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Friday, 22 February 2019

Presenting Percy to go straight for the Gold Cup

News issued early Friday morning (22nd February) was that Presenting Percy, the current 3/1 fav for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, is to go straight to the Festival in 3-weeks time without a prep-run over fences. Sure, he had a decent spin over hurdles when winning the 3-mile Galmoy Hurdle, but his last chase race was when winning the 3-mile RSA novice chase at Cheltenham on 14th March 2018.
Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of this and I've not had a penny on the horse for the Gold Cup and Patrick Kelly has only sent out 2 other winners this season (all 3 wins he's had this season have been over hurdles) and his only chase winner in the past 2 seasons has been Presenting Percy.  All I can say is that I would want a lot better odds than 3/1 to tempt me to place a wager, and I'd be looking for more than 12/1.
That said, my antepost portfolio is looking a little sick after last weekends results even though Clan Des Obeaux did me proud when winning at Ascot. I have £12 win at 12/1 on CDO but I wish I had a fair bit more. My largest antepost wager for the Festival is on Politologue for the Ryanair Chase, but he looked a most unlikely winner of that race when running 4th to stablemate Cyrname last Saturday, and I would be surprised if he goes to Cheltenham and we may see him next at Aintree.
We are now past the point of final preparatory runs for the vast majority of winners at previous Festivals. Last year, only Coo Star Sivola won off a break of less than 3-weeks (21 days), but in 2017 there were 4 such winners; Labaik (16 days), Apple's Jade (20 days), Flying Tiger (18 days) and Presenting Percy (19 days). However, there were no winners in 2016 off a break of less than 3-weeks.
Those races with more than 1 winner off a break of 21 days or less in the past 10 years are:
Supreme Novices Hurdle: 2 wins in 2009, and 2017
Ultima Handicap Chase: 4 wins in 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2018
Mares Hurdle (2m4f): 2 wins in 2009 and 2017
Novices Handicap Chase (2m4f): 2 wins in 2012 and 2014
"Fred Winter" Novices Handicap hurdle: 5 wins in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017
"Pertemps" Final H'cap Hurdle: 3 wins in 2009, 2015, and 2017
Triumph Hurdle: wins in 2009 and 2010
Foxhunter Chase: 2 wins in 2010 and 2014.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that DEFI DU SEUIL goes for the "Arkle" and not the JLT Chase, but with JP McManus owning both Defi Du Seuil and the current 11/4 fav Le Richebourg, it's hard to see that happening and, at this stage, I can see both these horses winning their respective races.
In the 4-mile NH Chase (for amateur riders) I have to say that I've not been that impressed with the performances of OK Corral and if the race were run today I'd be looking to take the odds of 9/2 about DELTA WORK.  Much of this race will depend on the jockey bookings as top amateur riders are thin on the ground, but I would say that the Irish trainers appear to hold the aces in this race with Delta Work, Ballyward and (possibly) Mortal; the latter horse being my early antepost wager on the race.  

When you look at the form of Delta Work, if Le Richebourg wins the "Arkle" on the opening day then his odds for whichever race he's entered in will tumble.  He will start the fav for the race he lines-up in, but we are not sure if it will be the 3-mile RSA Chase or the 4-mile NH Chase.  Given that he had the speed to beat Le Richebourg over 2m4f on "good" ground at Fairyhouse on 2nd December (in what looks in hindsight to be top-class form), I would favour him going for the RSA Chase.  That would see him clash with another top class novice chaser in Topofthegame who although yet to win a chase race (he's been 2nd in both chase races he's contested) looks to be the best staying chaser on ratings this side of the Irish Sea.  I'm not convinced (yet) that Santini is as good a chaser as his potential suggests, and it may be we see the best of him when he drops in trip to 2m5f, a bit like Albertas Run who was a dual winner of the Ryanair Chase after not being top-class over 3-mile.

So, at the moment, I'm toying with a double on LE RICHEBOUG (Arkle) and DEFI DU SEUIL (JLT Chase), and a small treble on the same pair plus DELTA WORK for the RSA. 
The £10 win double would return £157.50
and a £5 win treble would return £393.75 if successful.
All the best from Wayward Lad.

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