Just a quick recap of yesterday’s results as I’ll be writing a comprehensive report over the coming weeks.
In the Supreme, Al Ferof outstayed these over the final 300 yards, simple as that. Many were in trouble a long way out, and the hot fav Cue Card found nothing (again). We did well to give this race a miss.
Tremendous result for Hobbs in the Arkle with Captain Chris who finally got his jumping together. He looks a great prospect for next season and, as he is so much better going right-handed, the KGVI at Kempton on Boxing Day looks his for the taking. Ghizao was asked for a long-one at the top of the hill and hit the top of the fence hard, from which he never recovered. He deserves another chance. Medermit made it 6 runs at Cheltenham without a win, and never looked happy until running-on when they reached level ground.
A cracking finish to the H’cap Chase with Bensalem prevailing (just) to beat Carole’s Legacy. The pace was very fast and many could not go with it and jumping errors were everywhere. Blog selection Wolf Moon was soon struggling, and tho’ The Rainbow Hunter was 6th jumping the 3rd last he did not stay on. So, 2pts lost on that race.
The Champion Hurdle was a classic, this was reminiscent of the old days! Without a doubt, Hurricane Fly was the very best on the day, and Peddlers Cross a gallant 2nd. If Binocular had run he would have been 3rd, no question. It was another point lost on the day, but Peddlers Cross recovered some ground on the antepost book (1pt ew at 14/1 paid 4.50pts, that's 2.50pts profit).
The X-Country Chase was a good race for a punt, and Garde Champetre ran a cracker under top-weight to be 2nd at 5/1. The ½pt eachway gave us a tiny profit of 0.125pts.
Overall, a loss of 2.875pts on the day.
Quevega won the Mares Hurdle in a canter (she should be in the Champion Hurdle), and the final race, the Centenary Chase, was dominated by LTO winners – of the 5 in the race, 2 finished 1st and 2nd. In fact, as usual, LTO winners dominated the day’s card, providing 5 of the 7 winners.
It’s too easy to go overboard at the Festival wagering on hopes rather than realistic opportunities. So, after thinking again overnight, I am being a bit more reserved about today. No watering of the course, and I reckon it is more “good” than good-to-soft.
NH CHASE (Amateur riders only) for Novices
This is the race around which the Festival was built and was once the most prestigious race in the jumps calendar. The extreme 4-mile trip is too much for 6yo’s and younger, but that only rules out Arrabella Boy, but remember than none of these have form over this trip. I’m focussing on LTO winners, of which there are 8 in the field. Those with the best form are Alfa Beat (at 9/2) and Some Target (at 9/1). Of that pair, I am more drawn to Some Target who has good stamina, but he may want more give in the going than there is today. Of the other LTO winners, Aberdale (14/1) has been aimed at this by Jonjo O’Neill and has capable John Berry in the plate; and Sona Sasta (14/1) has looked a revelation as a chaser for David Pipe. I am also drawn to the Twiston-Davies entry Major Malarkey (28/1) who hated the heavy going LTO when he was pulled-up, but before that he won very well on good going spread-eagling a good field in a class 3 chase. NTD reckons he came out of that race well, and he’s the eachway wager.
Cheltenham 1:30, MAJOR MALARKEY, ½pt eachway @ 25/1 (Bet365, best odds guaranteed)
NEPTUNE HURDLE for Novices
Unusually, I have not much of an opinion on this race.
The odds on So Young are too short at 11/4 and I prefer Oscars Well over him, tho’ both will have to prove they act on this quick going. Of the Irish challengers I like First Lieutenant the most as he’s won on good going and looks to have the most potential improvement in him, but his performances can only be described as workmanlike. Rock On Ruby and Minella Class were both found out LTO over 21f, and that brings me to TORNADO BOB. Trained by Don Mccain (who won this with Peddlers Cross), this horse would have won LTO but for hitting the final hurdle hard when leading at Ascot. Even so, he showed determination to battle on. He’s also won on good-to-firm going in Ireland (bumper) and at 12/1 for me he represents the value in what looks a wide open Neptune Hurdle.
Cheltenham 2:05, TORNADO BOB, ½pt eachway @ 12/1 (Vic Chandler, best odds guaranteed)
RSA CHASE for Novices
The red-hot fav for this is Time For Rupert who is 9/4. Altho’ he deserves to be fav, he is no 9/4 chance and so I cannot recommend him as a value wager. I do not think the 2nd-fav 1833 will stay this trip as he looked to be struggling to stay LTO despite winning (it was only a 4-horse race). Jessie’s Dream is also unproven at 3-mile. Wayward Prince, Wymott and Master Of The Hall all look solid 3-milers, and of those 3 its Wayward Prince who to me is the strongest. But, the Irish are not far behind as Realt Dubh proved in the Arkle (came 3rd). As such, I’m sticking with my antepost wager of 1pt eachway on BOSTONS ANGEL at 16/1 who won the PJ Moriarty LTO, which was his 2nd Grade 1 win. There is a question mark over the going (might be a bit quick) but that is reflected in his current odds. No further wagers on this race.
QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
The result of this race will depend very heavily on the going. No doubt about it, the going was quicker on Day 1 than authorities would have liked. The Fav Big Zeb will not be inconvenienced by the going and he really does have a favourites chance, probably should be 9/4 for this now. Without rain, Master Minded is hamstrung. It was like this last year and he hated it, so at 7/2 he is no value at all. The going won’t help Somersby either, but Woolcombe Folly will love it having won on good-to-firm before – but is he good enough? Funnily enough, Sizing Europe beat Big Zeb on good going when they met as novice hurdlers but, as much as I’d like to see him recapture his form, Sizing Europe has a mountain to climb. Captain Cee Bee is not up to this class (end of story), tho’ FRENCH OPERA is another who will love this going. I already have 2pts to win on MASTER MINDED and I’ll not increase that. I’m very happy with my eachway antepost wager at 50/1 on FRENCH OPERA. To cover my bases, I was going to have a 1pt win wager on BIG ZEB @ 3/1 but, on reflection, I reckon WOOLCOMBE FOLLY at 9/1 is the value in this race as he has yet to find his peak.
Cheltenham 3:20, WOOLCOMBE FOLLY, ½pt eachway @ 12/1 (Vic Chandler, best odds guaranteed)
CORAL CUP (Handicap)
Another race were recent results have been dominated by LTO winners (6 of the last 8 winners won LTO). There are only 5 in the race; Aegean Dawn, Call The Police, Battle Group, Tiger O’Toole, and Orzare. Of those, Aegean Dawn and Call The Police dominate the market, but on this quick going I cannot have Call The Police. Undoubtedly, AEGEAN DAWN is on a cracking rating of OR145 and he has jockey David Bass’ 3lb claim too. Tiger O’Toole will love this going and the competitive nature of the race; he is also unexposed at this trip and was only raised 8lb for his LTO win. I don’t know what to make of Battle Group as he has talent, but has only won races of less than 12 runners and when faced with more than that he usually throws-in the towel. Orzare hasn’t run in over 12 months, and that’s not good preparation. At odds of 6/1, AEGEAN DAWN looks a great wager; but you cannot ignore TIGER O’TOOLE at 25/1 either who must be an eachway punt.
Cheltenham 4:00, AEGEAN DAWN, ½pt eachway @ 6/1 (Bet365, best odds guaranteed)
Cheltenham 4:00, TIGER O’TOOLE, ½pt eachway @ 25/1 (Bet365, best odds guaranteed)
Note: Bet365 are paying 5 places on this race – 1,2,3,4,5
FRED WINTER JUVENILE HURDLE (Handicap)
There are 4, LTO winners in this and the race should go to one of those. They are Whitby Jack, Plan A, Paintball, and Kayef. Of those, I prefer Paintball, but this is a race that I am going to sit out. Again, Bet365 are paying 5 places on this race for eachway punters.
I am not even going to attempt to find the winner of this as there are so many “dark” horses in it.
Overall, 5pts staked today.
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