A good start and end to the day as my confidence in the chances of Shattered Love in the JLT was obviously matched by several others as it was backed into 4/1 second favouritism. 1pt e/w @ 12/1 and 1pt win @ 17/2 gave us over 20pts profit on the race. Supasundae looked like rewarding a 16/1 e/w bet but had to settle for second spot and the place money. We ended with a 16/1 winner in Missed Approach who made all to win holding off the strong challenge of Mall Dini and Squouateur who had both been well backed. It capped another profitable day in all for my tips.
My selection for this from last week was We Have A Dream but that is unfortunately now a non runner. I think Apples Shakira will therefore take a lot of beating. Handles the ground and course well it seems to fit all the trends well to be victor. However, backing short priced favourites isn’t my style as you can guess and would much rather look for value at a bigger price. With Mullins having a poor record of just 4 placers from 16 runners in 10 years I am happy to rule out his four, especially when Stormy Ireland hasn’t been seen for 90 days either (Last 10 winners all raced within 55 days) and Mr Adjudicator is a converted British flat horse (8 of the 9 places been filled by French bred horses in last three years) who didn’t compete over hurdles till after Xmas (5 of the last 6 winners had raced by middle of November). That is also an issue for Redicean who has also been winning races around right handed and easy Kempton, the opposite to Cheltenham.
Therefore I will take a chance on Farclas. it is still a maiden, and I’m not even certain that a maiden has ever won it, but then how many maidens have raced here having been placed in a group 1? In fact defeat in the Spring Hurdle is no bad thing, Countrywide Flame was 3rd in 2012, Tiger Roll was second in 2014 before winning this and Ivanovich Gorbatov was only 4th in 2016. Surely 2018 means a horse beaten in the Spring Hurdle wins if following the pattern! Ticks the boxes as a French bred horse though was late to hurdling having raced on the flat in France. Elliott is one of the best at schooling though so this is unlikely to lack for experience. With the addition of a tongue tie as well then it can run a good race and maybe spring the surprise.
1pt win Farclas @ 7/1 WillHill, Boylesports and Betvictor
1pt win We Have A Dream NRNB
Having narrowed my shortlist down to three I was very confident on the chances of one of them in Smaoineamh Alainn who is unbeaten over hurdles. Form has worked out very well and boasts course form on soft ground. I advised at 25/1 but it is now a best priced 16/1. That is still worth taking if you haven’t already, especially with 6 places available. Neither of the other two horses that made the shortlist are running.
Outside of the regular trends, Mullins has a great record in this race with classy types having won it with Arctic Fire, Wicklow Brave and Thousand Stars all who went on or had already run in the case of Arctic Fire in the Champion Hurdle. Another future runner could be Meri Devie who was thought good enough on the flat to run in the French Guineas. Joined the Mullins yard where it ran creditably a couple of times in graded company. Ran a stormer this year in a 20 runner graded hurdle when finishing second. Only 3lb higher here I think a strongly run big field 2m race is what this horse needs. Handles the soft ground fine it looks weighted to run a good race.
0.75pt e/w Meri Devie @ 14/1 Skybet 1/5th odds 6 places
1pt e/w Smaoineamh Alainn @ 25/1
An open looking race with a weak favourite considering it has only run a couple of times over hurdles, very inexperienced for a race like this. That is why I have already been keen to get involved in the race twice and so don’t think it is worth doing so at more. The two horses given have been Enniscoffey Oscar at 20/1 which it is still available now and Poetic Rhythm @ 14/1 which again is still available. Both have plenty of experience along with graded winning form on soft ground, therefore I think they are both value still in an very open race and so no further bets are warranted.
1pt win Enniscoffey Oscar @ 20/1
1pt win Black Ops @ 12/1 NRNB
0.75pt e/w Poetic Rhythm @ 14/1
Oh what a dilemma. Having been very keen on Road To Respect I am delighted after its form got a major boost with Balko Des Flos winning the Ryanair. However, O’Leary, the owner once again went on television and said that he didn’t think this horse would see the trip out on soft ground. We are on already but with doubts about the trip on this ground then I don’t want to get involved again on it. Native River as a 10yo will never appeal to me whilst Our Duke has ran on heavy ground this season for which horses are 0/79 this season. Considering only 1 winner this century has gone off bigger than 8/1 then I just don’t see the problem with Might Bite. Why the lack of confidence in it? Has won a King George on soft, won the RSA around here when could well have been by a lot further had it not hung on the run in. A classy improver in his second season chasing, this may be its last chance to win this as it will be a 10yo next year and so have to break that trend (If it is not broken this year). Class has often told in this race, whilst people can get carried away about horses who have run well here in the past despite them being 0/66 this century when running again in the Gold Cup. Keep the faith, class will prevail.
2pt win Might Bite @ 9/2 widely available
1pt win Road To Respect @ 10/1
1pt win Road To Respect @ 9/1
I have been really keen on Wonderful Charm for this for a long while. Like Tiger Roll for the Cross Country this is a horse I have been backing since before Christmas. That confidence has been dented a little with the soft ground with its best form throughout its career coming on better ground. On the plus side it did win its prep on soft ground in very easy fashion. However, I think the market has overreacted to it being an issue. Like I said above with Might Bite, class often prevails on soft ground. It has been bought and targeted specifically at this race and to me it doesn’t look a strong renewal. Burning Ambition looks a classy horse to the pointing sphere based on its form with Gilgamboa, but it lacks much experience let alone course and festival experience and with several past winners having previously run well here before it may prove vulnerable.
Foxrock was placed in a grade 1 over the years but the two times it has raced here it has disappointed. Will enjoy the soft ground and has a win over On The Fringe to its name last year but it has yet to convince me.
Having advised a bet on Wonderful Charm at 10/1 I see no harm in going in again the night before the race at only a few points lower.
1pt win Wonderful Charm @ 7/1 Willhill, Boyle and BetVictor
1pt win Wonderful Charm @ 10/1
0.75pt e/w Unioniste @ 25/1
Having picked three from my shortlist to back for this race unfortunately only one of them is running in Early Doors. It is at least a shorter price than advised and no money is lost on the other two as it is returned stake. The other ones that are still in the race are Delire Destruval, Flawless Escape and Melrose Boy.
Flawless Escape is easily the shortest of these in the betting, currently vying for favouritism. I said before that I wasn’t sure its form justified its position in the market. However, that can be said about a few of the touches that have been landed or very close to it this year. Clearly if the word gets out early then there is usually a reason behind it. We know this is a race that Elliott targets having previously been understudy to Martin Pipe. Lightly raced though would of benefited from the big race experience last time, it is still unexposed at the trip whilst proven on soft and heavy ground. It is worth saving at least.
Delire Destruval is a last time out winner from a good young stable in Ben Pauling. Has solid form if not spectacular and does look vulnerable here against horses that have been competing in a higher grade.
I am also going to add Melrose Boy for Harry Fry. Ran a great 3rd last time to Topofthegame who has franked the form this week by finishing second in the Coral Cup off an 8lb higher mark. The second took runner up spot in a grade 2 whilst the fourth won a handicap chase in Ireland. The form therefore has a strong look to it, the horse is still unexposed, only 2lb higher and will handle the ground fine. Also has a handicap victory around the old course t its name. I suggest this may have been a target for connections.
1pt win Flawless Escape @ 7/1 widely available
0.75pt e/w Melrose Boy @ 16/1 1/5th odds 5 places widely available
1pt e/w Early Doors @ 14/1
0.5pt e/w Protek Des Flos @ 33/1 NRNB
0.75pt e/w Dortmund Park @ 12/1 NRNB