Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cheltenham Festival 2012 - Wednesday

Over the years I've managed to make it to the Wednesday of this meeting and I'm lucky enough to be going this time around. Here's my view on tomorrow's card...

The opener is a four mile novice chase for amateur riders - amateur riders and novice chasers wouldn't necessarily be the first combination you'd come up with if asked to frame a race but there you go. The Paul Nicholls trained Harry The Viking, in which Sir Alex Ferguson owns a share, looks short enough in the market given a couple of weeks ago this one was one was named as suffering badly from the bout of coughing in the yard. On official ratings Teaforthree is the best horse in the race so is of obvious interest although a lot of his best form has been on soft / heavy ground - there's a worry he could get detatched early on. Teaforthree beat Universal Soldier at Chepstow in December but since then the horse has moved to Charlie Longsdon's, undergone some 'intense schooling' and come out to take a Towcester novice chase with any amount in hand. I've heard the odd word for Alfie Spinner (third behind Invictus in the Reynoldstown at Ascot with Silviniaco Conti and Our Island beaten) but I'll chance Universal Soldier each-way (14/1William Hill).

Fingal Bay has the best form in the book for the Neptune but is unfortunately out injured. I must admit I was a tad surprised to see Willie Mullins opt for the Albert Bartlett (Friday) with Boston Bob rather than take on Simonsig here. That leads to Mullins' Sous Les Cieux who was beaten by 50/1 chance Benefficient the last day at Leopardstown but boasts an identical RPR rating to Simonsig (160). Connections of Simonsig were undecided whether to go for this or the Supreme - jockey Barry Geraghty looks to have won that particular argument. Others noted include Monksland (tipped up by Simon Clare of Coral at Haydock's preview evening) and Cotton Mill. I saw Cotton Mill beat Ambion Wood at Warwick in January - Jack Quinlan rode a canny race that day. Next time Ambion Wood came out he was well beaten behind Brindisi Breeze at Haydock so I wasn't thinking of putting too much faith in the Warwick form until Ambion Wood won a competitive novice handicap hurdle under top weight at Sandown on Saturday. Still, Cotton Mill has some more to find with a few of these and as favourites have a poor record (one win in past decade - Mikael D'Haguenet, 5/2F, 2009), a tentative vote goes to Sous Les Cieux (13/2 with Blue Square).

Kauto Star goes in the Gold Cup so Grands Crus goes for the RSA. I've heard some carp his Feltham form  but that day he recorded a faster time than Kauto Star in the King George. Those who fancy Bobs Worth will be worried by Mick Fitzgerald saying the horse 'doesn't travel as well as he used to' at the preview evening I attended. The big tip was for Paul Nicholls' Join Together, on offical ratings just two pounds inferior to 11/8 favourite Grands Crus yet on offer at 6/1 and 13/2 with Skybet this evening. Now I could be well wide of the mark and it wouldn't be the first time but I thought I picked up a hint from a Dan Skelton TV interview that down Ditcheat way they think Join Together, given time, could be a replacement for Denman. I'm going to take a chance on course and distance winner Join Together - a negative is he hasn't run since before Christmas whereas several previous winners have.

The Champion Chase looks a weak renewal this year - Sizing Europe is the one but at the prices on offer I''ll watch from the sidelines as I can't muster much enthusiam for any of the others.

I saw Carlito Brigante win the Coral Cup in a common canter last year but the fact this race is sponsored by a bookmaker tells you all you need to know. Two longhsots against the field - Cape Dutch, put up recently by the trainer as his best chance of a winner at this his first meet (18/1 Stan James) and Saphir River, a French-bred grey with some decent enough form to his name who was purchased for 280,000 euros. Alan Lee quoted trainer Michael Scudamore in a recent snippet: "We took him to Newbury for a gallop...and he worked very, very well." Saphir River has been thrown in the deep end here but is 33s in places and 40/1 with Boylesports. I may just have a £2 reverse exacta the pair... ;)

I  had a couple of ideas for the Fred Winter but they haven't been declared so I'll pass - for those interested Richard Hoiles had a word for Moujik Borget (40/1) while Royal Bonsai (22/1 Stan James) was one of Sam Thomas' "dark horses" on a recent edition of the Morning Line.

Finally in the past week I've backed Sir Johnson at 20/1 for the bumper on the back of comments Peter Bowen made (see notes at end of this post) and I'm not inclined to add to that.

That's it! Good luck one and all - I'll get round to posting Thursday's losers on the Thursday morning.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Repeating Tuesday's trick, I picked the wrong one in the opener with Teaforthree (5/1f) collecting the spoils but Universal Soldier (9/1) coming home seventh, a commendable effort nonetheless.

The rest of the day went steadily downhill...

Sous les Cieux (11/2) came home fifth behind Simonsig (2/1f) but Cotton Mill (8/1) was in the process of running a big race when unseating Denis O'Reagan two out - I doubt whether he would have beaten the eventual winner.

Speaking personally, Join Together (7/1) was the most disappointing
horse of the week. A picture was emerging of several Nicholls horses not running to form - this one went out like a light after the twelfth fence; favourite Grands Crus ran a little flat with Bobs Worth (9/2) collecting the spoils.

Cape Dutch (14/1) couldn't go the pace in the Coral finishing fifteenth while Saphir River (50/1) unshipped Sam Thomas at the second.

My ante-post bet on Sir Johnson went astray as well with Peter Bowen's gelding being squeezed for room five furlongs out and then losing ground therafter to come home eleventh.