Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016 - Thursday

The World Hurdle (3.30) is Thursday's feature and on official ratings even money favourite Thistlecrack has four pounds and upwards in hand over his opponents.

Tom Scudamore rides Colin Tizzard's charge who has been something of a revelation this season having won Newbury's Long Distance Hurdle, the Long Walk at Ascot and the Cleeve.

A 'Festival Fact' plucked from The Sun's Festival pullout on Monday:

"Tom Scudamore has NEVER ridden a hurdle winner at the Festival. He is 0 from 94 rides."

Stop Press update: That's now 0 from 96; Tom Scu finished fourth on Pass The Time in the Mares' Hurdle yesterday and down the field in twelfth on Harley Rebel in the Fred Winter earlier today. 

Thistlecrack looks his standout chance to put the record straight.

That said, I still think this is more competitive than market prices indicate.

Cole Harden saved my bacon when winning last year's renewal; he hasn't really fired in two runs on soft / heavy ground this term and connections are hoping the better ground will bring about the required improvement. This has been the target all year but we haven't yet seen evidence that he's as good as he was - here's the acid test.

Saphir Du Rheu, second to Cole Harden last year, was sent off favourite for the Hennessy but couldn't lay a finger on Smad Place, eventually finishing fifth. After weakening two out behind Thistlecrack in December he has undergone a breathing operation; Cole Harden underwent a similar procedure before winning last year.

Whisper's chance disappeared with a sloppy jump four from home in that very same race. The following month he went to Aintree and turned the tables on Cole Harden in no uncertain terms, beating his Cheltenham conqueror three and a half lengths.

Nicky Henderson said recently:
"This time last year he had to run in it to get him right for Aintree, but this time he's where he was for Aintree last year."

Kilcooley isn't lightly dismissed but he hasn't been seen since winning Wetherby's West Yorkshire Hurdle at the end of October and, to date, has shown his best form with cut underfoot.

At odds of 14/1 Whisper rates a value each-way wager.
According to the market there's little to choose between Bristol De Mai, Outlander and Garde La Victoire in the opener, the JLT Novices' Chase.

Course and distance winner Garde La Victoire beat Bristol De Mai seven lengths at Uttoxeter in the autumn and is the only one of the three named with winning form on good ground. Bristol De Mai has probably looked the more impressive since that meeting; Garde La Victoire isn't always the neatest at his obstacles.
Black Hercules stays further, jumping really well at Warwick on his penultimate start, and he appeared to have the spoils in the bag the next time before coming to grief at the last. His chance is respected.

I'm going to chance Garde La Victoire with Sky Bet who offer money back as a free bet if a selection in this opening race loses.

Vautour's switch from Friday's Gold Cup has upset a lot of punters and given the Ryanair (2.50) a totally different complexion. Owner Rich Ricci told At The Races:

"The Gold Cup has been the plan all season - I know I've said that - and my feeling was that if he was working well enough to run in a Ryanair, why wouldn't he be working well enough to run in a Gold Cup?

"It turns out he's not been doing cartwheels, I've been very clear about that in the run up to the race, but we felt we'd take our chance in the Ryanair.

"It's not like he's pulled a plough around the fields at home but he's not doing cartwheels like he was last year and the Gold Cup is a very hard race.

"We thought about it, we talked about it a lot. If he was 100 per cent fit, the conditions are all coming his way, the ground is drying out, but at 90 per cent, you take the chance of ruining the horse.

"It's (Ryanair) his best chance of win."

I wouldn't be tempted to take 8/11 about a horse who is '...not doing cartwheels like he was last year...'

In the Mares' Novices' Hurdle (4.50) I'll play Smart Talk against favourite Limini.

This one is top-rated and trained by Brian Ellison - those with long memories may recall his Latalomne (purchased for £8,000) who came to grief at the second last in two consecutive Champion Chases when in the lead.

I remember the second occasion particularly well; I'd bet him at 25/1.      


TW said...

I guess it is folly to ignore the advice in this post given the blog’s performance on Day 2 but I cannot help taking a small e-way interest in ActinPieces at 80/1. She is well behind Smart Talk on Official Ratings abut much closer on Racing Post ratings, has a faster top speed rating and on a collateral line of form through Sunshine Corner one could argue she’s not too far away…..I’m sure I’ll be made to look foolish!

Good Luck

GeeDee said...

Hi TW,

Don't worry, normal service will be resumed in due course... ;)

I'll certainly check out the form line you've highlighted; I can afford to take the chance after today and 80/1, that's certainly my sort of price.

The placed horses behind Vroum Vroum Mag in the Mares' Hurdle on Tuesday were priced 66/1, 40/1 and 80/1.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

If yesterday was a decent day at the office, normal service was resumed today with indecent haste...

4/1 co-favourite Garde La Victoire fell four from home in the opener which went to Black Hercules (4/1 cf).

Thistlecrack (even money favourite) ran his rivals ragged in the World Hurdle; selection Whisper (9/1) was never competitive, failing to land any sort of a blow from three out and then weakening to finish eighth.

Smart Talk (6/1) tried to make all but weakened two from home to finish thirteenth; the race went to Limini (8/11f) who quickened away nicely after the last, beating Alan King's Dusty Legend (50/1) and Nicky Henderson's Bloody Mary (7/1). There was money for Actinpieces who was 80/1 in the morning and sent off a 33/1 chance. The mare ran a respectable race too, prominent until three out before weakening to finish eighth.