What a race!
My only selection yesterday, HANDY ANDY, ran a cracker of a race looking the winner a long way out and, had some of his rivals stood up, he probably would have won well. He was left in front at the 3rd-last but he clearly hates running alone as, when in front, he slowed to allow the chasing pack to catch him. Thereon, he picked-up again and and looked full of running as the leading 3 came to the final fence where he was left alone again when the leader fell and the close-up 3rd nearly lost his rider. HANDY ANDY kept going for another 100 yards or so when he was still probably 8-lengths clear, when he virtually stopped. He's not a rogue of a horse, he just likes a bit of company, and when the eventual 1st-3 home caught and passed him, he picked-up again to hold on for 4th. No good to me as I was on eachway and, with 15 runners, 4th wasn't good enough for a place. But some readers of the blog must've traded out as HANDY ANDY touched 1.01 on the exchanges and, as he was trading at 22-25 before the off, that was for some (I'm sure) a tremendous result. Not bad for a 16/1 selection.
Unfortunately, what should have been a winner was actually a loser and the blog profit for this Jumps season now stands at £116.60 from £110 staked on 8 wagers.
Saturday is a big day for Cheltenham and there are a stack of horse alert runners:-
2:00 Monbeg Dude
2:35 Easter Meteor, Johns Spirit, Renard, Vulcanite and Malt Master
3:45 Lost Glory and Tour Des Champs
This is clearly a "pipe-opener" for Monbeg Dude. He was not much of a hurdler and isn't the quickest horse, that's why his best form is on heavy ground. Hopefully, he'll get round safe and this will prepare him for another crack at the Welsh National.
The 2:35 is a tremendous handicap chase over 2m4f. The trip is too far for Renard who does not get a yard more than 2m1f. That said, he's slipped to OR132 after a couple of (ordinary) runs over 2m5f+ and when he drops back to a suitable trip he should be followed. The lightly raced Malt Master will probably find the ground a bit too quick and Cheltenham will be a completely different experience for him as he's mainly raced RH on flattish tracks. I do not think Vulcanite will stay this sort of trip in as competitive a race as this, he certainly didn't stay 2m5f at the Cheltenham Festival in March. If Easter Meteor is going to win this jumps season, then it will be in this race as he does go well fresh. The thing is, he's rated 14lb more than last year (when he was 2nd) and this race looks more competitive than that one and so, I don't regard his odds of 5/1 as holding much value. It is JOHNS SPIRIT that looks the best value. Rated only OR129, just 4lb higher than when he won his only chase (from 8 starts) last season, he comes here essentially unexposed at this trip even tho' it could be his best trip. After that win over 2m4f at Sandown, he was mainly raced over 3-miles or on testing ground which exposed his stamina limitations. He has the speed to be able to win over 2-miles as a hurdler, in fact he was 6th in the Imperial Cup, so its no surprise that he's not won beyond 2m5f in 4 attempts. I think he'll track the behind what should be a hot pace, and then pick them off in the final half-mile. Current odds of 14/1 with Ladbrokes look very generous.
The 3-mile-plus handicap chase at 3:45 looks another cracking race. I think Lost Glory has possibly been caught by the handicapper, but he should be on the premises in this which will probably be his final race before taking the winter off (he's not a lover of soft ground). I may play him on the place-only market. TOUR DES CHAMPS however looks to have a decent chance. He was highly tried last season, and finally came good in the Scottish National on good going. I consider him a 140+ horse, so his current rating of OR133 looks lenient. This is not an easy race to fathom, so not one to get too heavily involved in especially as there are a couple of horses who have lost form but could be on lenient ratings should they come right. Ace High for instance, is a very decent chaser on his day (he meets Lost Glory on 15lb better terms than when they last met) and if he can recover that form he'll be very dangerous. Similarly, Bradley was favorite for this race last year off a 3lb higher and was a strong finishing 4th. A repeat of that form will see him right in the frame.
Cheltenham 2:35 JOHNS SPIRIT, £5 ew and £5 win @ 14/1
Total = £15 staked
I am on with Ladbrokes but you will need to be quick I think.