New comments added this morning (Saturday) are in blue.
A quick recap on last Saturday. The early selection Ashtown Lad was well supported and followers of the blog had the value at 8/1, but he just wasn't good enough - however, he was 3rd so the advised eachway wager was without without loss. Not so with Senior Citizen who never looked happy throughout the race, and the writing was on the wall not long after they started. He's always best fresh, so I'm not expecting having any further wagers on him this season after that poor effort. We very nearly pulled-off a good win with the final selection Lord Accord, who ran an absolute cracker to be the only rival to push the win, the outstanding Frodon. I'd rate Lord Accord a bit higher for this effort, and he looks to be a fast improving horse.
The Cheltenham meeting has the Paddy Power Handicap Chase as the feature race, and the meeting is one of the best of the jumps season. It opens with the Triumph Hurdle Trial and the winner of this race is usually one of the better juvenile hurdlers, so get your notebooks out. I'm probably going to take a look at this race on Saturday morning (I'm writing this on Friday afternoon), so if you are reading this on Friday, please take another look on Saturday after 11am for any updates. The opener at Cheltenham at 12:35pm looks tricky to fathom. I'm not that taken by French imports having their UK debut, so odds of 13/8 about Blueking D'Oroux are very skinny. The interesting ones in my opinion are the next couple in the betting: Scriptwriter @ 4/1 and Mr Freedom @ 11/2. Scriptwriter was near Group-class on the flat, and he's in good hands with Milton Harris. Mr Freedom cost just £800 at the sales - you struggle to find a new sofa at that price - yet he's looking very decent over hurdles for Sheena West. A trainer local to Brighton, Sheena West mainly sends horses to Fontwell and Plumpton, so if she goes elsewhere it's worth taking note. Mr Freedom will not be going to Cheltenham for a jolly. I shall be having a small (personal) wager on Mr Freedom, bit I cannot advise a punt on this race.
The amateur riders handicap chase over 3m1f at 1:10pm looks interesting. A lot of these riders wont be capable of riding a winner here, and those who still have a claim are probably not up to it. The capable Gina Andrews has jumped off Anightinlambourn and onto Bobhopenohope and I expect that pair will try to make all. However, I'm liking the look of BRAVE WAY who has won his last couple of races, stays the trip and is sent over Henry de Bromhead. This mare hasn't many miles on the clock and could be a class above these. Odds of 15/2 (William Hill, 5th odds places 1,2,3,4) look very fair. Now best-priced at 13/2 and shortening, I'd say the value has gone on this horse. Hope readers took the 15/2 on Friday evening. For those looking for an interest in the race, Bobhopenohope is now 10/1 with BetVictor (5th odds a place 1,2,3,4,5) and should be there at the finish.
Now the main event: Paddy Power h'cap Chase at 2:20pm. The early fav French Dynamite won a decent hurdle 3 weeks ago, but his chasing form needs to improve 15lb on what we've seen to-date for him to win this. Stolen Silver was on the upgrade all last season and ended with a career-best in April, but this looks a big ask off OR150. Going left-handed at Cheltenham is a new experience for Ga Law, and he looked listless LTO at Aintree. Yes, that was off the back of a new 2-year lay-off, but he needs to find a tonne of improvement on that run to figure in this race. Galahad Quest was 5th in this race last year when running off OR135, and he's on OR131 now; but he runs like a horse who wants further than 2m4f and he will likely be in the places again. The 5yo Il Ridito won a decent race at Newbury in Nov-21 with Numitor well behind, as well as Frero Banbou, and Grey Diamond. Sent to Sandown on "Tingle Creek" day for the Grade 1 novice chase he was outclassed, and heavy ground did him no favours in a couple of races after that, but at Ayr in April he showed his form again. There was a lot to like about that race, even though he finished tired - he has had wind surgery since - and he looks the sort to go well.
I can't have Coole Cody, at 11yo (he'll turn 12yo on 1st Jan) age has surely caught up with him. The 9yo Deyrann De Carjac has had too many races, but not so Happygolucky but he's been off the track since Apr-21, and previous to that race he'd started fav for the "Ultima" handicap at the Festival and run 2nd. If he's fit, he could go well, but it's a big ask. I'm more interested in Umbrigado who won a grade 3 handicap chase at Newbury in Mar-21off OR144, but then had some problems. He comes here fit from hurdling (won LTO) and trainer David Pipe knows what is needed to win this race, and his horses are in form. There aren't many better 14/1 chances. James Bowen in the saddle and not Nico de Boinville suggests Mister Fisher isn't expected to win, but he's capable of a bold show. This will be a 3rd run in the race for Simply The Betts, and I can't see him winning this now. One I've not mentioned but looks primed for a big run is Midnight River: he tore a race apart 16-days ago when winning at Stratford, and trainer Dan Skelton went close in this race last season when Protektorat ran 2nd. The worry is that he's a hold-up horse, and this race needs to be ridden from the front.
For me, IL RIDOTO ticks a lot of boxes, and odds of 8/1 are fair but not generous. I also think Umbrigado is worth a smaller interest at 14/1 (William Hill and Coral).