Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheltenham Festival 2010 - Wednesday

For the first time in well over ten years I'll be missing the Wednesday card at the Festival. Enough of that, let's get on with the job in hand...

The feature is the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 3.20 in which nine go to post. The current two mile champ, Master Minded, attempts to become only the second horse to win this on three consecutive occasions - Badsworth Boy achieved the feat 1983-85. This horse has had an operation for a cracked rib over the winter; his demolition of a small field in the Game Spirit the last time appeared to indicate the horse was back to his best. He put in several spring-heeled leaps although he nearly came a cropper with a bad blunder at the last. Visually the performance was impressive but Voy Por Ustedes didn't run his race and the third that day, Fix The Rib, finished third in a Class 4 novice hurdle at Taunton on Monday. If the real MM turns up, quotes of 5/6 will look generous afterwards but on grounds of value alone I'm going to look elsewhere. Twist Magic, despite continuing to display signs of temperament, has shown marked improvement this season; having said that he hasn't run well here in previous years so I'm going with Ferdy Murphy's Kalahari King. This one won the Arkle last year, will appreciate drying ground and put in an excellent performance on his seasonal debut to take Doncaster's Blue Square Handicap Chase - that was five and a half weeks ago.

Long Run, already spoken of as a future Gold Cup winner, is favourite for the RSA but I can't have him. Only two five-year-olds have taken this since 1950, on occasions his jumping has been sketchy and, in addition, his jockey is an amateur. If it's close on the run up the hill, Mr Sam Waley-Cohen is unlikely to prevail at the finish. Diamond Harry is another whose jumping hasn't convinced - my original selection in this was Weird Al but he picked up an injury just a few days ago. Punchestowns comes here with less experience over the larger obstacles than is ideal, he's had an injury scare over the last fortnight and he made a big blunder at Sandown before going on to score. I'll back Punchestowns in a race that has thrown up its fair share of shocks in the past - four of the last ten winners were priced in double figures, Hussard Collonges going in at 33/1 in 2002.

In the Neptune I'm going to take a chance on Peddlers Cross showing further improvement for the step up in trip; connections had considered a run in the Supreme. I think Rite Of Passage looks vulnerable; Finian's Rainbow is respected but no seven-year-old has won the last ten renewals. I have to mention The Giant Bolster, a big horse who got bogged down in the mud at Fontwell the last time. He's out of his depth here but is one to keep an eye on.

In the opening four mile National Hunt Chase Coral's 18/1 about Poker De Sivola offers some each-way value. Favourite Massasoit can be a tricky ride for a pro so makes even less appeal with an amateur up. Two others worthy of consideration are Synchronised - the Jonjo O'Neill operation has won this race four times since 2002 - and Abbeybraney.

Over the years I've burnt my fingers often enough in the Coral Cup (and more recently in the Fred Winter as well) to make me want to watch from the sidelines. In the Coral On Raglan Road should be noted - before today he was the only horse to have beaten Dunguib; he's been off the track nearly a year but comes to this backed by positive comments from the stable. Five-year-olds have a poor record in the Coral - invariably a rough race - which is a negative for likely favourite Quantitativeeasing. Jockey Tom Scudamore has put up Hunterview in the Fred Winter as his best chance of a winner this week while top weight Stars Du Granits was a market mover the last time in Haydock's Victor Ludorum (ran on soft ground) but he got no further than the second flight - Me Voici went on to collect the spoils.

In the bumper, I'm going to refer to an article Nick Mordin worte in the Weekender about six weeks ago. Nick pointed out that in this race, over the past five years, the Racing Post top-rated animal has won four times. When that article was published Araucaria was the top bumper horse seen out - since then the mare has been beaten easily by Shot From The Hip; in theory, that one should be thereabouts. It's worth noting that Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Al Ferof (in preference to anything from the Mullins stable) and I have to give a quick mention to Colin Tizzard's Cue Card. Quoting Colin from a recent Straight From the Stable article in the Weekender: 'I said before he won [his last race] he was the best bumper horse I've had and nothing has dissuaded me since from that view.' A couple of layers go 40/1 this evening - I may be tempted into a small each-way interest.


Tom Roper said...

I too was going for Cue Card, but an unseen hand made me write Shoot from the Hip on the betting slip...great minds

GeeDee said...

Tom - not sure I'm ever going to recover... ;)