Sunday, March 11, 2018

Cheltenham Festival 2018 - Tuesday

The ground at Cheltenham is currently described as soft, heavy in places. Nicky Henderson has said he is 'very pleasantly surprised' by conditions but forecasters predict a further 10mm of rain before the Supreme on the opening day.

Looking for some value in the run-up to the Festival, for years I've tried to identify horses that might improve for better ground. This year it's going to be different and I've just shredded my list of decent ground performers.

As I always tell myself in the days leading up to Cheltenham, the Festival is a marathon not a sprint. Traditionally I've adopted a cautious approach on the opening day - so I can fritter away my hard-earned at the track on Wednesday's card.

This year's renewal of the Supreme (1.30) wouldn't be the strongest held in recent times but it has generated plenty of interest; layers are offering money back as a free bet if your selection loses or the favourite wins.

It's no surprise to see Getabird, unbeaten in four starts and trained by Willie Mullins, at the top of the market but  favourites don't have a particularly good record in the race - Vautour (7/2jf in 2014) and Douvan (2/1f in 2015) are the only two to oblige in the past decade.

Kalashnikov heads the British challenge. His victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month was impressive but if he's generally considered a 4/1 chance, I don't quite see why Summerville Boy is priced up at 10/1; Summerville Boy beat Kalashnikov four lengths on heavy in the Tolworth at Sandown (Western Ryder fourth).

At a bigger price Slate House is of interest. This one beat Summerville Boy over course and distance on soft in November. I'm prepared to forgive his next effort as the yard was out of form at the time and his fifth behind Santini the last day was over a longer trip. Connections have chosen to fit a tongue-tie for the first time.

Recently I spent some time trying to work out what plans Kim Bailey had for his novices and I'm afraid to report I've failed - miserably.

First Flow hacked up in the Rossington Main at Haydock in January; immediately after that race the trainer told TV viewers the horse was going to be put away for next season. On the back of those comments I thought Vinndication was the one for Wednesday's Ballymore but he only holds an entry in Friday's Albert Bartlett now (along with stablemate Red River).

Underfoot conditions will suit First Flow and his chance is respected but my recollection from that TV interview was connections felt the horse still had plenty to learn.

A quick word for two who finished behind Beyond The Clouds in the Scottish Trial at Musselburgh last month. I wouldn't dismiss the chance of Claimantakinforgan (14/1) on the back of that run while word is Simply The Betts (40/1) has a pretty big engine but the jumping is still a work in progress.

Slate House is the each-way selection (25/1 with bet365 paying one quarter the odds on three places).

Only five go in the Arkle (2.10) and I'm not tempted to get involved.

On ratings Saint Calvados is the play against favourite Footpad; the last five-year-old to win was Voy Por Ustedes in 2006. Brain Power took a crashing fall last time and has since had a wind operation.

The field for the Champion Hurdle (3.30) doesn't appear to have a lot of strength in depth and looks at the mercy of Buveur D'Air. If the first-time cheekpieces have the desired effect, 2015 winner Faugheen will be competitive. Between them, Messrs Henderson and Mullins are responsible for eight of the thirteen runners.

Elgin won the Kingwell at Wincanton with something in hand the last day and has been supplemented at a cost of £20,000.

Elgin is the each-way selection (20/1 with both Paddy Power and Sky Bet at the time of writing).

Finally I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all readers the very best of luck at this year's Cheltenham Festival.


Anonymous said...

Great Day 1 write-up, thanks for sharing your thoughts so early (as a punter under both codes the 48-hour decs are a boon).

TW Notes: Day 1 [1st four races, rest might follow later]

Assumed Going: Soft, heavy in places

1:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m½f

178 GETABIRD(IRE) 28.51 3.55
173 KALASHNIKOV(IRE) 13.07 7.8
174 SUMMERVILLE BOY(IRE) 8.87 11.5
171 MENGLI KHAN(IRE) 4.85 21

The system suggests the market currently has this about right and a race I’ll watch unless there are any significant drifts.

Bet(s): None

2:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m

190 SAINT CALVADOS(FR) 41.77 2.4
183 FOOTPAD(FR) 33.28 3
181 BRAIN POWER(IRE) 7.66 13.5
157 ROBINSHILL(IRE) 2.79 36

A small field for this renewal. Robinshill is outclassed and definite doubts over the ability of Brain Power to handle the bigger obstacles/going. Petit Mouchoir might also have questions to answer in the jumping department. Footpad has clearly taken to chasing but he flattened out over hurdles hitting a ceiling in the low 150’ so just might lack scope. The ground has come right for Saint Calvados (SC), he’s clearly improving, beat some good yard sticks easily last time out. I think Ruby might be happy to allow SC the lead in the hope of reeling him in up the hill but given that SC will stay longer than 2 miles in time he should, hopefully, pull further away up the hill to victory.

Bet(s) 1PT Win @ 3/1 Saint Calvados

2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f ITV

171 MINELLA DADDY(IRE) 14.96 6.8
174 CASSE TETE(FR) 11.76 8.6
167 GOLD PRESENT(IRE) 10.1 10
168 BEWARE THE BEAR(IRE) 9.86 10.5

Casse Tete could be on a good mark but may not stay 25F, Beware The Bear is interesting and he might stay on late to pick up a place but at odds of 20/1 Minellla Daddy is stand out value. A progressive novice before injuring himself in the 2016 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Not seen until early January, MD ran well on his return before blowing up. He then put in a great performance in a 3-mile handicap at Ascot only to find the enigmatic Regal Encore on a going day. MD can step up again and run a big race at big odds.

Bet(s) 1PT EW @ 20/1 Minella Daddy

3:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m½f

183 FAUGHEEN(IRE) 33.5 2.98
178 BUVEUR D'AIR(FR) 17.1 5.9
175 WICKLOW BRAVE(GB) 6.98 14.5
171 MY TENT OR YOURS(IRE) 5.57 18
172 MELON(GB) 5.57 18
164 CH'TIBELLO(FR) 5.13 19.5
163 YORKHILL(IRE) 4.91 21
173 MICK JAZZ(FR) 4.68 22
168 ELGIN(GB) 4.46 23
165 VERDANA BLUE(IRE) 3.51 29
159 CHARLI PARCS(FR) 2.19 46

This appears to be between Buveur D’Air and Faugheen.

Looking at the ratings of their respective last six races:

Buveur D’Air 153 167 168 156 155 161
Faugheen 162 166 176 170 P 163

Buveur D’Air has won all his races and would very likely have rated higher if he was pushed harder but the figures still suggest Faugheen is no back number. Faugheen, now a 10yo, does need to put two below par efforts behind him but 2 miles on soft ground is perfect whereas ideally Buveur D’Air might prefer good/good-soft. If any runner is to upsurp the odds-on favourite then Faugheen may be the one.

Bet(s) 1PT Win @ 13/2 Faugheen

Best of luck


GeeDee said...

Many thanks for your ratings, TW.

That's more or less how I see the Arkle being run. Perhaps I'm being a little too greedy wanting more than 3/1 about Saint Calvados. I'll mull it over... ;)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

TW Notes: Day 1 [last 3 races]

Assumed Going [Updated]: Heavy, soft in places

4:10 OLGB Mares' Hurdle (Grade 1) (David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f

178 APPLE'S JADE(FR) 38.62 2.6
166 BENIE DES DIEUX(FR) 24.81 4.1
170 LA BAGUE AU ROI(FR) 12.74 8

Hard to get away from Apple’s Jade but she’s too short for me, La Bague Au Roi looks the EW steal.

Bet(s): None

4:50 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 (5yo+) 4m

171 RATHVINDEN(IRE) 22.81 4.4
166 JURY DUTY(IRE) 10.29 9.8
166 MS PARFOIS(IRE) 9.73 10.5
161 NO COMMENT(GB) 8.47 12

Rathvinden tops the ratings but the 4-mile trip in this ground is a question mark for him and most of the field, I’ll sit it out.

Bet(s): None

5:30 Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+ 0-145) 2m4½f

167 REPORT TO BASE(IRE) 18.41 5.5
165 DE PLOTTING SHED(IRE) 6.92 14.5
163 RATHER BE(IRE) 6.9 14.5
163 TESTIFY(IRE) 6.04 17

The system is highlighting the chance of Report To Base and at 20/1 I’ll take an interest in the hope that Adam Wedge remembers to jump all the obstacles!

Progressive in the main over hurdles, has improved this term over the bigger obstacles when 2nd to Western Approach before winning two beginners chases very easily.

This is much tougher but the form of those two beginner’s chases give cause for hope. Ignoring the disqualification, he beat Valhalla by 26L off level weights; Valhalla’s gone on to win a novice handicap of mark of 127. LTO he beat Muffins For Tea (3rd) by 39L off level weights, MFT then went on to win a novice handicap off 119 and finish 2nd off 125. Probably not wise to take these subsequent results literally but they suggest a mark off 139 may underestimate his ability and the system has him rated at 150.

Bet(s): 1PT EW Report To Base

Good Luck


GeeDee said...


Jack Haynes (Racing Post) reports Warren Greatrex reasonably bullish about La Bague Au Roi:

'Warren Greatrex is hopeful his leading mare La Bague Au Roi can trouble Apple's Jade. He said: "This season she has filled into a more finished article and now handles heavy ground in a way she couldn't when she was younger.

"Apple's Jade has looked very good for a long time but there is more to come from my mare and, if that's the case I would like to think she will shake up the favourite as well as Willie Mullins' horse [Benie Des Dieux], for whom there are good vibes.

"On all known form, it's between those three and it's exciting to go in there with a horse who can achieve even more than she already has. If that is the case, she's not going to be far away."'

Sandracer said...

Slate House and Elgin for me. Catch some big winners this year Geedee. I don't go each way unless it's a 150/1 golf bet..

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Sandracer!

Considering 80/1 Ordinary World in Wednesday's Champion Chase on the back of his last run where he would have given Min a bit to think about but for a bad mistake at the last.

Good luck!

Reamonnt said...

Its going to be as soft as it will ever be and that could throw up some surprising results. Ive gone small stakes on the following;

First Flow - Supreme
Minella Daddy - Ultima
Ms Parfois - NH Chase
Mr. Whitaker - Close Bros

Best of luck to you all.

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Reamonnt!

Ground should be no problem at all for First Flow. Minella Daddy is 'stand out value' on TW's system and both Ms Parfois and Mister Whitaker rate highly.

Good luck!

Sandracer said...

No Comment in the 4:50 at 9/1 is my only bet Geedee, aside your two. Will win ;)

GeeDee said...

In the Supreme (1.30) Slate House (20/1) was well held in seventh when coming to grief at the final flight.

In the Champion Hurdle (3.30) Elgin finished fifth, some 14 lengths behind Buveur D'Air.