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.
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
2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (Bet 365, Stan James offering 1/4 odds 123)
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
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.
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
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper (take 12/1 with 1/4 odds 1234)
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
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
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)
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
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
0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234 Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)
Best of luck with whatever you back
Thanks for reading
Summary of recommendations so far:
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)
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)
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)
0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)