Friday, December 10, 2010

Early Christmas treats at Cheltenham

There's an exceptional eight-race card at Cheltenham tomorrow; highlights include the Relkeel Hurdle (1.20), the Tingle Creek (1.55), the Vote A.P. Gold Cup (2.30) and the International Hurdle (3.05).

Quick pointers on the main races follow...

12.10 Triumph Hurdle trial: Sam Winner, currently 5/1 favourite for the March showpiece, is likely to start odds-on after his impressive course and distance win four weeks ago. Nicky Henderson's filly A Media Luz will be of interest to many; she gets a weight allowance from the rest of the field and ran in the French Oaks this summer. An outsider to catch my eye is John Harris' Tom Wade. On his penultimate run at Ludlow claimer Kyle James was unseated three out when disputing second in the race won by Akula. The next time the bay gelding led over the last at the same course but was caught on the line by Al Dafa; Al Dafa went on to be beaten by the well-regarded Marsh Warbler the next time. Not the strongest lines of form, I agree, but this evening a couple of layers offer 16/1 Akula while Tom Wade is 100/1 - at that price I'll have a small each-way interest.

12.45 Following his course win over two and a half miles last month Time For Rupert is 6/1 favourite for the RSA Chase in March. At that same meeting Chicago Grey looked set to go and win his race when coming to grief two out. Quinz looks to have more scope of the Hobbs pair; a big sort who jumped well to beat experienced handicappers at Ascot the last time, he's the top-rated animal (of those with a rating) and looks a value play at 11/2 against favourite Time For Rupert.

1.20 The Relkeel looks difficult. Aidan Coleman marked punters' cards when Quartz De Thaix won at 14/1 the last time. The jock is sweet enough on the chance of this course and distance winner here - I'll have an each-way interest at around the 10/1 mark.

1.55 The vibes from Ditcheat suggest Master Minded is back to his best following a wind operation in the summer; I'm not going to play in the Tingle Creek. It will be interesting to see whether Nick Williams' Gauvain can build on an impressive win over course and distance the last time.

2.30 The Vote A.P. Gold Cup looks most competitive. Robinson Collonges is one with potential in abundance but so far he's only raced in small fields in this country which is off-putting. I put up Great Endeavour for the Paddy Power four weeks ago. Timmy Murphy raced his mount wide for most of the trip but the horse didn't jump that well and tired in the closing stages finishing sixth behind Little Josh. David Pipe expects improvement for that run so I'll give Great Endeavour another chance.

3.05 The International (or The Bula as it's known to old-timers like myself) is intriguing and should be noted for future reference. Five of the nine runners are four-year-olds and two of those four-year-olds, Cristal Bonus and Silviniaco Conti, have to give weight to the others. Greatwood Hurdle winner Menorah, now five, is best in at the weights and has consequently been priced up favourite. Colin Tizzard's Cue Card looked exceptional winning the Festival bumper last March - his trainer has opted for the bold approach going for this. Looking at the ratings and the odds Clerk's Choice appears overpriced at 14/1 with Coral. This one had some well-regarded types behind when winning on his penultimate start but got stuck in the mud at Haydock the last time. I'm prepared to forgive that run but would be worried the trainer may have missed work with his stable star during the recent cold snap. Silviniaco Conti is lightning quick over the obstacles (beat Karabak at Ascot last time - a pointer will be gleaned by Karabak's run in the Relkeel at 1.20) and merits the utmost respect. A fascinating contest - of the principals I'm tempted by 3/1 Silviniaco Conti but will have an each-way wager on Clerk's Choice at 14/1.

3.40 In the finale Emma Lavelle's Highland Valley is a chaser in the making who may appreciate more cut, a comment that applies could apply to Golden Chieftain too. Teaforthree won over the distance the last time; with McCoy up I'll consider an each-way wager at 10/1 (in the unlikely event I have any money left).

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

A little late writing up these results after a severe bout of manflu, quite possibly brought on by the performaces of the various selections...

Sam Winner (4/7f) won as an odds-on shot should and is now generally 4/1 for Triumph in March. 100/1 chance Tom Wade ran well enough to finish sixth of the twelve but couldn't pick the leaders up. To my amazement Akula went off at 50/1; he raced prominently and stayed on to come home third.

Quinz (6/1) ran a good race to finish third but was no match for 10/11 favourite Time For Rupert who finished eight in front of Chicago Grey. TFR is 4s with most layers for the RSA Chase.

Karabak (5/1) took the Relkeel in a race in which a few fancied runners never managed to get in a blow. Any Given Day looked dangerous but was held on the line. Quartz De Thaix (8/1) came home ninth, being outpaced two from home. I wonder if connections will consider the chasing route after this.

Master Minded won - in that sort of form it's difficult to see anything getting near him in the Queen Mother. Coral and Hill offer just 6/4.

A decent effort from Great Endeavour (13/2) but he couldn't reel in Poquelin (16/1) and finished beaten a length. Ian Popham's five pound claim came in handy thre, but that was still a fine performance from horse at the top of the handicap.

In a fascinating Bula Menorah (7/4f) took the honours in fine fashion and is now generally 4/1 favourite for the Champion Hurdle. Cue Card (15/8) and Silviniaco Conti (5/2) finished second and third respectively; John Francome commented that he thought there was more to come from the second who had perhaps done a bit too much early on but on a strict interpretation of that run you'd fancy Silviniaco Conti to reverse half a length for the four pounds conceded. Clerk's Choice (20/1) ran a much better race than at Haydock but failed to make a place in fourth - I haven't given up on this one by any means.

In a race that was run at a very steady pace Teaforthree (13/2) finished third behind Mossley (3/1cf) who looked to win this with something in hand. One to note for future is Sybarite. Sam Twiston-Davies put up his father's charge on The Morning Line but the horse was withdrawn at the start on the advice of the vet.