Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2017 - Wednesday

Beware a tough-looking card on the Ides of March.

Wednesday is Ladies' Day; I'll be at the track for the first time in a number of years to savour the atmosphere and discuss some of the finer points of late nineteenth century French poetry - Rimbaud often proves a particularly difficult topic - with an assortment of former colleagues and alehouses over ten pints of Guinness.

Douvan is 1/4 for the Champion Chase at 3.30 and it's roughly the same odds I'll have run out money before the Fred Winter. Today's edition of The Times reports that's £2.2 million was withdrawn from cash machines at the track last year; I intend to leave my cards at home.

And a quick word of thanks, too, to the Cheltenham management for drastically reducing the cost of my bar bills to no more than four drinks per visit.

Betting plans outlined below have been finalised in complete sobriety and are likely to bear little resemblance to what actually takes place; once again that dichotomy between appearance and reality...

1.30 Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Skipthecuddles has always been a particular personal favourite of mine but wouldn't necessarily be the most appropriately named winner of the opener on Ladies' Day. Favourite Neon Wolf has been well-touted throughout the season; connections have opted for this rather than the Supreme on account of the drying ground. He won a point-to-point on good to yielding at Ballyragget last March. Barcadys brings strong form to the table but appears to be drifting in the market this evening; third behind Ballyandy in last year's bumper, he went on to reverse placings with that rival in the Aintree bumper three weeks later on four pounds better terms (Willoughby Court fifth). Messire Des Obeaux is one of a clutch of horses with an each-way shout but as nine of the past ten winners have started no bigger than 7/1 I'll sit this one out.

2.10 RSA Novices' Chase
Favourite Might Bite took a crashing fall at Kempton on his penultimate start. He comes into this on the back of a confidence boosting three-runner stroll at Doncaster. The question is will his jumping be good enough - plenty on the Festival preview circuit think not. Alpha Des Obeaux bled at Leopardstown over Christmas but Acapella Bourgeois led his rivals a merry dance at Navan last month. Some commentators felt the chasing pack gave Sandra Hughes' charge too much rope there; on official handicap ratings he's the best horse in this race. Royal Vacation won well over two miles five here at the end of January and merits an each-way interest at 12/1.

Royal Vacation is the each-way selection.

2.50 Coral Cup
There are plenty with smart form at the top of the handicap including Lanzarote Hurdle winner Modus, former Greatwood Hurdle winner Old Guard as well as Tombstone and Supsasundae, fourth and seventh respectively behind Altior in the Supreme last year. Taquin du Seuil, 161 over fences, has a hurdle rating of just 148 while last Saturday The Times ran a two-page spread on the preparation of Mister Miyagi, 'one of the stable's brightest hopes for a second Festival winner', owned by two former Coventry City footballers Ben Turner (now with Burton Albion) and Jay Tabb. Carrying my money Peregrine Run got stuck in the mud at Warwick last time but he'll appreciate the drying ground here and his defeat of Wholestone and West Approach (now goes in the Stayers' Hurdle) over course and distance in November reads well.

Peregrine Run is the each-way selection. Several layers are paying a quarter the odds five places, Paddy Power and Skybet a fifth the odds six places.

3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Douvan is expected to win comfortably and should not be opposed. Special Tiara is reported 'in mighty form' and is my each-way pick at 20/1. Pearlyman remains my all-time favourite winner of this race; I hold John Edwards' gelding partly responsible for my current predicaments...

Special Tiara is the each-way selection.

4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Often a lottery, in the past decade no winner has had an official rating higher than 133. Of Nicky Henderson's trio the well-touted Divin Bere (139) is set to carry top weight and has had a wind operation since his last run when he beat Master Blueyes a neck at Huntingdon; Master Blueyes is currently third favourite for Friday's Triumph Hurdle. Stablemate Domperignon De Lys (133) is preferred. Paul Nicholls has won the past two renewals and saddles two; last week Dreamcatching (131) was shorter in the market but Sam Twiston-Davies put up Dolos (134) as one of the rides he's most looking forward to with the result the latter is now as low as 9/1 - the value has disappeared. Diable De Sivola has placed form behind Defi Du Seuil (favourite for the Triumph) and Soldier In Action (16/1 for the Triumph) which reads well but if I want a go on a lottery, I can pop down my local newsagent. I'm not going to play.

5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper
Carter McKay is clear favourite on the back of comments from the yard; Ruby Walsh rides Next Destination. Jamie Snowden has pointed out that in the listed bumper won by Daphne Du Clos at Newbury last month, Dans Le Vent finished within two lengths of Western Ryder; Western Ryder is quoted a 8/1 chance while the Snowden inmate is 66/1. On RPRs Fayonagh is joint-top with the favourite and priced at 12/1 while Dan Skelton's runner Cause Toujours was the other one highlighted in Mike Atherton's piece in last Saturday's copy of The Times. I'm also interested to see whether Alan King has a word for Perfect Harmony in his Weekender column tomorrow. Ordinarily I'm not keen on a four-year-old in the bumper but Cue Card was good enough in 2010 and 66/1 is jolly tempting...

Dans Le Vent is the each-way play at 66/1 with bet365 a quarter the odds four places.


Anonymous said...

Day 2 does look tougher and given my Day 1 performance that does not augur well!

At the available odds I'm keen to take on the front two in the market so it is a race I want to play in and I've opted for Willoughby Court EW at 14/1. I was taken by - and agree with - this quote from his trainer:

"I have never had this horse in better form and he goes there as probably my best chance of the week. His real strengths are his jumping and that he is a strong stayer. He won the Grade 2 Leamington Spa novice hurdle at Warwick last time out by 8 lengths and that form alone is as good as any in the race. There are a few very nice types in the race but I think he could be a tough nut to crack."

The drying ground might have gone against the likeable Acapella Bourgeois so I'm taking a chance on Davy Russell continuing to get a fine tune out of the occasionally wayward Whisper (Win 7/1). He's done really well in two chases at Cheltenham this term and it is not too hard to envisage a little bit more improvement over today's extra 1/2 mile as his best performance was probably when winning the Stayer's Hurdle at the Aintree festival and the fences will not come quite a quick. Given his profile I'm not at all worried about him being a 9yo.

I did not see the Time's piece on Mister Miyagi but I do think he is under-rated at 149, tick all the boxes required and whilst 16/1 is at the skinny end of the odds for a race as competitive as this I'm happy to play EW with those 5/6 places available. I do like Peregrine Run's November form but just feel he might have a bit less scope of a mark off 142.

I've bought a lottery ticket in the form of Rainbow Dreamer at 33/1, probably flattered to get within 9 lengths of Defi Du Seuil last time out but if you take that at face value then he could be well handicapped off a mark of 132 and the better ground/bigger field should help.

Good luck and win or lose enjoy the day!


Anonymous said...

On a day of some exciting finishes well done with Special Tiara, hopefully the Cheltenham account is now in the black!

I recouped first day losses so can play again on Day 3 but I did have to pop the 'Rainbow Dream' lottery ticket in the bin.


GeeDee said...

Well done, TW! Great day's sport - write up to follow.

GeeDee said...

Royal Vacation (12/1) pulled up and Peregrine Run (15/2) finished mid division but front-running Special Tiara (11/1) gave me a day out I'll never forget, taking the Champion Chase a head from the fast-finishing Fox Norton (7/1). 2/9 favourite Douvan suffered his first defeat on a racecourse; an early mistake seemed to unsettle the horse and he was never really happy thereafter.

A word too for 100/1 shot Dans Le Vent who led three out in the bumper but faded up the hill to finish a very respectable sixth on only his third racecourse appearance. I've put the name in my notebook - you may want to do likewise.