachael Blackmore being on board is what is keeping his price low now. Again I wonder here if he’s prefer a little bit more cut.

MINELLA INDO (rejected by Blackmore), unexposed ROYALE PAGAILLE and most definitely SANTINI are others whose best form has been on softer

I think on pure ability, CHAMP would come out top of the tree here. His preparation for this was unconventional in a two mile race but he did give Sceau Royal a scare there and that one was very unlucky not to go close in Wednesday’s Champion Chase. If that has taught him to jump at speed I think he is the horse to beat here but he has often been one who looks to lose concentration and can make mistakes. He can’t afford to do that here

Lastly, I have to mention LOSTINTRANSLATION. He was 3rd here last year and is the horse I think who should be best suited by the ground. The trouble is his form since then has not come anywhere close to the same level. Tizzard runners haave just started to come form this week after a dismal year – but it takes a leap of faith to hope he can come back to his best here


If he can get a blemish free jumping round I think CHAMP can win….but that is a big if! FRODON’s chances would increase greatly if NATIVE RIVER wasn’t in the race so take note if the drying ground doesn make the latter a Non Runner. For a real long priced punt then LOSTINTRANSLATION may be worth a tickle in the hope he does come back to his best form

As much as I am looking forward to this race, it won’t be because I have a heavy financial interest in it


3.40 Foxhunters Chase

The last race being run this week that would normally be the domain of Amateur riders. I would, in previous editions,  normally just be looking at Jamie Codd, Derek O’ Connor, Patrick Mullins et al mounts here as would expect them to judge the pace best. With professionals now on board we can expect a more evenly run contest

BOB AND CO is the main UK hope but I cant erase his performance from my head at warwick last year. His owner/rider couldn’t control him then and he was pulled up. He hasn’t been beaten since (in small fields) but there is a quirk there for sure.

RED INDIAN has good form but has shown too much of a liking for Soft ground for me. Favourite BILLAWAY also has jumping issues which puts me off him

My pick is LATENIGHTPASS who surprised many when winning a very strongly run Warwick race last time from the front. Warwick is more of a speed course than here but it has some of the stiffest fences in the UK and if you can jump there you should be fine here.  This one also has course winning form and more importantly he is back on the ground that seems to suit him best

He is another who has shown wayward tendencies in the past but I didn’t see any of that last time. He’s a prominent racing type and that seems to be a positive in recent days


Back LATENIGHTPASS each way with 4 places offered by most firms – 25/1 looks a value price to me here


The last two races on the card aren’t really tempting me from a betting angle

4.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase

A new race at the Festival and,  for me, quite a disappointing turnout. ELIMAY gave Allaho more of a race than anything managed to in the Ryanair today and her price tumbled on the back of his win. She is the standout contender and should win on form but a word of caution – she is quite a small mare and these fences will provide a test for her

Stablemate COLREEVY is the obvious danger but has to give weight away all round in a strange penalty structure for this race (why any ‘Championship’ race should have penalties baffles me)

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

The ‘getting out ‘ race is far too difficult for me

GENTLEMAN DE MEE headsthe market and is totally unexposed. He could be thrown in but its impossible to tell on his form

LANGER DAN was very impressive at Sandown last weekend but that was over a shorter trip and on desperate ground.

There are several others at the head of the market who may be ahead of their marks and watching the betting to see where the money goes should be the best guide here


Thanks for reading the final post of the week and hope it’s been a successful one for all. I will be back again with the usual Grand National post the day before the race


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Posted by on March 18, 2021 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival 2021- Day 3

Halfway through the Festival now and we began with two well backed winning favourites for Ireland on Day 2. Backers of Monkfish at 1/4 (has there been such a low SP at the Festival?) might have had a few nervous moments st some fences though.

Chacun Pour Soi couldn’t continue the trend when facing a battle with the ultra tough mare Put The Kettle On. Sceau Royal might well gone close there but for nearly being brought down as the race was hotting up.

It was lovely to see Tiger Roll come back to form to win his 5th race at the Festival – but also sad that the owner has sulked and taken him out of the Grand National because he didn’t get the weight he wanted.


Day 3 thoughts:

1.20 Marsh Novices Chase

Another small field to start and in ENVOI ALLEN we have another short priced favourite. He’s unbeaten and twice already a winner at the festival. I can’t really oppose him (only potential negative being a recent stable change) but at least with 8 runners there is an each way angle. CHATHAM STREET LAD was very impressive on the course in a top handicap before Christmas and is the one I favour most to follow the favourite home

ASTERION FORLONGE caused carnage in the opening race last year. I don’t think anyone will want to be racing too close to him if he is still there coming down the hill in case his errant ways take over again


1.55 Pertemps Network Final

Another big field handicap and this race is always competitive. There is just one horse I have had in mind for this race for some time in SOUTHFIELD HARVEST. He comes from a successful family who tend to reach a mark of around 150+ and he looks to have been nicely teed up for this race off a mark of 138.

His brother Southfield Theatre was narrowly beaten in this race carrying 11st 11lb and like him the selection promises to be a thorough stayer. Paul Nicholls has been suggesting that soft ground will suit but with all the family preferring Good to Soft or better I am not too concerned about any drying ground. First time cheekpieces have also been notably applied for a race I think has been his aim all season.

CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM‘s eye-catching trial race last time was there for all to see and hasn’t been missed by the books with only around 6/1 being available – too short for me to back although it wouldn’t be a shock if he won

Of the big outsiders,  KEEPER HILL is thoroughly exposed but he is consistent and the type to creep into the frame if extra places are available (he has performed well at a higher grade than this before)


Back SOUTHFIELD HARVEST each way taking 6 places or more if possible

(unfortunately Southfield Harvest became a Non Runner this evening – reported as lame)

For smaller stakes I would also take a little on KEEPER HILL at 33/1 or more each way with 6 places or more


2.30 Ryanair Chase

ALLAHO carries my Ante Post hopes here but I was having a minor heart attack yesterday morning when he drifted to an alarmingly high 25/1 on Exchanges. It seemed people were expecting him to be a non runner but the scare was unjustified and he is back sharing favouritism again

The problem for him though is he likes to race from the front. So do his two stablemates, MIN and MELON. MIN won this last year and is the choice of stable jockey Paul Townend – but he does have to bounce back from being Pulled Up in his last race.) Then we also have IMPERIAL AURA and DASHEL DRASHER who have shown their best from from the front. It would be lovely to know how the Mullins team in particularly plan to do this one as all 3 of theirs may sulk if they don’t get their way

In theory this should set it up for closers like MISTER FISHER and SAINT CALVADOS ( a reformed character now who also used to be a tearaway front runner)

Despite likely to get his ground, I still have a doubt that Mister Fisher is quite up to this level. I have no doubting that Saint Calvados is. He looked the best horse in the King George over Christmas until stamina took over on the longer 3 mile trip. He was just beaten by MIN in this race last year – but that one was able to control the race then in a way he might struggle to this time

DASHEL DRASHER would appear a big price for a horse who has already won a Grade 1 race this year. He is a very likeable front runner but all of his best form comes at Ascot which is a totally different type of course to this

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES was just beaten by todays Champion Chase heroine Put The Kettle On in the Arkle last year. That form alone entitles him to plenty of respect and he seemed to be coming back to form last time. He is another who has run from the front before but most of his form comes at 2 miles so may have to be ridden with more restraint here


I will be cheering on ALLAHO but the way the race is likely to be won I think may suit SAINT CALVADOS most. The performance of stablemate Rouge Vif today does give me some concern about stable form which prevents me from putting him up as a recommendation. I would love to know the inside line on how this race will be run from the 3 Mullins runners and without that I could easily have 6 or 7 on my shortlist here

Additional – Saint Calvados declared a Non Runner this evening due the going)


3.05 Stayers Hurdle

I was confidently expecting PAISLEY PARK to win this race last year but his disappointing run was subsequently found to be because of an irregular heartbeat. He has bounced back this year without looking quite so imperious.

A bit softer ground might have helped him here as there is a tendency for him to get outpaced in his races before his stamina kicks in

FLOORING PORTER is a strong challenger from Ireland but his wayward tendencies are definitely not going to be helped by having no running rail to race against here. He should ensure that this race is run at a decent pace though

It’s last years shock winner that I like most here – LISNAGAR OSCAR after his taking reappearance at Haydock after a wind op

Drying ground doesn’t worry me here as one of his most taking performances came on such a surface at Haydock as a novice

VINNDICATION is an interesting runner now back over hurdles. He definitely has the class to be a force in this division but for me his best form as always been at Right handed tracks and I would have rated his chances far more if this was at his beloved Ascot ( same applies to his good ground loving stablemate  YOUNEVERCALL)

SIRE DU BERLAIS and THE STORYTELLER were 1-2 off high weights in the Pertemps last year. Both have yet to prove themselves at Grade 1 level over hurdles but at the latter has done that over fences. I would prefer him of the 2 under current ground conditions

FURY ROAD is another for the shortlist as he represents the strong Albert Bartlett form line from last season. That’s been advertised this year by Monkfish and Thyme Hill who would have been marginal favourite for hit but for an injury setback last week. He might have just needed it when beaten by BEACON EDGE last time over an inadequate trip

The last 3 mentioned all come from the same ‘Sneezy’ Foster stable but we can’t glean much from jockey bookings here as all our ridden by either retained or regulars who get on well with them


LISNAGAR OSCAR edges it for me marginally at the prices over THE STORYTELLER and FURY ROAD. All would appeal at odds of 10/1 or over with 4 places available (5 places even available here with Skybet and Bar One racing). I think the 2020/21 version of paisley park could be vulnerable in the quicker conditions here


4.10 Paddy Power Plate

MISTER WHITAKER has solid form in past festivals at this trip (3rd in this race last year) and was an early bet for me when odds were initially released at 25/1. That value has gone a bit now but I still cant see him being far away on ground that should suit. His Warwick reappearance after a long break looked a good pipe-opener for this where he wasn’t put in the race to win and ran on nicely at the end

The presence of THE SHUNTER in this race after having a multitude of entries has made a big change to . He has already won two very competitive hurdles this season and is equally adept over bigger fences. A 7lb claim from Jordan Gainford keeps him on a very attractive mark here

COOLE CODY is only 6lb higher than when winning the Paddy Power in November. He looed to need his last run and wouldn’t be out of this but I think a bit more juice in the ground would be needed for him

HAPPY DIVA was my selection in this race last year and ran a mighty race in 2nd (Mister Whitaker 3rd and only 1lb better off). I am surprised to see her in this race as I thought Friday’s Mares Chase was a better option but the drop in her mark to 145 may well have swayed the decision

She wasn’t in quite the same vein of form at the start of this year but she has been given a chance again here. Kerry Lee reported her gallops were in a bad state at the start of the year so I expect her to come on from here recent Warwick 3rd


Heart sometimes rules head with one of my favourite horses in training but I think the handicapper has given HAPPY DIVA another great chance here. Back her and MISTER WHITAKER each way. I will be very surprised if one/both not out of the frame with their previous records on the course


4.15 Mares Novice Hurdle

There was some good Irish money for GLENS OF ANTRIM last week. Her form doesn’t really merit her price but connections have to be respected and she should be improving.

HOOK UP’s last piece of form against the boys reads very well now but the drying ground is an unknown for her

TELMESOMETHINGGIRL has been a shortener in the betting today to continue the fine form of Henry De Bromhead /Rachael Blackmore this week. The form of her last run was boosted by HEAVEN HELP ME today but I do feel that one improved a lot from that Leopardstown run

I’m happy to side with the home team here and THE GLANCING QUEEN not she is back against her own sex. The ground was desperate at Exeter last time and I can excuse that defeat. Her hurdling technique has been very slick and her performances at this course before have always suggested she has a touch of class


THE GLANCING QUEEN appeals most for me at the current odds. Her sire Jeremy has thrown up a few winners already this week and the Good ground should hold no fears. She has drifted out to 12/1+today and 4 places and her course winning experience that makes most appeal


5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Another race that is normally for Amateur riders that has been totally changed by having professionals this year

When the entries came out SHANTOU FLYER was my early pick but a 4lb rise for his Wincanton 2nd in a fairly ordinary race was harsh to say the least. That could make the difference here despite him obviously liking this course from past effort s here.

I picked HOLD THE NOTE in another race last year but have found him an exasperating character since and I don’t think this trip is right for him over this course. I think he’ll be flagging up the hill

I’m going back to the Kerry lee stable and hope that Happy Diva’s run earlier will confirm that the stable are in form. STORM CONTROL didn’t stay a longer trip last time but won well over this course twice before. He idled badly in front on his last win but was value for far more than the winning distance. Expect him to be prominent throughout again.

Last year’s race form might also have some bearing with KILFILUM CROSS (2nd), PLAN OF ATTACK (4th) and DEISE ABA (5th) reopposing. Bear in mind there are no Amateurs on board this year and the ground is better. Of those three I prefer PLAN OF ATTACK who sports first time blinker tomorrow and the not invaluable services of Rachael Blackmore this time


STORM CONTROL ew  (and maybe a double with Happy Diva earlier might be prudent in hope the stable are in the form I hope)

SHANTOU FLYER and PLAN OF ATTACK I can also see going close but as they are shorter prices provide marginally less value


Thanks for reading once more and good luck with whatever you back


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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2021 – Day 2

It was officially Soft ground for the opening day but with drying conditions it soon became clear this description wasn’t accurate. Good to Soft or even possibly Good seemed more likely from race times and we could easily have purely Good ground on day 2 unless the Clark of the Course switches on his hosepipes

Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle all were impressive favourites but Black Tears saved the books from a complete thumping by turning over the other hot favourite Concertista.

It was pleasing to see an old favourite Vintage Clouds finally win at the Festival – but bittersweet for me as I have put him up for the same race before and ignored him this time.

If anyone could fine the 80/1 Winner in the Boodles then you don’t need my help!


Onto Day 2:

1.20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Another much smaller field than usual for this race but the three main contenders are still here and are hard to split in the market . None of them have course experience to count as an advantage. With only 7 runners the each way possibilities here have been limited as only 2 places will be paid (except Betfair Sportsbook who offer an extra place

BOB OLINGER is favoured in the betting. He has only been beaten once over an inadequate trip and his price has dropped ever since top amateur Jamie Codd called him a ‘god given certainty’ in a recent preview. Since he tipped up outsider Labaik to win a couple of seasons ago, ‘the word of Codd’ has often had a big bearing on the market.

GAILLARD DU MESNIL represent the powerful Mullins stable and was impressive in his trial at Leopardstown. That was over a longer trip and against Stayers. He was edging favouritism for this race until Codd’s remarks came out.

BRAVEMANSGAME represents the home side and has drawn comparisons with the same stable’s mighty Denman. He also was beaten first time up over a shorter trip but has flourished since being stepped up in distance. He was very impressive in winning the Challow Hurdle and that form looks the best coming into this to me. A word of warning though – Challow winners have a terrible record in this race (Denman won that and was beaten in this too). I think that stat is having a bearing on his price here. Other than that I feel he should be slight favourite here.

BEAR GHYLLS also comes here unbeaten and adds a further bit of intrigue. He would be a shorter price if trained by a bigger stable but his form doesn’t quite stack up the same level yet

KESKONRISK steps up from the 2 mile division and could hav a touch of extra pace that could threaten if the pace is slow


I marginally favour Bravemansgame as he is the biggest price and I think they all have a similar chance. The better ground is a slight concern for all 3 at the head of the market and will largely keep this to being a race to watch rather than to bet on.


1.55 Brown Advisory  Novices Chase (formerly RSA Chase)

Only 6 runners here and MONKFISH has been so impressive in this division this year that I can’t see any other winner bar any mishaps happening in the race. He looks every inch a Gold Cup horse for next year. He’s already very short in the market though at around 2/5 and so not one to get rich by backing


2.30 Coral Cup

Competitive handicap time again here and two of them stand out for my shortlist here. There will be some competition with firms to offer extra places here. 4 places is the norm for 16+ runner handicaps but up to 7 places are available if you shop around

Top weight THOMAS DARBY might be up against it to concede weight all around on the face of it but he did do similar in a good handicap at Ascot last season. He also has that touch of class on past form (2nd in Supreme Novices in past) and if the ground isn’t too soft I think he is a big contender here . (Its also interesting he is wearing first time cheekpieces here )

The Betfair Hurdle used to be a key guide to this race. It hasn’t quite been such a clue in recent years but GUARD YOUR DREAMS ran an extraordinary race in it this year. He was looking like last place was booked for him before the home turn but ran on really strongly in the closing stages to finish an eyecatching 6th. He is unproven over this trip but it looked for all the world like he needed further there


Back THOMAS DARBY and GUARD YOUR DREAMS each way taking 6 or 7 places if at all possible


3.05 Champion Chase

The two mile division has a standout performer in CHACUN POUR SOI this season. If this race was at Leopardstown he would be half of the price he is here – it’s the fact he has never raced over this course which keeps his price high. His form is also all on softer ground than he is now likely to meet here

It would be no shock to see him surmount these two obstacles and outclass them still here but at a shade of odds on he is too short for me

POLITOLOGUE won a possibly sub standard renewal last year but was impressive doing it. I think he can reverse Ascot form with FIRST FLOW ( not convinced by the latter’s course form here and may need deeper ground)

NUBE NEGRA hasn’t got home on this track in past seasons. He’s a better horse this season but I think a flat track will always suit him best

PUT THE KETTLE On has never run badly here and I couldn’t put you off each way on here. Each way options would also be there for SCEAU ROYAL and ROUGE VIF if they get their favoured good ground. The latter is particularly interesting at 28/1 if we can forget his two latest runs on soft ground. His previous win here on Good ground was deeply impressive – albeit giving weight to handicappers.


With a couple of doubts in my mind about the favourite I’d be looking at two bigger priced each way selections here in anticipation they might get the Good ground they both need. SCEAU ROYAL has gone close in this before without getting that ground and 16/1 is fair for him. ROUGE VIF is an even better 28/1 and would be my other.

The Betting without the Favourite market may also be one to look on tomorrow here with these two selections if the price on Chacun Pour Soi continues to drop


3.40 Cross Country Chase

‘Put the Kettle On’ comes to mind again here…but not the horse!

This isn’t really my race but for those wanting an interest SOME NECK has won over this course before and would be my idea of one for each way multiples with firms offering 4 places


4.15 Grand Annual Hcap Chase

This race is normally run on the final day and over the stiffer New Course. Normally they do very fast and the front runners come back. Over the Old Course they might just be able to stay away. The change in circumstances probably makes recent stats fairly irrelevant

Two against the field again for me here at decent prices

Joseph O’Brien holds a strong hand here with EMBITTERED and ENTOUCAS at the front of the betting . Both are novices however and plenty short enough in a race that is likely to test their jumping experience to the full. My eye is drawn more to last years 3rd US AND THEM. He hasn’t shown that much this season but I suspect Spring festivals have always been the plan with him (also 2nd in Arkle in 2019). I like that JJ Slevin has kept the ride on him.

ON THE SLOPES was a progressive novice last season but disappointed at the start of this season when not getting home as well as he did last season. He has had Wind Surgery since and then a pipe opener in a flat race at Kempton. He likes to race prominently so should be suited to the different conditions this year. The addition of a tongue tie is a further boon in helping him to get back to the level he was promising at the end of last season

DUC DES GENIEVRES also is worth a mention at big odds. He comfortably beat US AND THEM here in the 2019 Arkle but hasn’t backed up that form too often since. He showed here earlier in the season that he still has ability though and it’s interesting that his usual work rider Lorcan Williams gets the leg-up today. Given some comments from the trainer that he gets on really well with him I wouldn’t be taking the riding arrangements as a negative here (and a 3lb riding allowance if also welcome


Back US AND THEM and ON THE SLOPES each way – again looking for firms offering extra places. There has been some money for the latter already this evening and earlier shows of 25/1 seem to have now disappeared


4.50 Champion Bumper

KILCRUIT and SIR GERHARD have dominated the market for this race for some time. Both have been massively impressive this season and its not surprising they are both trading at short odds.

Both are trained by Willie Mullins but he only inherited SIR GERHARD recently when he was removed from the Gordon Elliott stable. That probably isn’t ideal for his preparation here.

THREE STRIPE LIFE was Sir Gerhard’s stablemate but he didn’t have to move yards. You couldn’t knock the way he won on his only start and I don’t get the impression he was rated that far behind his erstwhile stablemate. At the prices I think the value lies with him – and with some firms offering 4 places I think connections will be very disappointed if he doesn’t collect some place money at least


THREE STRIPE LIFE each way with 4 places


That’s day 2 thoughts concluded – I’ll be back again tomorrow evening with day 3’s picks

Thanks for reading once more – and good luck


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Posted by on March 16, 2021 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival 2021- Day 1

Welcome back all to my blog for another stab at this year’s Cheltenham Festival!

National Hunt Racing has been through a turbulent time of late but hopefully this year’s meeting will help to mend a slightly tarnished reputation

Covid will again be having an impact this year. In particular field sizes are going to be noticeable diminished in some races. With owners not able to attend the meeting there is going be a lack of ‘social’ runners whereby being able to attend your horse in the paddock was an attraction to run for many in the past. This is likely to be reflected in a number of very short priced favourites…and many may well win. It’s not really my style to put up very short prices but will still endeavour to pick out some value where it exists

I’ve covered some notable statistics to pinpoint winners in past years posts.  For a thorough look at these I can once more strongly recommend 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  Extra places being offered by some firms will be seen here. There can be some very generous offers to take advantage of..but with field sizes reduced these may be harder to find this year

The state of the ground is again going to be vital in making selections. For most of this century, Good to Soft or Good ground was fairly standard to start the week. In the last 2/3 years it has been wetter and we have started on Soft. The lead up this year hasn’t been quite as wet and we were starting to look like some watering of the course was necessary to obtain a safe Good to Soft start on Day 1. However,  with 10mm of rain falling on Sunday night that may not now happen. Ground conditions will be updated throughout the week here:

As I write it is Soft (Good to Soft in places). With some drying conditions to come I am working on Good to Soft as the likely starting point (with maybe Good ground being possible in places if no further rain and no watering)


Onto the action for Day 1:

1.20 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

An early taste of things to come with field size.  8 runners are declared – the smallest field I’ve seen in 40 years+ of watching Festival openers

APPRECIATE IT is a justified Irish trained favourite having won all of his starts this year. He holds both BALLYADAM and BLUE LORD on that form. Of the principals, he is the only horse to have proven himself on the course having finished second in last year’s Bumper. He was beaten for a turn of foot that day and if this were a slowly run race that could be an Achilles heel again. However he won’t need to make his own pace here with guaranteed trailblazer FOR PLEASURE in the field. The presence of this outsider is a big help to him I feel. All of Appreciate It’s form is on soft ground so Good to Soft or better could count against him…but we can say that for others as well. Some feel  that BALLYADAM’s chances could be improved by better ground. Without any actual evidence in the form book to prove that though, I would be able to back him ( a recent stable move from Elliott stable also a potential negative)

METIER’s form is also all on Soft/Heavy ground. As impressive as he has been on that going he is also passed over as I’m still unconvinced by the level he has actually been beating.

The danger for me – and each way pick (whilst there are 8 runners and 3 places are paid – it would revert to 2 if we went down to 7) is SOARING GLORY. On the face of it his Betfair Hurdle win off a mark of 133 would still give him something to prove on ratings. That was an exceptionally well run race though (For Pleasure there again to force the pace) and he was impressive in beating some far more experienced types. There are similarities with the same stable Get Me Out of Here who won the same race off 135 before finishing a very close second in this race (in an arguably stronger renewal as well). With better ground looking to be a plus for him he rates the potential value here

Previously mentioned FOR PLEASURE remains a key horse in this race. He was given too much rope in the lead when winning here earlier in the season. If you wanted a wild outsider, you would be hoping the rest forget about him again. I can’t see that happening here but his presence should ensure a well run race


APPRECIATE IT rates as much the likeliest winner but at odds marginally above Evens, I’d rather be taking a chance on SOARING GLORY each way at around 8/1 (as long as there are 8 runners and 3 places paid)


1.55 Arkle Trophy

Only 6 runners here and the shine was taken off this a bit when potential second fav Energumene was ruled out last week. He and ALLMANKIND would have been vyijng for the lead.  That scenario could have been perfect for favourite SHISHKIN to then come and pick them off

Shishkin was about Evens before that withdrawal but is now half that price at 1/2. He will be hard to beat but with ALLMANKIND now having much less competition up front it does add a tactical issue that Shishkin’s rider Nico de Boinville probably could have done without.

It’s quite likely the other runners will be ridden from behind to try and benefit from errors. CAPTAIN GUINNESS would be my pick to come out best of these though I think second place is the best he could get here


SHISHKIN should win but I cant back him at prohibitive odds. Expect ALLMANKIND to be testing them all from some way out and if he can get away from thm and lead others into mistakes a shock is possible. This race is on the Old Course which will help him to last home better up the hill


2.30 Ultima Handicap Chase

As mentioned in previous years, I tend to gravitate towards the lower weights in this race.

The counts against the admirable Scottish trained challenger AYE RIGHT who carries 11st 8lbs. I still think he can go close as he done in two similarly strong handicap races this season. Those efforts have seen his mark creep up 4lbs but the booking of Richard Johnson is a plus.

Weight also says me against MILAN NATIVE a winner at the Festival last year off an 8lb lower mark. Additionally, Irish trained runners have a terrible record in this race

HAPPYGOLUCKY starts favourite and is progressive but I’m not sure if his overall form and a mark of 147 entitles him to be quite as short as he is. I think the memories of Imperial Aura’s win at the Festival last year when being above his mark may be shortening this one’s odds to some degree

I’ve put up VINTAGE CLOUDS in this race before and he has performed well in it but he appears to be on a downward curve now

Of the lower weights this year it is ONE FOR THE TEAM who stands out this year. Nick Williams has won this race with a novice chaser before in Coo Star Sivola and the booking of Tom Scudamore is a plus.

The negative is that this horse hasn’t run on the course before but much his best form last season came when the ground improved in Spring (his family all were better on better ground). I’m happy to ignore his last run at Doncaster when the ground was far too soft for him. Earlier form makes his mark of 140 potentially very workable here


ONE FOR THE TEAM is top of my shortlist here but AYE RIGHT should be hard to keep out of frame. Extra places are quite likely to be offered in this race for each way value hunters


3.05 Champion Hurdle

Thankfully small fields haven’t affected the big race of the day where we have a cracking renewal.

I can make a case for  5 or 6 in this field which in itself makes me think it’s not one to go into with a gung-ho attitude to betting

HONEYSUCKLE is a justified favourite. She is unbeaten and was never better than in her last 10 length defeat of ABACADABRAS ( should expect improvement to come from this one ) and SHARJAH.

Stamina is her strong suit and she’ll be one of several pace angles here. GOSHEN, ASPIRE TOWER, SILVER STREAK and NOT SO SLEEPY have also all shown best form from racing at the front.

A strong pace seems guaranteed and this scenario might often suit hold up types (EPATANTE, ABACADABRAS and SHARJAH). That happens when the front runners can’t keep up the gallop and are picked off but such is the strength of those prominent racers that I think they could get away too much

GOSHEN certainly didn’t falter after a duel with Allmankind up front in last year’s Triumph Hurdle before a really unlucky last hurdle mishap robbed him of victory. His season started poorly but he seemed to be back to his best last time. I just have a long held view that 5yos are at a disadvantage in this race that sways me against him

Of the holdup types, I prefer ABACADABRAS but would have preferred to see sidelined Davy Russell on board. Last year’s winner EPATANTE had excuses with a back issue last time when beaten by SILVER STREAK and I have too many doubts about her in my head after that performance

It is the victor in that race, the likeable grey SILVER STREAK who appeals as best value to me at current odds of around 14/1. I did put him up for this race last year but the soft ground turned all against him. However, all of his performances this season point to an individual who has improved by some degree. It might be strange to say that for an 8 year old but it’s not that long since another grey Rooster Booster improved drastically at the age of 9 to demolish his rivals in this race

I’m not expecting that kind of performance here but as Evan Williams charge is versatile and doesn’t have to lead, I think he can sit just behind the pace here and the race will be run to suit him. Again this selection is reliant on the forecast being right and the ground is Good to Soft or better

Finally, its really hard to ignore the value being given on this race by William Hill who offer 1/5th odds for 5 places each way. Standard would be 3 places for 10 runners. It’s impossible not to get value whatever you back on these terms (even getting 4 places makes a massive difference to each way bets). To have no margin for themselves they would need to have 500% on the place odds from their book. At cuurent odds I make them 353%. They are massively underround here and the advantage is all on the puter side


SILVER STREAK 12/1 EW (with Wiilliam Hill offering 1/5 odds 12345)


3.40 The Mares Hurdle

Plenty of past Festival form to work here

ROKSANA won this race two years ago and was 4th last year in a much stronger renewal

CONCERTISTA won the Mares Novice Hurdle very impressively here last season  from DOLCITA (run over half a mile shorter trip). She had been second in same race the year before with BLACK TEARS and INDEFATIGABLE  just behind in 4th and 5th

DAME DE COMPAGNIE beat BLACK TEARS in last years Coral Cup but is 4lb worse off, while INDEFATIGABLE won the Martin Pipe Hurdle

In short we have many runners here with proven course form.

Much will depend on how this race is run. CONCERTISTA seems more about speed and arguable better at a shorter trip ( I did see her outstayed by Black Tears at Leopardstown last year but has undoubtedly improved since).

ROKSANA now may prefer 3 miles so she will need a strong pace for her stamina to come to the fore.

I’m not sure if there is a strong front runner in this field so am swayed towards the chances of CONCERTISTA  because of that but think she is too short a price at a current max of 11/8


Not really a betting race for me. I have backed BLACK TEARS each way but at bigger prices than that available now as think she has the same chance as Dame de Compagnie. I can see BetVictor offer 4 places here so that would be the pace to head for each way bettors at the moment


4.15 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

Always a tricky race. Having the best Flat rating used to help but being French bred then took over as the main stat

SAINT SAM appeared to show improved form last time when having his own way up front (BUSSELTON  4lb better off for 4 length beating when ridden a bit quieter than his previous run ). He won’t get that here with the free rolling/slick jumping CABOT CLIFFS in the field. The two could well conspire to each others downfall

SAGE ADVICE appeals as the type who could improve now he is back on better ground and is well in with Cabot Cliffs on earlier Warwick form. His jumping looked to need some improvement there and that would worry me in a well run race here. watch out for any market move on him from his shrewd stable

HOUX GRIS has been well touted for this race but if you fancy him you also have to fancy HOMME PUBLIC at bigger odds as they are so closely linked on French form. It is just who trains them that dictates the price disparity here…but the Greenall stable in being underrated with the odds


HOMME PUBLIC would have been a recommendation and was chalked up at 33/1 by some firms yesterday. Unfortunately that didn’t last and at current odds of 14/1 the value has dried up. BUSSELTON may be able to reverse Leopardstown placings with SAINT SAM with the way this race is run. Only small interests for me in this race but with some firms offering 6 places there is some extra value to be had on the each way options


4.50 National Hunt Chase

With no Amateur riders this year this is the first race of 3 this week that will have a completely different complexion and we may be able to ignore stats to some degree.

GALVIN has been touted for some time as a long term plot – but that was when he was trained by Gordon Elliott and was going to have Davy Russell on board. His stamina has to be taken on trust but the change in his stable alone could see him drift in the market. I won’t be a backer

NEXT DESTINATION arguably has the best form and is now rightly becoming favourite for the race. He has been difficult to train in recent years and I’m not sure any drying of the ground will be in his favour

REMASTERED won a substandard Reynoldstown Chase this year but impressed with both his jumping and stamina there. Again he may be best sited by softer ground though

ESCARIA TEN is also largely having soft ground form but appeals as the type who could improve plenty for this extended trip

I don’t understand why LORD ROYAL is a single figure price at all in this race on what he has done this season


No strong view here but I’m marginally preferring ESCARIA TEN. His owners sponsor the Ultima Chase earlier in day and they could have gone there. It’s notable that they have gone for the race that they think suits him


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

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


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Posted by on March 15, 2021 in Uncategorized

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