The festival is here and we have been counting the days for it to begin.The hard work was done throughout the season and let’s hope we are as successful as we were in the last couple of years. I am looking forward to four days of class racing and we are guaranteed of a great spectacle. There will be joy,tears,tantrums etc but what we must remember is to have fun too. Let’s all enjoy the greatest showpiece on earth.We won’t win every single race as horses are not machines.
Be prepared to see a few big favorites getting turned over as it’s the case every year. Always be gracious in defeat and remember jockeys/horses lives are more important than the money you have gambled.There are many ways to make profit during the festival.You don’t have to win by trying to find the winner.You can make good profit if you bet in place market ,w/o fave market (if you hate backing short priced/odds on fave or missed the prices),to bet in top 3 etc. Don’t get sucked into signing up with idiots affiliated with bookies promoting and tweeting 1000’s links every second on twitter as they get commission on losing accounts( around 25-30% from bookies). If you want to open new bookie account go directly on their site to do so.
There will be some good bookie offers throughout the festival and make good use of them. Also I can’t stress the importance of NOT doing too many multiples and relying on them during the festival. The odds are stacked against you in multiple bets hence why i always tell people to bet singles as it’s only way you make consistent profit over time. Of course it’s nice to land a lucky or trixie but it doesn’t happen too often and no need to lump if you doing multiple bets. Do cover your bets so you always come out with profit if 1 or 2 don’t win in your multiple bet.
There will be many rumours/info flying too but always trust your own judgement and brains. Don’t get sucked into believing everything you read on twitter. Everyone want to win a race at Cheltenham whether owners,trainers,jockeys etc so they will be all trying to win for the prize money and prestige.
I will put up a daily blog during the evening .I didn’t do any Ante Post blog this year since there were news of horses being injured or not running at all this season. It was also a guessing game with some horses as to where they would run etc. I have taken some ante post prices on a few horses but also there were some bets down the drains too ( Invitation Only,Thistlecrack, Getabird,Peace News etc). Those who DM me privately knew for weeks the horses I was on.
If you followed me throughout the jump season you would know which ones I was keen (horses to follow list – https://boomteamhq.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/horses-to-follow-2016-2017/) or in my tweets when they won.Sorry if I haven’t replied to your DM’s since i am getting 100’s daily and it’s hard to keep up but will do my best. I wish everyone the very best of luck and do enjoy the 4 days of quality racing whether we win or lose.
Day 1 – Tuesday 14th March
1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle
This is the race that kick off proceedings at the Festival with the famous ‘roar’.The Irish have an outstanding record in race having won 14 out of last 25. Nicky Henderson broke the Mullins-Ricci-Walsh domination when Altior destroyed the field last year.
Melon has been the talking horse since last August. Most of us are on at fancy odds like 20-1/16-1 and only won his sole start last at the end of January. He won with any amount in hand on that day and jumped fluently.The 2nd that day Broken Soul has ran twice but been well beaten.The last time a horse won that race off the back of only one run was in 1992 when Flown won.Ten of the last 13 favorites to be sent off at 2/1 or shorter in the Supreme were beaten, Min being the latest last year. I was at a preview last week where people on the panel said Mullins was very bullish about Melon and he was working really well at home.
Four of the last 14 winners finished in the first five in the previous season’s Champion Bumper making it the best guide in recent seasons. It is possible that we could have the last two winners of the Champion Bumper in the line up in Moon Racer and Ballyandy. Ballyandy won the Champion Bumper last year but was beaten in his next 4 races.He won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his last start where Movewiththetimes was beaten by 3/4 of a length.He was beaten twice by Moon Racer earlier during the season and also by Messire Des Obeaux at Sandown. Movewiththetimes represents the Nichols-Mcmanus combo and has won twice this season.He was beaten into 5th in the race Moon Racer won at Cheltenham in November. He traveled really well in the Betfair before a small jumping mistake at the last costs him the race. Paul Nichols and Kevin Blake both gave him a fair each way chance in the race.
Moon Racer won the Champion Bumper for us 2 years ago but was injured since. He ran well on his comeback at Punchestown going down by 3/4 lengths to a very good horse in Blow by Blow. He’s won his first 2 starts this season namely at Perth and Cheltenham. He is a good horse but his jumping looks suspect to me. There is even talk he might be switched to the Champion Hurdle. I will give each way chance to Bunk Off Early too.He won his maiden at Leopardstown in the manner of a good horse. He then went to run in the Deloitte (which is a very good guide for the Supreme) and he ran well only to be beaten close home by Bacardys. If bookies are offering 4 places I think he will be in the mix and represents decent value considering he has Grade 1 form.
For the winner I will stick with Melon and hopefully Mullins-Ruby gets off to a flier on Tuesday.
Selection – Melon 20-1/16-1 /14-1 ( Ante Post)
2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
This is a race for novices over the 2 mile distance on the old course.It is a race designed to test horses ability to jump efficiently and go as fast as possible.Normally the form book is a good guide for this race and we don’t have many surprises excluding Western Warhorse 3 yrs ago winning at 33-1 and beating our horse Champagne Fever close home.
Altior is one of the bankers of the festival for me and many people.It’s a shame the race looks like a one way traffic after we lost Min due to injury 3 months ago. He is one of the best horses we have seen in recent years.He is unbeaten in his last 9 races ,4 of which were over fences. I saw him closely at Sandown and he was visually impressive.He is a fluent jumper , attacks his fences with precision and is a relentless galloper with a high cruising speed as we saw last year when he won the Supreme.He will be really hard to beat bar falling.
Those who missed out the prices on Altior can look for alternatives in markets such as w/o Altior or place market where you will get better value. I will give a chance to Royal Caviar at nice odds. He is lightly raced and I was impressed when he won at Thurles back in December. He jumped fluently that day and won easily.He was then sent to the Irish Arkle where he was still in the mix when he came down at the last. The trip wouldn’t be a problem for him as he stays further than 2 miles and he acts on both soft and good ground.
The other one I am willing to give an each way chance is Charbel which represents the Kim Bailey yard.He won his beginners chase at Uttoxeter back in October when beating Le Prezien and the well regarded Top Notch( won 4 times since ).He was then sent to the Racing Post Novice Chase at Sandown where he was beaten into 2nd by Altior.There was no disgrace getting beat by 5 lengths by a freak that day and he will be thereabouts next week since he has been kept fresh for the race on purpose.
Selection -Altior 5-4 ( Ante Post)
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3 )
As it’s always the case this is one of the toughest and trickiest handicap races during the festival.The winners are most of the times double digit and four of the last five winners had odds of 10-1,28-1,14-1 and 33-1.
Only 2 favorites have won this race since 1977 and 11 winners could be found in top 4 of the betting.Two of the last 4 winners were successful off bottom weight while 12 of the last 15 winners carried less than 11st. Other stats to note are that eight of the last 18 winners had finished in the first four at this meeting before.
There are plenty of connections who like to target this race such as Alan King,Nicky Henderson,David Pipe and even J P Mcmanus.I haven’t had a winner in race since 2009 when Wichita Lineman under a terrific AP McCoy rallied near the end to take the honors.If you haven’t seen that race you better do as it’s the best ever ride you will ever see in your lifetime.
Selections- Noble Endeavor 8-1 & Measureofmydreams 25-1
3.30 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1 )
This is one of the most anticipated races of the festival and most eagerly awaited.It’s one of the most prestigious in the racing calendar and one I look forward to every year.It’s not a quality renewal this year with both Annie Power and Faugheen missing out through injury which is a real shame.Annie Power won for us to make amends for getting beat in the previous 2 years. It was one of the highlights for me and very emotional seeing connections in the winning enclosure.Since 1998 the Irish have won 13 times. No unplaced horse from previous year’ running have won for 23 years which doesn’t bode well for The New One.
I will discount My Tent or Yours immediately since no horse aged 10 or above in Champion Hurdle history has won( #laydaypayday my lay or yours ). This horse gets stuffed on the hill everytime he runs at Cheltenham. Yanworth was our Neptune horse last year but was beaten close home by an exceptional horse in Yorkhill.This season he has won his 3 starts and he is a horse that just do enough to win. He isn’t flashy at all but his jumping looks suspect to me. I watched him closely recently and if he hit the hurdles at Cheltenham he won’t get away with it.He takes ages to jump his hurdles but the galloping track at Cheltenham will be to his advantage since he stays all day.
He won the Coral Hurdle at Ascot beating a very good horse in Lil Rockerfeller. That was over 2miles 3 as he was being targeted at the Stayers race then. He then went to Kempton to win the Christmas Hurdle and he wasn’t that convincing that day too. The New One was 2nd that day beaten by 3 lengths while My Tent or Yours was beaten by 10. He then went on to win the Kingwell beating Ch’tibello by 1 length.Again he wasn’t fluent at his fences but still won at the end. I can’t have him this year as he doesn’t look like a Champion Hurdler to me. He needs further and a trip. He only came in the CH picture once we knew Faugheen and Annie Power wouldn’t run.
Next in the betting is Buveur D’air who was trained over fences for majority of season but was sent back hurdling recently. Since finishing 3rd to Altior in the Supreme last year he has won his next 4 starts. He won at Aintree after Cheltenham beating Petit Mouchoir by 1/2 length and Limini by 8. I like this horse since he travels well and he has a fantastic turn of foot. He has course form too and the ground will suit him perfectly.
Petit Mouchoir is another with good claims in the race.We were with him in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle when he unseated when coming to make his challenge. He traveled ,jumped beautifully that day and looked like the winner till that fall. He made amends for this by winning the Ryanair Hurdle in impressive fashion.He beat Nichols Canyon by 7 lengths that day and he was visually very good.He then won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown easily but Nichols Canyon fell that day and Footpad was very eye catching in the closing stages only to get beat by 1 length.
At the time of writing Limini hasn’t yet been supplemented for race though there is a high probability that’s the route she will be taking instead of going to the Mares.She only ran once but won convincingly by beating Apples Jade.
Brain Power is another horse in the race with an each way chance.He was 8th in the Greatwood Hurdle but then won nicely at Sandown by beating his stablemate Consul De Thaix. He followed up at Ascot by beating his stablemate by 5 lengths this time.He was very fluent that day and very impressive.
In summary that race should be between the market leaders and I can’t see anything else troubling them.
Selection –3.30 Buveur D’Air 4-1
4.10 OLBG Mares Hurdle (Grade 1 )
This should be renamed the Willie Mullins Mares Hurdle such is the dominance of the Irish Champion trainer in the last 8 years.He goes in search of his 9th consecutive victory in the race.The legendary Quevega won it 6 times (those were the days we were going to pile on her at Cheltenham with closed eyes lol), then we had Glen’s Melody winning it (Still some people crying about Annie Power fall at the last hurdle with victory at her mercy ) and last year we had Vroum Vroum Mag destroying the field to make it another glorious Ruby Tuesday.
At the time of writing both Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag were still entered in the race but I don’t think Mullins-Ricci would race both against each other.I am pretty sure Limini would run here instead while they may want to send Vroum Vroum Mag to the stayers or keep her fresh for Punchestown.
I don’t think Limini is good enough to win a Champion Hurdle. She was beaten by 10 lengths at Aintree by Buveur D’Air and 9 lengths by Petit Mouchoir. She won the new Mares Novice race quiet easily last year but then suffered 2 defeats. She made her seasonal debut at Punchestown 3 weeks ago and was so impressive. She beat a very good horse in Apple’s Jade who was race fit. The way she jumped and traveled that day was great to see and in my opinion has improved a bit. She would be one of the bankers on Ruby Tuesday.
Her nearest challenger will be Apple’s Jade. She was very impressive at Punchestown and Aintree. Mullins described her as the best juvenile he has ever trained. That tells you how highly they rated her when she was with them.She started her season at Downpatrick but was turned over by Rashaan. Then she was sent to the Fighting Fifth Hurdle where she was narrowly beaten by Irving. I don’t think she would have won the race if Petit Mouchoir had stayed on his legs. She then won the Hatton’s Grace by a small head beating Vroum Vroum Mag(Was giving away 4 lb that day to winner). She was headed but fought back on the rails to win.She ran 2 months later in the Quevega Mares Hurdle but was beaten fair and square by Limini.
Out of the outsiders I will give an each way chance to Lifeboat Mona. Paul Nichols mentioned Coillte Lass as a solid each way bet for that race at a preview i was at recently. She was 20-1 around that time but might have shortened a bit after what he said.
Selection- Limini 5-4 (NRNB)
4.50 JT McNamara National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders Novice Chase )
The National Hunt Chase is ran over 4 miles and is the longest race during the festival.It is reserved for novices and amateur jockeys.Four of the last four winners had all contested a Grade 1 Novice Chase earlier in the season..Four of the last nine winners had experienced Cheltenham’s fences earlier during the season.
Four of the last nine British-trained winners contested a novice chase at the Hennessy Gold Cup Meeting with a fifth having its final prep at the same course in February so Newbury form has been a notable factor of late. Two trainers to look for normally in this race are Alan King or Jonjo O’Neil. The Irish sent over 2 winners and three runners up between 2011 and 2013 . Paul Nicholls is 0-16 of which ten started in the first five in the betting.
Other trends to note are that the last 14 winners had run at least three times over fences, ten of the 14 winners either won or finished second last time out and three of the last nine winners arrived here very fresh having not run during the same calendar year.
Selection – A Genie In Abottle 5-1 & Champers On Ice 8-1
5.30 Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase
This appears to be another tricky handicap race but recent results in the last few years have been kind to punters and we had a nice 16-1 winner in Irish Cavalier last year. Eight of the ten winners have been in top five in the betting of which 2 started favorite. Five of the last eight winners won last time out and eight of the twelve winners had won at least one of their last two starts.
An interesting stat is that eight of the last twelve winners have failed to win on either of their first two chase starts.Seven of the 12 winners were having their handicap debut.This further underlines the requirement to be on a progressive horse peaking at the right time.Nicky Henderson,Jonjo O’Neill and Jp Mcmanus like to target this race.
Pay attention to horses wearing any type of new headgear.I had Irish Cavalier as he was fitted with cheekpieces for the first time 2 years ago and other horses with similar profile had finished placed at big odds in the last 5 years. Ballyalton won last year’s race when he was fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.
Selections –Foxtail Hill 6-1 & Tully East 16-1
Day 2 – Wednesday 15th March
1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle
This is a race for novices over two and a half mile and in recent years the Irish have dominated this race.They have won the race 19 times since 1971 and 7 out of those came in the last 11 years( four for Willie Mullins).It’s a race that has been very kind to punters with just two of the last 30 winners outside the first five in the betting.During the last seven years only three horses who did not start in the first four in the betting have finished in the first three so do not deviate too far away from the obvious.
Neon Wolf heads the betting and is unbeaten this season having won his 3 starts to date. He won his bumper at Uttoxeter in impressive fashion. He then won a mickey mouse race at Exeter when sent off the 2/5 fave but he jumped nicely that day.He was then sent to Haydock Park where he made mince meat of the opposition. He traveled really well and jumped brilliantly that day too. He looked like a proper horse and if he runs here he will have a solid chance to win the prize for Harry Fry.
Finian’s Oscar is the other unbeaten horse at the top of the market. He is unbeaten too having won his first 3 starts.He won his maiden at Hereford and then destroyed the opposition in the Tolworth at Sandown winning by 5 lengths. To be honest he didn’t beat much that day since Capitaine didn’t frank the form as he was soundly beaten recently. Not sure if Ballyandy runs here as they are leaning towards the Supreme with him.I can’t have him at all and he is a false 2nd favorite.
The other danger in the race is Willie Mullins Bacardys. He won at Aintree last year getting the better of his stablemate Battleford close home. He made his seasonal debut at Cork but he fell that day when sent off 1/3 fave.He then won his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Xmas. His most impressive victory came in the Deloitte (generally a good guide over the years for the Neptune). He jumped brilliantly this day and fought off Bunk Off Early in the last furlong. He stayed on well that day and if Bunk Off Early runs well in the Supreme I wouldn’t put anyone having a few quid each way or on place market on Bacardys.
Messire Des Obeaux is another horse we have followed throughout the season. He was 7th in the Fred Winter last year in the race won by Diego Du Charmil. He won on his seasonal debut at Bangor without breaking sweat. Then he won a good race at Sandown beating Ballyandy and Cultivator. He raced keenly that day,made 1/2 jumping mistakes but he rallied at the last and stayed strongly at the finish. He then won the Challow Hurdle at Newbury by winning very easily. He was very impressive with his jumping that day and the 3rd that day Ami Desbois has since won next time out. His only defeat this year came at Huntingdon when Keeper Hill beat him by a neck.It is worth noting that the winner was receiving 8lb from Messire Des Obeaux.But one big stat regarding Messire Des Obeaux is that all 14 winners of the Challow Hurdle have all been beaten in the Neptune. But 7 finished second or third. So he could be the horse that will get a place at least in the race.
Then we have Invitation Only, a horse that i have backed few times ante post since last April. He only had 4 runs in his career winning the first 3 in the style of a good horse and the form has been franked a few times when horses behind him have come and won next time out. His latest start was at Navan when he was beaten by the Albert Bartlett favorite in Death Duty and Monalee. Both Death Dury and Monalee have won since. On that day Invitation Only wasn’t travelling at all and was being ridden at half way on ground that didn’t suit him. The latest reports from the Mullins yard were positive in that he has an outside chance of making it. If he does do keep an eye on him as he could be the dark horse in the race.
Of the rest I can see Willoughby Court (very impressive at Warwick when he destroyed the field to win by 8 lengths, Peregrine Run was 3rd that day) running a nice race.Normally that race has been a useful British guide of late with No Refuge and The New One winning both races.
Selections -Neon Wolf 5-2 (NRNB) , Invitation Only 25-1/20-1 (Ante Post)
2.10 RSA Chase (Novice Chase )
This is a race over the standard 3 miles and there are 19 fences to be jumped.The standout guide to finding winners in this race in recent years has been to look at those horses who won the Albert Bartlett the previous years.In fact five of the last seven winners in the RSA had won the AB the year before.Only 3 RSA winners were aged under 7 since 1978 and previous eight winners were all 7 year olds. having won it on 4 occasions and also had 3 runners up.The Flogas Novice Chase won by Disko had to be the best guide as 4 winners in the last 8 years contested this race.Three of the last 9 winners finished 1st or 2nd in the Reynoldstown.
Might Bite head the market for Nicky Henderson.He won a couple of mickey mouse races this season at odds on but he was very good jumping wise at Doncaster when giving Premier Bond a 12 length beating.He then fell at Kempton when he was 10 lengths clear and he was really impressive that day as he jumped and traveled really well throughout till that mistake.I wouldn’t take a short price about him to be honest as his form isn’t solid enough.I will be prepared to take him on. The one I had my eye on for few weeks was Coney Island but he has just been withdrawn.
Alpha des Obeaux is another one that hasn’t really impressed me this season. He won his first 2 chases quite easily over in Ireland but then found Coney Island too good in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse.He made a few jumping mistakes that day and then he was pulled up at Leopardstown over Xmas.American is a lightly raced horse from the Harry Fry stable and he won on both of his starts this season. If the ground is soft or heavy I will give him a very good e/w chance. He jumped like a stag last time at Warwick and powered clear at the end in the manner of a good horse. Whisper is one of my favorite horses and most of you will remember how he won the Coral Cup at odds of 22-1 and then again at Aintree when he beat Cole Harden. He had 2 starts this season and he won both at his beloved Cheltenham. He was very good last time out and jumped fluently throughout before powering up that hill. He is an attractive each way bet at current odds.
Disko is another one in the race that has obvious claims. He won his beginners chase at Punchestown but then disappointed in the Florida Pearl when getting beat by A Toi Phil. He ran well at Leopardstown but failed by 1/2 length againtst Our Duke and Coney Island. But on his next start in the Flogas he tutned the form around with Our Duke and won by 2 lengths. Other horses with chances are Shantou Village and Acapella Bourgeois if ever the ground turns very soft.
Selection-Whisper 7-1 & Our Kaempfer 14-1
2.50 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle )
This is one of the toughest and trickiest race of the festival.Most of the races last few years have been to the benefit of the bookies.Aux Ptits Soins became the ninth second-season hurdler to win in the last 11 years and 12 of the last 22 winners won last time out.The Irish have a very good record in the race and they win on average once every three years.Four of Ireland’s last five winners had not run since early January with two of those not seen for over three months and another for over four months.
Here we need to look for a horse that hasn’t been too busy during the season.In fact, 19 of the last 26 win and placed horses had run no more than three times earlier in the season. With four of the last ten winners not having run during the same calendar year,it’s an interesting angle.
The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury can be used as a guide since it has featured three winners from last nine and 2 out of the last three runners up.The Coral Cup over in Ireland used to be a great guide in the past but it hasn’t delivered any winners the last 14 years.
Trainers that have a good record in race are Nicky Henderson( 2 wins in last 6yrs) and Phillip Hobbs( 2 wins and 5 top 6 finishers from 22 runners).
Selections- Tombstone 5-1 & Kalondra 20-1
3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
This is one of the races of the festival and it is run over 2 miles.It provides the thrilling spectacle of seeing the best 2 milers jumping the fences at speed.The Tingle Creek chase has always been the best guide to this race having provided 11 of the last 16 winners of this race.Another good trend is that 20 of the last 31 winners have won at the Festival before.Winners of the Arkle have a fantastic record in the race.The last 15 Arkle winners to run in QMCC the following season have all finished in the 1st 3 ,of which as many as seven won.
The stand out horse in the race is obviously the mighty Douvan.He is one of many people’s bankers of the festival.He has been one of the best horses in the yard for 3 years now and was beating Faugheen on the gallops in his 1st season.That tells you how good he really is. He is a fluent jumper , attacks his fences with precision and is a relentless galloper with a high cruising speed as we saw last year when he won the Arkle.He will be really hard to beat bar falling.He had 3 runs this season and won all three on the bridle beating mickey mouse field. He will surely make it 14 wins in a row and bar falling there is no obvious danger in race.
Those who missed out the prices on Douvan can look for alternatives in markets such as w/o Douvan or place market where you will get some value. Fox Norton is one that we followed this season but he got injured since November. He wasn’t at his best on his re appearance at Newbury where he was given a 13 length beating by mighty Altior.He was very good in the Randox Health Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in October where he jumped with such precision and accuracy. If he has recovered from injury he will be the one to follow Douvan home.
Selection – Douvan evens/ 8/11 (Ante Post )
4.10 Glenfarcas Chase ( Cross Country Chase )
For the second time this is a conditions race rather than a handicap one.It should help the classier horses that have always been giving weight away before. Of the 50 races to have been run over this course, 31 winners had won or finished placed over these obstacles before. Enda Bolger has a fantastic record at the course having won 19 out of the 50 races there.He has won five of the last 10 runnings of this race with four different horses
In Ireland the best guides to this race has been the La Touche Cup(Won by Quantitativeasing and the P.P Hogan Chase(won by Auvergnat).The latter has thrown up three 1-2’s at the Festival and four winners in total from its eleven runnings.In England it is the handicap race held in December (won by the 50-1 French horse Urgent De Gregaine) that is normally the most reliable guide having featured seven of the last 12 winners.
Cantlow heads the betting in that race. He won his chase on his seasonal debut at Punchestown.He was then sent to Cheltenham to compete in the Glenfarclas Handicap chase. He won impressively that day and jumped beautifully throughout. He was then beaten at the same course by Urgent De Gregaine when giving away plenty of weight. Auvergnat is the one with a solid each way chance. He finished 3rd to Cantlow in Ireland then he fell at Cheltenham when seemingly going well. On his latest start he won very easily in the P.P Hogan Memorial. Any Currency won the race last year but was then disqualified.He could be another one with a little each way squeak.
Selection – Cantlow 11-4 ( Ante Post)
4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
This is another tough handicap race to solve for punters.In the last five years we had winners at 33-1,25-1, 40-1 and 25-1. Glad we had the winner last year in Diego Du Charmil. The last four winners all won on their hurdling debuts.This indicates that many trainers do target this race and hide them during season over chases.
French-breds or French imports have won seven of the 12 runnings from approximately In fact, 24 of the last 36 win-and-placed horses were French-bred .Pay attention to any Paul Nicholls trained contenders with French origins having saddled there winners and six placed horses including the 1-2 last year (Diego Du Charmil and Romain De Senam)
David Pipe and Gordon Elliot also have good records in the race. Willie Mullins had 12 runners in race but all have failed to place.
Selection –Divin Bere 7-1 & Dolos 12-1
5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Open National Flat Race)
This should be renamed as the Irish Champion Bumper as they have won 9 of the last 12 renewals of this race.In fact they have won 17 out of the 24 runnings of the race.Willie Mullins likes to target this race and will be looking for his 9th win in race. I had both of his horses Getabird and Carter Mckay (both in my Horses to Follow list )at big prices but sadly Getabird is out of race due to injury.Moon Racer and Ballyandy won for the British last 2 years.
One interesting stat about Mullins winners in that race is he has won it four times when he had only one runner in race.From those 8 Mullins trained winners six had won their only bumper start.The last 13 winners also all won on their previous start. In fact, only two of the 23 winners were beaten last time out. Carter Mckay heads the betting and he has won his 2 races this season in the manner of a really good horse. Mullins said recently he must be some machine based on what he did at Naas. He made all that day, traveled really well and went 4 lengths clear over 1 f out. He beat a nice horse in West Coast Time. On his debut he beat another nice horse from the Fahey yard in Bakmaj who won on hi next start.
Western Ryder will be the obvious danger.He is highly rated at the yard and has never been out of the 1st two. He made his seasonal debut at Market Rasen but he can easily be forgiven for that defeat as he was very keen during race and he was hanging badly left in the straight.He was given a more patient ride at Ascot and he won quite nicely fending off the strong challenge of Imperial Eloquence.He was then sent to Newbury but was beaten by a very good filly in Daphne Du Clos. He was conceding 21lb to the horse that day. He represents decent each way value in the race in my opinion.He will be suited by the track and the stiff finish up the hill will play up to his strengths. One guy who I know rides at the yard and told me they rate him very highly. That will be his final race for connections before getting sold.
Daphne Du Clos represents Nicky Henderson.She made her debut at Cheltenham and was beaten by a head by Cap Soleil. She then went to Newbury and beat a decent field.Of the others I will give each way squeaks to Fayonagh and Someday.
Selection – Carter Mckay 14-1 (Ante Post) & Western Ryder 10-1
Day 3 – Thursday 17th March
1.30 JLT Novices Chase
This race has a very short history and as such we don’t have many stats and trends to help us find the winner.The Irish have been dominating the race in recent years.Five of the last six winners were Irish trained horses and the most recent one was Willie Mullins Black Hercules.
Yorkhill heads the betting and has won both of his starts this season though they were mickey mouse races. He won the Neptune last year by beating the hot fave Yanworth.He has made a smooth transition to fences. He wasn’t visually impressive last time out as he jumped left handed on a couple of occasions. He is very short now in the betting but if he jumps fluently he should win as he is the class act in the race.
Top Notch has been a revelation this season. He made his debut at Uttoxeter but was beaten by Charbel. He then won his next 4 races and he was brilliant at Ascot and Sandown where he won the Scilly Isles Novice Chase. He isn’t a big horse but he is tough as nails and never give up.
Next in the betting is a horse we have been following for over 2 years now namely Politologue.He didn’t run his race at Cheltenham last year in the Coral Cup.He was sent over larger obstacles this season and has only been beaten once in 4 races by Waiting Patiently. He was giving away 3lbs to the winner that day and only got caught in the closing stages.Before this he jumped his rivals into submission in the Noel Novices at Ascot where he jumped like a stag.At Haydock too he was very impressive when he won by 10 lengths. He has a very good each way chance if ever something goes wrong with the market leaders. No idea where Whisper will run at the time of writing but if ever he runs here he will have a chance too.
Selection-Yorkhill 4-1 (Ante Post)
2.10 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle )
This is another tough race at the festival to solve for us punters due to its competitive nature and big field.Despite the higher standard of horses the Pertemps is now attracting the horses towards the top of handicap.Favorite backers were only rewarded once in the last 11 years and that was when Fingal Bay won off top weight.11 out of the last 13 winners have been double figure odds.We have to look for a horse aged between eight and ten as they have won eight of the last 10 runnings.
The Irish don’t do too well in this race but they had their 1st winner in Mall Dini in the last 10 years after coming 2nd best six times previously.Paul Nichols hasn’t won race yet but six of his 12 runners were placed ( Arpege Dalene the latest). Favorites have a very poor record in the race and they haven’t been seen in the top 5 in the last 9 years..
Selections -For Good Measure 10-1 & Golden Doyen 20-1
2.50 Ryanair Chase
The Ryanair is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs and it has always been a very competitive race.Eleven of the 12 winners had won at Cheltenham before as had seven runners-up so previous course form is a big positive.The Irish had a very poor record in race as they are 0/32 since 2005 but the legendary Vautour made the race look like a procession last year when he won by 8 lengths.Eight of the last nine winners had already won a Grade 1 race and winners at the very highest level have recorded four 1-2s in the last six years.
You need to find a horse with stamina in abundance and also that travels /jumps fluently. Un De Sceaux heads the betting and has been very impressive in both of his starts so far. He won the Tingle Creek at Sandown by beating Sire De Grugy and God’s Own.He then won the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham( race was ran there instead of ascot). He has learnt how to settle this season and as a result he is a better horse. He has jumped brilliantly in both of his starts this season. He traveled really well and i don;t think the extra furlongs will be a problem as he won easily last May at Auteuil.He is the best horse in the race and should give you a nice run for your money.He needs it soft though and judging by the forecast for next week he should get his ground. At 7-2 he is a very good price.He might go off shorter
.Empire of Dirt rates as a live danger to UDS. He won the Brown & Advisory plate at Cheltenham last year at Cheltenham. He made his seasonal debut in the Troytown at Navan back in November and he won very easily. His next start would be in Irish Gold Cup where he was beaten by only 3/4 length by Sizing John in a driving finish. He has solid Grade 1 form and his ability to stay further than 2m4 is a bonus.I was really impressed with the way he attacks his fences. If there is any chink in the armour of UDS expect this fella to come late and pounce close home since he is a hold up horse.
Uxizandre represents Alan King and this horse has been injured since he won that same race here in 2015 under Mccoy.He made a pleasing re appearance in the Clarence House at Cheltenham and found only UDS too strong.He appeared to need the run but he was staying really well at the end over a shorter trip.The longer trip will definitely uit him and he is another one with serious claim. Josses Hills is another one who could get placed in the race but he isn’t a solid Grade 1 for my liking.
Selections – Un De Sceaux 7-2 ( NRNB)
3.30 Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle
It is one of the leading long distance hurdle event at the festival.It is the highlight of Day 3 and we have seen the likes of Big Bucks dominating this race for years recently.The Long Walk Hurdle had been a strong guide recently and has featured more World Hurdle winners than any other race in the last 20 years.The Cleeve Hurdle is also one that has delivered 4 winners and 3 runner ups in last 9 years.The Irish have a poor record in race since 1995 and only had one winner in last 20 years in Solwhit.
There is little doubt that the horse to beat in this year’s race is Uknowhatimeanharry.It’s a horse we have been following since its 1st start last year.He is unbeaten in 8 races so far.He won his 3 starts very easily this season. He won the Albert Bartlett last year and has since proved to be a class act.He won the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and couldn;t believe he was 6-1 the night before.He still gave a beating of 6 lengths to the fave Ballyoptic that day. He won with such ease that day that it was visually impressive.He jumps and travels really well in his races.He has gears and he reminds me a little bit about Big Bucks.He was then sent to The Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot where he beat a very tough horse in Lil Rockerfeller by 4 lengths.He then went to Cheltenham and won the Cleeve Hurdle.Ballyoptic was a further 10 length behind while the likes of Cole Harden and West Approach were beaten by over 2 and 5 lengths.He isn’t a flashy horse at all but he just gets the job done. He is a solid favorite and will be hard to beat.
Shaneshill might represent the Mullins yard and deffo represent decent each way value at current odds.He was 2nd in the RSA Chase last year when narrowly beaten by Blaklion.He made his seasonal debut over hurdles at Navan but was 3rd to Snow Falcon.He then ran in the Hattons Grace where he was 3rd again to Apple’s Jade and Vroum Vroum Mag.He then fell in the Xmas Hurdle over at Leopardtown in a race won by Vroum Vroum Mag. But he turned around the form in the Galmoy Hurdle on his last start when he won by 1 length. He jumped well that day and stayed resolutely in the closing stages to beat Snow Falcon.
Cole Harden came back to his best when he was 2nd behind Uknowhatimeanharry in the Cleeve. He was sent chasing earlier during the season but he jumped like a pig and it’s great they have decided to go back to hurdling with him.Winner of the race 2 years ago and 4th to Thistlecrack last year he surely will be in the mix.Ballyoptic won on his seasonal debut at Chepstow but fell at Wetherby and Ascot.I can’t really see him winning if I am honest.
Jezki represents the Jessica Harrington yard and has a squeak if he is fully fit.He has been injured for 2 years and that could count against him.He won the Champion Hurdle back in 2014 and then finished 4th to mighty Faugheen the following year.He made a pleasing debut on his seasonal debut at Navan but then found Tombstone too good in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle over 2 miles at Gowran Park. I don’t think he can beat Uknowhatimeanharry but he might represent value for each way thieves.
The one that could run well at a big price is West Approach. He ran an eyecatching race when 3rd to Uknowhatimeanharry on his latest outing.He has already ran 4 times at Cheltenham this season.He was beaten twice by Wholestone and by Peregrine Run but he made some jumping mistakes that day that eventually cost him the race.He did unseat in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot but ran really well in the Cleeve when he was 3rd. If he gets his jumping act together he could run well at a price.
Selections – Uknowhatimeanharry 7-4(Ante Post)
4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase)
This is another tricky handicap race at the festival and one that hasn’t been too kind for punters in recent years.Only 1 favorite has won in the last 16 years and winners in the past 7 years have been priced at 12-1,50-1,18-1,66-1,33-1, 33-1.There were 14 winners that were sent off over 20-1 + in the last 27 years. This tells you how hard this race is .
It is a race that the Pipe’s like to target.They have won the race 7 times and 3 of those wins have come in the last 7 years for David Pipe.Ventia Williams has also a good record in race with 3 winners and 6 other placed horses from 19 runners. Nicky Henderson has 4 winners in the Plate while Nichols is still looking for his 1st winner in the race after only 2 places from 26 runners. A few on my shortlist will include Bouvreuil, Blazer ,Tango De Juilley & A Toi Phil.
Selections- Diamond King 11-2 & Sizing Codelco 14-1
4.50 Trull House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle
This is the 2nd time this race has been run at the Festival and it could be another race dominated by the Mullins mares. Willie Mullins has been the dominant force in those type of races in Ireland or at the festival .This year he is set to run Let’s Dance, Airlie Beach ,Arthuria, Chambord Du Lys and Camelia De Cotte who have all been entered.
Let’s Dance heads the betting and has been very impressive this season.She was 4th for us in the Triumph Hurdle last year. She was then sent to Punchestown where she was beaten by a very good horse in Apples Jade.She made her seasonal debut at Punchestown and won twice over at Leopardstown that included a Grade 2 Hurdle. She jumped fluently and has a serious engine.
Airlie Beach is the other Mullins horse that is currently the 2nd favorite.She is unbeaten in her last 7 starts and won the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse back in December.She gave a beating to ger stablemate Saturnas that day who has since gone to win the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champion Novice Hurdle over Xmas. Clearly the form is strong and she has decent claims.
Next is La Bague au Roi, a horse we have been following for last 2 years.She had 3 starts so far this season and has won all 3 very easily. Her latest win came at Newbury where she beat a very good horse in Dusky Legend.She has decent claims as long as she gets her ground.Forge Meadow could run well too. She already had 2 wins to her name this season and she was very impressive last time at Naas. If the ground turns to heavy she will have decent claims.
Selection- Let’s Dance 13-8
5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (Handicap Chase )
This race is reserved for amateur riders and is run over 3 miles 1 furlong.It’s another tricky race but The Package won for us last year at 16-1 under a great ride from Jamie Codd 2 years ago.I reckon this race is more about the jockeys riding who have the more experienced.In fact, 26 of the last 30 win/place positions were filled by non-claiming amateurs as were nine of the last eleven winners.
Gordon Elliot horses also need to be monitored as he had the winner last year with Cause of Causes , two seconds and a third in the last 5 years.If Pipe is sending horses that had a break over 3 months you do take note.Nichols on the other hand has a poor record in race with only 1 place horse from 18 runners. A few on my shortlist are Squouateur, Champers On Ice and Blazer.
Selections- Whats Happening 16-1 & Another Hero 16-1
Day 4 – Friday 18th March
1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle
This is a tough race for novice hurdlers and is ran at break neck speed over 2 miles 1 furlong.It’s not an easy race to find the winner but ten of the last eleven winners could be found in top four in the betting. Favorites have a poor record in race and only 3 managed to win in last 15 years(Ivanovich Gorbatov won it last year). In the last 17 years the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (won by Master Blueyes at Kempton and the Spring Juvenile Hurdle (won by Mega Fortune when he beat Bapaume) have provided the Triumph Hurdle winner between them on 10 occasions .Nicky Henderson likes to target this race and has won it 6 times while Alan King won it twice with 5 places the last 10 yrs.
Defi Du Seuil heads the betting for this race. I have followed this horse since his 1st start and he has really impressed me since last October when he made his debut in a mickey mouse race at Ffos Las.He then went to Cheltenham on my birthday and won in great style. He made 1/2 jumping mistakes but the way he traveled and quickened throughout the race was good to see. He won again at the same track where he improved his jumping and his turn of foot was devastating. Coeur De Lion was 2nd while Domperignon Du Lys ( a very good horse for Henderson,running in Fred Winter) was back in 4th.Over Xmas he won the Future Champions Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow by 13 lengths. It was a Grade 1 race and he had some good horses behind him that day in Dolos (keep an eye wherever he runs as Nichols gave him a good mention in the Cheltenham preview I went to last week and said he has been laid for a race next week) and Dino Velvet from the King yard.On his last start at Cheltenham he won nicely but he had no real opposition that day since he was running against donkeys. I am excited to see him again as I think he could be a star in the making. I have some decent ante post prices on him too.
His biggest danger will be Mega Fortune.He fell at odds on at Thurles on his seasonal debut but then went on to win his next start at Down Royal.He then ran in the Bar One Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse but was beaten by Landofhopeandglory and Bapaume.The latter turned around the form in the Grade 2 Frank Knight Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown but he wasn’t beaten by much.But he took his revenge in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the same track when he beat Bapaume by 3 lengths.Clearly there isn’t much between Mega Fortune and Bapaume (horse we followed too this season). He was impressive that day but still made few jumping mistakes but his turn of foot in the closing stages did help.Bapaume made his debut at Fairyhouse but was beaten by a short head by the fitter Landofhopeandglory but he took his revenge in the Grade 2 race over Xmas here he traveled and jumped really well under a masterclass ride from Ruby Walsh. I will give him an each way squeak.
The one I feared the most was Meri Devie who is now a non runner. Charli Parcs might run in the Supreme and he fell last time out at Kempton in a race won by Master Blueyes.The latter finally came good in his last 2 races. He was 4th on his seasonal debut when beaten by miles by Cliff of Dover ,a very good horse from the Nichols yard. He was then beaten in his next 2 starts by the 2 horses from the Henderson yard in Charli Parcs and Divin Bere.There isn’t much between those horses and it will all depend on the ground and race tactics on the day.At bigger odds I will give Long Call and Landofhopeandglory a little chance.
Selections – Defi Du Seuil 6-1 /8-1 (Ante Post)
2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
Punters used to like this race before as you could find the winner quite easily but it has become very tricky recently.Five of the last nine winners were sent at odds of 20-1 +.First or 2nd season hurdlers have fantastic record in the race having won 12 times in the last 13 years,Superb Story being the latest last year. We have to look for a horse with a progressive profile and aged no older than 6. Eleven of the last 13 winners of this race were aged five or six.The 5 year olds have won ten times in the last 18 years so pay attention to the 5 year old horses in race too.
The Irish have a fantastic record in the race in that they have won the race 7 times in the last 10 years.Willie Mullins and Paul Nichols have won the race 3 times each in the last 11 years. Nicky Henderson has a poor record in race since none of his 30 runners since 1997 have made the frame.The Coral Hurdle at Leopardstown has provided 4 winners in the last 9 years and is a useful guide in relation to this race.Few on my shortlist so far – Mick Jazz, Flying Angel, Peace N Co and Arctic Fire
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Stamina is a key issue in this gruelling 3 mile novice chase.If the ground is soft that day you can get some really funny results.You basically need a horse that stays all day,is a fluent jumper and travels well in his races. Experience counts which is no better illustrated by the fact that although this is a race restricted to novices, six of the last 12 winners had run over hurdles the previous season. Nine of the 12 winners finished first or second last time out. You need a horse that has Cheltenham experience basically since 8 winners have already won at the track before winning this race.The Classic Novice Hurdle ran at Cheltenham is the best guide to race with four of the last ten winners going to win it.This year it was won by Wholestone, a horse we have followed all season too.
Death Duty heads the market and has been the most talked horse for weeks or even in most Cheltenham previews. Gordon Elliot has been very bullish about him too saying it’s his banker and he has been one of the best horses he has ever trained. Ok Gordon. He was beaten by a very good horse in Blow By Blow at Fairyhouse last year. Then he made his seasonal debut at Roscommon where he won very nicely.He then went on to win his next 2 starts at Navan. He won nicely on his penultimate start by thrashing Monalee and Invitation Only.On his last start he won by 10 lengths. He was lucky to have won that day as Augusta Kate joined him at the last but fell and he was left clear to go and win the race. He made 1 /2 jumping mistakes that day but overall he looked like a well oiled tank.The concern I have for him if if it turns into a slog then it could be a struggle up that hill. Also he has no Cheltenham course which could count against him. I have missed the bigger prices on him and he is too short for my liking now.
Wholestone is the one I am keen in this race.He has won 4 times from 5 starts this season and 3 of these were at Cheltenham. He only got beat by a very good horse in Peregrine Run at Cheltenham that day. He likes the course and travels well in his races. I like his battling qualities too even when he makes 1 or 2 jumping mistakes.He has a high cruising speed too and his experience of the course will help him.He represents decent each way value against the favorite. I think West Approach will run in the Stayers Hurdle race but if he runs here do refer to what i said about him.
Augusta Kate represents the Willie Mullins team. She won the Flat Mares race at Punchestown at the end of the season. She won her maiden race over hurdles at Thurles and was then sent over to Naas in a smash up with Death Duty. She was unlucky when she fell at the last but at 8-1 I wouldn’t put anyone off backing her against the favorite.The Worlds End has won on his last 3 starts and could be the dark horse in the race too. He was very impressive last time out when he won for us at Haydock beating a very nice horse from the Skelton yard in No Hassle Hoff by 9 lengths. He jumped with such enthusiasm that day and quickened readily on the run in. Of the rest I think Peregrine Run or Penhill could get placed if it turns into a battle up the hill.
Selections -Wholestone 8-1 (Ante Post)
3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1 )
This is one of the highlights of the festival and feature race on the last day.It’s one of those races that owners,trainers and jockeys want to win once in their lifetime.Second season chasers have a very good record in race having won 50% of races since 1990. 11 of the last 16 winners had finished first or second at the Festival before while eleven of the last 12 winners were running in the Gold Cup for the first time(Djakadam will need to beat this stat in his quest for glory). Willie Mullins has yet to win this race but had 4 runners up in the last 4 years. Djakadam became his 6th runner up in a race that has so far eluded him.
The King Georges at Kempton(won by Thistlecrack) and The Lexus Chase(won by Outlander) are the best guides as 15 of the last 17 winners have ran in one of them.You only have to look in the top three in the betting for the winner as it has featured 15 of the last 16 winners. I think Lord Windermere winning it was the only exception. Cue Card and Native River head the betting for the Colin Tizzard team.It’s a shame Thistlecrack got injured or it would have been such a great race full of champions.
What can i say about Cue Card? He is one of those horses you fall in love with even if you never liked them in the first place. He has been competing at the highest level since 2010. He won the bumper at 40-1 that year at Cheltenham. He was then beaten the following 2 years by Al Ferof and the monster Sprinter Sacre but made amends in 2013 by winning the Ryanair Chase.He fell in the Gold Cup last year when seemingly going well but we will never know if he would have beaten Don Cossack. This season he has been a rejuvenated horse by winning another Betfair Chase at Haydock and then The Betfair Ascot Chase. He lost his King Georges crown to the mighty Thistlecrack at Kempton but there was no disgrace losing to another champion. I would love to see him win the Gold Cup and be retired on a high at his beloved Cheltenham. That will be the the icing on the cake but the stats are against him being an 11 year old.
His stablemate Native River has been a revelation this season and he was teh forogotten horse or 3rd string when Thistlecrack was still around.He was 2nd to Minella Rocco in that 4 miler last year going down by only 1 1/2 lengths. He won his last 3 starts and that includes the Hennessy Gold Cup ,Coral Welsh National and the Betfair Denman Chase. This is quite impressive and Paul Nichols mentioned at a preview I was at recently that Native River reminds him of the mighty Denman. He is just a relentless galloper that jumps his fences and kills his opponents. He has course form and if you back him you will get a run for your money.
Djakadam is the main horse for the Willie Mullins stable.He has been twice runner up in the Gold Cup but he did have a better preparation this time around and been kept fresh for race. Could he finally give Willie his first Gold Cup and beat the stat mentioned above. Stats are there to be broken anyway.He made his seasonal debut at Punchestown where he won the John Durkan again beating Outlander by 1 1/2 length with Sub Lieutenant in 3rd. That was over 2m4f and he was very good with his jumping that day. Then he ran in the Lexus where he finished 3rd behind Outlander and Don Poli.He had every chance of winning the race that day but he was one paced in the closing stages. The noises coming from the stable recently have been very positive and they are expecting a big run.
Outlander represents the Gigginstown connections and he has improved with every start this season. His Lexus win was very good and he showed a good attitude that day.He stayed on strongly when challenged and was good with his jumping when under pressure.Sizing John is another one with a small chance if he ran like he did when winning the Irish Gold Cup on his last start. At least he has no Douvan to chase this time around. He beat a very good horse in Empire of Dirt that day who could run here instead of the Ryanair.
Gordon Elliot was sweet on Empire of Dirt too in one of his previews wherever he runs.I don’t think Bristol De Mai can win a Gold Cup yet( i love him and he will win a Gold Cup before I die ) but he needs everything to fall in place and he can make silly jumping mistakes too. I will give each way chances to 2 class horses in race in Don Poli and More Of That. Don’t discount them as they can still bounce back when you least expect them to. Don Poli 2nd in The Lexus was his best run for a while and he won twice at Cheltenham too. More of That fell in the Irish Gold Cup won by Sizing John but was 6th behind Outlander over Xmas in the Lexus where he ran well. I think he could be the dark horse in race.
Selection – Djakadam 9-2 ( Ante Post)
4.10 St James Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge
This is a race reserved for amateur riders and is ran over the distance of 3 miles 2 furlongs.The Irish have a great record in the race having this race the last 6 years.Last time out winners have won 23 of the last 31 runnings. On the Fringe will try to become the first horse ever to win the race three times in a row.He has been a money machine for us last few years whether at Cheltenham, Aintree or Punchestown. He did the treble of festival races in the last 2 seasons which is a remarkable achievement in itself .He is now a 12 year old but he was very good on his debut behind a race fit Foxrock. The stat against him this year will be that three horses aged 10 or over have won the race in the last 26 runnings.The dangers in race could come from The Weatherman or Sweet as a Nut.
Selection- On The Fringe 6-4
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This is the handicap hurdle that is run over the distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs.There have only been 6 renewals of the race and we have been lucky enough to win 3 of those in the last 6 years namely with Sir Des Champs,Attaglance and Don Poli.David Pipe likes to target this race but has been unsuccessful so far in last 8 runnings with only one place with his 16 horses. Willie Mullins has won it 3 times in the last 6 years.Nichols won it with Salubrious at big price in 2013 and again last year with Ibis Du Rheu at 14-1 .
We need to look for a progressive horse in their 1st or 2nd season novice hurdling.The horse that has been touted recently in previews or given positive mentions by the trainer has been The StoryTeller. I think he has been laid out for the race and his price is shortening as we speak.He was 2nd to a very good horse in Monalee at Punchestown and the latter has franked the form subsequently by running 2nd to Death Duty and then winning the Grade 3 at Clonmel. He then won at Downpatrick before destroying a good field at Thurles that included Mullins Battleford and Some Neck etc.It was his most impressive display so far and this horse is a very good jumper.I took some 8’s and 6’s about him on the morning of the Betfair preview I went at.
In the evening Gordon Elliot nominated him as his charity bet despite saying his banker was Death Duty previously and he had the £200 at 12-1 (Betfair offered him that price ). No wonder the price has collapsed since. The big dangers in the race will be Mick Jazz , Automated,RunforDave(given a mention by Gordon too) and Crievehill.
5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase
This is the final race that bring down the curtain on the 4 days of the spectacular Festival.By this time we might be all drunk or withdrawing our winnings.
Bookies love this race as they have won 6 of the 7 runnings at big odds of 16-1 ,16-1,20-1,40-1 , 16-1 & 28-1.It’s one of the most competitive races during the festival and not one you can play your get out of jail card. Novices have won 13 of the last 35 runnings ( 4 in last 8 years). We basically need to look out for a lightly raced novice chaser. In recent years The Irish have dominated the race with 6 winners and 5 seconds in the last 17 runnings.Three of those Irish trained winners were seen hurdling on their previous run to come and win this race.
JP Mcmanus has won the race twice in last 5 years and had two 2nds.Also look out for Henderson or Nichols trained horses as they do like to target this race.The other trend to look is that of British trained horses 7 of the 9 have previously had Cheltenham course form which is so vital in my opinion.Another thing to look out is for horses who have run in the race before since five of the last 10 winners had run in the race before. The ones on my radar are Dandrige,Starchitect & Rock The World
Useful Reading –