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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Bet Victor Chase day at Cheltenham

We were close yesterday.  Watching the race, I always thought Ericht was moving easily behind the leaders but he traded at long odds mid-race on the exchanges. The leading pair jumped the final couple of fences neck & neck and I expected Ericht to stay better up the hill - as did many as he went odds-on on the exchanges before the final fence - but it was not to be. Maybe his jockey needed to make more use of him to use that stamina, but Ericht is a horse who does not like to be alone in front.

When this pair met over C&D in Octber 2014, there was not much between them and (quite possibly) this was the best run from Astracad since that Autumn of 2014 - trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said he had struggled to get the horse fit.  It is possible in this current form that he could run up a sequence, but they should both be noted for NTO and we were unlucky to meet one in such good form.

There are 3 meetings today at Wetherby, Uttoxeter and Cheltenham but all focus is on Cheltenham which has a couple of cracking handicap chases of the top-order. 
The 3m3f Class 3 handicap chase at 1:50pm could be tough, as there has been plenty of overnight rain and the ground is softening. Last years winner Sausalito Sunrise returns and bids a repeat off a mark of OR158 which is 14lb heavier than last year. Minella Rocco has to be opposed as trainer Jonjo O'Neill is so out of form. 
Cogry comes here 15lb better-off with Sausalito Sunrise for a 2-length margin, and must be respected. Cogry is even 2lb well-in with Upswing, and the latter will be wanting softer ground. Doctor Harper was gambled on like defeat was out of the question in the Kim Muir, but ran a stinker - can he recoup losses?  Based on this race last season, Shotgun Paddy is the best handicapped down 5lb to OR140, but has he recovered from running in 3 nationals (Welsh, Midlands, and Scottish) as well as the Eider Chase at Newcastle? Perhaps not, but with only 10st 8lb to carry he will think it is his birthday.
I doubt Fourth Act has the stamina for this trip, but he was staying on LTO, and it is likely neither will his stablemate Viconte Du NoyerBeg To Differ is another Jonjo O'Neill runner.  
Alvarado may be 11yo but he has won on 3 of his 5 seasonal debuts and has won over C&D (Nov 2013). Last seen running 2nd in the Scottish National, he will stay forever and the ground isn't a problem - he looks a place-only wager. 
When you look at this race as I do, there appear only 2 in with a realistic chance: COGRY and Shotgun Paddy, and there is a doubt over "Paddy" and if he retains his form. 
With COGRY at 8/1 generally this morning, he looks the one to be on eachway over this long trip, and I advised those on my email list to take the 9/1 available yesterday evening.. 

Looking at the feature race at Cheltenham, the Bet Victor Chase at 2:25pm.
As with the earlier chase handicap, until we see a change in fortune at Jonjo O'Neills stable we are going to oppose all his horses which means opposing the fav in this race More Of That
To be fair, the horse would have to be Gold Cup standard to win off OR154 and I don't think he is. 
Frodon is only a 4yo, and Paul Nicholls is a brave man to enter the horse but, were the horse with any other trainer, he'd be a 20/1 chance. 
As De Mee has much better claims if he can run to his best form. We have seen glimpses of class in his runs to date, but the jury is still out. Even so, he has been aimed at this by his trainer and has the benefit of a run, winning at Fontwell LTO in October.
Double Shuffle ran well for us LTO but this is no race to come from a long way off the pace. It could be the ground was too quick for him LTO but the handicapper has put him up 5lb to OR145 and that looks tough. 
Bouvreuil is another Nicholls runner (he is leaving nothing to chance) and he was unlucky to be beaten at Cheltenham in the novice chase, but he was beaten. Off  7lb higher rating he has it all to prove. 
Another aimed at this race is the Venetia Williams trained ASO, and he won LTO in April beating Fourth Act over 2m5f at level weights. He looked a class act then, but was it just the soft ground that he favoured that day? 
If (and it is a big if) STILLETTO handles this ground, then he has to have a hell of a chance.  He is the only horse I reckon who is perhaps 7lb (or more) well-in.  The more rain the better for him. 
The ones on my shortlist are As De Mee @ 8/1; and Stilletto @ 16/1 - and a split stake is called for.

Selections
Cheltenham 1:50pm COGRY - £5 eachway @ 9/1 (advised to my email list last night)
Cheltenham 2:25pm 
STILLETTO, £5 win @ 16/1, and AS DE MEE, £5 win @ 8/1
Total Staked = £20

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