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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Festival Handicaps under review

Last week, we learned that a record 1,145 entries have been received for the 11 festival handicaps. Over the past few days, I've been reviewing the entries and this evening I'll be sending out the first of my handicap appraisals to those who have made a donation and have already received a copy of my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin. Remember, in addition to the handicap appraisals, those who receive the bulletin will also receive drafts of my daily blog pages on the evening before racing during the week of the Cheltenham Festival so that they can take advantage of any early value that I spot before anyone else, all for just a minimum donation of £8.00.

I'm planning on being at the Festival on the Thursday of the meeting as this is my favourite day of the meeting with 3 championship races in the World Hurdle, Ryanair, and Jewson (novice) Chase; and 3 tremendous handicaps in the Pertemps Hurdle Final, Festival (chase) Plate and the Kim Muir Chase. It's likely I'll be in the Winged Ox bar so, if your there, that's where you'll find me.

There are a couple of interesting meetings today at Leicester and Catterick. The race today that catches my eye is the novice chase at Leicester at 4:00 over 2m7f & 110yards. This brings together some interesting novice chasers and could prove influential in the coming weeks. The hot favourite for the race is Howard's Legacy sent out by Venetia Williams (it's her only runner at Leicester). The reason he's hot-fav this afternoon is that he chased home Saturday's Racing Plus Chase winner Opening Batsmen when they met LTO in January. That looks good form on paper. However, I don't think he'll has things all his own way today as there are a couple in this who could give him something to think about. Trainer Phil Hobbs also sends only one horse to Leicester today and that's Volador. This horse was the best hurdler in the field achieving a rating of OR137, and his 2 chase runs to date have been fair as they've been run on ground he probably didn't appreciate. He was a very consistent 3-mile hurdler and today's good-to-soft ground will suit him well and we should see some improvement today. He's not the one I like the most tho', that's THE MUSICAL GUY. This half-bro' to Hello Bud is also having only his 3rd chase race today and, after a promising debut on "good" ground, he hated the heavy LTO. He was always going to be a chaser, so the fact he didn't excel as a hurdler is not detrimental to his future. Howard's Legacy only raced over 3-mile as a hurdler once and was 3rd, and that run was sandwiched between 2 wins over 2m4f on soft ground. As a chaser, he raced over 3-mile at Ludlow on 19th December and he'd every chance before making a mistake 4-out and then slowing quickly after 3-out and falling at the next. In my opinion, he does not have the stamina for a 3-mile chase whereas it is likely that both Volador and THE MUSICAL GUY do. What I particularly like about THE MUSICAL GUY is that he chased home Godsmejudge on his chasing debut and that horse has gone on to win again since and is now rated 16lbs higher on OR139. At odds of 11/2 he's easily worth a small ½pt win wager. Volador is also likely to improve today, but his odds of 11/4 do not offer value in my opinion as I'd have all 3 (Howard's Legacy, The Musical Guy and Volador) on about 5/2 for this race. Howard's Legacy at 11/8 is far too short.

Leicester 4:00, THE MUSICAL GUY, ½pt win 11/2 (Betfred, BOG)

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