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Monday, 15 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Monday 15th Feb (29 days to go)

The final race of the opening day is the NH-Chase is for Novices at level weights (what used to be the four-miler) and this usually goes to the horse with the highest official rating - it's as simple as that.  Having watched the Flogas Novice Chase (see the link below), I am in no doubt that MONKFISH is probably going to win the old RSA, now called the "Brown Advisory" Chase, in a canter, before going on and winning the 2022 and 2023 Gold Cups; he looks an immense chaser in the making.


15:10 Leopardstown - 7 February 2021 - Results - Horse Racing - Sporting Life


That means it is likely that LATEST EXHIBITION who came 2nd in the Flogas will, instead, likely go for the NH Chase. Sure, he was no match for Monkfish at Leopardstown, but he jumped well, had a great cruising speed and stayed all the way to the line. He was just beaten by Monkfish in the 3-mile Albert Bartlett hurdle last March and that form is proving absolutely top class. I think he will easily be the top-rated chaser in the NH Chase. There's a thought that Latest Exhibition went backwards in the Flogas, but I think it was Monkfish that improved and set such a strong pace that was miles quicker - 6.90 secs - than the Grade A handicap chase won by OR140 rated Off You Go (10st 8lb) - whereas Monkfish and Latest Exhibition carried 11st 12lb.

Personally, I reckon Latest Exhibition was made to look inept by Monkfish, who is possibly 20lb better than him.  When they met on 29th Dec, the pace was much slower, and so Monkfish didn't look so dominant. Latest Exhibition won't meet anything of that level in the NH Chase.


Current fav Galvin needs to return from a 144-day break and find over 10lb improvement; and Royal Pagaille will, in my opinion, go for the Gold Cup. Why? Because with Monkfish running in the "Brown Advisory" this will be his best opportunity of winning a Gold Cup.  I can see LATEST EXHIBITION starting the fav for this race on the day, and  although the best odds NRNB are just 5/1 with Skybet. you can get 8/1 with William Hill.


Wager:  LATEST EXHIBITION:  £10 WIN = £10 staked @ 8/1 William Hill


You have to watch Lydia Hislop and Ruby Walsh talking (on 12th Feb) about the Dublin Festival races, and Ruby Walsh is also of the opinion that Latest Exhibition was unable to match the pace set by Monkfish, and so was out of his comfort zone:


Road To Cheltenham - Series 2, Episode 13 - (12/02/2021) - Racing TV - YouTube


A recap on selections and thoughts so far:

Day-1: Supreme Novices Hurdle: There's no way I can have a punt on a 7yo in this race, even one trained by Willie Mullins. If Appreciate It wins, then so be it, but I will give this race a miss - apart from my long-odds ew wager on DREAL DEAL @ 20/1.

Day-1: Arkle Novice Chase: Having watched the Dublin Festival win by ENERGUMENE, there's nothing else that I'd have my money on in this race. I believe both Envoi Allen and Shishkin are being rated on their hurdle form of last season and the "potential" they have shown this season - and undoubtedly the pair have huge potential. However, ENERGUMENE ripped-apart this decent field from the front at Leopardstown, and there is no disputing that he is a 162+ novice chaser. With odds of 9/4 available generally, and 11/4 from Bet365, in what looks likely to be a 2-horse race (Envoi Allen is likely to go for the 2m4f novice chase instead), he is my choice.

Day-1 Champion Hurdle: For me, this race is between Honeysuckle or Concertista. I've taken a NRNB punt that Concertista goes for this race rather than the Mares' Hurdle, as I think she's the best we've seen this season; but if she does go for the Mares' then HONEYSUCKLE looks near unbeatable for the Champion Hurdle and once we know the final declarations, we could see a massive gamble on this horse from 5/2 into 6/4 or even shorter.

Day-1 Mares Hurdle: The current odds of 6/4 will look massive if Concertina goes for this race. In the possibility that she goes for the Champion Hurdle, I've taken the odds of 14/1 (ew) about Dame De Compagnie. If CONCERTISTA does line-up for this race she could start as short as 4/9 and she will certainly start odds-on.

Day-2 Brown Advisory Novice Chase (3-mile: the old RSA Chase): This has to be MONKFISH, as he could probably win the Gold Cup if he was in it, and he's already odds-on for this race.

Day-2 Champion Chase: There is no way on earth that anyone can oppose CHANCUN POUR SOI, and it is only the enigma that is Altior that prevents him from being 1/3 odds-on.

Day-2 Cross-Country race: Last year, EASYSLAND took this race in a canter winning by miles, and there is no reason he won't do the same again: odds of 2/1 look very reasonable as he was 3/1 for this race last year.


My short odds accumulator candidates:

Arkle - Energumene @ 9/4

Champion Hurdle - Honeysuckle @ 5/2

Mares' Hurdle - Concertista @ 6/4

Brown Advisory Novice Chase - Monkfish @ 5/6

Champion Chase - Chancun Pour Soi @ 5/6

Cross-Country Race - Easysland @ 2/1


Final selection in 4 win trebles and a win accumulator:

Concertista / Monkfish / Chancun Pour Soi / Easysland


There are a couple of races on Day-3 that look good betting mediums and the odds look fair: the Ryanair Chase and the 3-mile Stayers Hurdle, and I'm examining the form on those races next.

 All the best from Wayward Lad

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