CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2018
Now that many firms are NRNB for the festival it’s worth looking at some angles for some ante-post betting.
I would love to see Faugheen make a successful comeback at the Dublin Festival and go on to regain his Champion crown but I just can’t have a 10-y-o coming back from serious injury. His stablemate, Melon is ridiculously under-priced at 6/1. I wouldn’t have him at twice the price, which he would be if trained elsewhere. Unoriginal as it is I just can’t see past Buveur D’Air he ticks every box and I can see no weaknesses. There is no value in backing him until the day. I heard Tom Segal describe My Tent On Yours as a “knocking each-way bet at 12/1” as he’s bound to place but can’t win! How is that a good bet? £10 e/w at 12/1 (1/5th odds) for 2nd or 3rd wins you £24, so you’ve staked £20 to win £24, we’ll done that’s a 6/5 winner (he’s 2.5 in the place only market on betfair). If you fancy backing “Tent” you’d be better off playing in the w/o fav market - 13/2 (1/4 odds a place). There are two outsiders that interest me in the market: one is Defi Du Seuil who has been written off too quickly after one bad day. One pundit even said “he’s gone at the game”! Bizzarre. If he returns to form (as his yard have had a change in fortune) he could be a bit of value, and if he doesn’t he won’t run anyway. 16/1 (each-way) NRNB. The other one that caught my eye, as I didn’t expect him to be entered at this stage, is Cliffs Of Dover who has obviously had setbacks as his intended comeback was the Christmas Hurdle. He has a lot to do to prove he’s a Grade 1 horse but if he were to line-up I’d happily have him each-way at 66/1 (I’ve played 50/1 without Buveur D’Air - realistically 4 places). Of course there’s a big chance neither selection will turn-up on the day but that risk has been negated.
With so many multiple engagements it’s worth looking at the two principle novice hurdles together (there is even an argument to include the Albert Bartlett but I won’t). There is a popular misconception that speedier types are best suited to the 2m championship (Supreme) and staying types are better equipped for the 2m 5f (Ballymore) event. Since Cheltenham have tried to ensure good to soft going for the opening day, ex-flat horses have fared badly (last year being an exception). The Supreme is run at a furious pace and you need to be able to stay to get home. In contrast, the Ballymore is usually run at a sensible gallop that can suit speed horses. If this sounds illogical just look at the record of Champion hurdlers in the two events. Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Rock On Ruby, Faugheen all ran over the longer trip. There are no recent winners of the Supreme that became Champion hurdler. Buveur D’Air, Binocular and Jezki all placed...but so have four of the last twenty Gold Cup winners! Willie Mullins often re-routes his novices from what appeared to be their long-term target; Five For Three was switched to the Ballymore at the eleventh hour and Champagne Fever also defected, in the other direction, at the declaration stage. You definitely need a strong stayer for the curtain raiser.
Supreme Novices Hurdle
Punters had been waiting for a horse to latch onto for the opener and what better for a plunge on a Mullins/Richi horse? I was impressed with Getabird at Punchestown, particularly the way that he was ridden confidently and made all to winning going away from two decent yardsticks. Getabird is 5/2 fav now in NRNB markets and I still have a feeling that the NH bred gelding will be aimed at the ‘Ballymore’. I think Sharjah will be the yard’s Supreme horse and he’s available 8/1 NRNB with Powers. I think he was unlucky at Leopardstown and would have been a lot shorter for the opener had he not fallen. I suspect he will return to the track for the Deloitte Novice Hurdle and expect him to win en route to Cheltenham. Of the British contingent, I really like If The Cap Fits, it looks like he was also be aimed at the Ballymore but his impressive win at Kempton on Boxing Day has convinced connections that he has the speed for 2m. Nicky Henderson will obviously be feared whoever he selects for this and there’s a few 4-y-o at the head of the market that could come here instead of the Triumph. What would really shake-up the market is if Samcro lined-up here rather than the Ballymore, that would really put the cat among the pigeons! He’s a best priced 5/1 (NRNB) but as big as 16/1 without the concession.
SHARJAH – each-way @ 8/1 NRNB with Paddy Power (10/1 if you’re happy to risk a NR)
SAMCRO - win @ 5/1 NRNB
Ballymore Novices Hurdle
The Ballymore Novices Hurdle on the Wednesday revolves around Samcro and whether or not he takes up this engagement or tackles the Supreme. He is by far the most impressive novice hurdler I’ve seen this season in Britain and Ireland. Although this looks to be his intended target I’m sure he has the class and speed for 2m. At 5/4 with a run, I don’t see any benefit in having a bet as there could be some offers on the day. Conversely to my opinion on the Supreme, I don’t think there is any value in backing Getabird with a run at 5/1. Of the British contingent, On The Blind Side is short enough in the market for a horse that was being mentioned as an Albert Bartlett type, however with the emergence of Chef Des Obeaux in the 3m division for Nicky Henderson I would expect On The Blind Side to line-up here as he is fully entitled to do and he’s a player. Interestingly, If The Cap Fits (10/1 NRNB) is as big as 20/1 ante-post; tempting as that is each-way you don’t want to be starting the festival already down due to non-runners. Although I don’t think there’s as good an opportunity in this market for playing, you’ve not much to lose backing Getabird and If The Cap Fits (e/w) NRNB.
"I'm keen to take an each-way chance with Megabucks making his chasing debut under rules. This winning pointer has wasted little time over the smaller obstacles before embarking on a chasing career...and at 10/1 looks a decent each-way bet. " 2nd 3/1 fav
"Speredek thrives on heavy ground and ran an encouraging race over hurdles in a competitive race last time out... as a course winner he ticks all the boxes.
1 point win @ 9/4" WON 10/11
"Sustained support for Snaffled has resulted in Magic Pulse being widely available at 9/4 and I can't resist having a piece of that. The filly ran an eye-catching race over CD last week going down by only a short head, up 2lbs but dropping in grade she looks to have a decent chance." WON 2/1
"I was expecting Pulsating her to be shorter than 2/1. Impressive over C/D two starts ago she has excuses for last time out defeat and can resume winning ways in this grade." WON 2/1
"The 2m in a hot race would have been sharp enough for Knockgraffon last time out and he can benefit from a step back up in trip.
1 point win at 4/1" WON 7/2
"Tikkanbar each-way at 11/2" WON 3/1
"Merie Devie is being backed as if defeat is out of the question but Duca De Thaix is a bit of value at 11/2 to turn the tables...he ran a great race after such a lengthy lay-off and may be under-estimated. 1 point win @ 11/2" WON 4/1
"Petticoat Tails had a valid excuse for her disappointing effort first time out , prior to that her bumper form is outstanding, as long as she hurdles well she can take this on the way to better things; 2 points win @ 2/1" WON 13/8
"Really keen on the chances of Kildisart (2nd 3/1 < 9/2) on his handicap debut and I expect him to be well supported on the day. Golan Fortune is worth a saver." WON 7/2 < 9/1
"Candesta may be worth taking a chance with at a decent price with the gelding now 9lbs lower than his last victory a year ago. His last run is better than the bare form as he raced against a track bias and his run can be marked up." WON 5/1 (adv 7/1)
"Kings Odyssey looks to have been targetted at this race after falling in last year's renewal and he carries 7lb less this time around. He should be spot-on for this after a debut over a trip too short for him. (3rd 9/1)...I suggest a two-pronged attack on the race with Guitar Pete. His effort in the BV Gold Cup can be excused as he was virtually brought-down. Prior to that he beat Splash Of Ginge and Sametegal impressively at Wetherby and should go well again" WON 9/1
"Cap Du Nord has already been supported and is now favourite. The lightly raced gelding has been aimed at this race for a while (a race won by the yard’s Limited Reserve last year) he starts handicap life off of 100...1 point win" WON 9/2
"Maria’s Benefit (Ludlow 1:30) is another who can follow-up off of a revised mark, she won impressively the last day and wasn’t given enough credit. 1 point win @ 9/4"
"No account bet but I suggest a small stakes interest in Mala Beach at 9/1...the selection ran an eye-catching comeback at Galway after a long absence and should go well here with ideal conditions."
"Delusionofgrandeur...loves the track and has a good opportunity here after some steady improvement this season. 1 point win @ 13/8 " WON 6/4
"Thomas Campbell is a good thing and must be backed (@ 7/4). Absolutely hosed in the last day and with James Bowen taking over he's effectively only 3lbs higher with the step-up in trip likely to bring further improvement"
"Houblon Des Obeaux looks to have been found an ideal opportunity to return to winning ways. He gets in here over a stone less than when a good second to Many Clouds in the Hennessey two years ago when conceding weight to the winner... he could be thrown in here and is worth backing @ 3/1". WON 5/2
"Louis Vac Pouch is really progressive and ran a cracking seasonal debut to finish so close to the principles in a race that couldn’t have worked out better and if he improves again for the step-up in trip he looks a good thing here. 1 point win @ 3/1" WON 5/2
"On A Promise won comfortably last week and goes again here without a penalty for that win. Although I rarely put-up NH horses at under 2/1 I do think 11/8 is worth taking here."
"Red Rising is a short-priced fav for the staying handicap Hurdle but I'm keen to take him on on with Steely Addition. The Hobbs' gelding has shown steady progression to-date and looks likely to continue to improve. After falling on his seasonal reappearance when looking in need of the run, he returned to win with a bit in hand at Wincanton and looks capable of going in again under a penalty here." WON 4/1
"Cue Card & Coneygree... at 8/11 the pair I would prefer to take them on with Bristol De Mai each-way at 9/1. The selection looked like a live Gold Cup outsider last season and with the yard in flying form he looks the value" WON 6/1
"One runner who doesn't appear to be ground dependant is Elgin who had a decent novice season and has already had a seasonal debut to ensure he is fit enough today. Either of the Henderson horses could be thrown in here but I don't think anyone is sure which will come out on top and I do feel that the selection is a bit of value against the pair at around 7/1." WON 6/1
"Hydraenga offers a bit of each-way value at 15/2; she boasts top-class form up to 10f and her pedigree suggests 1m 4f will bring about further improvement." WON 4/1
"KEW GARDENS has solid Group race form and can capture this listed event; as a son of Frankel (aligned with stamina on the dam’s side) he should relish the extra two furlongs and looks a good thing. 2 points win @ 7/4" WON 13/8
"WITHHOLD has been laid out for the race...but I think he could be chucked in here off of 87. After finishing second to Blakeney Point (now rated 23lbs higher) he then beat London Prize giving it 8lbs and that too is now 23lbs higher (and has places claims here) 2nd 16/1. Given a prep for this over and inadequate 12f - Withhold should be spot on for this and has to be a knocking each-way punt at 12/1" WON 5/1
"The winner will certainly need to stay this 10f in soft with a stiff finish and that should benefit Austrian School being a half-brother to NH Chase winner Tiger Roll. The selection didn’t look at home on testing ground last time out and should go close" WON 100/30
"Motown Mick has a really progressive profile and the form of his previous races is solid. A 5lb rise for his win last time out isn’t harsh" WON 7/1
"Raheen House carries a Group 3 penalty for this listed event it doesn't leave him exposed on ratings and he will find this easier than the St Leger. He can be backed at 5/1" WON 9/2
"I've missed bigger prices on Shady McCoy in the opener but the gelding can still be backed at 5/1.Back on a winning mark, he's run over C/D in the Gigaset International entitles him to go close with a step down in class here" WON 13/2
"Rastrelli really caught the eye as a Nursery type when winning at Brighton and can continue his improvement by upholding Appleby's record in the race." WON 7/2
"Decent racing in Ireland on Sunday and I expect to have some advice for Naas. Already among the early prices I think Ellthea is a bit of value at 20/1" WON 10/1
"Aclaim ... his run in the Diamond Jubilee when, despite a troubled passage he finished just behind some of the top sprinters over an inadequate 6f, is the outstanding piece of form on offer. Ignore his Goodwood run as the race was a farce and since then he was just touched off in a Group 1." WON 3/1
(16/1) could be a bit of each-way value against some exposed rivals..." WON 11/1
"Graphite Storm - slightly unlucky when runner-up at Newbury, he's only been raised 2lbs for that. Off the back of that he has a great chance of going one better today in an arguably weaker race. It wouldn't take much easing in the market to suggest getting involved (c 9/4 - 5/2)." WON 9/4
"The Wagon Wheel had excuses for the last two runs and if you forgive those two efforts has a live e/w chance at a big price.." 3rd 22/1
"Oh It’s Saucepot
will take a good deal of beating, she's improving with racing and can defy a 6lbs increase.” WON 3/1
"Hyde Park has ability but is clearly quirky and temperamental but with the drop in grade he's worth a punt at 12/1" WON 8/1
"I am really keen on the each-way chance of Secret Advisor at 11/1; throw out his run last time out on testing ground at Goodwood, his penultimate start was second to Stradivarius and returning to 1m 6f here he has a live chance at a decent price." WON 5/1
"I'm all over Mustashry, beaten 1/2 length by Firmament at the corresponding meeting, he's proven on the course. Last time out he won a decent race at Chelmsford beating Masham Star and leaving the impression that a step-up would bring further improvement. A must bet at 3/1" WON 5/2
Fidaawy - advised at 14/1 (R4) - WON 11/1
Flaming Spear - WON 10/1
Important Mission - WON 7/1
Mazyoun - WON 100/30 (adv 9/2)
Selections are proofed to RACING INDEX not all Twitter bets are recorded and each-way bets are rarely proofed as each-way. Note the results are reported at SP/BSP not at the prices advised.