Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016 - Wednesday

Ten declared for the feature Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) with Un De Sceaux installed the odds-on favourite.

Mullins' hotpot beat God's Own six lengths in last year's Arkle and has won five of his seven chase starts, falling at Thurles when still a novice and at Leopardstown last December.

Connections were pleased with his subsequent win in Ascot's Clarence House Chase where he appeared to adopt a more measured approach at some of the obstacles. I've wanted to watch that race again but haven't managed it - my recollection is that Sire De Grugy made ground at some fences with more fluid jumping.

I was surprised to see both Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy officially rated higher; Dodging Bullets and Special Tiara share the same mark. Racing from the front, Un De Sceaux isn't a wager for those with a delicate / fragile constitution...

Sprinter Sacre is now rated 18 pounds lower than after his phenomenal win in the 2013 running of this race. He isn't the horse he once was but you can argue, even at the age of ten, he wouldn't necessarily have to be in order to win - Moscow Flyer (2005) was the last horse older than nine to collect the spoils.

Sire De Grugy also falls into the ten-year-old category and has been beaten by Sprinter Sacre and Un De Sceaux on his last two runs.
Following injury the 2015 champion Dodging Bullets made his seasonal debut in Newbury's Game Spirit Chase last month. Beaten ten lengths by Top Gamble, he looked a little ring-rusty that day and there's the suspicion this year's preparation has been a race against the clock.

Special Tiara was beaten three lengths into third by Dodging Bullets last year and then went on to collect Sandown's Celebration Chase beating Sprinter Sacre six lengths. He looked a trifle unfortunate the last day when hampered by eventual winner Sire De Grugy in the Tingle Creek. Special Tiara is likely to challenge Un De Sceaux for the lead; the danger is the pair will start racing early on and thereby ruin their chance.

On the back of last year's Arkle run God's Own isn't totally dismissed; previously that season he'd won the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter but I've never found him easy to catch right.

Special Tiara (14/1) is the each-way selection.

In the Neptune (1.30) Yanworth was impressive beating Shantou Village last time out and is expected to improve for better ground. He's my idea of the winner but I won't be backing him at around 11/10. Mullins saddles four of the eleven; Yorkhill's defeat of O O Seven and Agrapart in the Tolworth reads well as the latter-named went on to win Newbury's Betfair Hurdle eleven lengths.

Of the two market leaders for the RSA Chase (2.10) course and distance winner More Of That is short enough with just two chase runs under his belt - the last eight-year-old to win was Rule Supreme in 2004. The yard has been quiet of late but has just bagged the amateur four mile race with Minella Rocco. 

No More Heroes is the best horse on official ratings yet at the time of writing his price is drifting out to 5/2; he's starting to look like a value play. 

I like Blaklion who isn't the biggest of animals but certainly a battler; my worry is he had a hard enough race in the Towton last time.

With just eight declared, Blaklion (10/1 Bet Victor and Paddy Power) is an each-way chance.

I've enough tales of woe about the concluding bumper to fill a wheelbarrow, including missing both Hairy Molly at 33/1 (2006) and Dunguib at 9/2 (2009) whilst at the track, and Cue Card at 40/1 in 2010.

The Irish challenge is traditionally strong; in most lists Willie Mullins' Augusta Kate shares favouritism with Ballyandy. Augusta Kate, the only mare in the race, is owned by a syndicate that includes Graham Wylie, Ant and Dec, Alan Shearer, Lee Westwood and sports agent Chubby Chandler.

Ballyandy is a course and distance winner who suffered his only defeat when attempting to concede four pounds to Coeur Blimey on soft ground at Ascot last December.

Ballyandy (13/2) is the selection. Those looking for an each-way chance at a bigger price may want to consider High Bridge (12/1) who hails from a yard that in general has done well with its bumper runners this season. On a line through Aurillac High Bridge has less than four lengths to find with the selection and better ground may help.


Sandracer said...

Aaah Blacklion.. You beat me up the run in. I thought I had you with Shaneshill there geedee..

GeeDee said...

Apologies Sandracer; an excellent run from Shaneshill.

Trust you gave Johnny Og a wide berth in the four miler yesterday. I really can't fathom out why connections went that route - perhaps to see if he stayed the trip? Horse gets tired, falls two out.

TW said...

Well done, a great day at the office for you and a great day’s racing. Sprinter Sacre was special and I was chuffed to see Any Currency get his in front.

Sandracer said...

Don't apologise haha it gave it away with some bad jumps which u cant do at Cheltenham. Yeah Johnny OG ran in the 6 miler at a million/1 and it was still underpriced. Strange indeed..

GeeDee said...

Today's set of results - they're very much the exception rather than the rule...

I wasn't particularly confident about Blaklion (8/1) before the RSA but after a scrimmage three out he closed from the penultimate fence to take over from Shaneshill (16/1) up the hill and win by half a length with More Of That (6/4f) eight lengths away third.

As expected in the Champion Chase, Un De Sceaux (4/6f) and Special Tiara (16/1) went like off like scalded cats up front. Special Tiara led until four out where Un De Sceaux took over but neither of the front runners had a reply to Sprinter Sacre's turn of foot; the 5/1 chance led before two out and despite an untidy jump at the last rolled back the years with victory by three and a half lengths from Un De Sceaux with selection Special Tiara beaten a nose into third.

A thrilling finish to the bumper with selection Ballyandy (5/1) getting up to deny Willie Mullins' Battleford (25/1) a nose. The game looked over two out as Ballyandy was outpaced but he rallied gamely and got his head in front in the final 100 yards.

Highlight of the day: Sprinter Sacre's victory in the Queen Mother Chase.