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Early Bird – Cheltenham Day 2
Well, what a first day that was. Thought it was going to be the crossbar continually hit after the first few races. 20/1 (and 5/1) and 14/1 second and third in the first, followed by 14/1 and 12/1 second and thirds in the Arkle! A winner in the third with Coo Star Sivola at 5/1 was a bit more like it. Champion hurdle could have been so much better as two bets on Melon (e/w at 16/1 and win at 14/1) just missed out on the win though a bet on Melon at 7/1 without Buveur D’Air gave us a second winner. A much better ending to the day though with Rathviden recommended in my email last night won at 7/1 (With Ms Parfois recommended last week at 11/1 finishing second). That was followed by a confident e/w bet on Mister Whitaker at 11/1 which was well supported into 6/1 and won, just getting up on the line. Therefore 5/1, 7/1, 7/1 and 11/1 winners from seven races on the Tuesday. Hopefully that can be followed up on Wednesday.
Very frustrated that On The Blind Side no longer lines up. With the experience of the course and remaining unbeaten I fancied it as a value selection against the talking horse Samcro. With it out it is now a different ask. I did remember reading a stat, one which I can’t remember the exact figures off the top of my head, but it generally suggested that ‘hotpots’ that were trained by Mullins, Nicholls or Henderson invariably won, however those by any other trainer, including Elliott saw a much poorer strike rate despite prices being similar. Interesting that it was actually bore out today with Apples Jade and exists again here with Samcro. I will still take it on though with Next Destination. Unbeaten in three starts over hurdles beating a horse who was favourite for the Albert Bartlett until ruled out through injury. Is still open to improvement and with the yard having three winners at the Festival yesterday then they can continue that form with a good start to Wednesday.
Not a horse I am going to get too carried away with but in what looks a battle between two unbeaten horses it makes sense to go with the horse at a much bigger price.
1.5pt win Next Destination @ 4/1 WillHill, Paddy and BetVictor
1.5pt win Getabird @ 7/1 NRNB
1.5pt win On The Blind Side @ 6/1 NRNB
Turning out to be potentially the race of the Festival though it would have to go some to beat the battles we saw today. Plenty of angles in though which is perhaps what makes it so exciting, especially when there isn’t that much between them. With that in mind I am happy to be against Presenting Percy, who has several significant trends against him including prepping at Gowran Park (0/58) and running over a distance short of 2m 5f before this race who are 0/49. In these conditions Monalee is a doubtful stayer, especially in a race that should be strongly run and stamina at a premium. I have already talked enough about how much I fancy the chances of Elegant Escape though I have to say really bad ground tempers my enthusiasm for this. Therefore I want another string to my bow. Ballyoptic is very tempting. Clearly talented on its day, it has a habit of making mistakes which has cost it several chances of performing better than its form figures show. At its price it may be worth a pot shot in the hope it jumps well, however in such a competitive race, where jumping will be at a premium on this ground, I just can’t take the risk.
Instead it has to be Black Corton. Consistently performed at a high level, he was considered for the NH Chase but has too much class for that race. Handles soft ground well and form received a big boost from the performance of Ms Parfois who was a close second in the NH Chase on Tuesday. Bryony Frost would have been inspired by the victory of Lizzie Kelly in the Ultima and has a great chance of winning here.
1pt win Black Corton @ 9/1 Paddy Power
1pt win Elegant Escape @ 20/1
0.75pt e/w Elegant Escape @ 12/1
My selection that I have already advised William Henry is still down to run and is vying for favouritism though is still available at the same price I recommended him at. There are a couple on my shortlist that are still running, Bastian who is a massive price but is a concern on soft ground and now having a professional replacing the claimer who has been taking some big weight off the horses back. The more obvious one though is Topofthegame. No problem with the soft ground, the initial concern was that this has tended to go to more pacier horses rather than ones that saw the trip and further out well. Bit different this year however with the heavy/soft ground likely to turn this into more of a stamina test. Unexposed with just five runs over hurdles to its name. A mark of 150 is high but not impossible to overcome with this race often going to those towards the top of the weights. At a double figure price for a yard that can line one up for the handicaps, it is worth having on side.
0.75pt e/w Topofthegame @ 12/1 1/5th odd 6 places Paddy Power
1pt e/w William Henry 1/5th odds 5 places
I advised Charbel in my piece last week for this race at an e/w price. Unfortunately I am seriously concerned about the softer ground, with very little form on ground with ease in it. I was considering a bet in the without Altior market but on soft/heavy ground I am not convinced. The problem is, the same can be said about all of the outsiders here. Not one of them seems to be at their best on soft ground! Having already highlighted concerns about Politilogue going left handed and the fitness of Douvan, for which it would be amazing to win after such an injury, that leaves me just Altior and Min to consider. Altior beat Min in the Supreme two years ago by 7 lengths. Since then he is unbeaten in runs over fences proving to be the best around on RPR at this distance. Has Min improved beyond Altior from those days? Certainly not. Min is unbeaten on soft or softer but has still yet to reach the level that Altior has managed the last twice. Altior handles soft no problem, it surprises me he is not odds on. I’m not one for lumping on at a short price but I don’t see the value betting against it now either.
1pt win Un De Sceaux @ 14/1 Lost
0.5pt e/w Charbel @ 25/1
Have already suggested that one of my best bets of the Festival runs here and we are nicely on at 14/1 for Tiger Roll. However I am seriously concerned about the ground with a record of just one from eight on soft or worse. Has a couple of placers on soft but I can’t help but feel it would prefer better. The soft ground is certainly no help for the favourite Cause Of Causes either. With those at the head of the market unlikely to be suited to soft ground I therefore want to take a couple of horses that I think represent value on this ground.
First is Auvergnat, who has yet to have the best of luck around here. It was pulled when first set to encounter these fences under a self certificate. When it then got to race here it unseated at the 26th when still travelling well. Still went to the Festival that year on the back of that experience, finishing a very creditable 4th, when staying on too late. Did prep for that though by winning on the Punchestown banks on soft ground. Was still going well over these fences earlier this season, going off as 2/1 favourite though ended up falling at the 12th. Showed no ill effects to win at Punchestown again over 3m on soft once more, though having drifted from 2/1 out to 7/2 I wouldn’t say it was an expected victory. Its record on soft or worse since moving to Enda Bolger reads 11BD31. Seemed to get outstayed last year on the good ground, a bigger stamina test should really suit this horse.
Another that looks at home on the soft is Urgent De Gregaine who comes over from France. A winner of a handicap event here in January last year, it seems to handle any ground as it showed when 2nd in the Pardubice last year when picked up late on over the 4m 2f trip. Should be better suited at this sort of trip, it still has a bit to find with the best of these though bad ground can be a leveller!
1pt win Auvergnat @ 9/1 WillHill
0.75pt e/w Urgent De Gregaine @ 14/1 Skybet 1/5th odds 4 places
1pt win Tiger Roll @ 14/1
1pt win Tiger Roll @ 5/1
Things have just got interesting here, though rather frustrating as well as I was under the impressionEragon De Chanay had missed the cut for the race, only to now see it has crept in right at the bottom. Frustratingly have missed out on any big prices there may have been but at least it is still running. As pointed out in my previous email with regards handicaps, horses running under a penalty have a very good record in this. Its record on soft is impressive also reading 1131, the third coming in a grade 2 behind Apples Shakira and previous Triumph favourite Gumball. The questions is whether it can perform again having raced just 4 days ago. Whilst it is not easy for a young horse, I don’t see why not, I certainly would rather have it on my side than be against it. Its RPR from Saturday puts it miles clear of this field and clearly is well in off just a 5lb rise.
1pt e/w Eragon De Chanay @ 12/1 Skybet 1/5th odds 5 places
0.75pt e/w Mercenaire @ 22/1 1/5th odds 5 places
Never an easy race to assess with little form to go on and most of that has been against horses with an eye on the future rather than winning the race in front of them. I suggested in my email last week to get on Carefully Selected if you hadn’t of done already having advised it in the middle of February. I also suggested with regards to anything else to hold out until we see jockey bookings. Well, those jockey bookings have made it interesting as Ruby Walsh is on Carefully Selected. Most would see that as a good sign, but not necessarily to me. Patrick Mullins probably got the option here of what to ride. He was quite praising of Carefully Selected after its last win and was quoted as saying he had always rated the horse. So, it is a little surprise to see him opt for Blackbow. I guess it was the logical decision though. Top rated on RPR and a grade 2 winner on soft. Showed a good attitude to knuckle down and win behind another well regarded rival in Rhinestone. I’m pleased we have Ruby on Carefully Selected and ensures we have a value bet but a saver on Blackbow has to be the option now.
1.5pt win Blackbow @ 5/1 widely available
1pt win Alighted @ 14/1 NRNB
1pt win Carefully Selected @ 16/1