Just a few days to go now until Tuesday 15th March and the roar that heralds the start of the Supreme Novices hurdle erupts from the crowd. Due to work constraints, the blog during the Festival will not be as in-depth as it has in previous years - but I will endeavour to maintain the quality of the selections.
The main things to remember about the Festival is that 55% of all the races are won by a last-time-out (LTO) winner - from a representation of about 15% of all the runners; and very few races are won by horses which last ran over 84-days (12 weeks) ago - basically, before 26th December 2021. If you stick to these two factors you may miss the odd winner, but you will avoid 95% of the losing horses!
I've tried over the past week or so to identify horses that are available at generous odds and highly likely to run in the race I've chosen to wager in. Lot's of horses have multiple entries, and some of these entries (in my opinion) are spurious. For instance, Energumene holds entries for the QMCC (odds of 7/2) and the Ryanair Chase (odds of 5/2): yet this horse has only once run beyond 2m 1f when winning a beginners chase, and is probably equal - if not better - than dual QMCC winner Altior. If Altior and Shishkin were running in the QMCC, they would be 5/4 joint-favs; and I reckon we will see one helluva plunge on Energumene on Wednesday. While I don't think Shiskin will be dislodged as the fav, but he could start at "evens", and I'm expecting Energumene to go off at 7/4.
Overall, I will be incredibly surprised if Energumene runs in the Ryanair Chase: and I actually know one of the directors of B&HAFC (club Chairman is Tony Bloom) and he will be flying in the helicopter to Cheltenham on Wednesday with Tony Bloom: owner of Energumene - that suggests the horse will be running on Wednesday.
The handicap hurdles can change in complexion when the declarations are made: it's near impossible to find winners before then. But you do need to look for horses that run prominently, it's very difficult to come into the race from off the pace and win at the Festival - many try, few succeed, and when it comes off the jockeys are hailed as riding the race of a lifetime. Remember: prominent runners!
Keep an eye out for the Mullins-trained JUNGLE BOOGIE: he has 3 entries and his best chance is likely the "Turners Novices Chase" over 2m4f on Thursday - but it would not surprise me if he missies the Festival altogether.
Look for opportunities in the races: For instance in the Ryanair Chase while I think Allaho is unopposable, that suggests the race will really cut-up. Unfortunately, my early antepost on the race Fakir D'Oudairies is a non-runner; but Mullins has a strong hand in this race, and I like Asterion Forlonge - if he has a clear run! One strategy is to completely oppose the fav in the race, and place a reverse forecast on those you reckon should be 2nd & 3rd - then if the fav does not finish - as Envoi Allen didn't when falling as the 4/9 fav for the "Marsh" - you could find yourself with a 100/1 winning forecast! So which odds-on chances have potential to not complete?
Above all, enjoy yourself!
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