Thursday, March 14, 2019

Cheltenham Festival 2019 - Friday

A good day for the blog this Thursday but tomorrow, it's another day altogether. Beware the Ides of March.

We look set for a vintage renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30); sixteen have been declared with the going currently described as good to soft, soft in places.

Colin Tizzard saddles three. Native River bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals since Best Mate completed his hat-trick in 2004. Stablemate Thistlecrack may be eleven years old but he retains some engine; if his jumping were more proficient, he would rate a top contender. Welsh National winner Elegant Escape isn't readily dismissed either but the suspicion is, as the ground dries out, a few in the field will finish ahead of him.

Presenting Percy won last year's RSA Chase in some style (Elegant Escape third, Al Boum Photo fell) and has been at or near the top of the Gold Cup market ever since. Patrick Kelly's inmate has had just one run this season - over hurdles - but has schooled over the larger obstacles at Galway as part of his preparation. The last horse to win the Gold Cup without a prior race over fences that season was Easter Hero in 1929.

Clan Des Obeaux's victory in the King George on Boxing Day (Thistlecrack second, Native River third, Double Shuffle fifth, Might Bite seventh with Bristol De Mail falling) represents top-drawer form and marks Paul Nicholls' charge out as a serious contender. His fourth behind Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November (Native River second, Thistlecrack third, Might Bite fifth) for me just leaves a query as to how well he'll cope with the final climb up the hill of this extended three miles two and a half furlongs.  

Conversely, Bristol De Mai appears to reserve his very best form for Haydock.

Willie Mullins saddles four and Ruby Walsh rides Bellshill. Kemboy's win in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas is noteworthy (Bellshill fourth, Shattered Love tenth) but Bellshill wasn't fully wound up that day and progressed next time out to win the Irish Gold Cup by a short-head from Road To Respect (third in the Ryanair earlier today).

Might Bite's mighty duel with Native River in last year's renewal (Anibale Fly third, Definitly Red sixth) lives long in the memory. Nicky Henderson's charge hasn't been in the same form this term; connections have tried wind surgery and, if I remember correctly, the horse has undergone treatment for ulcers. 14/1 would be a very big price if Might Bite was back to his best but he has always had quirks - he nearly handed the 2017 RSA Chase to stablemate Whisper - and I suspect ideally he'd prefer slightly better ground.

The mare Shattered Love underwent wind surgery in January and the balance of her form to date suggests she isn't certain to stay this trip but Yala Enki certainly will. Venetia Williams' charge often races prominently but is likely to find a few in the field staying on a bit more quickly.

Anibale Fly finished a very creditable third in last year's renewal, making up ground at the business end of the race without ever threatening the leaders, and four weeks later he came home fourth behind Tiger Roll in the Grand National.

Last time out the JP McManus owned gelding ran a pleasing trial in the Red Mills Chase over an inadequate trip of two and a half miles, beaten two lengths by Monalee (fourth in the Ryanair earlier today).

Of the protagonists Native River would be the one for me but on the back of that effort last year Anibale Fly - with something to find on the book - makes most appeal as an each-way outsider, although drying ground isn't ideal.

At the time of writing both William Hill and Ladbrokes go 25/1 and pay one fifth the odds four places.

With Barry Geraghty up, Anibale Fly is the each-way selection.


Anonymous said...

TW Day 1 +1.90 PTS
TW Day 2 -3.00 PTS
TW Day 3 +7.10 PTS

TW Meeting +6.00 PTS

Every race covered as I was asked to share my thoughts with friends attending the meeting, given this I've split my comments in to two seperate posts.

1:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

TW Top Rated: -

TW Note(s): Even money looks short enough about Sir Eric and I’d be looking to take him on. On the face of it Adjali has been a little disappointing but there was nothing between him and Quel Destin at Chepstow over Xmas and he beat QD in France so the price discrepancy between the pair looks skewed. The Henderson horses went through a quite spell late last year so there are reasons to be hopeful that Adjali can put in an improved effort here.

TW Bet: 1PT EW Adjali @ 20/1 3 places 1/5 odds

2:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

TW Top Rated: -
RTG Horse

TW Notes: Monsieur Lecoq and Crooks Peak both made the short-list but a chance is taken on Thistle Do Nicely at 33/1 EW. 5YO’ have a good record in this (18% placed in last 10 yrs), he is unexposed and can rate higher, he ran well over 3F further LTO and that proven stamina will be a plus in a race run at a frantic pace. Likely to be out at the back for much of the race I’m hoping he can storm up the hill to grab a place.

TW Bet: 1PT EW Thistle Do Nicely @ 33/1 6 places 1/4 odds

2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

TW Top Rated: -
RTG Horse

TW Note(s): Birchdale could be a top prospect but in the hope the ground continues to dry out a chance is taken on Dinons [Gordon Elliot / Davy Russell] who ran up a sting of easy victories before being badly hampered when last seen back in November.

TW Bet: 1PT EW Dinons @ 12/1 4 places 1/5 odds

3:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

TW Top Rated: -
RTG Horse

TW Note(s): Trends suggest that horses older than 9 may struggle to win this so I’ve drawn a line through Thistlecrack and Might Bite. Clan Des Obeaux, Native River and Presenting Percy look a bit short in the market. Kemboy made the short-list and could run well whilst this trip could be an issue for Al Boum Photo. Bellshill should give Ruby Walsh a good spin but at bigger odds a chance is taken with Bristol De Mai. His record at Cheltenham does not look too hot but he’s never ran here as a fresh horse and that could be key today. BDM has not been seen since falling in the King George on Boxing Day 79 days ago. BDM’ record when running after an absence of 50 days+ reads 1221121 so he clearly looks to peak after an absence. He dispelled doubts that he needs soft ground when winning this season’ Betfair Chase on Good going and odds of 25/1 look huge.

2PTS EW Bristol De Mai @ 25/1 [NAP]

Anonymous said...

4:10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase

TW Top Rated: -
RTG Horse

TW Note(s): This race is not really my forte, but it is hard to get away from Shantou Flyer who was surely bought with this in mind by his owner/rider. SF was beaten a neck in the Ultima at last year’ Festival, sports 1st time blinkers here [though not really sure why] and looks to have had a nice preparation in 3 hunter Chases since the turn of the year.
W Bet: 1PT Win Shantou Flyer @ 8/1

4:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

TW Note(s): Very competitive and with only 5lb between the top and bottom rated it is hard to rule any out. Two that made my short-list were Tree Of Liberty & Brelan D’as and I’ll take a chance on the former at bigger odds. TOL has only competed in 12 races with 7 of these being chases (won 2) Another race where it does not hurt to have some form further than 2 miles which TOL did over hurdles when with Charlie Longsdon. I don’t think TOL has a lot in hand off his 147 mark, but he might make the frame.

TW Bet: 0.5PT EW Tree Of Liberty @ 33/1 5 places 1/5 odds

5:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

TW Top Rated: -
RTG Horse

TW Note(s): Another tricky affair, at big odds I’ll have a small punt on Burrows Park; whilst he has been held last twice off his revised mark following a couple of wins, he has still ran with credit and every chance he can do so again today.

TW Bet: 0.5PT EW Burrows Park @ 28/1 4 places 1/4 odds

GeeDee said...

Thanks for all your ratings here, TW - good to see a profit for Day 3.

Haven't done the prep on the other races - it's a work thing- so I'll keep comment to a minimum.

Rhys Williams' long range view on the Foxhunter here:

Interesting to see old friend Mount Mews in the finale, now with Donald McCain.

David Pipe's Extra Mag, withdrawn from the Imperial Cup on Saturday I think, held an entry for this race (named after David's father) but isn't among the final 24. He does hold an entry in the Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle (2.40 Kempton) on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

With Barry Geraghty up, Anibale Fly is the each-way selection.......

Well done, a fine end to a very good Chelteham for the blog.


GeeDee said...

Despite some scratchy jumping on the first circuit Al Boum Photo (12/1) slowly crept into the race; pilot Paul Townend sent his charge to the front turning in for the final time and at that point TW's selection Bristol De Mai (18/1) looked the main threat to the eventual winner.

As Willie Mullins' charge went on, Bristol De Mai couldn't go with the leader and he was denied second spot by Anibale Fly (22/1) who had struggled to hold his position earlier but made up ground after the last, running a very similar race to last year; the distances were two and a half lengths and three and threequarter lengths.

After a somewhat indifferent start, Native River (6/1) came home a gallant fourth with Clan Des Obeaux (5/1) fifth. Presenting Percy was sent off 100/30 favourite; under a hold-up ride, he made some headway as the pace picked up but weakened to finish eighth.

GeeDee said...

Hi TW,

Many thanks once again for providing your ratings and comments too for today's card. I'll post a Festival betting debrief sometime over the weekend.