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Friday 21 October 2016

Friday 21st October

Today we have the opening day of the 2-day Cheltenham meeting, and there are a lot of interesting novice races over both hurdles and fences which you should take note of for future interest. You can never tell just how good the horses are going to be at this stage of the season, but some trainers - such as Paul Nicholls - target this meeting to bring perhaps the best of their novices out.

The novice chase at 2:45pm over a trip of 2-miles is one that Nicholls has sent some of his very best novice chasers to win in the past, so it will be interesting to see how well Marracudja performs today. He has already won over fences at Newton Abbot LTO, so we know he can jump, however today will be a much sterner test. Having the thoroughly exposed 9yo Presenting Arms in the race, who is a rock solid 140-143 chaser at around 2m4f will be a good benchmark.

My focus has been on the Class 3 handicap chase over 3m2f for amateur riders at 5:05pm. I usually leave these amateur rider races alone, but we may have a serious opportunity in this race. 

I will come clean - I do keep one eye on race statistics as a pointer, and in this race horses aged 9yo and more have a poor record. The last 9yo winner was Mister Apple's in 2009, and so I'm going to oppose those aged 9yo and older, and that include the race-fav Cecil Corbett.  Before we move on from the fav, let's look at his form. Cecil Corbett won just 9-days ago over 2m6f in Ireland and so has a 7lb penalty today for that win. That was only the 5th chase race for the 9yo and (in his previous race) he was 3rd to Heist before that over 3m 1f at Kilbeggan on 02-Sept.  He ran like he did not stay the trip that day, and Heist went on to on to beat Azure Fly at Ludlow when they recently met. On a line through Heist, Cecil Corbett has to find at least 8lb improvement over a trip half-a-mile longer than he won over LTO, to beat Azure Fly, and he looks a dodgy stayer to me especially on this testing track.

Based on that formline, I was seriously considering advising Azure Fly, especially as when he ran here in in April he ran a cracker for much of the race.  However, he was easily beaten that day by CONAS TAOI.  This horse also ran in that race at Cheltenham in April and left Azure Fly for dead over the final half-mile but only just failed to catch the eventual winner Any Currency.  I think this 7yo should be the fav for this race, in fact I'd have him much shorter than his current 13/2 if we knew more about his rider - the 5lb claimer Mr R Deegan. He's a mystery to me, this will be (as far as I can ascertain) his first visit to Cheltenham.  It will be a big ask, but he rode his latest winner in September for Irish training legend Willie Mullins, so if he's good enough for Willie he will do for me. The horse is being aimed at the Becher Chase to be run at Aintree in December but, to guarantee an entry, he needs a handicap mark of at least OR125 and he's on OR122 today.  So, I'm expecting this horse to be fit to race and win as he was every time we saw him last season.

The current 2nd-fav is the 6yo Fingerontheswitch who was a useful hurdler but in his two runs over fences has yet to sparkle. This longer trip may suit him better, but he's to short in the market for me.  His inexperience over fences may be his undoing as, with Troika Steppes likely to go off at a rate of knots and with other decent travellers in the race (like Azure Fly and old friends Handy Andy and Cloudy Bob) there will be a lot of pressure put on his jumping.

It is difficult for me to see CONAS TAOI finishing outside the 1st-4 places unless he falls (or loses his rider) and 13/2 represents excellent value in my book in what looks a very weak race full of older horses chosen only as they are safe, reliable jumpers of a fence. 

Advised wager:
Cheltenham 5:05pm CONAS TAOI, £5 eachway and £5 win @ 13/2 ( available with Bet365 and Bet Victor, quarter-odds a place) 


  1. Can you post up the profit/loss of your nah season bets please.

  2. Will do on Sunday 23rd October

  3. Thanks mate
    Great blog