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Record of the blog selections

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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Festival antepost news

I was a bit gutted yesterday not to put STAR PLAYER up as the blog selection as, when I learned that Dark Ben had been withdrawn (along with a couple of others) and that the going was particularly “sticky” after the first race had been run, there was little to oppose the fav. He led alongside Jeringa for most of the race, but he was always in control going-on from the 4th last and thereon never looking in danger. He did finish tired, so he’ll need a rest from this. There was never any possibility of obtaining 4/1 after Dark Ben had been withdrawn, tho’ STAR PLAYER did touch 100/30 before starting as the 9/4 fav. As I said, he was the most likely winner.

There are jump meetings at Towcester and Wincanton today.
The 3-mile h’cap chase at 3:10 at Towcester looks like going to GLEBEHALL BAY who fell 3-out when clear LTO. It’s a “would he or wouldn’t he” question. Personally, I have seen many a horse falter when clear 3-out, so I’m doubtful enough not to nominate him as a selection. Of the others, you cannot ignore a Jonjo O’Neill chaser at Towcester (22 wins from 67 runners, 33%) and LTO winners Crank Hill, Atherstone Hill and Hobbs Dream make this a race to pass over.
At Wincanton, the 3-mile h’cap chase at 3:50 could go to SIR WINSTON. He is one-paced, but so are a lot of these in this ordinary race. However, the slight relaxation by the handicapper (dropped a 1lb to OR94) plus the 5lb claim of his jockey, means he could be in with a squeak here. Odds of 7/1 looks fair enough given his consistency of form and safe jumping.
The hunter chase season starts today, and the next on the card is a “hunter” over 3-mile. The one in this that interests me is JAYNE’S CRUSADER, a half-brother to Mad Max and Carole’s Legacy. He clearly has some quality in his blood and the 8yo, being one of the youngest horses in the race, may have some improvement in him despite this looking a trip that will stretch his stamina.

No firm selection today.

Cheltenham Festival Update
Essentially, the races to focus on prior to about a week before the Festival itself, are the “championship” races. That is those races were every horse carries the same weight. There have been a few developments this week, the major one being that PEDDLERS CROSS was withdrawn from his preparation race this weekend due to “coughing” after a gallop this morning. This is not good news, as the horse has already missed one prep race and there are not many opportunities left to get a run in before the Festival.
In the Ryanair, the 2nd-fav in the antepost lists – SOMERSBY – has been declared by trainer Henrietta Knight as being aimed at the QM Champion Chase. This, in my opinion, makes the current Ryanair fav POQUELIN a standout wager at 9/2 as there is little amongst the likely opposition that will be capable of beating him on the day.
In the World Hurdle, there has been an almighty gamble on GRANDS CRUS following his rout of the opposition in last Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle at the ‘trials’ meeting. Now just 5/2, it has meant that the odds on the fav BIG BUCKS have relaxed somewhat to 10/11. BIG BUCKS has never been stretched in an unbeaten run of 10 hurdle races in the UK, so we don’t know how good he is but his speed-ratings are far superior to anything GRANDS CRUS has done, so he should be capable of retaining his title.
Paul Nicholls has won 16 chase races with 35 runners in Ireland in the past 5 years (46% strikerate) and he sends PRIDE OF DULCOTE there on Sunday for the Hennessey Gold Cup (grade 1). If he wins, and it will only be his 3rd chase race, then his Cheltenham Gold Cup odds will tumble from the best of 18/1 with Corals – you have been warned!
Some races are still wide open; the ‘Neptune’ Novices Hurdle on Day 2 for instance, and the newly created ‘Golden Miller’ over 2m4f for novice chasers which opens Day 3. So, there is plenty of opportunity left in the antepost markets.

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