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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.
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Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Friday, 26 March 2021
The 2nd day of the Festival opened with another 7-runner novice race, the Ballymore Hurdle. This was a disappointing turnout as the "Ballymore" is a great shop-window of talent for the punter to savour, and apart from the 1st-2 home - Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil - there's nothing else in the race that came out well. Certainly, Bravemansgame and Bear Ghylls had their limits cruelly exposed as hurdlers at this level, and novice chasing beckons for them next season. So, how good is Bob Olinger? He's a good winner, but the lack of competition in the race stops me from making him a great winner, and I rate his performance at 152 (Racing Post Ratings (RPR) have him at 163). That puts him below the last couple of good winners Envoi Allen (159) and Samcro (158): however, RPR think Bob Olinger is better than Envoi Allen, and I find that hard to accept. It will be interesting to see him up against older hurdlers, but he's probably going novice chasing next season.
I'm more impressed with Gaillard Du Mesnil who is only a 5yo, and who stayed on very well looking like a step-up to 3-mile would be right up his street. He would be my long-range pick for the 3-mile "Brown Advisory" Novice Chase next year for which he's currently 33/1.
The performance of Monkfish when winning the 6-runner Brown Advisory was, in my opinion, indifferent - he certainly looked a better horse when winning the "Flogas" LTO at Leopardstown over 2m5f. I was particularly disappointed with his jumping, there is a lot of improvement required. However, he totally outclassed his rivals in this race, although Sporting John made a serious error which virtually put him out of the race, and Eklat De Rire unseated his rider at the 12th before the race became interesting. Losing Eklat De Rire removed a lot of competition as he'd beat Escaria Ten at Naas over 3m1f, and that horse ran well in the NH Chase to be 3rd; I'm not suggesting he'd have beaten Monkfish, but he would have given him a race. Before I wager on Monkfish to win the next Gold Cup, I will wait to see how he runs against more experienced chasers.
The Coral Cup handicap hurdle was a disaster for me, as having highlighted the chance of last-time-out winner Heaven Help Us, and that she'd also run 7th in the previous years Supreme Nov Hurdle, I then didn't put her up as a selection - and she duly won at 33/1 having made all. If you were a reader of my Festival bulletins a few years back (too much work to continue) you will know that about 8 years ago I advised making note of any mares running in the hurdle races as they do very well, and there were only 2 mares in this race, and last years winner was a mare. I'm not sure what it is, maybe its the time of year, but mares are good value. The 6yo gelding Blue Sari - 2nd in the Champion Bumper at the 2019 Festival behind Envoi Allen, was flying on the run-up to the final flight and had he not fallen there, who knows - he may have caught the leader. He has an entry at Fairyhouse on the 3rd April. Another that caught my eye was Monte Cristo: this Henderson-trained 5yo was badly impeded by the fallen horse at the last, and looks like being a lot better than his OR145 handicap rating.
I've watched the QMCC a number of times, and there were a few hard-luck stories in it: but Chancun Pour Soi wasn't one of them - he was beaten fair'n'square. There was always a nagging doubt that he might have been flattered having won 6 of his previous 7 races in Ireland repeatedly beating the same rivals, and while I have him 10lb below the "fantasy" rating of 173 the official handicapper has him on, I still thought he'd be good enough to beat a fairly ordinary set of rivals. He wasn't, and I doubt we will see him in the UK again. Winner Put The Kettle On merely had to run to her rating of OR156 to win this as she had the benefit of the 7lb mares allowance - which effectively put her on 163. She is a game mare though, no denying that. Runner-up Nube Negra confirmed his promise (and also showed that a fit Altior would have gone close even at 11yo), and the 7yo is the one who could give Shishkin a lot to think about next year. He was 3rd in the Juvenile Hurdle at the Festival in 2018, and but for a poor run at Warwick in Feb20 he's progressed well as a chaser and this ex-Spanish flat racer has turned out to be an excellent purchase by Dan Skelton. A couple of others worth noting: Greaneteen hit just about every one of the 1st-9 fences losing a length each time, then jumped great for the final 4 fences - his best form appears to be on right-handed tracks and he can be followed at Sandown and Ascot. For Sceau Royal this may have been his last throw of the dice at this level, as when he's good he's very good, but when he's not he's awful. Considering he was beaten just under 4-lengths having been almost floored 3-out suggests with a clear run he'd have bettered his 2019 effort when 3rd (behind Altior and Politologue). The Celebration Chase at Sandown at the end of April could be a cracker!
I'm not bothered about the Cross-Country Chase, but I have rated it via 3rd-placed Some Neck who I reckon ran fairly much to the rating he held when winning the Cross-Country Chase (handicap) on 11Dec20 over the same C&D, which is 135. That suggests Easysland ran about 25lb below what he ran to when winning the race last year, and that matches his performance when we saw him run over C&D last November. So what has happened to Easysland? Has he really gone backwards by 25lb? Whatever, my assessment suggests Tiger Roll ran to about 155, and that means he will have to improve another 10lb or so to win the Irish Grand National on 5th April.
The Grand Annual handicap chase over 2-mile was a new race for me to assess, and it had been moved from the Old Course to the New Course. Sky Pirate won by getting his head in front on the line, beating by inches Entoucas - this was galling for my brother as he had Entoucas in a double with 33/1 winner Heaven Help Us (as he'd read my blog and took advantage!). The handicapper has raised Sky Pirate 8lb for that short-head winning margin, whereas I thought he merely ran to his official rating of OR152. The runner-up Entoucas has only been raised 2lb (eh?), and I would be keen to follow him in handicaps over his next few runs. In 3rd was Ibleo and this 8yo has improved with every run this season. Why he went up 3lb to OR157 is beyond me, and he may struggle to win another handicap from that rating. What is interesting is that his sire is the 14yo Dick Turpin who was a Group 1 winning miler in 2010-11 and stand with the National Stud for just £3,000. He could be worth visiting by breeders in the UK looking for a NH Sire. The 1st-3 pulled a few lengths clear of the field on the run-in and there's none behind who I thought suffered ill-luck.
With a couple of 6yo's dominating the Champion Bumper, and both being trained by Willie Mullins, there isn't much to say about the race as I doubt either Sir Gerhard or Kilcruit will prove top horses next season.
Taking a time-out and reflecting on the results of the Cheltenham Festival when the dust has settled is a good idea as you can see things you possibly overlooked (deliberately?) before the race in a new light.
Monday, 22 March 2021
Friday, 19 March 2021
Well then - that was more like it!
Thursday, 18 March 2021
This is a race in which Graded race-winning form is important.
1:55 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle over 3-mile
A front-runner that stays, that's the ideal horse for this race, and I can't see one that fits the bill.
2:30 Ryanair Chase over 2-mile 4-furlongs & 127 yards
One of my favourite races.
This year looks a super-competitive race, and the one I'm on antepost is MELON.
3:05 The Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-mile
Last year's race was a poor renewal as none of the main challengers were on form on the day. Paisley Park, who won this in 2019, has been running well but at 9yo looks vulnerable. As does Sire Du Berlais, and there's no value in either of those. My antepost wager is on FLOORING PORTER @ 14/1 and he has improved considerably this season, and is only a 6yo. Although he's run his last couple of races on soft ground, he's won on good ground before at Galway in July, so he should have no ground issues. There is some 11/1 available, but most bookies are offering just 9/1 and I can't see him finishing outside the 1st-4 and I think he has a hell of a chance.
3:40 The Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase over 2-mile & 4-furlongs & 127 yards
As always, a tough handicap to fathom, and 23 runners go to post.
4:15 Mares' Novice Hurdle over 2-mile 1-furlong
Not a race I usually look at, but just following the Willie Mullins 1st-choice pointed me to Concertista last year.
GAULIOUSE: £5 eachway = £10 staked @ 7/1 (PaddyPower, William Hill, 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4)
4:50 The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir h'cap Chase over 3-mile 2-furlongs
One of my favourite races but no amateur riders this year, which makes selection trickier.
STORM CONTROL: £5 eachway = £10 staked @ 16/1 (5th odds a place 1st-5 with Bet365, William Hill and Betfred)
Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Possibly the best novice hurdle race of the Festival, and winners are always top-drawer.
The winner of this race is usually a proper staying chaser, bred to do the job.
2:30 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle over 2m5f
This is a race that I've avoided in the past, and with 26 runners it looks as difficult as it always is. What's interesting is that 7 of the last 11 winners have carried 11st or more. Only 3 of the last 10 winners won their previous race, and only 1 of the previous 10 winners ran off a break of under 39 days - the "mean" being 57-days which is only shorter than the County Hurdle (66-days). Winners of this race come here fresh. With none of the last 12 winners having raced more than 4x since 1st May, and you should be able to have a narrow short-list. I'm not selection one in this race, but I will be watching Heaven Help Us who is the only runner for trainer Paul Hennessy this week, and the horse ran 7th in last years "Supreme" Hurdle.
3:05 Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2-miles
With last years race being a complete non-event, what with non-runners (Altior and Chancun Pour Soi) and the red-hot fav Defi Du Seuil just not performing on the day, and he hasn't done so since. This year, the form again points to CHANCUN POUR SOI to be the champion, but he's not raced at Cheltenham before, and I'm sure some of the old hands wont give him a fee ride. I've included Chancun Pour Soi in my antepost doubles and trebles, but the only value in the odds now looks to be in the "w/o the fav" betting. The pair that look interesting are Nube Negra @ 5/1 (Bet Victor) and Cilaos Emery at 15/2 (Paddy Power). That CILAOS EMERY had a run 17-days ago suggests he'll be ripe for this and he's a top-class chaser in his own right
3:40 Cross Country Chase over 3-mile and 6-furlongs
Not a race that I think should be run at the Festival, and this year is no different.
4:15 Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase over 2-miles
The race has been transferred from Friday to take over the slot vacated by the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (now on Day-1). This isn't a race that I have reviewed in previous years, so a new one for me. It's on the Old Course so that will likely be an advantage to the prominent runners in the race. On interesting stat I've found is that 20 of the last 22 winners ran in no more than 12 chase races. I've have an antepost wager on Ashutor who I feel has been laid-out for this race; he's a prominent runners, and holds a good profile for the race. ASHUTOR is available at 28/1 (5th odds placed 1,2,3,4,5,6) and I think he's well-worth an eachway wager.
4:50 Champion Bumper over 2-miles and 87 yards
This is a race for those "in-the-know". Not much form to go on, and what there is, is tricky to interpret. It's not unusual for a horse to win this race off a very long break, but recent winners have usually run within the previous 42-days. The last horse to win this that wasn't a LTO winner, was Liberman in 2003.
Tuesday, 16 March 2021
I've posted numerous blogs over the past few weeks with my thoughts on the Festival, and some more detailed analysis, so please take a look at the earlier blogs by scrolling down the page.
1:20 Supreme Novices Hurdle (2-miles & 87 yards)
Stick with LTO winners: 16 of the last 19 winners won LTO; and don't stray too far from the market leaders.
This was looking like being one of the classic races of the entire Festival: but Energumene went lame last week. SHISHKIN looks a chaser of the highest level, and while Allmankind isn't far behind in ability, it's difficult to see him winning.
3:40 the Mares' Hurdle over 2-mile 4-furlongs
With the mares Honeysuckle and Epatante contesting the Champion Hurdle, the race should be taken by CONCERTISTA who is much better than anything else in the race. If Honeysuckle does take part then I think she will start odds-on and be unbeatable. I was hoping to suggest a wager in the "without-the-fav" market, but there isn't much value there either. A few weeks ago, I took longer odds (antepost) about Dame De Compagnie, but to be fair, that was more hope that Concertista would run in the Champion Hurdle; the mare has the ability to be in the 1st-3 but does she had the aptitude?
The novices handicap chase over 2m4f has been lost to the Festival, and transferred to Sandown, which I think was the wrong decision. To replace it on the card, the Juvenile handicap hurdle has been moved from Day-2. This is a very tricky race to fathom, and 6 of the last 10 winners had SP's of 25/1 or more - be warned! One advantage is that if you fancy one at extremely long odds, it's worth a punt.
One of my favourite races of the Festival, but this year there will be no amateur riders.
This race invariably goes to the highest-rated horse in the race, it is as simple as that, so proven chase form is essential. Remember, this race is for novice chasers, and 5 of the last 11 winners (including Ravenhill last year) were in their 2nd season as a novice - again, experience counts.
Monday, 15 March 2021
Sunday, 14 March 2021
Saturday, 13 March 2021
We are stating to see horses being withdrawn due to set-backs in preparation now, and yesterday we lost Energumene from the Arkle, which was a bit of a blow to my personal doubles and trebles, but as I also had Shishkin in a number of multiples I'm not too bothered overall.