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Sunday 19 February 2023

Sunday 19th February - just 23 days to go

Not long now, and time to take a look at the betting to see if there is any opportunity lurking in the Cheltenham Festival betting. Before we go any further, what about Shishkin! He looks absolutely back to his best, and fully recovered from the head-to-head battle with Energumene at Ascot last season. He's entered for the Ryanair Chase, and I hope readers of the blog took note of my blog from 31st December: here's a reminder of what I wrote:- The Ryanair Chase.  It will be interesting if Shishkin goes for this race as it looks perfect for him at this time, and odds of 8/1 are worth a small wager as if he does line-up for this he will likely go off at 3/1.
I'm putting the following into eachway doubles and trebles. Why eachway and not win only? These selections "should" be in the 1st-3 of their respective races, but are either not likely to win (eg: Nube Negra, and Conflated) or could win if luck goes their way.
In the QMCC: Nube Negra
Ryanair: Shiskin & Conflated 
Stayers' Hurdle: Flooring Porter
Gold Cup: Stattler
Right now, I have Shishkin 10lb ahead of anything else likely to run in the Ryanair Chase, and I'm really surprised that 5/4 is readily available, as I think he should be odds-on for the race.  To me, this is a "Master Minded moment", and readers with longer memories will recall 2009 when Master Minded won the Champion Chase for the 2nd time at odds of 4/11 and many decent judges thought that was VALUE as he should have gone off at 1/8, he was such a certainty.  This is a massive advantage for the punter, and we have to include Shishkin as a "banker" in doubles and trebles.  I can see him having only 4 or 5 rivals in the Ryanair and starting the race with an SP of 2/5.

Who to couple him with? 
In the Turners Novice Chase we have Mighty Potter, who looks to have that race at his mercy, and is available at 11/8; and in the Arkle Nov Chase, blog readers are already on El Fabiolo.  It is probably not a good idea to tie that pair at current odds with Shishkin as it just creates another level of risk.
If we consider other races, is the Willie Mullins trained State Man capable of an upset in the Champion Hurdle? No horse is unbeatable, even Constitution Hill - and State Man might be capable.
The NH Chase may offer some better value, as I sincerely don't think either of the Mullins pair of Gaillard Du Mesnil and Ramillies are capable of winning this race on the form they've show to date. With Chemical Energy having to "recover" his form, the pair I think could provide the winner is Churchstonewarrior and Mahler Mission, and they are available at odds of around 6/1 (NRNB).  Those are not great odds, but it means we are not squandering the 5/4 available on Shishkin. 
The next race worth considering is the "Brown Advisory" and the fav Gerri Colombe @ 5/2 and Thyme Hill @ 6/1; I do not think either The Real Whacker or Sir Gerhard will be good enough. 
I'm going to think a bit more about this overnight, and finalise my selections tomorrow. 

(Monday evening: 20th Feb) Whichever races we look to for potential multiple wagers including Shishkin, they have to be the Grade 1 championship races, and we've looked at 5 of those already.  The Champion Chase is possibly too tricky to single-out a solid selection. There's no doubt that Energumene is a top-class two-mile chaser when you look back at his "match" with Shiskin at Ascot last year; and while he ran flat at the Cheltenham Trials meeting, it is not inconceivable that he will bounce-back from that. Edwardstone is probably better than he showed that day at Cheltenham, as his rider allowed the eventual winner Editeur Du Gite to get away from him. I just cannot see EDG being given as much rope in the QMCC, but there is another horse that could upset the leading fancies: Gentleman Du Mee. He is lightly raced, and is an improving 7yo; he could be very interesting on the day. No, the QMCC has too many complications for me.
The Stayers' Hurdle looks wide open on paper, but I think the front-3 in the betting Blazing Khal, Teahupoo, and Home By The Lee all have to raise their game to run better than 160 on my personal assessment. They are all just short of the mark, so the younger pair of Blazing Khal and Teahupoo are the ones more likely to find the required improvement. I'm still of the opinion that Flooring Porter is the one to beat in this race. 
I cannot begin to assess the Triumph Hurdle, and the 3-mile Albert Bartlett looks a real head-scratcher at this point. So it looks like I'm back to the 3 races I had with potential selections on Sunday:
NH Chase: Churchstonewarrior / Mahler Mission
Brown Advisory: Gerri Colombe / Thyme Hill
Unfortunately, the best odds available on NRNB terms are from BetVictor, who have:
11/10 on Shishkin
9/4 on Gerri Colombe,
5/1 on Thyme Hill,
6/1 on Churchstonewarrior,
8/1 on Mahler Mission
Those horses are combined in 4 x £5 win trebles:
1) Shishkin @ 11/10 plus Gerri Colombe @ 9/4 plus Churchstonewarrior @ 6/1
2) Shishkin @ 11/10 plus Thyme Hill @ 5/1 plus Churchstonewarrior @ 6/1
3) Shishkin @ 11/10 plus Gerri Colombe @ 9/4 plus Mahler Mission @ 8/1
4) Shishkin @ 11/10 plus Thyme Hill @ 5/1 plus Mahler Mission @ 8/1

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