As I wrote on the blog, BALDER SUCCES was top-rated (official ratings) for the race, and my opinion about the Irish challenger Ballycasey, who I considered was outclassed, was correct. I thought it may be close, as I had Balder Succes at 2/1, with Ptit Zig at 9/4 but, as Ptit Zig fell mid-race, there were no worries after that.
I had thought the day was going to be a cracker as my other eachway selection Mountainous was looking very interesting with a mile to go at Haydock, but his lack of fitness seemed to tell in the final half-mile and he lost ground rapidly. He may be interesting if contesting a "veterans" handicap chase in the next 6-weeks over a similar trip.
Back to Balder Succes, and thoughts of the Cheltenham Festival. As regular readers of the blog will know, I'm not issuing a Cheltenham Festival Bulletin this year due to time constraints (it takes about 60 hours to put together, at about 2 hrs a day over a period of about 6-weeks). I am, instead, preparing an antepost portfolio prior to the Festival and will have a daily blog before and throughout the Festival week.
Balder Succes is being aimed at the Ryanair Chase over 2m5f at Cheltenham, and I thought the horse showed nothing knew in winning yesterday. He is very consistent and this trip seems to show him at his best as it allows him the time to recover from any jumping errors, of which he is slightly prone. I have him rated at 160 which isn't good enough to make him a clear selection for the Ryanair Chase - although he could have 2 or 3lb more in him.
Looking at the Ryanair Chase, it is a bit of a puzzle. Over in Ireland yesterday, Champagne Fever won with solid yardstick Texas Jack in 2nd. I must say, I was not overly impressed. Another Irish horse, Don Cossack, is the 9/2 fav for the Ryanait Chase and he is a solid jumper of a fence. I just feel that he too is at about 160-163 based on his form this season, but he seems more ground dependent requiring the word "soft" in the description. John's Spirit is a very interesting entry, who loves Cheltenham and the 2m5f trip. He has certainly improved this season, however, he also looks 160 at best. I don't think yesterdays runner-up Ma Filleule will be able to reverse placings with Balder Succes in the Ryanair, even if she improves for the run. Two years ago, I lumped-on CUE CARD in this race and on what I've seen this season, CUE CARD could be the winner again next month. He ran well in the King George on Boxing Day, and was only beaten for stamina as he jumped the 2nd-last with only the eventual winner Silviniaco Conti in front of him. He started the King George with an SP of 11/2, yet we all knew his stamina limitations in that race over that trip. We also know that 2m5f at Cheltenham is perfect for him, and his trainer Tizzard said this week that the horse is flying on the gallops. Current odds of 7/1 (only Boylesports offer NRNB at 6/1) look very generous, and he could run 10lb below his best and still win this race next month.
Advised antepost wager
Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on 12th March 2015
CUE CARD : £5.00 eachway @ 12/1 AND £10.00 to win @ 7/1
with Paddy Power at quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)