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Thursday 14 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 - Day 3

Races transfer to the New Course for the final 2-days of the Festival meeting.
If it is sunny the ground may ride quicker than the official going.
I will be at Cheltenham today, probably in the Winged Ox bar in the stands. I’ve had no luck so far, but have come close a couple of times with Rock On Ruby (2nd) and Godsmejudge (3rd). I was also right about highest official ratings in the NH Chase as that provided not just the winner (Back In Focus) but also the straight-forecast (paid £18.03 to £1).

1:30 Jewson (Golden Miller) Novices Chase (2-miles & 4-furlongs)
The day opens with the 3nd running of this intermediate distance championship race for novice chasers. There are no stats that apply particularly to this race as it has only been run twice. However, both the previous winners were above average hurdlers; Noble Prince was rated OR150 as a hurdler and ran 5th in the County Hurdle of 2010 at the Festival, and I’d give preference to those that have attained at least a rating of 142+ over hurdles. Race-fav DYNASTE looks well ahead of these both as a novice chaser and as a hurdler. He will love the ground (good-to-soft) tho’ the trip of 2m4f may just be on the short side for him. Where will a challenge come from? This is a tough 2m4f, so your selection has to have proven stamina over this trip, tho’ (in my opinion) a win over trips in excess of 2m6f would be a negative. Given his lack of a turn of foot, I’d prefer to have seen Aupcharlie go for the RSA and I fear he’ll be staying-on when the race is over. Captain Conan cannot be underestimated but the horse who gets in under the radar is TEXAS JACK (10/1) who split Boston Bob and Lord Windermere in the Moriarty chase. TEXAS JACK can chase DYNASTE home, and a small forecast wager on those two may be lucrative.
No selection (DYNASTE is too short at 13/8 to offer value)

2:05 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (3-miles)
I have had some great success in this race over the years and unfortunately last year I abandoned Cape Tribulation (who had been on my personal alert list all season) and opted for Cantlow instead who ran 3rd. With 10 of the last 21 winners having won LTO you must respect Ely Brown and Top Of The Range who are in the “11st 3lb and under” weight range that has provided 15 of last 20 winners (in 2012, the 1st-4 finishers all fitted into this weight bracket). Emma Lavelle hasn’t had a winner since December so Captain Sunshine doesn’t get my vote. STONEMASTER ran well at the Festival last year and ran a cracker when 3rd in the qualifier on Boxing Day at Leopardstown. He comes here on OR138 which is 7lb less than he was rated when 6th in the Coral Cup when he looked like needing the extra distance of this race. Another I like is HADA MEN who has been aimed at this race by his canny trainer Venetia Williams since the start of the season and sneaks in with bottom weight of 10st 13lb.
Small eachway wagers on the pair.
STONEMASTER: ¼pt eachway @ 16/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)
HADA MEN: ¼pt eachway @ 40/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)

2:40 Ryanair Chase (2-miles & 5-furlongs)
This race has now firmly established itself as a worthy Festival Championship race in the 8 years it has been run. For a long time I have thought CUE CARD to be one of the most talented chasers around and I reckon tomorrow he’ll prove it.  He’s got winning form at Cheltenham (which is a bonus) and this trip of 2m5f is made for him. First Lieutenant should have gone for the Gold Cup, and I have him about 7lb behind CUE CARD.  Menorah and Champion Court simply are not good enough to beat CUE CARD, and Albertas Run needs to prove his wellbeing. Riverside Theatre has not show the form required this season to suggest a repeat of last year’s win is on the cards.
As such, CUE CARD @ 7/2 looks great value and, in my opinion, he is the most likely winner. Those who received the Bulletin are on at 5/1 and I already have 1pt on him at those odds.
Selection: CUE CARD, 1pt win @ 7/2 (in addition to the 2pt win @ 5/1 antepost)

3:20 World Hurdle (3-miles)
This race has been totally dominated by BIG BUCKS since 2009, and last year he recorded his 4th consecutive victory in the race. This year tho’ he is absent thru’ injury, and the race looks wide open.
Oscar Whisky and Reve De Sivola head the market at 5/1 and there is very little between the pair based on the result of the Cleeve Hurdle on 26th January. Personally, I cannot see either of these winning the race and, if one of them does, it will only be because it is a substandard year. The last horse to win this after taking part in a Champion Hurdle was Nomadic Way in 1992, and that
stat turns me off Peddlers Cross even tho’ I reckon had he gone for this race in 2011 (and not the Champion Hurdle) he may have gone close. Bog Warrior may not go on the ground as even good-to-soft is too quick for him.
No selection: 

4:00 Festival Plate (was Byrne Group) Handicap Chase (2-mile & 4½-furlongs)
I’ve been knocking on the door of a big win in this race in the past couple of years, so I reckon I am due a winner! As 16 of the last 20 winners carried under 11st, and 18 of the last 20 winners were rated between OR128 – OR141, that vibes are not good for Cantlow (7/1). Add that 13 of the previous 15 winners came here off a break of no more than 39 days, and we start to weed out a fair few. If Willie Mullins wins this with Sweet My Lord, then it should be him in Rome as Pope – the Irish have only won this race once since 1951. David Pipe has a great record in this race, but I cannot fancy race-fav Ballynagour as he has never strung 2 wins together and even Pipe has plenty of doubts about his character. His others tho’ Shoegazer, Zaynar  and Matuhi, are interesting especially the Shoegazer. With recent winners at odds of 25/1 (three times), 33/1, and 66/1 in past 10 years, don’t be afraid of backing your own judgement and opposing the market. The 2 that I reckon will do well are VINO GRIEGO (12/1) who has been in electric form of late and fits most of the trends, and SHOEGAZER (33/1 with Corals) who has been in my notebook since running a cracker of a race behind Katenko here in January, and then he won NTO.
VINO GRIEGO: ¼pt eachway @ 12/1 (BetVictor, pays 4-places, BOG)
SHOEGAZER: ¼pt eachway @ 33/1 (Corals, pays 4-places, BOG)

Day 3 – Thursday 14th March 2013
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge (for Amateurs) Handicap Chase (3-miles, 1-furlong & 110 yards)
This is another race, like the Centenary Novices Handicap on Day 1 of the Festival, which is suffering from “handicap compression”. With no winner in past 19 years younger than 7yo and only 4 of the last 33 winners being a 7yo, it seems that a mature and experience jumper is preferred for these amateur riders.  This is a handicap targeted by David Pipe and he supplies No Secrets on bottom weight with 10st 13lb. McCain (won it in 2007 & 2010) and Henderson (won it in 2005, 2002 & 1990) also target this race. There are two I like in this race; ON TREND (20/1) and CHARTREUX (16/1) both of whom I thought had a great chance in the JLT Chase on Tuesday but have come for this instead. Of the pair I favour ON TREND, but I expect them both to be involved in the finish.
ON TREND: ¼pt eachway @ 20/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)
CHARTREUX: ¼pt eachway @ 18/1 (BetVictor, pays 4-places, BOG)

It’s an early start to the day as I’m off to the Races!

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