A good start for the blog on Tuesday picking out 3 winning bets and highlighting a double
I’m publishing this now in advance of Day 2 with Friday’s declarations now in
Day 3 – Thursday 17th March
Happy St Patricks Day!
130 Turners Novices Chase
A 4 runner race to kick this off isn’t the best advert for the meeting. It’s pretty bad to feel spoilt to get this many…a few days ago it looed like we may have just had a 2 runner match between the main principals.
I won’t be getting involved. Bob Olinger was the better hurdler but Galopin Des Champs looks to have a better jumping technique and would have marginal preference for me as I think he’s less likely to make errors
210 Pertemps Final
A 24 runner handicap with some firms offering 7 or even 8 places each way. You’ll need all of that in such a tricky heat to get any edge
Winter Fog and Alaphilippe have both the look of horses who have been teed up for this…but the market is aware of that too with some quite skinny prices for them both in such a competitive race
I’d be more interested in finding bigger prices who have a shot at these extra places and two that fit that bill for me are HONEST VIC and IF THE CAP FITS. Both have performed at a higher level in the past and their handicapped have dropped to give them a chance to rekindle their old sparks.
Honest Vic has run well at the Festival before and is back down to a mark of 141 that he has won off before. He was the subject of some encouraging reports from his trainer recently
If the Cap Fits has competed at much higher levels than this and is a former Grade 1 winner. His mark is at an all time low now that his form has taken a marked dip but there was more encouragement in his latest effort. With Ben Bromley also taking off 7lbs, I’m hoping he’ll find more improvement here with only 10 stone on his back for the first time in his career
250 Ryanair Chase
ALLAHO‘s win here last year was probably the most impressive performance of the week. He’s been trained only with this race in mind this time and if in anything like the same vein I can’t see him being beat
I’d be looking at the betting without market for more value here and think SAINT CALVADOS fits the bill. His last effort can easily be forgiven when he bled according to stewards report (went from going well to stopping very quickly and soon looked after by his jockey)
His second in this race previously (sandwiching Min and A Plus Tard) is I think the best piece of form outside the favourite and his previous well being was advertised in the King George over Christmas where stamina over 3 miles again found him out
You need something who won’t want to take on Allaho for the lead in this market and he fits the bill for me at a decent price
330 Stayers Hurdle
An odd race this year with all the main protagonists having something on their cv that could detract from their chances
Last year’s winner Flooring Porter is a quirky type and his Achilles heel could definitely be having to contend with a huge crowd. His improved form last year can in no small part be attributed to having empty venues to help his errantness.
My pick is CHAMP who has less downsides than many this season. His downside was the bigger fences but like previous winner Big Bucks I think he’s found his metier back over hurdles now.
He got run down up the hill by a resurgent Paisley Park last time but the suspicion is he might not have been fully tuned up for that prep run and I think he may reverse that form now.
His novice chase win here from Minella Indo and Allaho is quite probably the best individual piece of back form here.
LISNAGAR OSCAR was behind the selection last time but ran encouragingly there. He did the same before winning this race at a huge price in 2020. I could see him outrunning his odds again and would be an alternative each way play with firms who pay 4 places for those looking for an outsider
410 Plate Hcap Chase
I’ve only had one horse in mind for this for a while – THE GLANCING QUEEN. Stable form has already been advertised by Edwardstone’s win in the Arkle on Thursday.
I’ve already mentioned the race she ran i over Christmas in my Tuesday preview as being one to note. Both Oscar Elite and Fanstastikas ran well there…and hoping that L’Homme Presse does the same on Wednesday if his stamina holds out
450 Mares Novices Hurdle
22 runners and I can give chances to far too many of them to make it a race to have any strong opinion in.
I was very impressed by Love Envoi last time but with all her form on heavy ground, the quicker conditions have to be a worry
If I had to pick one it might be Grangee but highly likely I will just leave this race alone
530 Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys Hcap Chase
COME ON TEDDY ran very well at the Festival last season. I was a little worried who might be riding him here but connections have managed to get one of GB’s best amateur pilots on board to assuage those fears. His jumping has been a bit sketchy at times
He was also a runner in the Cheltenham race I mentioned earlier – the trip being far too short for him that day but at least it gave him a chance to get used to the fences here. The trip in this should play to his strengths far more
With a swing in the weights and a good jockey booking I think he can reverse recent form with Omar Maretti
Day 4 – Friday March 18th
Gold Cup Day!
130 Triumph Hurdle
The general perception when Pied Piper beat VAUBAN on their hurdling debuts was that the latter would improve more. Whilst both have won easily since it was the latter where the form had more substance and I think he will be hard to beat here.
The one who could possible upset the Irish for me is KNIGHT SALUTE. He looked to have real potential on the flat on his 2yo debut but then his form deteriorated badly. He’s been totally revived by Milton Harris as a juvenile hurdler and with his less well known connections has been overpriced in nearly all of his winning runs this season
Paddy Brennan is a master at riding this track and if he can get him involved at the final hurdle they should all be worried up the finishing hill
210 County Hurdle
Suprise Package absolutely bolted up in the Imperial Cup on Saturday and may be a popular pick to double up here before his mark is reassessed. The ground conditions won’t be as tacky though and there was a possibility that he benefitted from racing away from dead ground on the rail that day
I LIKE TO MOVE IT is more exposed than others at the front of the betting but I don’t think he’ll be far away. The horse who beat him narrowly in the Tote Gold Trophy ran well in the Champion Hurdle. There are also two course wins earlier in the season to recommend him
At much bigger odds, I’ll also keep an eye on Tax For Max if his price gets very big. He has looked a complete tearaway at times but has now been gelded. If that has the desired effect and he can channel his talents properly he could be a dangerous longshot
250 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – the ‘Spud race’ affectionately
Hillcrest is one of the most exciting staying novices I have seen for a while. He’s a huge horse who has future Gold Cup winner written all over him. I’m slightly surprised he runs in this often attritional race though with his future i mind. I’d love to see him win but think ground conditions would have helped his cause more if softer. Indeed, if conditions were to get quicker it would be no shock to see connections reroute him to Aintree instead
STAG HORN is more appealing to me at double figure prices. It’s rare to see a good flat performer in this (Penhill a recent winner would be another to spring to mind)
For one so inexperienced over jumps he jumped very slickly last time and this longer trip should assist his limitless stamina seen on his flat exploits. Pontefract is a track you wouldn’t normally have linked to Cheltenham but his form from there gives me no fears about how he would cope with an uphill finish
330 Cheltenham Gold Cup
It’s hard for reigning champions to defend their title historically. As well as Minella Indo won that race he hasn’t backed it up since and you’d be taking a chance that he has suddenly had another Spring revival in form if backing him
I think this is firmly between A PLUS TARD (2nd last year) and GALVIN (NH Chase winner here last year). Both have great back form on the track and only a short head separated them when they met at Leopardstown over Christmas. Galvin won that and maybe slightly the stronger stayer of the two which just sways me in his direction…but I think there is precious little in it with possibility that A Plus Tard could just have been feeling his previously race a bit then. If there is a big discrepancy between them on prices on the day that might ultimately make my choice for me
410 Hunters Chase
No strong opinion here. I’m not sure Billaway was at his best when beaten by Winged Leader. While I can see that form being reversed the Irish favourite makes too many mistakes at his fences for me. BOB AND CO is similar in that he can make errors but he is a more appealing price and the ground here will suit him so much better than his pipe opener last time at Haydock. I haven’t always been a fan of his rider David Maxwell but have gradually warmed to his style and you certainly can’t knock his will to win!
450 Mares Chase
ELIMAY went down narrowly in this last year. With the victor then (Colreevy) now retired as a brood mare, this likeable little grey mare should get her chance to shine.
Her form had looked to deteriorate earlier in the season but she looked back to form last time and I’ll look no further than her here
530 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap Hurdle
If it wasn’t for running into Galopin Des Champs last year, LANGER DAN would have been a 9 length winner in this. After an obvious pipe opener last time he has somehow got into this race off only a 2lb higher mark
His chance is obvious with his trainer knowing exactly how to get one right on the day for such a likely plot
Connections will just be hoping there isn’t another unexposed Graded performer lurking in the Irish challenge
Thanks for reading and hope everyone has a successful week