Well if you’re in front after the first two days then you’re doing well. The over ten lengths on Sprinter Sacre saved the day for me yesterday after I had plenty more seconditis. We are effectively only at half time and we have reached a really pivotal day as I fancy a few strongly this afternoon. Must just touch on The New One who was mightily impressive in winning yesterday. That puts to bed any worry about NTD horses that are running.
1.30 Cheltenham – Jewson Novices Chase
A real interesting opener and the opportunity for the David Pipe trained DYNASTE to enhance his already tall reputation. He has done nothing wrong to date with his last run being a 9l beating of Hadrian’s Approach in the Feltham at Christmas. On a line of that form you would think that Dynaste would have gone very close to winning the RSA yesterday. This is probably a slightly easier task today. The one worry about him would be that all of his form is generally before Christmas. He was beaten out of sight in the World Hurdle last year, but he looks a more mature horse this time round and if he runs to his ability today I think he will win. The main danger is likely to be CAPTAIN CONAN who also comes into this race unbeaten over fences. He had to really scrap to beat Third Intention at Sandown last time which was far from impressive but conditions here are likely to be more to his liking and although I think he will certainly play a part, I have always had a nagging doubt about him at the highest level.
AUPCHARLIE comes in next and he has some interesting form lines that have already produced the goods this week. It was however very disappointing that he was beaten at Naas last time and the fact that One Cool Shabra wasn’t at all far behind him is off-putting. I think a likely big danger could be TEXAS JACK who has been a model of consistency this season. He beat Lord Windermere at Leopardstown before finishing a nose behind Boston Bob last time which at double figure odds makes him a player and a solid each way proposition.
I’ve backed DYNASTE but I have also had a saver on TEXAS JACK.
2.05 Cheltenham – The Pertemps Final
This is a race I really like mainly down to the fact I’ve had some massive winners in it in the past. Today’s favourite comes here very well backed after two very interesting runs this season. SAM WINNER was 5th at Sandown on the back of a year off and was fairly tenderly handled by Ruby and stayed on quite nicely late on. He then went on to win a jumpers bumper at Kempton and comfortably beat Peddlers Cross in the process. Now it is never wise to try to weigh up the marks of horses in those contests but you have to think that he is starting to look a seriously well handicapped horse off 140. He comes here with every chance and the step up in trip has promised to suit for some time but he is quite short now.
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR is progressive and has been winning by the smallest of margins. He is up another 9lb in a much better race but more improvement is possible under tha champ. CLOSE HOUSE comes here in rude health on the back of an excellent 2nd behind the well handicapped Double Ross he went on to comfortably dispose of Rangitoto at Wincanton in a race where the front two pulled miles clear. He’s up another 7lb but must be considered. TOPOFTHERANGE improved markedly to win really easily at Sandown last time and is only 5lb higher today. He is another for the short list and BET365 are really sticking their necks out this morning and going 16/1 about him which is too big! HOLLYWELL is up another 5lbs for another solid 2nd last time. He’s now gone up 21lbs in the weights without winning which is incredibly harsh and he is likely to give you another cracking run for your money at a big price.
I have to give one more chance today to CAPTAIN SUNSHINE. Most of you know the bad luck stories we’ve had with this fella and I must admit I would be a lot more comfortable if we had a different jockey. I’m not going to slag off Dominic Elsworth, he is simply just not my cup of tea and this game is all about opinions. He is definitely capable of winning off this mark but sometimes has his own ideas about things. If he jumps off this race could really suit him and I think he’ll go well.
I’ve backed Sam Winner ante-post so I will play up on Captain Sunshine and Close House for a profit.
2.40 Cheltenham – The Ryanair Chase
Really looking forward to this today. Probably the best renewal we have had in my opinion. Several of these would be near the top of the Gold Cup market and would be each way players there. We all know by now how much I love CUE CARD even though he has never really won me any reddies. I’m sure he will run another cracker here today but I do just worry that something may out stay him up the hill in what could be a cracking finish. The rock solid one is FIRST LIETENANT for Mouse Morris. His form in the Hennessy and Lexus is by far the best on offer this season and he would surely have gone to the Gold Cup with a massive chance. If he runs to form here today I think he will be very hard to beat indeed. The market reflects that now as he is a very well backed 9/4 favorite. Last years winner RIVERSIDE THEATRE comes here on the back of only one run this season in the King George. He will need to be cherry ripe to follow-up but you certainly wouldn’t rule him out. Martin Keighley’s horses are running very well and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Champion Court run a big race and on ground he loves ALBERTAS RUN could be very hard to pass.
All in all this is going to be a cracker. My heart wants CUE CARD to win and I will have a sentimental bet on him but on all form I do think that FIRST LIETENANT will be very very hard to beat and should be backed.
3.20 Cheltenham – Ladbrokes World Hurdle
No Big Bucks this year so this makes the World Hurdle a very attractive betting race. Quite clearly the best horse in the race is Oscar Whiskey and by some way in my opinion. the problem for him comes in the form of the trip and if this track actually suits him. If this race was over 2.5 miles he would be odds on. As it is that extra half a mile makes things very different indeed. The better ground will certainly help him in that respect but I’m still not convinced he will see it out in what is likely to be a fastly run race.
REVE DE SIVOLA has blossomed since returning to hurdles and comes here on the back of two solid victories, including beating Oscar Whiskey here last time. He is without doubt a mud lover though so today’s quicker conditions may not be ideal for him. He should run his usual solid race and be in the mix. Similar sentiments go to BOG WARRIOR who has had an excellent season back over hurdles in Ireland. He has never struck me as a grade one winner though and I would worry about him in here. SOLWHIT has been well backed but would need to improve to turn the tables on Bog Warrior from two starts back. The real interesting ones are SMAD PLACE and WONDERFUL CHARM. Smad Place is very good on his day but has largely had a disappointing season. Both his poor efforts this year have been on bad ground however and he is definitely a horse that appreciates a firmer surface. If he reproduced his form from this race last year he will be bang in the mix. Wonderful Charm is completely unexposed having only had one start in this country when bolting up in the Persian War at Chepstow. He would still need to find something on paper to get involved but there is no knowing how good he could be and is a fascinating runner. Get Me Out Of Here goes well here and if he sees out the three miles has to be a player too.
A cracking race. I have backed Smad Place and Wonderful Charm. If RDS continues to drift I may have a bit on him too.
4.00 Cheltenham – Byrne Group Plate
At last time to let the shoulders go with my best bet of the week. I have been waiting for CANTLOW to go over three miles for some time and he has been absolutely teed up for a big handicap. All three starts over fences have come over much shorter and as a result he gets in here off 143. Paul Webber’s charge was a very good third in the Pertempts final last year so brings festival form to the table. He is a bigger, stronger horse this year and his chase rating completely underestimates his ability. I’m sure he is going to be an out-and-out stayer and this has been the plan for some time. The presence of HUNT BALL means he only has to carry 10-12 which is probably why this race was chosen as his option. I think he will run a massive race and I’ve had 5 pts on each way.
I do massively respect HUNT BALL who travelled very well for a long way in ground he would have hated last time. He is a massive player back on decent ground and will surely trade quite short in running so is an obvious back to lay proposition. I will have to save on him and will look to green up in running. It is just pure guess-work when trying to work out how good BALLYNAGOUR could be. He has a 20lb penalty to deal with on the back of his facile victory at Warwick. That may underestimate his ability but it is pure guess-work and he is a massive player for sure.
VINO GRIEGO has gone up 17lb for his two easy wins and comes here in rude health. Although his is likely to run his race again he may find this a little tougher. Poquelin always runs his race on this course and is a big price.
This is a race that revolves around the front of the market. I am a massive Cantlow fan and he is just about my strongest opinion of the week. I will be looking to play on Hunt Ball and Ballynagour in various ways to ensure a profit. COME ON CANTLOW!!!!
4.40 Cheltenham – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Wide open. A race that is fiendishly difficult to win. No surprise that I like the look of ALFIE SHERRIN. He did me a massive turn in the JLT last year and he has been running on ground that wouldn’t have suited so far this year. This will be much more his cup of tea and he can take this on route to winning the Grand National! (We can dream being on at ridiculous prices). Two big dangers though in this race could be the improving ROMANESCO under the excellent Nina Carberry and NO SECRETS off bottom weight for David Pipe and Katie Walsh who is a real eye-catching booking!
I’ll be cheering on Alfie Sherrin with side bets on Romanesco and No Secrets.
My thoughts about the Cross Country if it goes ahead are exactly the same as Tuesday and I will be cheering on Alex Hammond in the charity race aboard Mica Mika!
Hopefully the day today where we fly into a big profit! Be lucky, back plenty of winners and come on CANTLOW!!