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Wednesday 15 March 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2017 - Day 2 (Wednesday)

Onto Wednesday, and this is not my favourite day of the week, I'm not a fan of the Cross-Country Chase or the "Bumper", and the QMCC looks like it is a walk-over for DOUVAN again with the remainder of the field looking poor by comparison.

Unfortunately, the opening "Neptune" also has little value in the betting market, and the RSA Chase could well go to MIGHT BITE if he confirms his promise of his Boxing Day run at Kempton (fell at the final fence when 16-lengths in front) .

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 over 40 years;
-          25 of the previous 28 winners had run in at least 3 hurdle races (last year Yorkhill won this on his 3rd hurdle race);
-          19 of the last 23 winners have won at least twice coming into the race;
-          20 of the last 25 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.
A big field of 15 go to post, yet Neon Wolf (7/4) and Bacardys (3/1) dominate. Willoughby Court is possibly best of the rest, but do not underestimate well-bred and well-related Shattered Love trained by Gordon Elliot. 

2:10pm RSA Chase for Novices (3-mile & 110 yards)
This race seems to be going downhill as it is watered-down by the growing prestige of the 4-mile NH Chase on Day-1. Last years race, won by Blaklion, has not provided any class horses.
-          The last 16 of the last 17 winners had raced at least 3 times over fences;
-          21 of the previous 24 winners were a novice hurdler the previous season;
-          7yo’s have provided 14 of the previous 16 winners;
-          17 of the last 27 winners had won a 3-mile+ chase before winning this;
-          Only 1 of the last 50-odd winners had not run in the year of the race;
-          19 of the last 24 winners had at least 9 NH starts (hurdles and chases count, but not bumpers);
-          Last year’s winner Blaklion was the 1st in 24 years to have been placed in a Graded or Listed hurdle over less than 2m3f.
Chasing experience is what counts here not potential ability.
If we look for a 7yo (which omits 8yo Might Bite the 7/2 fav) with at least 3 chase runs, which was a novice hurdler last season, has had at least 9xNH races, and (hopefully) has won over 3-mile we have: Acapella Bourgeois and Royal Vacation.  Of that pair, I like Acapella Bourgeois  but the ground (he needs soft) looks to be against him. 

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.
-          9 of the last 14 winners won LTO;
-          18 of last 23 winners had already won a race earlier in the season;
-          14 of the last 17 winners were aged 7yo or younger;
-          12 of the last 16 winners had only won one previous handicap.
It is not unusual for runners with big weights to do well in this race, and 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)
When this race is competitive it is the most exciting and exhilarating spectacle of the entire Festival.
-          The last 15 winners of the previous year’s Arkle to take part in the QMCC have been placed at least.
-          11 of the last 16 winners have contested the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
-          34 of the last 35 winners had an SP of no greater than 11/1.
-          14 of the last 15 winners won a Grade 1 chase prior to winning this race
I cannot see DOUVAN not winning this, but what comes 2nd is anyone’s guess.  Last year I was on SPECIAL TIARA in the "w/o the fav" market, but he came in 3rd, and that’s the position he has filled for the past 2 seasons.

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.

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;
7 of the 12 winners won LTO, but only 2 of the last 6 winners;
Only 2 of the 12 winners of this race had won more than once over hurdles;
8 of the 12 winners had run in 3 hurdle races or less;
Fillies have provided 4 of the 12 winners;
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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