Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cheltenham Festival 2018 - Friday

The highlight of the whole week is the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30) with eighteen set to face the starter; the ground on the New Course is currently described as soft, heavy in places.

On official ratings and by general consensus Might Bite is the best horse in the race but speaking earlier trainer Nicky Henderson expressed his reservations:

I'm worried about the ground and the extra two and a half furlongs as well. But he's been more straightforward and good this season.” 

Those that are likely to relish underfoot conditions include Native River, Our Duke, Killultagh Vic, Definitly Red, Edwulf, and American. 

Native River finished third behind Sizing John in last year's renewal (Minella Rocco second, Djakadam fourth, Saphir Du Rheu fifth, Outlander tenth and Tea For Two unseating Lizzie Kelly at the second flight); the official going on the day was good.

That was a decent effort from Native River who had won the Welsh National at Chepstow in December 2016 carrying top weight on soft ground. This season connections have trained the horse specifically for this race.

Our Duke hails from the same yard as last year's winner and is currently vying for favouritism. Clearly he is held in high regard but his price is short enough for one who tends to miss out the occasional fence.

Willie Mullins is responsible for four in the field. The market suggests Killultagh Vic holds the best chance but he only has three chase starts to his name and fell last time out in the Irish Gold Cup behind Edwulf. Total Recall won the Hennessy at Newbury in December but the form of the race hasn't worked out well while I feel Djakadam's best chances in this race have already passed by. Bachasson is relatively unexposed and could be anything; this is his first try beyond two miles six furlongs.  

Definitly Red looked good winning the Cotswold Chase here in January (American second, Tea For Two pulled up). He is rated just two pounds inferior to Might Bite and at around 12/1 is interesting.

Edwulf comes into calculations on the back of his neck defeat of Outlander in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown nearly six week ago (Djakadam third, Our Duke fourth, with Anibale Fly, Killultagh Vic and Minella Rocco falling). He holds each-way claims at around 14/1. 

Gordon Elliott is on record as saying Outlander is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character. The trainer can't tell which one will turn up on the day - what hope do we have? He's entitled to be in the mix on a going day.

American has been supplemented and will appreciate underfoot conditions but he has some ten pounds to find with Might Bite and there were no obvious excuses behind Definitly Red the last day.

Minella Rocco hasn't been in the same form this season as last; this is his first run following wind surgery.

A week or so ago I put up Double Shuffle and Saphir Du Rheu as potential outsiders in this; that was before the weather took its toll.

I see Double Shuffle is 66/1 in places this evening which seems a big price about a horse that finished one length behind Might Bite at Kempton on Boxing Day. Trainer Tom George has pointed out his charge has Cheltenham form in the book but the extra two and half furlongs on soft ground is the worry - in my mind's eye I can't see him staying on up the hill.

Saphir Du Rheu, fifth last year, is 100/1 this year and a little further information has come to light. He injured himself when falling in the National and wasn't seen until finishing well beaten behind Native River in the Denman last month. He is bound to improve for that but connections have indicated they would have preferred to get another run into him but have run out of time...

Native River is my idea of the Gold Cup winner but for betting purposes I have to take up Paddy Power's offer on Definitly Red.

Definitly Red (one fifth odds four places @ 12/1) is the selection.

I'm not sure I've seen a Triumph Hurdle (1.30) quite like this year's renewal before - just nine entrants with Willie Mullins saddling four. The two fillies with their allowance head the market; Apple's Shakira is a course and distance winner but short enough.

The vibes seem good for the Alan King trained Redicean who looked a different beast altogether in the Adonis at Kempton the last day. His three hurdle wins to date have all come at Kempton and this promises to be a very different test.

A distinctly trappy-looking affair but at around 5/1 Redicean is the win selection.

The County Hurdle (2.10) looks monstrous. They bet 10/1 the field, a field which contains the names of some old friends and some old foes. A number of those I had pencilled in haven't shown up (including Hunters Call) so I'm not going to play but I can see why last year's Fred Winter winner Flying Tiger, fourth behind Elgin in the Kingwell Hurdle last month, is popular.


Anonymous said...

Well done with Delta Work (14/1). Davy Russell, some jockey...

After 3 losing days I’m going into Day 4 12.8 PTS down with a mountain to climb. The lows and highs of gambling...

Day 4

GOING SOFT (Heavy in places)

1:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f
176,APPLE'S SHAKIRA(FR),42.09,2.38

The form of Apple’s Shakira’ (AS) thrashing of Gumball in the trial at this course in November reads well and she has followed this up with two subsequent wins at the track. The Irish are mob handed with a batch of unexposed horses, but they will need to be something special to take this. Yesterday afternoon AS was 2/1 which I think is value but 6/4 too short.

Bet(s): None

2:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m1f
172,DIVIN BERE(FR),8.68,12
167,ALL SET TO GO(IRE),5.27,19
168,FLYING TIGER(IRE),5.2,19.5

I’ll take a chance on Mohaayed, 3 ½ lengths 7th in this race last year, 5lbs higher today but Bridget can claim 3lbs. Comes into this year’s renewal in at least as good a form, if not better. Question mark if the ground is really testing but at 33/1 worth taking the chance that he’ll make the frame.

Bet(s): 1PT EW Mohaayed 33/1

2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
168,CHEF DES OBEAUX(FR),16.05,6.4
169,FABULOUS SAGA(FR),9.32,11
169,POETIC RHYTHM(IRE),9.01,11.5
161,CHRIS'S DREAM(IRE),6.06,17

At 33/1 it is worth forgiving Fabulous Saga his poor last time out effort. Before that he beat yesterday’s Pertemps Final winner Delta Work, 33/1 appears a big price.

Bet(s): 1PT EW Fabulous Saga 33/1

3:30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m2½f
180,MIGHT BITE(IRE),16.5,6.2
179,NATIVE RIVER(IRE),12.76,8
179,DEFINITLY RED(IRE),10.13,10
177,OUR DUKE(IRE),8.47,12
176,ROAD TO RESPECT(IRE),6.62,15.5
174,TEA FOR TWO(GB),3.98,26
166,TOTAL RECALL(IRE),3.62,28
171,ANIBALE FLY(FR),3.14,32
172,SAPHIR DU RHEU(FR),3.06,34
173,MINELLA ROCCO(IRE),2.84,36
167,SHANTOU FLYER(IRE),2.75,38

A big field, a very open looking Gold Cup and as I cannot see any potential edge a race I’m happy to just watch and enjoy.

TW [Part 1]

Anonymous said...

First comment exceed the maxiumum length!

4:10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 3m2½f

Not a race I’ve a god record in, Paul Nicholls fields another strong hand and Unioniste (22/1) might be one to grab a place.
Bet(s): None

4:50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m4½f
159,CARTER MCKAY(GB),8.97,11.5
159,DEAL D'ESTRUVAL(FR),8.43,12
159,DIESE DES BIEFFES(FR),8.1,12.5
157,BRAVE EAGLE(IRE),7.29,14
157,MELROSE BOY(FR),5.42,18.5
158,DREAM BERRY(FR),5.12,20

Carter Mckay - disappointed after being well backed in last year’ bumper – has made a promising start over hurdles, winning his maiden and then running well in two decent novice events. A mark of 138 might just underestimate his ability on his handicap debut and 16/1 looks fair. I’ll also take an interest in Brave Eagle at 40/1, perhaps the lesser fancied Henderson runner, the form of his latest win is working out quite well, Nicky has expressed ground concerns but his win last time out came on Heavy, jockey is inexperienced and will need his 5lb claim.

Bet(s) 0.5PT EW Cater Mckay 16/1, 0.25PT EW Brave Eagle 40/1

5:30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m½f
167,FOREST BIHAN(FR),8.65,12
165,LE PREZIEN(FR),8.05,12.5
165,GINO TRAIL(IRE),6.41,16
164,VOSNE ROMANEE(GB),5.26,19

Maximum field and as always, an ultra-competitive finale to the meeting. Going doubts about Forest Bihan so I’ll side with Le Prezien, he’s 4lb higher than last year when he was sent of 7/2 fav finishing 8th. The going was good last year, and he might have found it all happening a bit quicker then he would like so today’s going should be ideal.

Bet(s): 1PT EW Le Prezien (16/1)

It’s been a great weeks racing, thanks for your posts and best of luck with today’s selections.


GeeDee said...

Again, many thanks for your ratings, TW. I certainly didn't know there was a maximum limit length to the comments field!

Here's hoping today's selections bring about a change of fortune.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...


Trusting 33/1 Mohaayed in the County has helped to restore your spirits... Well done indeed!

Anonymous said...

Yes, winners are a bit like buses; wait 3 days for one and then two come together!

Finished the week a very healthy +34.9 PTS so that saves me having to worry too much about finding the winner of the Midlands Grand National.

An enthralling Gold Cup.

Thanks again for a set of informative posts this week.


GeeDee said...

Fantastic return, TW!

I have just replayed the races covered by ITV. Now, it may seem a slightly churlish point to raise in the circumstances, but it certainly looked to this armchair jock that Danny Mullins committed Fabulous Saga a long way from home in Albert Bartlett.

Off to take a quick look at the Midlands National but the weather looks threatening; inspection scheduled for 8.00am tomorrow morning with forecast of gusty winds and light snow overnight.

Anonymous said...

Yes, perhaps Danny could have held on to him longer, but the armchair is a very comfortable spot. For one giddy moment I thought I’d found back to back 33/1 shots and that would have certainly been a first for me.


Sandracer said...

Good Cheltenham Geedee. Finished ahead following your bets. Only got 8's on your 14/1 winner (long silly story), although my son stole in and got the tip too, at 11/1, so everyone was happy. Including in the end TW, with the 33/1 and La Prezien. V nice. How I missed Pacha Du Polder is another long winding storyline. Unbelievable. Cheers, good Cheltenham this time, cya.

GeeDee said...

Pleased to hear you've had a good Cheltenham, Sandracer. Always brings a warm glow to my soul to hear stories of punters taking money off bookmakers. Well done!

GeeDee said...

A number of youngsters got stuck in the mud in the Triumph (1.30) including selection Redicean (7/1); he finished sixth behind 9/1 winner Farclas. A word for filly Stormy Ireland (9/2) who fell at the last when third but had raced far too freely for her own good having been set alight at the start.

In the Gold Cup (3.30) Definitly Red (8/1) struggled to maintain his position on the second circuit as eventual winner Native River (5/1) and Might Bite fought out their own private battle up front. He came home sixth, beaten just under 40 lengths.