I can’t really complain about the way day two panned out in the end as the day went really well. So pleased with Sire De Grugy. The 3/1 was an enormous price, I just hope that plenty of you managed to get on. The scenes in the winners enclosure were brilliant. So chuffed for the Moore team. I know some of the team closely and they really deserve a big race champion. What the jockeys did for Jamie was a touch of class. I’m sure Mattie Batch who has been associated with the yard since he was a kid was the ring leader. Hit the crossbar again with Smad Place, Katgary and Orgilgo Bay but shouldn’t grumble.
1.30 – JLT Novices´ Chase (Registered As The Golden Miller Novices´ Chase) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
The penultimate race at the festival that I have a decent standing ante-post position in the form of Paul Nicholls WONDERFUL CHARM. A smart hurdler that has really taken well to fences. His jumping is fluent and accurate and he seems to stay well so a strong gallop at this intermediate trip will really suit. I made my ante-post move after he tried to give 8lbs to Oscar Whiskey in a race that Barry Geraghty dictated from the front. Oscar Whiskey’s speed and the weight allowance gave him the edge that day but I fully expect Wonderful Charm to turn the tables today. Felix Younger is respected as danger, I do wonder if there may be one or two too quick for him on this ground. Taquin De Seuil may want slightly softer ground but is certainly respected as the setup of the race will suit and Vukovar is completely un-exposed.
I really like WONDERFUL CHARM and he is a strong selection.
2.05 – Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle) (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
I wrote an ante-post piece on this race for JPFestival.com. One of my selections is a non runner the other will go with every chance at that is JOSIES ORDERS for Jonjo O’Neill. A rapid improver over the last few months and has been given a break of 48 days since laughing at his rivals at Huntingdon. The son of Milan will need to improve again but with Maurice Linehan on board taking off 5lbs he gets a nice racing weight here and he must have a huge each way shout at 14/1.
There is no doubting the potential class in the race lies with Phillip Hobbs as he will saddle the Exeter first and second FINGAL BAY and IF IN DOUBT. They both have excellent claims. Fingal bay on his day is very classy indeed. He gave Simonsig a beating at Sandown back in 2011. A revised mark of 148 is by no means beyond him and I expect him to run a massive race. If In Doubt I really like. I backed him at Kempton when behind the rapid improver Saphire De Reu. Tom O Brien did not pick up his stick at Exeter and today is very much the day for him. McCoy will be getting the shaleylee out this time around for sure. My only question mark about him is the ground. If he goes on it, he goes very very close.
Being such a competitive race I must throw in a couple at big prices. I would love to see LIE FORRIT run well but this may be too much for him now. I like the chances at big prices of both UTOPIE DES BORDES and ON THE BRIDGE. UDB may seem like the Henderson second string with jockey bookings but I’m not so sure. Back from a break after a couple of runs on desperate ground, she is back to the mark where she ran a blinder behind Gevrey Chanbertin at Haydock bakc in November and she will love this better ground. OTB was a rapid improver last summer, will love the ground and wouldn’t have to improve too much more to take a major hand. There could be some big prices floating around on the exchanges about these two.
Josies Orders e/w with savers on Fingal Bay/If In Doubt
Back both Utopie Des Bordes and On the Bridge at big prices on Betfair and in the place market.
2.40 – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy Chase)
A race that for me is fairly straight forward. DYNASTE for me brings by far the best piece of form to the table with his run in the Betfair Chase. We can forgive him his run in the King George as he reportedly pulled muscles that day. If he returns to his best, he will reverse the form from last years Jewson with Benefficient and win. I will be having a money back saver on AL FEROF as he is very classy on his day and he rarely runs a bad race here. If you are looking to back one at a big price then I do think RAJDHANI EXPRESS is likely to out-run his odds.
Strong bet on DYNASTE with a saver on Al Ferof.
3.20 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
Well the feature of day three is a mouth-watering clash between the people’s champion in Big Bucks and the new girl on the block in Annie Power. I’ve no doubt that AP will go off a very short price favourite. She is clearly very very good as her unbeaten record shows. The main question about her is if she will get the three miles in a championship race up the hill. To give you an idea how good she is as far as mares go, last March she beat Glens Melody (2nd to Quevega in mares race on Tuesday) twelve lengths without coming off the bridle over two and a half miles. I think she will probably get the trip. Big Buck’s is just all class. He undoubtedly needed the run in the Cleeve and will come on a bundle for that. If he retains all his ability this will be another great finish. Paul Nicholls is very bullish, as always.
I’m not as convinced as everyone else is that it is a two-horse race. I do respect At Fishers Cross as Rebecca Curtis’s horses have hit a real hot vein of form. His jumping and love for soft ground would be a concern for me. More of That is still very raw and is unbeaten. He could certainly be involved in the finish as could SALUBRIOUS who was travelling very well before a bad mistake at Ascot in the Long Walk.
Rally a race to savour. My heart will probably make me back BIG BUCKS. He is around 10/11 for a place on Betfair. That is an absolutely cracking bet in my eyes as I really can’t have him out the first three.
4.00 – Byrne Group Plate (A Handicap Chase) Grade 3 (CLASS 1)
A real tough race again this year and one that the class may shine through in the form of old rivals Colour Squadron and JOHNS SPIRIT. They have met twice already this year and the score is 1-1. Johns Spirit is the one I really like. To me he looks like he has potential to be a little bit better than a handicapper and the vibes from the yard over the last few weeks have been very encouraging. He travels strongly and jumps well in the main (made a mistake early last time that knocked him back). If he gets a good passage through and Richie is patient on him I expect him to go very close on this better ground. Colour Squadron is still a maiden over the larger obstacles but he has run some cracking races in defeat. He will surely be in the mix here again and has to be included.
If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous price wise then Third Intention’s Ascot third got a huge boost yesterday and he drops into handicap company off a nice mark. BLESS THE WINGS and NADIYA DE LE VEGA both have first time headgear for in form trainers at big prices.
Johns Spirit 2pts win @ 10/1, Colour Squadron 1 pt win @ 9/1.
Potential each way savers on Third Intention 16/1, Bless The Wings 25/1, Nadiya De La Vega 25/1
4.40 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders)
A nightmare to finish and probably a small stakes race unless we are miles in front. One horse though that jumps off the page at me is OUR FATHER for the David Pipe team. Now he comes with dangers attached as he is a bit of a thinker and is fragile. He is just as likely to finish last as he is first. He is however very dangerously handicapped (though of as a Gold Cup horse at one point) and also has the first time blinkers which may have been needed for some time. He was very well backed ahead of the Hennessy and went off the 11/2 fav on a mark of 147. That would suggest that he could be thrown in here IF and it’s a big IF he’s on a going day. That is factored into the price though and he is as big as 22/1 with Victor Chandler. I would not at all be surprised if he starts an awful lot shorter than that.
There is very likely to be an upset in this, the one towards the head o fthe market I like is SPRING HEELED who should relish being back on better ground and has an excellent pilot.
OUR FATHER STRONG BET AT 22/1, saver on Spring Heeled.
All the best today, back plenty of winners.