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Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Gordon Elliott’s good form continued on Day 2 with 2 more winners (Cause of Causes and Fayonagh). Unfortunately, Shattered Love wasn’t one of them – she just didn’t jump well enough to get into the race at all and maybe would have preferred slower ground

Whisper came within a whisper of giving the blog recommendations a winner in a pulsating finish to the RSA. Might Bite had it easily won, then showed his wayward tendencies to throw it away only to rescue the race again once he had company. A very talented horse who could be a Gold Cup contender next year…though the King George at Kempton might just suit him better.

The capitulation of Douvan in the feature race was quite a shock. With Special Tiara having an unharried lead he had it all his own way. I thought beforehand he wasn’t quite the horse he was but was conclusively proved wrong there. My outside fancy, Simply Ned was well enough positioned but ultimately disappointing once they quickened downhill.

A massive gamble on the Irish raider Linger in the Fred Winter proved badly off target

Not a great day for the blog selections but there’s always another day….

********

Early thoughts and some selections for Day 3

(Thursday lunchtime updates where applicable at end of each race. Now racing on the New Course. Watering took place last night so ground now Good (good to soft in places) > it could get quicker as days progresses if drying conditions persist

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 2ml 4 fur

Odds can be found here:http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/13:30/winner

Yorkhill is a very talented horse who won last season’s Neptune and would have been a strong contender in yesterday’s Champion Hurdle if not moving to chasing.

He does have his own ideas about racing and in a recent schooling session at Leopardstown there were some very hairy jumps early on before he settled into it. I wouldn’t be considering him as a safe bet to get round here based on what I saw. He can pull very hard as well but that hasn’t stopped him winning in the past.

Politologue has looked very good in his novice chase season but did get a bit worked up last time at Haydock and I would worry about him in the preliminaries here. He’s also had two below par runs at the course (including a very strange jinking out manoeuvre in his first visit here).

Disko’s form in Ireland is pretty solid and as he likes to race handily so will make this race a good test. He has never raced here before and his best form comes on a softer surface.

Top Notch would be my choice as he seems a proper little professional and has got better and better with his fencing through the season. He has good Festival form already.

top notch

He might be a little behind Yorkhill in terms of hurdling form but he’s much more solid  and I find it hard to see him out of the top 3.

Look for 1/4 odds available here – with 8 runners though we really do not want a non runner to emerge which would cause there be to be 2 places instead of 3

Recommendation

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (Bet 365, Stan James offering 1/4 odds 123)

****Thursday update*****

Some opposition to the favourite Yorkhill who has drifted from around 2.35 to 2.6 on the Exchanges. Top Notch has stayed strong in the market and 4/1 now gone. He would have appreciated the overnight watering I think

 


2.10 Pertemps Hcap Hurdle Final 3 miles

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/14:10/winner

Another of the week’s highly competitive hurdles with too many runners for me to go through in too much depth. For now I will just fancy on the one I do fancy

Barney Dwan has been an extremely unlucky horse this season. He probably should have won his first two chases but for mishaps and although running well over hurdles since, I think he can show his true colours again now that the ground is improving. Hopefully, he has already exhausted his quota of bad fortune already this season.

barneydwan

He is trained locally and Paddy Brennan has been very bullish about his chances in the recent Preview evenings. He is 7lbs better off with Impulsive Star from his most recent run. That was on a much softer surface and was probably more about qualifying him for this final

Tobefair has to be mentioned as he has kept winning all season despite the handicapper raising him throughout. He started his winning run off a mark of 81 and his last win came off 134. He’s on 143 here but we have seen such types win at the Festival before (Hunt Ball had similar progress in recent years). Expect him to give his all again but I wonder if softer going would have helped him

Recommendation

Look for firms paying 1/4 odds with 5 places here

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan (Bet 365)

 

 


2.50 Ryanair Chase 2ml 5fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/14:50/winner

A sort of ‘middle distance’ championship race but one that has confounded me to pick the winner of it for many a year

I have to admit this is one race I have really struggled to get a proper handle on and seldom have any luck finding the winner of.

It doesn’t help matters that one of the main contenders, Empire of Dirt, is still among the entries for the Gold Cup on Friday so can’t be thought of as a guaranteed runner.

Un De Sceaux would probably have run in the Champion Chase if the same stable’s Douvan hadn’t been foaled (they could be rueing that now after today’s result!). Connections have mooted that they consider him more vulnerable on the good ground than they do over this longer trip.

Uxizandre was very impressive when winning this race from the front in 2015. He has had his problems since and only run once this season. He will be hard to beat if in the same vein of form but there remains a question mark on that. Wayne Hutchinson is now riding after some jockey switching today. He’s much underrated and will know the horse very well – this certainly won’t do his chances any harm

Until Empire of Dirt’s participation is known it’s hard to make a proper judgement. Given my terrible record in this event it’s very unlikely I will be making a recommendation though!

***Thursday update****

No sign of Empire of Dirt being taken out of the race. He would be my marginal selection but really have no strong view and happy just to watch this race


3.30 Sunbets Stayers Hurdle 3miles

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/15:30/winner

Nice to see this race come back to it’s old title of Stayers Hurdle after a few years of being renamed the ‘World Hurdle’

Harry Fry’s charge Unowwhatimeanharry has dominated this division this season and won the Albert Bartlett here last season.

It’s hard to knock his chances but the one chink could be that his best efforts have been on softer going.

He beat Cole Harden giving him weight last time (West Approach 3rd). On that basis it would be hard to see a reversal but that was on totally the wrong ground for the second. He’s a previous winner of this race, loves good ground and likes to run from the front.

West Approach is a novice and it seems apparent that the stable preferred to run him in Friday’s Albert Bartlett. That would have been much more his level but it seems the owners preferred to race here instead

When he did win, Zarkandar, looked to be the likely winner coming down the hill until a catastrophic error ended his chances. Paul Nicholls’ ex Triumph hurdle winner had been looking to be on a downward curve since until bouncing back at Haydock last time (first run back after a wind operation). He isn’t getting any younger and is still prone to errors at crucial times but if back to his best again is a big contender.

zarkandar

Shaneshill has lots of both winning and placed Festival form. The ground should also suit him and I can see him reaching the frame again. I’m just not sure he has the class to win it.

Jezki seemed disappointing when beaten last time (form not advertised by Tombstone today). I’m not quite convinced this is the trip for this former Champion hurdler.

Connections seem to be playing with the trip with Nichols Canyon now and he doesn’t look to be enjoying life too much this season. I find it hard to fancy him despite being Ruby Walsh’s choice.

Conclusion:

I’m just willing to give Zarkandar a small each way interest with his price appealing as the best value right now. He certainly has the class to go close and looked to have rediscovered some sparkle last time.On softer ground I wouldn’t be looking beyond the favourite but just worry he could be vulnerable. Cole Harden shouldn’t be far away back on his favoured surface – if Ballyoptic (think this one had a wind operation since his last run) doesn’t take him on up front he could get an uncontested lead which would increase his chances.

I’m looking to see how the odds and place terms develop here but Cole Harden and Zarkandar both looking possible each way recommendations later

Added Recommendation

Upon checking updated odds a few firms have pushed out Zarkandar to 28/1 and are offering 1/4 odds…this will do for me. If Cole Harden goes to 10/1 with the same place terms he would be of interest to join him

For now:

0.5pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123 – Ladbrokes, Stan James, 888)

****Thursday update ****

No real movements in the market amongst the principals. Hope of 10/1 for Cole Harden disappeared when Pricewise put him up. Shaneshill looks noticeable weak on the exchanges


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Hcap 2ml 5fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/16:10/winner

Probably the race title that trips off the tongue most easily at this meeting!

Diamond King has been well touted in Ireland and already has been backed significantly. He’s a previous festival winner who will appreciate the ground but is still a novice.

Starchitect is another novice at the front of the betting who also seems to be carrying plenty of stable confidence. His jumping errors over hurdles often cost him dear but so far he’s unblemished over the larger obstacles – albeit at a less competitive level

An old friend of mine, Thomas Crapper, has crept in right at the bottom of the weights and stands out to me. He’s previously finished 2nd twice at the Festival (on a mark of 134 both times) and lines up here off 133. Both the horse who beat him, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier went on to much better things. He had hinted at a return to form a few times this year on unsuitably soft ground but defied those conditions last time to bounce back at Newbury. I don’t think I have ever seen him jump as well as he did that day and even with a 5lb penalty he’s on a winnable mark here. The ground is right up his street and he’s well proven on the course. He would rate as one of my stronger selections for the handicap races this week. He’s formed a great association with his jockey Charlie Poste over the years and hope he can finally get that Festival win tomorrow

Recommendation:

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper (take 12/1 with 1/4 odds 1234)

***Thursday update****

The recommended bet Thomas Crapper is the main mover here. Pricewise selected him as well yesterday and 8/1 now the best price on offer. C’mon Thomas!


4.50 Troll House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle  2ml

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/16:50/winner

Only the 2nd running of this event but it’s attracted a strong Irish challenge.

The Mullins pair, Lets Dance and Airlie Beach, plus Forge Meadow have already taken on the boys this year and beaten them. They set a high standard but after results from the first 2 days there has to be some concern over the form of the Mullins team

La Bague Au Roi is a lovely mare representing the home side. She’s been kept fresh over the winter while waiting for this better ground. She runs from the front and will try to run them into submission

At a much bigger price though I am plumping for another Irish runner to run a big race – Toe the Line. She is a listed class performer on the flat who has come to hurdling late. It’s all about the ground conditions for me here…she has form on softer but really needs a decent surface to be effective. She’s finished 4th in the Ebor H’cap on the flat and that kind of class could really shine through with a decent gallop here (hoping we get one as many races haven’t been that truly run). She stays well and can produce a turn of foot in a competitive race

toetheline

Recommendation

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (Betway paying ¼ odds 123)

(365 were offering 40/1 for a brief time while writing but that seems to have gone now)

****Thursday update*****

Another clash with Pricewise here so all of the biggest prices disappear on my pick Toe the Line. Continued support today has seen her come down to a best of 16/1. She is one who I probably wouldn’t have wanted to see the ground being watered for. This race is late in the day though so hopefully conditions have quickened up again by then!

 


5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Hcap 3ml 2 fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-16-cheltenham/17:30/winner

An amateur riders handicap nothing is standing out for me so far. I may come back to the race later but will be concentrating on the horses ridden by the best amateurs who are not claiming weight

A bit more late evening study on this one comes up with this:

It’s natural to be drawn to Squoauteur representing the in-form Gordon Elliott yard. There aren’t many better amateur jockeys around than Jamie Codd who has also ridden two winners here already – plus he has won this race 4 times! The downside is the price which is pretty skinny at around 5/1. Squoauteur has sometimes looked like he has been looked after a bit in his races so he might be well handicapped here..just a bit too short for me.

Mall Dini won at the Festival last year and has another top amateur in Katy Walsh on board. Signs are that he hasn’t quite adjusted to the chasing sphere yet but again he could have been handled a bit tenderly in his preparation!

I prefer some more solid form and my eyes are mostly drawn to Whats Happening at 16/1. For a 10yo he hasn’t got that many miles on the clock but goes on good ground and has very decent course form. His jockey, Richard Harding has also rode the winner of this race twice previously.

Of the others, Potters Legend is a novice but makes some appeal now he is going back up in trip. Lucy Wadham’s stable is in good from right now and there’s another very good pilot in Mikey Legg on board here.

Thursday Update and added recommendation:

Good to see Whats Happening is attracting support overnight so I am now adding as a recommendation . 16/1 is gone but 14/1 still available in places

Recommendation

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234 Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)

 

 

 

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Best of luck with whatever you back

Thanks for reading

 

Paul

 

 

 

 

Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

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

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

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

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

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123) – lost (-2pts)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1 – lost (-1.5 pts)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (lost -0.75 pts)

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345) (lost -3pts)

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

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

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234) (lost -0.6pts)

Day 3

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 2nd (break even)

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan 20/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd ( +3pts)

0.5 pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123)

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper 12/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

Day 4

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

 

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Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Hurdle Day

Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Hurdle Day

Another Cheltenham Festival is upon us and has there ever been one with so many high-profile casualties dropping out of important races in the run up to it!

The going is currently good to soft but with drying conditions still likely we could be in for a good ground week. With so much immediate form on softer conditions this winter we could see a few surfacing this week who improve a lot for these conditions


Onto a run down of day 1:

Unfortunately two of my main fancies for today, Movewiththetimes in the opener and Value At Risk in the finale have joined the casualty list in the last 24 hours.

It’s made this a bit less of a betting day for me but will try to narrow down the principals a bit from what we have left

*****(Tuesday morning update added at end of each race where applicable)*****

*******

1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle 2 miles

Odds available here:http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/13:30/winner

Odds are headed here by Irish raider Melon representing the Willie Mullins team (successful in 2 of the last 3 runnings). Melon has only been seen once on the racecourse this season with an easy win in a fairly ordinary event at Leopardstown. That at least proved he is alive after so much speculation about his ability for months preceding the race. He looked fairly babyish in the paddock to me but did the job well. I do wonder with his inexperience how he will cope with the huge crowd and preliminaries here. He could win but his price is priced on what stable he is from and on home reputation – it is nothing to do with form and there is no value in his odds.

Mullins also has Bunk Off Early who has been mixing it in better company. He looked all over the winner last time before being outstayed by Neptune fancy Bacardys over a slightly longer trip. It’s quite astonishing to see his sire Zebedee have a runner here as he was a precocious 2yo sprinter. There have to be some question marks on breeding therefore about how he will stay on up the hill here. I can see him tanking along into the home turn but wonder if something else will finish off the race better.

Crack Mome also appears for  the Mullins squad. Another with a big reputation earlier this season, he has something to find on what he has achieved so far but could improve for the better ground

Ballyandy boasts the strongest piece of form here in winning the Tote Gold Trophy where he seemed to flourish for a strong gallop. He should get that here. There have been some rumours coming into Cheltenham about the general well-being of his stable but a big priced winner on Friday seemed to scotch that a little. He is a previous winner here having won last seasons Champion Bumper – the double has been achieved before

High Bridge was 6th in the Bumper beaten just over 4 lengths. He’s unbeaten over hurdles this season where his rider amateur Alex Ferguson was able to claim his 7lbs allowance. He can’t claim that tomorrow and that has to be a big negative to his chances – I would have had him as the value bet in the race if he had an experienced jockey on board.

River Wylde showed his liking for decent ground at Kempton last time but is 3lbs worse off with the second Elgin here. I’m not sure if the difference between the two in form merits the difference in odds between them here. The latter found Neon Wolf much too good previously at Haydock but that one would have been favourite if he turned up here

Lastly a quick mention for Labaik. He has talent but is highly quirky and would be odds-on to plant his feet at the start and not run at all based on his recent visits to the racetrack!

Conclusions:

Ballyandy is the most solid pick for me and hard to see him out of the frame. Elgin appeals of the big prices as one who could run into the frame but at current odds I won’t be getting very heavily involved in this race

*****

Tuesday Morning Update

Doesn’t seem to be too many big moves int the market here. Just a small ew play for me when 33/1 Elgin appeared with 1/4 odds a place


2.10 Racing Post Arkle Trophy 2 miles

Odds available here:http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/14:10/winner

Altior stands head and shoulders above these on form and it’s very hard to see him getting beaten as long as he completes. He’s looked fairly proficient in his jumping this season and the only thing I could see threatening him would be a slow tactical pace. (His least impressive win over hurdles came in such an affair at this course)

altior2

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nico de Boinville controlled the pace from the front to deal with that as he did last time at Newbury.

Of his rivals, Charbel was the highest rated over hurdles of the rest and looks the main challenger here. He could make the pace also but I’m sure connections don’t want to make him the sacrificial lamb in this race either. Taking on Altior too much could cost him dear if he does.

As long as David Bass plays it sensibly he would be my choice to follow the favourite home. There are a few in the race who might have already decided to ride for a place here

Selection (unsurprisingly) is Altior (far too low in odds to tempt me to bet though!)


2.50 Ultima Hcap Chase

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/14:50/winner

Quite a big race for stats in the past here. Novices have perfomed quite well and the higher weight have been at a disadvantage.

The Druids Nephew has slipped back to the same mark that he won this race impressively off in 2015. He has to be a player on that basis but his form was much better coming into that race and I just wonder if he’ll be sharp enough this time.

Noble Endeavour has run well at the course before and had had positive comments from his trainer at preview nights. The 11st 11lb he has to carry is what puts me off even if his actual mark could be reasonable enough

I have a feeling this trip may stretch the novice Ibis Du Rheu a little and so the one that stands out to me is another novice chaser, Singlefarmpayment.

He was unlucky to be brought down last time but looks well handicapped on what he has achieved this year (including an impressive course win). Tom George could have run him in the RSA chase tomorrow but obviously feels his mark needs exploiting here

sfarmpay

First recommendation of the day here:

1pt ew SINGLEFARMPAYMENT 15/2 (Bet 365 and Bet Victor currently offering ¼ odds 12345

******

Tuesday morning update

Definitely ahead of the price here. Singlefarmpayment now a top price 6/1 on Oddschecker (7.4 to back on Exchange in win only market)


3.30 Champion Hurdle 2 miles

The highlight of day one but sadly missing it’s last two winners, Faugheen and Annie Power through injury:

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/15:30/winner

Runner by runner analysis here:

BRAIN POWER

Disposed of a competitive handicap field at Ascot in impressive fashion despite a high weight. That immediately meant he was ready for this grade. Good ground should suit and handicappers have made such a jump before in the same season (Celtic Shot and Make A Stand immediately springing to mind). Definite contender though would have liked to see him perform better than he did on the course at the beginning of the season – does it suit him? – the jury is out on that one

brain power

BUVEUR D’AIR

Third in last year’s Supreme Novices then a narrow winner at Aintree from Petit Mouchoir. Started the season chasing but switched back as some of the principals dropped out. His sole hurdle win this season is a mile away from Championship form. Has undoubted potential but price is very skinny on what he has achieved. Even the trainer admits he needs softer ground and a prime candidate to see his odds drift on the day of the race

CH’TIBELLO

No crabbing this horse from me as I explained in my blog this week!. Has come out of a small wind operation well since beaten by Yanworth last time. Prior to that I thought that he might not quite get home on a stiff track like this but maybe he might now that this little issue has been sorted. He’s a very slick jumper and a better horse on a decent surface. I’m hopeful he will run on from the back to grab a place

CYRUS DARIUS

Looked a potential new star when skating up at Aintree in his novice season. Unfortunately injury ruled him out of most of last season. Hasn’t done enough yet this year to make me think he is a contender at this level

FOOTPAD

From last years juvenile crop which it has to be said have looked distinctly average last year. I did see him at Leopardstown both this year and last and was impressed how much he had strengthened up over the 12 months interim period. Probably flattered last time to get so close to Petit Mouchoir last time while a 2 way battle was going on up front. I think he’s up against it here

MOON RACER

Champion Bumper winner in 2014 but has had a few problems since. Unbeaten this season and could have run in the Supreme Novices. Rerouted here probably as he is 8 already and has left it late to get here. Nothing in his form that merits his current price in my view and not for me

THE NEW ONE/MYTENTORYOURS

I’m putting these two together as they represent past Champion Hurdle form which could have been a higher level than this year’s race. Neither are getting any younger and have had their chances

Both beaten by Yanworth at Kempton over Christmas (Ch’tibello 3rd) and hard to see how they will turn that around.

Mytentoryours has been the subject of some glowing gallop reports lately and is the one of the pair who might just spring an upset. He’s always been his own worst enemy by pulling too hard and if age has finally calmed him down – and the talent he undoubtedly has has come back – then they should all be a little bit frightened

The New One seems to be slowly regressing on the other hand. Connections have talked about sending him chasing or going to the Stayers this season which indicates they think his time might have gone in this race.

PETIT MOUCHOIR

Boasts the best Irish form this year courtesy of two wins at Leopardstown. He looked hard fit to me for his last win and not sure if there’ll be much improvement from that. I’m also concerned about him on this track and whether he will come up the hill.

petitmouch

SCEAU ROYAL

Another from last season’s juvenile crop. Started the season well but has found his limitations since and beaten by Yanworth and Ch’tibello last time

WICKLOW BRAVE

The 2016 Irish St Leger winner would be the classiest of these on the flat. His preparation for this is hardly conventional with his last run being in the Melbourne Cup.

Can have two ways of running over hurdles – and more often than not it’s the negative side that turns up as he seems to want things to go his own way.

Has the ability to be a contender but it will be something of a shock to see him win (Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Footpad in preference)

YANWORTH

The favourite and deservedly so. Didn’t win by far last time at Wincanton but the way he pricked his ears on the run in suggested he was only doing as much as he had to. That course, and also Kempton over Christmas, would both be very sharp for him and this course should suit much better

yanners.

The negative with Yanworth is his jumping. It might well have cost him a win in the Neptune last season as he was kept wide to have a clear view of his hurdles (Yorkhill nipped up the rails saving much more ground and got first un on him)

He did look better at Kempton but still doesn’t have as fluid a technique as others

 

CONCLUSIONS

Petit Mouchoir has made the running on his last two runs so he looks the most obvious front-runner here. I don’t think he’ll want to make it an end to end gallop though and I wonder who will share the honours up front – Moon Racer and The New One are probably most likely.

I can see the winner coming from one who sits just behind that pace but without being right at the back.

Yanworth at the top of my shortlist but the ‘elephant in the room/ that is his hurdling just prevents me from making him as a solid bet. Brain Power is a big danger if he handles the course. Mytentoryours is perhaps the value option at around 16/1 for those looking at the bigger prices if reports of his homework are true. Ch’tibello should do himself justice – I struggle to see him beating Yanworth but he makes some appeal in the ‘Betting without Yanworth market at around 20/1

*******

Tuesday morning update

Sadly Ch’tibello misses the race with a minor foot infection. He’ll probably be fine tomorrow so it’s gutting for connections for this to happen on the day. Probably Punchestown for him now. Strong money for Yanworth so far see him down to around 9/4 from around 3/1 last night


4.10 Mares Hurdle 2ml 4fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/16:10/winner

3 horses dominating here and all from Ireland. Limini and last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag from team Mullins and Gordon Elliott’s Apples Jade.

The vibes about Vroum Vroum Mag really haven’t been very positive recently since she struggled to win at Doncaster. She is the one I would most easily pass over with Ruby Walsh also making the same decision and riding Limini.

Limini beat Apples Jade last time well enough to suggest it would be hard for the Gigginstown runner to turn the form around. There is a suggestion that Limini may be best fresh though and I didn’t think she was that impressive when winning the Mares Novice race last season.

At the prices, Apples Jade has to be the each way bet for me with ¼ odds being available.

applesjade

These three are someway ahead of the UK team on form. Lifeboat Mona and Colins Sister have both looked good but are both stepping up to a higher grade. I think the latter mare in particular could be up to this level in time but to me she wants a softer surface than she will encounter here

Recommendation:

2pts ew APPLES JADE 9/2 Bet 365 (be sure to take ¼ odds 123 rather than 1/5th)

********

Tuesday morning update

Pricewise went for Apples Jade the selection which probably prevented any hope of 5/1 appearing. Still 9/2 available in places which is better than can be found on the exchange. Sadly, Colins Sister bruised a heel and is out – it would have been nice to see how she fared in this grade but there will be other days for her!


4.50 JT McNamara National Hunt Chase 4 miles

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/16:50/winner

I can see JP McManus wanting to win this race badly as it is named after a rider who won so many races for him until his life was tragically cut short.

If the British handicapper is right, his Edwulf is a 159 rated horse and some way ahead of these. The trip should suit, he has one of the best amateur riders possible on board and he was very impressive last time up. A fall in his previous race is the one nagging doubt about him but the race was won by Minella Rocco last year who had a similar question mark coming into the race. He just needs to get settled into a nice rhythm early

edwulf

Champers on Ice appeals as the main danger from the home team. He was totally outpaced here over 2 and a half miles last time and this trip could be right up his street.

I think win only is the more prudent way to go here so the recommendations are:

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 (WillHill)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1(generally available)


5.30 Close Brothers Hcap Chase

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2017-03-14-cheltenham/17:30/winner

I had Value At Risk marked firmly down for this one but nothing leaping out for me now he has dropped out. I may do an update closer to the time if things become clearer. While it is a handicap there is only 4lbs separating all the runners so it’s almost a conditions race in reality

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Tuesday update

I went through this race a bit overnight but nothing really shone out. Foxtail Hill might be well in but had his own way in the lead last time off a low weight. He has much more on his back now and strong likelihood that others will take him on. This could set it up for something to come from the back. Most of the field seem to be in the grip of the handicapper. I really liked Bun Doran‘s win at Ayr earlier this year but would be very concerned about the ground for him. Tully East performed well at the meeting last year and could do again back on decent ground.  If I had to pick one it would be Double Ws  at 16/1, who should like the ground and is still relatively unexposed at this trip. The North don’t get too many winners at Cheltenham these days but Malcolm Jefferson’s strike rate here must be one of the best for them. He did get a very positive mention from the jockey Brian Hughes at one of the preview evenings. Not a confident selection by any means and a race for low stakes

 

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Monday Evening Update (8.50pm)

Pricewise in the Racing Post has put up two of the selections from earlier today:

Singlefarmpayment has been put up at a rather incredible 10/1 with Boylesports and 8/1 generally. At the moment 15/2 is the best available anywhere and there is no 8/1 even on Betfair exchange. Good luck to anyone who can avail themselves of 10/1 tomorrow morning!

Apples Jade has also been tipped at 9/2 so that price will be lucky to hold unless there is strong support for the Mullins pair.

A few firms going 1/4 odds a place in the Arkle has made it meat and drink for a ‘filthy each way bet’ Bet 365 in particular are appearing in black type on Oddschecker for many with their win odds. Charbel for instance is 12/1 1/4 odds 1-2-3. You get 3/1 for the place part of the bet here. On the place only market on Betfair Exchange the same horse is 5/4 to lay just to illustrate what value can be taken here. There are similar stand out place odds for all of the other runners so perfectly possible to back two and still come out with a profit if only 1 places. Charbel would be my strongest recommendation for an each way play with these place terms. Whatever you fancy, I would also recommend perming each way doubles if you have a selection or two in Wednesday’s Champion Chase also (Simply Ned remains my main each way play here). If you can get 1/4 odds a place as well here you are increasing the place odds in your favour even more. Your account may suffer for this kind of bet in time though!

*******

 

Thanks for reading – and here’s hoping we can get off to a good start with the meeting

I will do quick updates later this evening and at lunchtime tomorrow if more value appears. Firms will update their odds again later and there may be some better place terms available then also

Good luck with whatever you back!

Paul

 

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Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1

Day 2

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

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

Day 4

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cheltenham 2016 – Day 4

Cheltenham 2016 Day 4

Day 3 review

Vautour put to bed any rumours about his well-being with an authoritative win in the Ryanair. Thistlecrack then continued his domination of the 3 mile division with one of the most impressive wins you’ll see in the World Hurdle. As an 8yo you wonder if he’s already too old to embark on a chasing career.If he stays hurdling he should dominate this division for some time. The second, Alpha Des Obeaux, only 6 already looks a huge prospect as an RSA horse next year.

For the blog selections it was place returns from Our Kaempfer (5th) and Al Ferof (3rd in without favourite market)

Smart Talk was very disappointing – didnt look to cope with the downhill well to me.

Top Wood was still bang there and travelling very well when coming down at the top of the hill. He looked like he would have been involved in the finish at the time but the way Cause of Causes came home up the hill, it was probably unlikely he would have won

Out of 10 pts staked on Thursday there was therefore a return of 6.8 pts (3.2 pt loss)

Ultimately a day for the punters though with Limini delivering the final twist of the knife to bookies in the Mares Novice Hurdle. The three short priced favs of the day all winning

Onto Friday….

As per usual the final day kicks off with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 – the 2 mile championship for 4yo hurdlers.
I already covered this in my weekend preview and stick with Who Dares Wins who I think will get the ground and strong pace that will see him at best effect.
I rate both him and Clan Des Obeaux much better than the bare form of their last race as they both started to joust far too early then on some very deep ground. Clan des Obeaux would have been a really big danger for me if the ground were a bit softer.
Zubayr is feared also. The Adonis Hurdle he won at Kempton has long been a good trial for this and his preparation is identical to Nicholls’s previous winner Zarkandar.
Ivanovich Gorbatov may well be a lot better on this decent ground than he was when behind Footpad at Leopardstown but is awful value at current odds. I don’t think that race is the strongest line of form here. It was also run on very bad ground and into a strong headwind – the form of that race could easily be turned around here
Recommendation
1pt ew WHO DARES WINS @12/1

whodareswins


2.10
Another fiercely competitive hcap hurdle with any number of potential plots.
Great Field and Blue Hell are two Irish raiders who fit that bill but are already plenty short enough at single figure odds.
My two against the field at bigger odds have both been waiting for the better ground they will get here.
John Constable had to be taken out of the Betfair Hurdle in February because of the ground and Evan Williams has been happy to bide his time until the weather improved. He got the closest to an enterprisingly ridden Sternrubin before Christmas but in so doing looked to be a horse to follow from his mark.
Some Plan has also been waiting for the good ground since an eyecatching run at Ascot (also behind Sternrubin). I have heard this has been the aim for some time. A little bit concerned he may want a less testing track but I’m very happy to see Harry Cobden on board to take off a valuable 5lbs (already seen to great effect on Old Guard earlier this season)
Recommendations

0.75 pts ew  JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/4 odds 12345)
0.5 pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1 (Corals – not paying 5th place but win odds make up for that)


 

2.50
Barters Hill is unbeaten and thoroughly likeable as he doesn’t let anything pass him. His last win was a bit unconvincing but it subsequently transpired he had lost a show during the race so it was excusable.
It’s more worrying that news emanated from the stable today that the horse had seemed a little stiff after working at home.
It will be very hard to win a race like this with his front running style but he sets the standard on form.
I think we can expect his price to drift however based on the latest rumours.
Shantou Village was no match for Yanworth last time but won’t have anything like that to deal with here. He shapes like this trip will suit and the better ground should also be in his favour.
Up For Review was sharing Ante Post favouritism for this race earlier this year before he was soundly beaten by Barters Hill at Doncaster. Mullins’s horses all ran badly that day (Shaneshill on same card bounced back yesterday to run a great 2nd in the RSA). He was described as a nervous type subsequently so I would be a little concerned if he’ll cope with this occasion
Of all the Mullins runners available to him, Ruby Walsh has picked Long Dog and he is at the top of my shortlist for this race. He is unproven over this trip but gives the impression he will stay. He got some favourable mentions at previews when it looked like the Neptune was more likely for him. Davy Russell even suggested he would be 5/2 fav if he ran in this. He’s been shown to be a little out on that assumption but I don’t think he should be 8/1 now that Ruby is on board.
Ruby wouldn’t have had the choice of Gigginstown runner, Gangster, who was supposedly the horse who beat Vautour in a gallop recently. If thats true we should see his price shorten. How much we read into that I’m not sure if today’s Ryanair winner was under par at the time. Strictly on form he still has something to find.
Bleu Et Rouge will be facing totally different conditions than his battling win over 2 miles at Leopardstown
Recommendation
1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1 (generally available but make sure of firms paying 1/4 odds a place rather than 1/5th)

longdog


 

3.30
The Gold Cup – the centrepiece of the meeting.
I’m assuming that Road to Riches won’t run after his exertions in the Ryanair on Thursday.
A run down of the runners (numbers in brackets are previous form on the course which I think is relevant here – the last number being the most recent effort)
Don Cossack B. J. Cooper (F3)
Brilliant winner at Aintree last season and possibly unlucky when falling at Kempton where he ran a bit in snatches. Some have expressed concerns that Cooper doesn’t get on with him as well as other jockeys but I’m more worried about his previous form on this course which suggests he doesn’t act on it as well as a flat track. The good ground will suit him.

Djakadam R. Walsh (F2F)
Last year’s Gold Cup 2nd but that is the only time he has completed here in 3 attempts. May want softer ground and would be worried that he still has the memory of his last run here where he needed several stitches afterwards

djakadam

Cue Card Paddy Brennan ( 1241U21)
A regular here since winning the Festival bumper in 2010 (also successful in Ryanair in 2013). Revitalised this season since a breathing operation and now looks much more a stayer. Used to run more freely and stamina was a question mark. His dam was a good stayer and gives very encouragement now that he will last over this trip.

cuecard

Don Poli Davy Russell ( 11)
Unbeaten at Cheltenham in two attempts gives him the best course record in the field. His form doesn’t quite match up to some of the others but he’s a lazy type who just does enough. If he’s close up as they come round the home turn the rest should be frightened on the uphill finish – but will he have the speed to lie up with them on this quicker ground (softer may have been preferred). Davy Russell gets the leg up on Bryan Cooper’s cast off – but it’s Russell who is riding the better so far this week.

donpoli
Smad Place Wayne Hutchinson ( 0332201)
Another horse who has seen his career flourish since a wind operation. Didn’t have his own way up front when well beaten in King George. With Vautour and probably Road to Riches out he now may get an uncontested lead which increases his chance. Still something to find on form but not out of it

smadplace

Road To Riches (3)
Last year’s third is a very doubtful runner

Carlingford Lough Barry Geraghty (00)
Saves his best for Leopardstown. Has twice come here fancied and disappointed on the course

Ofaolains Boy Noel Fehily (41P0)
Previous RSA winner (beating Smad Place). Had his problems since and would seem to need soft ground nowadays which he wont get here

On His Own Mr P. W. Mullins ( 04P20U ) (U cross country)
Previous runner-up but form someway off that level now

Irish Cavalier P. Townend (310P)
Has won at the course but is outclassed here on all previous for

As mentioned in the weekend preview blog I’m strongly with Cue Card here as I think he’ll be better still on this course than at Kempton. He may or may not have won that day if Don Cossack had stood up but he is far more proven on this course than that one.
Smad Place is feared if he is left alone up front as he may now get an easy lead. Don Poli would be the one I wouldn’t want to be seeing close by coming down the hill but think the ground may have gone against him and he’s too short a price on his bare form
Recommendation:
2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1 (1/4 123 – generally available)


There’s a bit of a feeling of a wind down after the Gold Cup normally but the Foxhunters at 4.10 will get plenty of media attention now with Victoria Pendleton on board Pacha Du Polder. The horse is well worth its place in this race but ‘Pendo’ is a long way behind ability wise compared to some of the top amateur riders she faces here. She’s been riding against similar inexperienced riders in her build up to this but is at a huge disadvantage here. I just hope she gets round safely more than anything but give her very little chance of reaching the frame.
On The Fringe won this easily this year and was given a very easy introduction last time in heavy conditions at Leopardstown. Expect to see far better here but I can’t say I was bowled over by the horse the first time I saw him in the paddock there
He’s the one to beat but I won’t be betting on him this year
I don’t have an opinion in the 4.50 currently but there’s an interesting outsider in the last.
Barters Hill’s trainer Ben Pauling fields an interesting outsider here in Ravens Tower, who has outdone himself before at this meeting as a 4yo hurdler. He won well last time on ground that shouldn’t really suit. It’s clear to me he’s a horse who will always be seen to best advantage on good ground, in a competitive race with a strong gallop. All these things he will get here. He is a novice, and as we saw with Out Sam earlier in the week, this sort of race can be too much for them early on in their careers. Novices do have a decent record in this race though and Ravens Tower appears a sound jumper on what I’ve seen thus far
He’s worth a small interest in what could be his optimum conditions
Recommendation
0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 12345 – others may enhance later on this)


 

EXTRA SELECTIONS (added 1900 GMT  Thurs evening)

Further review of the last 2 races and I have two extra selections.

Lucinda Russell is in tremendous form currently after quite a barren spell early in 2016. She sends one runner down from Scotland this week and such is her strike rate now I have to make Sky Khan a bet at huge odds of 66/1 in the 4.50. Squoauteur looks an obvious plot in this race to give Gordon Elliott another hcap win but he is already very short in odds

RECOMMENDATION

0.5 pts ew Sky Khan 66/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 5 places)

In the final race I’m also adding Dan Skelton’s Workbench at a big price. Dan’s runners have been performing well this week without winning and this one will be happy to be back on a sound surface. He ran well at the track before Christmas before disappointing on softer ground and is another I feel is overpriced

RECOMMENDATION

0.5 pts ew Workbench 33/1 (365 again offering the best place terms with 5 places)


 

It’ll be hard to come close to the reaction of Sprinter Sacre’s win on Wednesday, but if Cue Card were to prevail and secure a £1 million bonus it would put the icing on the cake this week
Good luck for the final day with whatever you back
Thanks for reading

Paul


 

Friday’s selections:

(Prices may have changed since selections were posted on Thursday – Ravens Tower was a selection of Pricewise last night for instance)

1pt ew WHO DARES WINS 12/1

0.75 pts ew JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (with 5 places)

0.5pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1

1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1

2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1

0.5 pts ew SKY KHAN 66/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew WORKBENCH 33/1 (with 5 places)

Total stakes for day 14.5 pts

 

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