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Friday 11 November 2016

Cheltenham Friday 11th November

Yesterday evening as soon as I saw the early odds, I knew what my first wager of the weekend would be. 
I could not type quick enough to ensure that those on my email alert list did not miss the early value.

Cheltenham starts at 12:55pm with a cracking Veterans chase over 2m4f and the field looks competitive on paper, but I reckon I may have found our wager of the day in ERICHT. He ran a great race LTO when meeting an unexposed improver, and this is his trip and ground.  His form can be sporadic, but the handicapper has given him a chance with OR131 as he was 4th in the 3m1f handicap chase on this card last season off OR130 (a trip he does not really stay), and he was 3rd over C&D in October 2014 off OR138. I know he is usually at his best when fresh, but for his last win (over this trip at Kempton in February) he wasn't "fresh" as he had run 4 weeks earlier, and a repeat of that effort will see him win easily today.

He looks value as Realt Mor may be a false favourite as nobody can assess his recent Irish form for which he carries a penalty for a LTO win - and the market is playing safe.
Shuil Royale is essentially a 3-mile chaser and he usually likes to win off a break, as he did at Aintree last month. He is also up 6lb for that LTO win (a race which fell apart in my opinion) and he is unlikely to be able to repeat that effort over this shorter trip. Both Astracad and Dunraven Storm are essentially 2-mile chasers and though Astracad  likes Cheltenham, he isn't one to rely on.

I would take Eastlake more seriously over this 2m4f trip if his trainer Jonjo O'Neill was in better form, but the horse ran a stinker LTO (in the race won by Shuil Royale). The odds of 7/1 about ERICHT look generous in my opinion, and he really should be 3/1 for this if not shorter.

The 2-mile handicap chase at 1:30pm is not the sort of race I usually wager in, but I may make an exception as (if my personal ratings are correct) Monbeg River should be the fav for this, and he would be if he were trained in the South of England.  He was 6/1 last night, and has been trimmed to 9/2 (5's is available), so the best of the value has gone.  However, those more adventurous may risk taking what's on offer. The fav Sizing Codelco is having his first run for trainer Colin Tizzard, but even he will struggle to find about 10lb in improvement required to make him competitive in this race, and he also has to have taught the horse how to jump a fence!

The novices chase at 2:05pm will be very informative. The betting market suggests that Barters Hill is some sort of wonder horse, but he is a 4lb lower-rated hurdler than Rock The Kasbah, and "The Kasbah" is a novice chase winner already.  The weight conceded by Rock The Kasbah may be too much, and this is a race best watched.

I will pass over the next couple of hurdle races and move on to the 3m1f amateur riders handicap chase. At this juncture I'd like to congratulate Nina Carberry (who rode our selection in this race to victory last year) who has just announced that she is pregnant and so will not be race-riding for the remainder of this jumps season.  I've done well in this race over the years as the better quality amateur riders races have more reliable form.

The race is a handicap with 6 of the last 10 winners carrying 11st or more. No winners longer than 14/1, so the betting market is fairly reliable. While I rate the 5/1 fav Silvergrove, his target this season is the Grand National so I doubt he will be hard-pushed today. I generally do not look at those aged 9yo and older (as those that old have an awful record at this meeting), 4 of the last 6 winners of this race were aged 9yo or older. What A Moment, the 11/2 2nd-fav, will be having only his 2nd chase race today and is not value in my mind.
The 9yo Top Wood has been on my alert list for some time and I reckon he is a lot better than OR136 - he just keeps meeting better handicapped rivals. He has also fallen a couple of times when going well which is annoying as you are never sure if the fall is due to fatigue or racing outside of their comfort zone. If Top Wood holds it together, he could go close. Fayette County is ridden by Mr JJ Codd who is possibly the best rider in the race, but even he may struggle to make sure this horse stays the 3m1f trip as he has only run once beyond 2m4f and that was when he won LTO beating 4 others to win a novice chase - not the strongest of form.
I missed the 8yo Troika Steppes winning last month, and he may have more improvement in him. He certainly loves this track and trip, likes to lead at a good pace and is a safe jumper. There will be worse 11/1 chances.  
Not an easy race to fathom, and it may be best splitting your stake between Top Wood and Troika Steppes who are both priced at 11/1; but no advised wager from me in this.

Just the one selection today, but trainer Nicky Henderson has his stable in top form and I'm sure ERICHT will give us a good run.

Cheltenham 12:55pm - ERICHT, £5 win and £5 eachway (£15 staked) at 7/1 (Bet365 are quarter-odds a place 1,2,3, while Paddy Power and Bet Victor are 5th odds a place)

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