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Ryan

Cheltenham 2020

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Who’s having a flutter?

 

Looks like we’re going to end up with heavy going this year (although I’m doubtful they will declare that on the first day).

 

Tuesday

13:30: Fiddlerontheroof @13/2 e/w (4 places)

 

14:10 Fakir DOdairies @4/1

 

14:50 The Conditional @15/2 e/w (6 places)

 

15:30 Darver Star @12/1 e/w (4 places)

 

16:10 Benie Des Dieux @8/11. Banker of the week for me, put her in a double with Paisley Park who runs in the stayers hurdle on Thursday. Let’s hope she doesn’t fall at the last when cruising again this year 🚀
 

16:50 Imperial Aura @11/2 e/w (5 places)

 

17:30 Carefully Selected @9/4

 

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Day one has some really open races – one of those where it’s hard to be really confident about anything (for all I have a couple of horses I’m keen to take on), but it does make for some really open betting races so potential for good returns if things fall right! In terms of the ground the last official update was Sunday about 8am(ish) where the ground was described as Soft all over, there’s been no rain since then but it’s due to hammer it down this afternoon/tonight I believe – so I’m working on the assumption of Soft ground but not absolutely bottomless.

Supreme 1.30

Worth starting with what type of horse ‘wins this on paper’. Ten of the last eleven winners had good experience - running at least 4 times over hurdles (and the one that hadn’t had been a previous runner on the flat with many starts), and the last 8 had all won a Graded novice hurdle on route to Cheltenham. Willie Mullins has a superb record in the race, (a horse finishing 1st or 2nd in 6 of the last 7), and finally in the last 6 years seven horses have arrived with a rating of 154 or higher, four of them have won and the other two placed.

So we want an experienced horse, with a good rating, who’s won some good races. Sounds plausible.

Only one horse turns up here ticking all of the boxes – and that’s Fiddlerontheroof trained by Colin Tizzard. He wouldn’t be a man you’d associate with 2 mile hurdlers (his best horses have been stayers really with the likes  of Cue Card & Thistlecrack) however when you look at his record with 2 mile hurdlers over the last 5 seasons it’s surprisingly okay (17% strike rate vs 14% overall). The horse comes here rated 154 having won the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle in January and with his 2 best ratings having come on soft ground it looks like he’s going to get his conditions. He’s plenty of experience with 4 hurdle starts on top of 3 bumpers (flat races for jump horses) and 2 point to points (amateur chases where a lot of horses start out before being bought by the big yards), and there is definitely a lot to like about him. The Tolworth generally has been a pointer to horses that want a bit further than 2miles, and Tizzard has only run 4 horses in this race in the last few years with a poor record (2 pulled up, 7th and 10th), for all none of them were fancied or had the form of this guy.

There’s 2 joint favourites as I write this – Shishkin trained by Nicky Henderson, Asterion Forlonge trained by Willie Mullins – both owned by the same guy Joe Donnelly.

We’ll deal with Shiskin first. He has very clear talent but comes with the type of profile that looks all wrong for this race – having fallen on debut in December, he’s since hosed up in 2 easy victories by 11 lengths, first on heavy ground over 2miles at Newbury, and then a month ago over 2m3f on good to soft ground at Huntingdon. You can’t deny he’s looked impressive in both victories but at 3/1 I just can’t get behind him – he lacks experience and for all he’s looked mightily impressive the conditions of this race will be very different (both his previous wins on flat tracks). There’s also a stat doing the rounds that the last 128 horses to have their last race before the festival at Huntingdon have failed to win – so I’m happy to avoid him at the price and if he wins fair play.

Asterion Forlonge I really like – he won a bumper early in the season and was then put straight over hurdles by Willie Mullins (which would not be a ‘by the book’ move for him), he then won by 10 lengths on his first start over hurdles on good-to-yielding ground over an undulating course, before then following up at the Dublin Racing Festival winning a Grade 1 by 9 ½ lengths over 2 miles. The negatives – he obviously lacks experience, Mullins originally thought he was a stayer and was expecting to go up in trip with him (for all his wins wouldn’t show that) and I’ve heard some people say he wasn’t that fast – but a guy I follow on twitter who creates speed figures for horses has him (just) at the top of the list and with Willie Mullins behind him I can’t see how he’ll be far away.

While we’re on the maestro Mullins – he runs 2 others in the race. The oddity is Berkshire Royal who has never raced over hurdles before. Supposedly he was due to race at the Dublin Racing Festival where he would have gone straight into Grade 1 company (which again would not be something Mullins does lightly) but picked up a minor injury just before, so comes here unraced. Mullins did this last year in the Mare’s novice hurdle with a horse called Concertista who finished 2nd. Mullins was quoted 2 weeks ago as saying “hes’s in great shape, I think he’s good enough but obviously he would lack huge experience” – Dave Crosse rides who is a jockey I’m not familiar with but is retained by the owners – his strike rate would worry you (4% strike rate over 2 mile hurdles with 42 wins from 978 rides) but it would also be fair to say he would not be riding this calibre of horse regularly, this may even be the best he’s rode who knows. There’s 50/1 out there – you pays your money you takes your chance (I’ve had a couple of sheckles on the off chance, but hard to fully get behind it).

Mullins other runner is Elixir D’Ainay – this horse has had 4 hurdles runs but predominantly over longer trips – his 3 runs this season over 2m3f, 2m4f, and 2m6f at the Dublin Racing Festival. He’s clearly talented – his Racing Post Ratings (RPRs) have been between 143 and 150 – the 2m4f run he finished 2nd to Envoi Allen who is a short priced favourite for the Ballymore on Day 2, and then last time out at the Dublin Racing Festival finished 5th in the 2m6f Grade 1 but was only beaten 6 lengths and wasn’t given a hard time towards the finish. I watched his last 2 races back and on both occasions he pulled quite hard – you could make a case that a strongly run 2 miles would suit him. With William Hill offering 7 places this horse stands out as one who should be plugging on at the finish and at 18/1 with them (25s in some places for less places) appeals – I’ll have a tickle at that.

To round off the others shorter in the market – Abacadabras ran in the Champion Bumper last year at the track finishing 4th, in my opinion not staying up the Cheltenham hill. He’s run very well this year – 4 races with 3 wins (2 in graded company on soft ground), his only defeat coming behind Envoi Allen and not by far. I just worry about the hill for him having re-watched last year’s bumper so I’m happy to leave him, but you can make a case that he was ridden wide last year which would be inefficient and with a good ride (Davy Russell rides – Cheltenham maestro) you’d be stupid to say he can’t win – he’s 13/2 – I won’t be backing him.

Of the others Chantry House (7s), Edwardstone (18s) have some good solid form (I’ve actually got an antepost double with Edwardstone in somewhere) and you could make a case for them, Chantry has won 4 in a row (1 PTP, 1 bumper, 2 hurdles) but his lack of experience again is off putting, Edwardstone beat Fiddlerontheroof on good ground early season and may need that better ground – plus his trainer Alan King is having a bad season by his standards and don’t see him winning this for all he may place. Henderson has one other Allart (won his last 2), with the rest of the runners 33/1 bar.

If you were wanting to take a big price to try and sneak the frame on the 7 places I’d be looking at Heaven Help Us (80s with WH, won at Cheltenham early season, not got the class but track clearly suits.

Bets – Asterion Forlonge (11/4 money back if you lose Skybet, 11/4 Paddy Power money back as a free bet if finishing 2nd-4th), Elixir D’Ainay ew (18/1 WillHill)

 

2.10 Arkle

The Arkle is the 2 mile novice chase event and looks very open this year as it did last – taking the 200/1 outsider out the other 10 runners are covered by just 7 pounds on official ratings – you could throw a blanket over them. The question then becomes who is best suited to the conditions of this race.

In addition to your 200/1 outsider here, there’s 3 others I’ve put a line through here – Global Citizen was a very good hurdler (and historically this is a good pointer to this race, theoretically the best hurdlers having the best engines and able to go the frenetic pace of the race) however all his form is on flat tracks – he finished 7th in a weak Champion Hurdle last year and I’m happy to leave him. Rouge Vif is similar his form has come on sharp flat tracks, his only Cheltenham start he finished 4th of 4 in an early season chase and I’m happy to ignore him. Finally Put The Kettle On I don’t believe has the class to win this race – she did win an early season Grade 2 over Course & Distance in November but that was her 5th chase start having been campaigned through the Summer (never a good sign for true championship horses) and there’s an easy case to say she was flattered by that – she’s also not raced since so you could question fitness.

That leaves 7 – 4 from England and 3 from Ireland. The Irish form heads the market with 3 of the first 4 in the betting, Notebook (3/1), Fakir D’Oudairies (4/1) and Cash Back (7/1).

Notebook has been the clear leader in Ireland – 4 chase starts, 4 wins, 3 of them graded races (1 x G2, 2 x G1s) so you look at that and think how is he still 3/1. The first negative against him is he was a below average hurdler – he was rated in the mid 130s (a good 20 pounds below the best novices) so the improvement he’s shown over fences is open to question as to ‘is it real’ – but I revert to my speed figures man on Twitter and he has clocked Notebook with a 90 rating which is the best of these and good enough to be winning an Open Grade 1 (i.e. with non-novices) – so that puts that to rest for me. The second negative would be his temperament – on his last start at the Dublin Racing Festival he bolted on his way to post and Rachael Blackmore had to work really hard to even get him down to the start – there are clear concerns about how he will handle Cheltenham (the crowd on Day 1 will be 4 times the size, the jockeys will be tightly wound still and he could boil over). Having said all that – he still won at the DRF impressively – so I think there’s fair compensation in his price.

Fakir D’Oudairies is a good horse but only 5 years old – because he’s so young he’s been receiving weight from other horses through the season in Ireland whereas he won’t here. He has 5 lifetime chase starts but 2 of those as a 3 year old in France – this season he’s 2 from 3 including a Grade 1 success over 2m4f – his only defeat coming against Notebook at Christmas. He was ridden less positively that day than he had been on his previous starts and only finished 1.5 lengths down, but he was receiving 7 pounds from Notebook that day so you’re talking about an 8.5length equivalent distance to make up – you can maybe make a case to say the track will suit Fakir better (2 races here last season, won a juvenile hurdle in January on the ‘new’ course (they race on this on Thurs/Fri, this is run on the ‘old’ course), and then finished 4th in the Supreme at last year’s festival again as a 4 year old. For me – he’s just below top class, and at 4/1 I don’t have enough confidence to put my money behind him to bridge that gap.

Cash Back is the final Irish horse and as Notebook he would have been an average hurdler (141 rated). He’s also 2 from 3 this season – having won twice over 2miles(ish) by 7 lengths and 12 lengths respectively he was beaten by a length by Notebook at the Dublin Racing Festival after Notebook had had his histrionics in getting to the start – with Notebook always looking like he was doing enough to win. I actually backed Cash Back after his 2nd win of the season for Cheltenham – so I’m sat on some 16/1 about him to win, and with that in my pocket I’m going to sit on it and hope that there’s enough in the question marks about Notebook to see the form reversed. Another point to note would be that Cash Back’s 2 wins came at Naas & Navan which are both undulating tracks like Cheltenham whilst the Notebook defeat at Leopardstown is a flatter track (for all Notebook has won on undulating tracks too). Finally Cash Back is trained by Willie Mullins who has won 4 of the last 5 Arkle’s – so again I’m putting my faith in the maestro.

Of the 4 English horses – Brewin’ up a storm is shortest at 7/1 – he is a good horse however has only had 2 chase starts and having picked up a niggle hasn’t been seen since November – although he did win both starts. There is also an interesting case for him in that a lot of the horses in this race are front runners whereas he is more likely to sit off the pace so if they do all go a mad pace and go too hard in front then he could mop it up. I fanced him at last year’s festival for the Ballymore and he could only finish 4th, so happy to leave him this year but can see the argument.

Espirit Du Large is another from the school of average hurdler, good chaser. He’s won 2 of his 3 chase starts with his last win coming in a Grade 1 in December beating Nube Negra by 2 lengths. NN had won his 2 starts previous to this and was also runner up to Rouge Vif more recently by a wider margin, so it looks solid if unspectacular form. His trainer Evan Williams is up and coming but wouldn’t be a proven trainer at this level, and with him not having raced since December again I’m happy to leave him – also all of his 3 starts have been on right handed tracks (Chelt left handed) so that’s a further question mark.

Final 2 – Maire Banrigh and Al Dancer I think are interesting. Maire Banrigh has won all 4 of her chase starts and is unbeaten in 6 in all having won her last 2 hurdles starts after having wind surgery. Her wins have come on flat/sharp tracks in small fields but she did win a hurdles race on an undulating course. 3 of her wins have been by wide margins (15,13 and 11 lengths) and the other was beating Thomas Darby who is a 158 rated hurdler only receiving a couple of pounds. She would want better ground though and that’s probably enough to put me off, despite the 7 pound mare’s allowance she would get.

Al Dancer is the final horse and I think I’ll be having a little speculative each way go at him – he’s only 1 from 4 in chases, and that was his first chase win back in October, having finished 2nd in the race I mentioned earlier behind Put The Kettle On who I ruled out of this, and Mister Fisher who is quietly fancied for the Marsh Chase on Day 2, he was also 4th behind Global Citizen at Christmas. All of that relatively non-inspiring – however you go back to his hurdles form – he was 4/4 from last year over hurdles before going off joint favourite for the Supreme and massively disappointing last year which is hard to excuse – he had run in the Betfair Hurdle a little under 3 weeks before the festival and maybe that took the edge off him – but he was right there turning for home and did win a handicap on the new course last season also. His 4 chase starts have all been small field events and his best form over hurdles was in big fields coming off a strong pace which he should get here – I just think 20/1 is too big, if I can get something decent 4 places tomorrow or e/w w/o Notebook I’ll try that.

Bets: Al Dancer e/w 20/1, maybe e/w w/o Notebook 12/1. Notebook looks solid at 3s but will leave given earlier Cash Back bet.

3.30 Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle is another race that’s a real mess this year, with a huge field of 17 horses and again no real superstar rating among them.

The reason for this starts with last year’s race – there were 3 short priced horses due to battle it out Buveur D’Air, Apple’s Jade & Laurina. Buveur D’Air fell that day and has since been injured this season and misses the race, Apple’s Jade & Laurina both disappointed on the day and have not been the same since really with neither lining up here. The race on the day was won by 15 lengths by the 5 year old Espoir D’Allen which was a shock but having done it in such good style he then sadly passed away through the Summer. Of last year’s 10 horses that ran only 2 of them line up this year, so it’s really open with lots of novice and different formlines coming into it.

Let’s start with the two that line up again this year. Silver Streak (25/1) finished 3rd last year and has been ultra consistent – the Racing Post have him running to 157 on 5 of his last 7 starts but his career wins have all come on better ground on flat-ish tracks. You could argue he’s improved and he’s been trained with this race as the plan this year, but for me he’s the yard stick – if you’re finishing ahead of him you’re likely in the places.

Sharjah is the other horse who lined up last year – he was actually brought down in the race by Buveur D’Air when he fell and it was too early to know how he would have run. They’ve always said this horse needs Good ground – so the fact we’re almost certainly getting soft would have to put you off – you would argue on his day he has the best form of any of these – RPRs of 168 beating Faugheen a couple of years ago and 163 when winning a Grade 1 at Christmas. He ran abysmally last time out on ground that should have suited which is a concern. His only other visit to Cheltenham was in the Supreme 2 years ago but it was heavy ground which would not have suited and he finished midfield. The Mullins camp tend to know if they’re right – so I’d be looking for a market check on the day – if this horse is being backed near the off then he will certainly be carrying some of money. He is in some accas for me but again hard to be confident at this point at around 12/1.

The other 15 come from different formlines – firstly the favourite Epatante (7/2) who in an uncomplicated way does look the stand out horse on recent form – she’s 2 from 2 this season, winning a Grade 1 at Christmas beating the aforementioned Silver Streak by 5 lenghts and 4/5 lifetime. If Silver Streak ran to form which Racing Post think he did that gives her a rating of 155 officially (Racing Post marked her up to 157) and with her 7 pound sex allowance that’s an equivalent 162-164 which on paper is better than the rest of this field excluding a couple have achieved. She’s the right favourite, she’s won on soft ground. So why are we not steaming into her? The answer to that is last year’s Cheltenham festival – she was a heavily backed favourite for the mares novice race over 2m1f (I was there the day before and the vibes from the people we were with who had been in and out of Nicky Henderson’s box was that this thing was a flying machine and could not get beat) – she was very disappointing on the day and only finished 9th. So then you question what happened – the excuse in the press from the trainer was that they got caught up in last year’s equine flu issues and she clearly wasn’t over it – but I have to question how that tallys with what we were told from the vibes the day before – maybe they couldn’t tell until she went that pace I don’t know. She also wore a hood that day which she hasn’t since so maybe she reacted badly to that – re-watching the race she definitely clouted a couple of hurdles. If you can square last year’s race away in your mind, you can argue she’s a good thing here at 7/2.

Second favourite is Pentland Hills – he won last season’s Triumph Hurdle at the festival (for 4 year olds only) but I can’t have this horse. Lots of respected judges have put him up as he travels really well – but he’s run twice this season and hasn’t won – he’s had wind surgery but 2 stats I heard recently – horses running in the Champion Hurdle who haven’t won that season are 1 from 94, and also horses trained by Nicky Henderson running at the festival who haven’t won that season are 1 from 109. Couple that with 5 year old’s having a poor record in the race (except last year’s winner obviously) and I’m happy to leave him, certainly at 5/1. This also goes for Coeur Sublime (16/1) for all he’s also had a wind op and the stable think he’s got a great chance, and in Davy Russell he has a great jockey – I just don’t buy into it. Happy to leave him and if he wins fine. Fusil Raffles is also 5 and hasn’t been seen since pulling up at Christmas – the trainer says he wants better ground too, so I’ll leave him – although interestingly Daryl Jacob picks him over Call Me Lord who he also could have ridden – will touch on him shortly.

Cilaos Emery is next in the market – he was a late switch from the Champion Chase having fallen over fences at the Dublin Racing Festival – he ran over hurdles 3 weeks ago to prep for this and won on heavy ground recording an RPR of 160 which puts him right in the mix, but he only finished 5th in the Supreme here 3 years ago which is below the form of some of his other hurdles runs. It’s that man Willie Mullins again so you can put your faith in him perhaps – again maybe worth a market check on the day and he has a chance.

Supasundae is a class horse but is now 10 years old – he’s won 3 Grade 1’s in his career 2 of which over 2miles, recording RPRs of 162 and 165 but they were 2 years ago. Last season he ran over 2 miles three times, all finishing 2nd (once to Sharjah) but all on good/yielding ground whereas his best form has come on softer ground. He did win at the festival 3 years ago winning the Coral Cup handicap over 2miles 5 furlongs and he probably does want a bit further than 2 miles. But having said that he made his seasonal debut at the Dublin Racing Festival running to 155 and will come on for that and that puts him in the mix on ground that should suit. He’s getting on, but he has a chance and I think he’ll be in the places. The price has gone though really he’s only 10/1 now.

Darver Star brings current season novice Irish form to the table – having finished 3rd 4 lengths down on Envoi Allen and 3 lengths behind Abacadabras in December. He then ran in open company at the Dublin Racing Festival finishing 2nd ahead of Supasundae and Petit Mouchoir and that puts him in the mix. He’s trained by Gavin Cromwell who trained last year’s winner Espoir D’Allen and you’d have to think he knows if he’s good enough or not – at 12/1 he might be worth a tickle but again it’s a little short for me, although you’d imagine he’ll shorten further if Abacadabras goes in in the first.

Now we’re into 20/1+ and in an open race there may be value to be found. Call Me Lord we touched on above has not been sided with by jockey Daryl Jacob who had the pick – but interestingly Daryl has only won once on him in 6 rides with 3 of his 4 wins on these shores with other jockeys. They did think this horse needed to go right handed but on his first start left handed he won at Cheltenham in December in a Grade 2 (albeit on the ‘new’ course) but the bare form of that doesn’t look good enough – he beat Ballyandy (also 20/1) by a neck, and Ch’tibello by 1 ½ lengths, but Ch’tibello was giving them 4 pounds that day and he’s around a mid 150s horse. Ballyandy did also run 3rd to Epatante at Christmas before beating Pentland Hills at Haydock in January – his form on the old course at Cheltenham is encouraging though and he could be one to look at for the places at 20/1.

Petit Mouchoir is kind of the Ballandy of Ireland – he’s run in all the right races but come up short finishing 2nd to Saldier in November (Saldier misses this through injury), then 2nd to Sharjah at Christmas, before 3rd behind Darver Star and Honeysuckle (who goes in the mares hurdle later). You could see him hitting the frame at 25/1 (he finished 3rd in this 3 years ago).

Not So Sleepy won a handicap by 9 lengths in December – I’m happy to leave him for all he could be progressive.

Darasso was beaten 9 lengths by Cilaos Emery trying to give him 7 pounds  but also 9 lengths by Ballyandy in January – I’d question whether he’s good enough and perhaps if he has travel issues with the Haydock run? Happy to leave him. Le Patriote also looks short of these and is rightly triple figures. Cornerstone Lad’s form has come on flat tracks in small fields.

Gumball has been shown better form this season and went close to winning the Greatwood handicap hurdle in November over course and distance and on soft ground, he recorded an RPR of 154 that day. He is definitely short of the class to win but he could be one to look at in extra place markets.

For what it’s worth my speed guy on Twitter has Sharjah hitting 92 but on good ground, Cilaos Emery hitting 91 but 3 years ago, Petit Mouchoir hitting 90 but in small fields, and then Darver Star next in at 89.

Bet: Murky race and hard to be confident about anything - Epatante probably does offer some value at 7/2, Supasundae at 10/1 should offer a place return and maybe back with Paddy for the FB 2nd-4th, if the ground does appear to be drying out towards good which seems unlikely then Sharjah has to be a bet, and Gumball maybe if you can get large places at a price with 365 on Each Way Extra

4.10 Mares Hurdle

Ten go to post including 3 of last year’s front 4, in addition to Benie Des Dieux who would have won but for falling at the last, and Honeysuckle who is unbeaten to this point.

Benie is a short price to get the job done this year – I wrote last year that she splits opinion and for all she was unbeaten for Willie Mullins she had never turned in a stronger RPR than 152 – I got lucky with her falling at the last when she was clearly going to run to a mid 150s rating, and she then backed that up at Punchestown recording a 158 and returned this year over 3 miles with a 162 – she is clearly very good.

However, she does have real opposition this year in Honeysuckle who is unbeaten in 7 hurdles starts. She won 3 mares novice races last season before picking up an injury and missing Cheltenham – she did however return at Fairyhouse in April where she despatched the Mares Novice hurdle winner Eglantine Du Seuil by 8.5 lengths over 2m4f.

This season she has run 3 times – twice over the 2m4f trip beating Easy Game by 11 lengths, before then despatching Bacardys & Apples Jade by 9 and 13 lengths respectively – Apple’s Jade hasn’t been on song this season but the money spoke that day as she was backed into odds on – Racing Post gave that a 160 but you could question Bacardys form. She then raced over 2 miles at the DRF winning again beating horses who are in the mix for the Champion Hurdle. A lot of her form is right handed, and on flatter tracks – and you can argue she hasn’t come up to the ratings of Benie – but with potential on her side it’s hard to be confident about the 8/13 Benie or the 5/2 Honeysuckle – although having said that the market is very strong in favour of Benie currently and she has been there and done it before. It’s not for me though.

Stormy Ireland has been consistent this year – having finished 2nd in this last season (would have been 3rd if BDD had stood up) she then finished 2nd behind BDD at Punchestown at the end of the season finishing 9.5 lengths off, before a below par run in France. This season she is 3 from 3 winning 2 Mares races before an open Grade 3 against the boys recording a 150 RPR. A couple of those in behind have since come out and backed that up – so she looks solid.

Roksana won this last year after Benie’s fall – she then followed that up with just finishing 2nd in an open grade 1 at Aintree beaten just a head with an RPR of 156. Her form this year has been strong enough running against the boys for all she hasn’t won – recording RPRs of around 150. She finished 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Stormy Ireland last year but Stormy Ireland was only 5 and you could argue she’s shown more consistency this year – again Stormy Ireland is trained by Willie Mullins who has a deadly record in this race.

Lady Buttons is a horse that I love and I really fancied her for this last season, but she’s now 10 and she could only finish 4th in this last year. She’s rated 5 pounds higher than she was last year but her winning seems to come in small field flat track races, so regretfully I’ll leave her alone this year.

Elfile has shown decent enough form at 2m4f – finishing 5.5lengths behind Honeysuckle last year in Ireland and then 5.5 lengths behind Stormy Ireland when giving her 3 pounds at Christmas. That puts her in the picture with Stormy Ireland and Roksana and at 33/1 you might be able to get a bit of 20s+ 4 places (again trained by Willie Mullins), effectively a 3/1 shot on her beating one of Roksana or Stormy Ireland home in all likelihood.

Bets – I may put Benie into some accas but won’t be lumping on her, Elfile e/w 4 places maybe if you can get 20s+

 

5.30 – National Hunt Chase

A novice chase for amateur jockeys – however there are “amateur jockeys” and there are AMATEUR jockeys. It pays to be with the right jockeys in this race, however the conditions have changed slightly this year.

Last season’s race was a farce with only 4 of 18 horses finishing – and as a result they changed the conditions of the race this year, they have reduced it from 4 miles to 3miles 6 furlongs, all horses need to have finished in the first 4 of a chase over 3 miles, and all jockeys need to have ridden a minimum of 20 times and won at least 5 races over fences.

Of the top 6 places in the last 6 years, 34 possible combinations given only 4 finishers last year, 6 jockeys have filled 20 of them (P Mullins 4 times; D O’Connor 4 times; J J Codd 4 times; W Biddick 3 times; B O’Neill 3 times; S Waley-Cohen 2 times).

And once again this year those 6 jockeys ride 6 of the top 7 in the market, so we’ll focus predominantly on these.

Carefully Selected is a short priced favourite for the race trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by son Patrick – although has drifted to 2/1 today. He has been earmarked for the race for a little while by the stable and clearly stays well – finishing 3rd over hurdles to Minella Indo (Cheltenham Festival winner) in a Grade 1 at last year’s Punchestown festival. He has won all 3 chase starts this season, but has made serious jumping mistakes throughout. He might stay, and he might jump round, but he wouldn’t fill you with confidence to back him at 2/1.

The issue then comes with the opposition – Carefully Selected is rated 152 officially, recording RPRs up to 156. Lord Du Mesnil ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen is officially rated a pound higher and is the only other horse rated within half a stone of the Mullins horse. He is technically a third season novice having not won a chase in his first two seasons but has been very progressive this year – finishing in the first two of every one of his 6 starts, including twice in big value handicaps on heavy ground over 3m1f and 3m4f at Haydock which is a flatter track – however he has more proven stamina and his jumping has been strong. Given a choice between backing Carefully Selected to win at 2/1 or backing Lord Du Mesnil each way at 7/1 for me there’s only one option.

Newtide has been put up on a couple of podcasts as an alternative but he has only raced twice over fences – winning both in small fields on flat tracks. He has Barry O’Neill on board which is a help but I don’t like his profile.

Ravenhill is 2nd favourite at 6/1 and was well fancied for a handicap later in the week originally – suggesting the Gordon Elliott stable think he’s better than his mark of 142 which clearly he’ll need to be. Again though I don’t like his profile for all he has Jamie Codd on board – he fell last time out and has only won 2 of his 6 chase starts, and is 10 years old suggesting he’s had injury problems through the years. I’m happy to leave him at the prices.

Springfield Fox has improved drastically having gone over fences but has only run in 2 chases and the first of which was 31st January so he does lack experience – he’s won two 3 mile chases on heavy ground suggesting that stamina will be an issue – but he lacks a big name jockey being ridden by the trainer’s son Noel George – he has just a 4% strike rate on chasers 3m+ from 47 starts. Not for me.

Forza Milan has top amateur Derek O’Connor on board and the horse is a close relation to Grand National Winner One For Arthur suggesting trip won’t be a problem. He has 6 chase starts with 0 wins however, this season he’s finished 2nd on both starts – the latter of which was 4 lenths behind 2/1 favourite Carefully Selected over 3 miles. He may just be slow and need the longer trip but again despite the strong jockey booking he’s not for me.

Of the other ‘good performing’ amateurs Will Biddick rides Lamanver Pippin for Colin Tizzard – again this horse has only 2 chase starts with 1 victory coming back in November over 3 miles on soft ground – the horse he beat that day has gone on to win his next 2 starts so there’s scope to believe if you can get passed the lack of experience – he could be worth a tickle each way at 20/1.

Of the others Ocean Cove is ridden by Lisa O’Neill who won on Tiger Roll a few years ago – again only 2 chase starts and no wins, finishing 17 lengths behind Springfield Fox on heavy ground – a lot of his form is on better ground though so if it does start to dry out he could outrun his odds of 40/1

Bets – Lord Du Mesnil ew 7/1 4 places with Ladbrokes, and maybe a little on Lamanver Pippin ew 20/1 4 places with Betvictor

 

 

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Think it could be the pin in the paper tomorrow, Pentland Hills runs in the Champion tomorrow, part owner (possibly  half a hoof) Dave Og had a cracking season last year with this horse. 

Hoping it is heavy on Friday as I may have one for the County hurdle. 

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Posted (edited)

Excellent write-up Metty. Enjoyed that. 

 

Who do you use for speed figures btw? The very knowledgable Andy Holding from Oddschecker does a package but I don’t gamble on horses enough (big festivals only, mainly on the flat) to make the £39 monthly fee worth it. I believe he uses the system laid out in ‘On Time’ by Nick Mordin which seems impossible to get hold of...

Edited by Ryan

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I'll be there cheering on my horse, Pentland Hills. It's a tiny fraction of a share but it didn't feel that way last year! 

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8 hours ago, Dave_Og said:

I'll be there cheering on my horse, Pentland Hills. It's a tiny fraction of a share but it didn't feel that way last year! 

Good on you, enjoy your day, it could have a chance as I won't be burdening it with my shilling. 

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12 hours ago, Ryan said:

Excellent write-up Metty. Enjoyed that. 

 

Who do you use for speed figures btw? The very knowledgable Andy Holding from Oddschecker does a package but I don’t gamble on horses enough (big festivals only, mainly on the flat) to make the £39 monthly fee worth it. I believe he uses the system laid out in ‘On Time’ by Nick Mordin which seems impossible to get hold of...

C&P job rather than my analysis! Think there's a guy on twitter who calculates speeds

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14-10  Rouge Vif (E/W 14/1) - Travelled and jumped so well at Warwick last time before beating a decent opponent easily, I've got to back him today, could be a very decent chaser in the making.

 

14-50 The Conditional (7/1) - Ran in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time over 3m 5f, nothing was going better on the home turn but he failed to stay and didn't get home, back to 3m 1f today, he'll do for me.

 

15-30 Pentland Hills (6/1) - I'm a firm believer in following festival form, he won the Triumph hurdle last year, in what doesn't look like a vintage renewal of the Champion Hurdle his previous festival form will stand him in good stead. He should have won last time out at Haydock (he was travelling all over his opponents at the last) but probably hit the front too soon and got worried out of it close home. He should go well.

 

16-50 Imperial Aura (5/1) - Don't know much about this one myself, but has been tipped as his best bet of the day by Paul Kealy in the Racing Post (who i consider to be a very good judge).

 

Singles and an Each Way Yankee.

 

 

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The Conditional just holds on! 

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13 minutes ago, Ryan said:

The Conditional just holds on! 

Ran really well and would have won easier without the uncharacteristic mistake at the second last.

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Posted (edited)

*Ok* first day for myself. Ended up with a decentish profit from the 2 winners and Darver Star placing. Fair play to Blackmore and Honeysuckle also, Mullins was fuming!

Edited by Ryan

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Day 2 is a strange day of racing – it includes the bumper (for horses that aren’t yet jumping fences) where horses have generally won one or maybe two races; the Boodles which is a handicap for horses who are 4 years old therefore have very few runs and sometimes they’ve not put it all on the track to save them for this; and the cross country which is an odd race in itself – 3miles 6 furlongs over loads of weird obstacles. So in general it’s a tough day to be confident about.

4.10 Cross Country

Last year coming into this race Tiger Roll looked the proverbial good thing having won his prep race over hurdles when not backed at all at 25/1 and clearly in the form of his life – he won this by 20+ lengths before going on to win a 2nd Grand National.

This season has been different – he picked up an injury before Christmas and missed a few months, making his comeback in the same prep race he won last year with his trainer being very clear that you should not expect a win this time as he wouldn’t be as fit – and he ran well enough for most of the race before easing off towards the end finishing 5th. Racing Post rated him 144 for that run this year vs. 160 in the same race a year ago.

He is officially the best horse in this race by 13 pounds, but I’m not as keen this year to go steaming in at even money that he can do the same (he was 11/8 last year for example). The cross-country course as of Monday was still Soft, Heavy in places – he did win this race 2 years ago on soft ground but it was a much closer race winning by 2 lengths. They also must have an eye on making sure he’s peaking to try and win a 3rd Grand National in a row which would be unprecedented and all in all I think there are enough reasons to think we’ll be seeing a high 150s/low 160s Tiger Roll and not a 170 Tiger Roll.

Then you look at the opposition and think a low 160s Tiger Roll might still be good enough to win this – there would in my mind be 5 horses in the remaining field of 15 who could arguably cause him any bother.

Easysland is second in the betting at 3/1 – this horse is trained in France and won a handicap over the Cross country course at Cheltenham early in the year recording an RPR of 156. Since then it has been bought by power owner J P McManus who targets winning this race. The horse is only 6 years old and has won it’s last 6 in a row – you can make arguments to upweight the form up to a low 160s rating based on other horses form in there. That run at Cheltenham was good to soft ground, his wins in France are on Heavy (but French ground can be a lottery). I did fancy him given Tiger’s interrupted prep and had a bit on him at 6/1 a few weeks ago, but it’s hard to advocate backing him to win at 3s.

Urgent De Gregaine for me represents good each way value – he finished 2nd on soft ground in this 2 years go to Tiger Roll putting up an RPR of 154, and then was 3rd last year on soft (although maybe slightly better) at 146, before then running 2nd in a handicap in November on soft at 155. He’s 12 years old now but I think he’ll be hard to kick out of the frame at 12/1.

Out Sam I also think is overpriced at 40/1 – he has Jamie Codd on board who’s a good jockey, and put up an RPR of 147 behind Easysland earlier in the season. All his wins have come on soft ground so he could improve for that, and for all I can’t see him winning necessarily he could easily hit the frame – Bet Victor are 4 places and that looks a bet.

The 2 final wildcards are Yanworth & Might Bite – both good horses on their day in more regulation spheres – Yanworth has won and finished 3rd in two cross-countrys in Ireland this year recording RPRs around 140 – he fell here behind Easysland earlier in the year and with him also being owned by J P McManus you’d question why he felt the need to go and buy Easysland if he thought Yanworth was any good – Might Bite is an enigma he won the RSA chase here a few years ago and finished 2nd in a Gold Cup but has never looked like a world beater since really, he did run okay behind Native River over normal fences a month ago (RPR 151) but I’d much rather back the proven cross country horses than  hope that Might Bite takes to it.

Bets: Urgent De Gregaine 12/1ew; Out Sam 40/1 ew 4 places with BetVictor

3.30 Champion Chase

Bombshell news this morning (Tuesday) that Altior will miss the race which is a shame because I was basing my strategy around him not being able to turn up and win at 10 years old and potentially on the downgrade after an awkward season. That means shorter prices about what is now just a 6 runner field.

There remain 2 outstanding horses here to dual it out – Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi.

Starting with Defi, he had a bad season in 17/18 where his trainer had a virus in the stable, but if you disregard his 2 starts that year, in 18 career starts he has 14 victories and 3 seconds, only finishing outside the first two on his first chase start. He is unbeaten this season winning a Grade 2 and two Grade 1s – so what’s not to like? When you get in to the form of his wins this season he’s beaten horses that would be very good yardsticks (Un De Sceaux & Politologue) by a couple of lengths and whilst that puts him in the frame to win this I don’t think it makes him an unbeatable horse. He would be rated around 170 somewhere. He does have 8 starts at Cheltenham, winning 6, but 5 of those were on the new course and has won twice at the festival before.

Chacun is another Willie Mullins charge who has just 5 career starts over fences – one of which was in France in early 2016 before going to Mullins at the end of that year. It was 3 years between runs before he finally appeared for Mullins as a 7 year old but he does look special. He won his first start by 31 lengths last year, before then taking on Defi Du Seuil at the Punchestown Festival in May. There is an argument that Defi had had a long season by this point (it was his 6th start) but Chacun beat him by 4 lengths that day. This season Chacun had his first run at Christmas – Willie had a particularly bad Christmas with a lot of horses needing a run and he was beaten by A Plus Tard by 4 lengths having been backed as though he couldn’t lose – it was clear there was surprise in the Mullins camp. However he then returned at the Dublin Racing Festival beating Min by 4 lengths in a time that was quicker than the other two chases run the same day (one of which was Notebook/Cash Back etc who they finished about 4 seconds clear of).

I’ve heard some people saying “he only beat Min” but to my mind Min is still an absolute Grade 1 horse, the Racing Post gave this a 175 rating and I’m inclined to believe that. He hasn’t run at Cheltenham before but his debut for Mullins (31 length win) was on an undulating course, and my speed guy on twitter gives him a leading 95. It’s hard to be too confident against a horse of Defi’s calibre but I really really like him.

Of the others Politologue bled earlier in the season and for all he did okay on it last year Sceau Royal would prefer better ground, Bun Doran is a bit below these, and Dynamite Dollars came back from injury running well enough behind Altior – you could see reasons to think he could improve passed Politologue & Sceau.

Bets: Chacun Pour Soi 11/8, will also consider Chacun w/o Defi @ 1/2 (Sky) in multiples

 

5.30 Bumper

I know fuck all about bumpers, everyone kept saying how Appreciate It looked a really good horse so I’ve got it in various accas from weeks ago. Things I’ve heard from pods.

Queens Brook – mares have a good race and well fancied by Elliot’s yard (good record in this)

Panic Attack – sold out of Willie Mullins yard to David Pipe after winning – hard to imagine Willie would have let her go if he thought she had a chance of winning.

Ferny Hollow – public following but think the Mullins camp worry it’s come too soon for her

Israel Champ – won a couple of good (?) bumpers early this season.

The Glancing Queen – finished 5th in this last year then won at Aintree but not been seen since, but 20/1 does feel too big.

Julies Stowaway  - fits the profile of horses that do well in this and beat Ballyadam who’s supposed to be a good thing in Ireland.

Bets – maybe Glancing Queen (20/1) & Julies Stowaway (40/1), but fuck knows.

 

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Went through this race last night, Envoi Allen is 5/4 for this and I have him a few pounds clear of the others. He’s unbeaten in 7 starts so far and I think he’ll likely continue that tomorrow. I have him at 154 (official rating 156).

Sporting John is second in the betting and appears to have shown improving form towards 150 – his official rating is 149 – Racing Post went 152 about his win at Ascot 3 weeks ago but that was the day when sport was nearly cancelled with Storm Dennis and he could have been flattered (and possibly had a harder race in the conditions?). I’m happy to leave him.

There’s then 4 other horses that appear in the mix for a late 140s rating – Easywork & Longhouse Poet have both put up ratings in that area and they could be interesting in a w/o Envoi Allen market each way. The Big Breakaway & The Big Getaway are both big horses that look set to go chasing next year – plenty of experts I’ve listened to have said they would be worried about them with their size in that if they make a mistake on the day it’s tough to get a big horse going again – so maybe these are two to avoid (I had both running to around 145 in easy races so far, so with scope to improve).

Of the others nobody I’ve heard putting anyone up for it – Mossy Fen looked interesting on a couple of runs but seems short of this, similarly Son Of Camas showed potential early but his form is well away – he has had a wind op so an improved run wouldn’t be out of the question, I’ll definitely have a read of the trainer’s blogs tonight to see what they all think.

Bets: Envoi Allen 5/4; Easywork &/or Longhouse Poet e/w without Envoi around 8-10/1 (wait for markets to go up later today)

2.10 RSA Chase

This is a nightmare of a race – with some very good horses bringing limited chase experience, coupled with some big improvers.

I backed Minella Indo for this early in the season after he won the 3mile novice hurdle at the festival last year and then backed up at Punchestown looking like a beast. He’s had only 2 starts over fences though, finishing 2nd over 2m4f before then winning over 3miles, but he’s not had a chance to be tested at the top level over the big obstacles and therefore it’s hard to be confident with him now fav at 10/3. He did come to Cheltenham and win with limited experience last season and the trainer seems happy, but I couldn’t row in at this price and I’ll sit on my 10/1 and hope for the best.

Champ has been favourite for this for months and is clearly a talented horse – but again you couldn’t be confident at 7/2. He’s had 3 starts over fences winning two, before then falling last time out at Cheltenham in January. Horses who fell last time out in non-handicap chases going into Cheltenham are 1 from 55 and that is an obvious negative. All 3 of his starts are over 2m4f and he was beaten last year at the festival also. The positives – he’s beaten some good horses when he has stood up and he did win a Grade 1 over hurdles at Aintree over 3 miles but that is a flatter track.

I was very keen on Allaho (9/2) for the Marsh chase over 2m4f – he has the highest piece of form according to Racing Post Ratings recording a 164 in January over 2m5f. His 3 runs over hurdles also featured Minella Indo – he beat him by 4 lengths getting 3 pounds, before at Cheltenham getting beaten by 9 lengths, and then cutting that gap to 2 lengths at Punchestown. All of his best form is right handed and that would be a concern against better opposition in this race than the Marsh.

Copperhead (9/2) has been well fancied for this by all the shrewdies – his profile is strong for an RSA with him showing largely improved form over fences – racing 4 times and winning his last 3, with the latter an RPR of 160, but this was at Ascot on Storm Dennis day which I have a question mark about. Robbie Power has the choice of which Tizzard horse to ride and despite this being much shorter in the market he’s chosen to ride Slate House (14/1) which has to be a big negative for the horse (for all Harry Cobden takes the ride who is more than capable). On the back of that I’ve backed Slate House who has pockets of good and bad form but certainly has plenty of experience and was going to win the BetVictor Gold Cup on this course on soft ground in November (albeit over 2m4f).

Of the others Battleoverdoyen fell last time and ran a stinker at Cheltenham last year, Easy Game looks to have better form over shorter and Aye Right looks to be outclassed here.

I will wait to read the trainer’s blogs on the other 2 horses who both have bits of form around 150-153 which appears short but at 40/1 (Pym) and 100/1 (Castlebawn West) maybe they could sneak a place in a muddling race (particularly with Sky going 4 places), although you’d have to think one of the front of the market will put it together on the day.

Bets: Slate House e/w 14/1; potentially Pym or Castlebawn West e/w 4 places with Sky at 33s and 66s

 

The handicaps

2.10 Coral Cup – absolute minefield of a race. Think I’ve heard 5 or 6 horses strongly fancied for it and they’re all short in the betting. I’ll be going through it tonight/tomorrow morning. The trends – 6 of the last 7 were rated 143 or higher, the Irish do well with horses coming back from better races, younger horses generally (no winner older than 8 since 2007), 8 of the last 10 winners carried at least 11 stone.

 4.50 Boodles – as mentioned earlier this horse is a minefield, again the talked up horses are at the front of the market. Paul Nicholls has run 19 french bred horses (3 won, 7 placed) [Mick Pastor & Thyme White], only 2 of the last 9 won last time. Gordon Elliott also has a decent enough record (but runs a lot this year).

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15 hours ago, disjointed said:

Good on you, enjoy your day, it could have a chance as I won't be burdening it with my shilling. 

Bit disappointing but what a thrill anyway. He owes us nothing after last season's exploits. 

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My mate had 5 winners and two seconds and won £26k

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22 minutes ago, Dave_Og said:

My mate had 5 winners and two seconds and won £26k

Not bad 😂

 

I saw the ITV racing feature on your PH syndicate. It looks like an enjoyable thing to be involved with, regardless of result!

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7 hours ago, Ryan said:

Not bad 😂

 

I saw the ITV racing feature on your PH syndicate. It looks like an enjoyable thing to be involved with, regardless of result!

Highly recommended. I have shares in nine. No guarantees obviously but four of them have won so far. I hope Gilka will make it five at Doncaster tomorrow. 

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8 hours ago, Dave_Og said:

Bit disappointing but what a thrill anyway. He owes us nothing after last season's exploits. 

Exactly, how could you surpass last season, good luck with him for the rest of the year. 

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7 hours ago, Ryan said:

Not bad 😂

 

I saw the ITV racing feature on your PH syndicate. It looks like an enjoyable thing to be involved with, regardless of result!

A mate of mine has done the same he has a horse in the Triumph on Friday with Alan King. 

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1 hour ago, disjointed said:

A mate of mine has done the same he has a horse in the Triumph on Friday with Alan King. 

Not Blame It On Sally?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Dave_Og said:

Not Blame It On Sally?

Yes, also got one with Emma Lavelle, can't remember the horses name. 

Edited by disjointed

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Posted (edited)

I put a couple on for today at the weekend, both looking great picks given the form boost for Envoi Allen yesterday and the non-runners in the champion chase.

Wednesday

13:30 Envoi Allen @6/4 
 

14:10 Battleoverdoyen @12/1 e/w (4 places)

 

14:50 Alfa Mix @14/1 e/w (6 places)

 

15:30 Defi Du Seuil @2/1

 

16:00 Tiger Roll @evs

 

16:50 Tronador @8/1 e/w (6 places)

 

17:30 Ferny Hollow @14/1 e/w (4 places)

Edited by Ryan

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24 minutes ago, disjointed said:

Yes, also got one with Emma Lavelle, can't remember the horses name. 

Wouldubewell or Gold Link.

 

BIOS isn't going to the Triumph.

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Ferny Hollow propels me into another profitable day in the last at 14/1, booooom 

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2 hours ago, Ryan said:

Ferny Hollow propels me into another profitable day in the last at 14/1, booooom 

Good on you, I have picked up bits here and there, but to be honest it's more about the spectacle, racing doesn't get better. 

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