Friday, January 25, 2013

Cheltenham Festival Trials Day 2013

Cheltenham communications director Andy Clifton is 'very very confident' Festival Trials Day will go ahead tomorrow; a cracking card it is too with eight races which should give some clues for the battles ahead in March.

The Victor Chandler Chase (1.50), carried over from Ascot last Saturday, appeals as a spectacle rather than a betting medium and looks at the mercy of Sprinter Sacre.

The Argento Chase (2.25) on the other hand appears particularly trappy. Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth isn't in the line-up after an unsatisfactory scope; Tidal Bay suffered a slight setback earlier in the week but looks set to start favourite instead. Grands Crus is interesting after a breathing operation and an improved display in the King George but has let supporters down at this venue before while previous Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander looks short enough in the market on his first run for 680 days. Hunt Ball disappointed in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and, although better the next time behind Menorah, would probably prefer a slightly shorter trip. On ratings Quartz De Thaix has a bit to find with a couple in the field but Venetia Williams' charge has been in decent form this term and rates an each-way wager (18/1 Stan James) in an open event.

I was at Warwick a fortnight ago to see The New One win as he liked. Visually it was a most impressive performance although the main opponent that day, Dursey Sound, ran no race after a bad error at the seventh. I'll oppose with Coneygree in the Neptune (3.00).

The question in the Cleeve (3.35) is whether Oscar Whisky stays three miles. On his one attempt at the trip to date he finished a well-beaten fifth behind Big Buck's in last year's World Hurdle; connections are convinced that is not his true form. If you're unconvinced then you can't fail to be anything other than impressed by Reve De Sivola who put a high class field to the sword in Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle over three miles plus last month. The top two in the market have to give weight to the rest - of the pair I prefer Reve De Sivola at the prices - but I'm going out on a limb and having an each-way dabble on Crack Away Jack (16/1) who looks to have benefitted from the move to Tom George's yard. You couldn't be certain that he'd consent to put his best foot forward but his second behind Tidal Bay at Wetherby reads particularly well.

I don't intend to play in the two handicap chases but those looking for suggestions may want to consider Gullinbursti and Theatrical Star (12.40) who were both beaten by smart rivals at Exeter on New Year's Day while old favourite Fruity O'Rooney runs at 1.15.

The opener should prove useful for future reference (Kim Bailey wouldn't enter Milord just for the sake of it) while the finale has some interesting sorts including Lord Of House, His Excellency (rated eight pounds higher over fences), Solix (fifth in the 2011 running of the Coral Cup), Dildar and down at the bottom Thunder Sheik. Thunder Sheik looked one to watch out for after finishing second at Warwick last time; connections appeared particularly animated after that effort although the fact he runs from ten pounds out of the handicap here suggests they may just be tilting at windmills. 33/1 is on offer for those prepared to take the chance...

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

A spectacular day's racing with some thrilling finishes which, unfortuantely, didn't involve any of my selections...

As expected Sprinter Sacre reigned supreme in the VC Chase with an apparently effortless win.

Cape Tribulation (7/1) and Imperial Commander (7/2) fought out the finish to the Argento Chase, the former mugging the latter in the shadow of the post with Hunt Ball (11/1) 36 lengths behind in third. Selection Quartz De Thai (9/1) put in a most indifferent round of jumping that was littered with mistakes - he eventually came to grief with a somewhat nasty-looking fall at the fifteenth.

Much to the layers' delight it wasn't Coneygree (9/4) who turned over The New One (4/5f) but McCoy's mount At Fishers Cross (13/2). Rebecca Curtis' charge was a neck in front of the favourite on the line, the pair some 12 lengths clear of the selection who was tapped for toe as they came into the home straight.

Another tight finish in the Cleeve with Reve De Sivola (15/8f) holding Oscar Whisky (2/1) a neck, Kentford Grey Lady (11/1) staying on in third. Selection Crack Away Jack (16/1) was close enough if good enough two from home but he failed to quicken and came home fifth.