No luck yesterday from the 3 selections. Our first runner BEG TO DIFFER unseated his rider when going well after slipping on the bend opposite the stands - what are the chances of that happening? 1000/1? We looked like collecting with VICENTE who was looking like taking-up the running approaching the 3rd-last fence but, unfortunately, he jumped into the back of the loose horse which had virtually stopped at that fence. He recovered, and the way he ran on to just fail to be 4th suggests he would have gone very close indeed to winning. Our final selection FIVE IN A ROW ran no sort of race at all. So, we are £30 down going into the 2nd day. I also had losses on CHARBEL who I wagered on in the place-only market to be 4th or better, but he missed out on that by just a head. And I was also on VANITEUX without the fav, and he probably would have been 2nd but for falling 2-out.
Todays preview of the racing is below - Good luck.
1:30pm Neptune Novice Hurdle (2 miles & 5f)
Possibly the most important “novice” event (chase or hurdle) of the Festival meeting, if not the entire NH calendar. The field for this race is exceptionally high-class and represents the cream of the crop - you should make a note of everything that runs in it for future reference.
- There hasn’t been a winner older than 7yo in 40 years;
- 25 of the previous 27 winners had run in at least 3 hurdle races;
- 18 of the last 22 winners have won at least twice coming into the race;
- 19 of the last 24 winners had won LTO;
As this is not a race for shocks, it may not pay to go too deep and stick to the market leaders. Last year Windsor Park was the 9/2 3rd fav. The Irish challenge is sent by trainer Willie Mullins: Yorkhill, A Toi Phil; Bello Conti and Thomas Hobson. However, YANWORTH looks as good a novice hurdler that we’ve seen in the UK for some time, and if he were trained by Mullins he may well be odds-on, so odds of 6/4 could be value.
No advised wager as I do not wager at odds under 9/4.
2:10pm RSA Chase for Novices (3-mile & 110 yards)
Last year’s winner Don Poli may have won the Lexus last December, but he is unlikely to emulate the RSA winners Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere who went on to win the Gold Cup.
- The last 15 of the last 16 winners had raced at least 3 times over fences (Don Poli who won last year, was having only his 3rd chase race).
- 20 of the previous 23 winners were a novice hurdler the previous season;
- 7yo’s have provided 13 of the previous 15 winners;
- 16 of the last 26 winners had won a 3-mile+ chase before winning this;
- Last year, Don Poli became the first horse in nearly 50 years to win the race without a run in the year of the race (his previous run was on 29th December);
- 18 of the last 23 winners had at least 9 NH starts (hurdles and chases count, but not bumpers). So neither Don Poli (2015) nor O’Faolains Boy (2014) match this stat.
- No winner in 24 years had been placed in a Graded or Listed hurdle over less than 2m3f.
The winner of this race will have been born to be a 3-mile chaser. As such, it’s likely that the eventual winner will have only been novice hurdling in the previous season.
Chasing experience is what counts here not potential ability.
Just a small field of 8, and Shaneshill does not look a 3-mile chaser. More Of That lacks chase experience and does not hit any of the trends. The other Irish challenger No More Heroes has a better look about him, with a win over 3-mile in December. Blaklion won the 2m3f Grade 2 persian War Hurdle as a novice on soft ground, and his liking for the mud suggests this won’t be his day. For an 8yo Seeyouatmidnight is lightly raced, but we know he stays 3-mile well and handles Cheltenham. However VYTA DU ROC ticks every trends box, and his win at Ascot on 20Feb was impressive, and in 2nd was Minella Rocco who won here yesterday giving the form a big boost.
I am having a split-stake wager on SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT and VYTA DU ROC as both are 10/1 or better.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT, £5 win @ 12/1 and
VYTA DU ROC, £5 win @ 10/1.
2:50pm Coral Cup Handicap (2-miles & 5 furlongs)
This race is a fiercely competitive handicap invariably run at a strong gallop. As such, it has some strong trends worth following, probably due to the large number of starters each year. Last year, Paul Nicholls produced Aux Ptits Soins to win this race on his UK debut having won twice from 3 races in France.
- 8 of the last 13 winners won LTO;
- 17 of last 22 winners had already won a race earlier in the season;
- 14 of the last 16 winners were aged 7yo or younger;
- 12 of the last 15 winners had only won one previous handicap.
It is not unusual for runners with high weights to do well in this race with Sky’s The Limit winning in 2006 with 11st 12lb, and Get Me Out Of Here running 2nd in 2012 also with 11st 12lb. Finally, don’t be afraid of taking on the market. If you find a horse at odds longer than 14/1 that meets most, if not all, of the criteria above, then have a punt.
3:30pm Queen Mother Champion Chase (2-miles)
In recent years, the race has been dominated by some exceptional 2-mile chasers who have scared-off the opposition. When this race is competitive it is the most exciting and exhilarating spectacle of the entire Festival. This year, UN DE SCEAUX looks head & shoulders better than anything else in the race.
- The last 14 winners of the previous year’s Arkle to take part in the QMCC have been placed at least.
- 11 of the last 15 winners have contested the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
- 33 of the last 34 winners had an SP of no greater than 11/1.
- 13 of the last 14 winners won a Grade 1 chase prior to winning this race
Unless he fails to finish, I cannot see UN DE SCEAUX not winning this and current odds look generous, and I think he could start at 2/5. The race is on to be 2nd in my opinion, and the one to take that spot can be SPECIAL TIARA who was 3rd in the race last year but looks even better now.
Odds of 6/1 without the fav look very generous, as he may only have to beat Sprinter Sacre to take the runners-up place, and Sprinter Sacre was beaten by SPECIAL TIARA fair and square at Sandown last April.
SPECIAL TIARA, £10 win @ 7/1 in the WITHOUT Un De Sceaux market (see Bet365, Boylesports, and Corals)
4:10pm Cross Country Handicap Chase (3-miles & 7-furlongs)
This is not my favourite race and is not one that I will spend much time contemplating and, in its revised position on the card, I doubt many other will either.
Previous experience of Cross–Country chases is a plus, but as this is a race I don't think should be run at the Cheltenham Festival (why not have an Arabian-bred hurdle race?) then I do not spend much time on it.
4:50pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2-miles & 110 yards)
This is one of the more intriguing races of the Festival, this is a race which has some trends similar to the Centenary Novices Chase
- less than 5 hurdle runs and;
- less than 2 hurdle wins;
- a winning run coming LTO – these 3 factors ensure that the selection is unexposed and improving;
6 of the 11 winners won LTO, but only 1 of the last 5 winners;
Only 2 of the 11 winners of this race had won more than once over hurdles;
7 of the 9 winners had run in 3 hurdle races or less;
Fillies have provided 4 of the 11 winners;
This race has the shortest average period since a run at just 21.09 days with 6 of the 11 previous winners last running 21-days or less before winning this.
This race looks a minefield of “dark-horses” and it may prove best to leave alone.
5:30pm Weatherby’s Champion Bumper “open” NH Flat Race (2-miles & 110 yards)
Another one of the races that I do not look forward to at the Festival as usually “bumper” form is thin on the ground. If you have a view then back it, but I will be using this time to look at the form for Thursday.
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