Thursday, March 12, 2020

Cheltenham Festival 2020 - Friday

Over the years I haven't spent an awful lot of time on the Triumph Hurdle (1.30) but this looks a particularly high class renewal. I was taken with Sir Psycho's slick, fluent hurdling the last day at Haydock but on ratings he has enough to find with a few of these (including stablemate Solo) and the 12/1 on offer doesn't quite cut it - one to watch with interest.

I've had more tips for the Country Hurdle (2.10) than you could shake a stick at, yet most of them have failed to make the final declaration stage. The Evan Williams trained Mack The Man is an absentee but holds an entry in the Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle over two miles five at Kempton on Saturday. Stablemate Quoi De Neuf stays put in his stable.

At a preview event Gordon Elliott was quite bullish about Thatsy indicating he thought this one well handicapped. The gelding appeared to meet some trouble in running the last day at Leopardstown behind Thosedaysaregone (third in the Coral Cup on Wednesday); Davy Russell does the steering.

Newbury's Betfair Hurdle form is represented by Ciel De Neige (raised four pounds after finishing second to Pic D'Orhy), Sir Valentine (fourth, also raised four pounds), Zanza (sixth, raised two pounds), Oakley (seventh, dropped one pound) and Stolen Silver (eighth, dropped two pounds).

A word too for Moon Over Germany at a much bigger price; trainer Henry De Bromhead said in the RP Weekender [29.01.20-02.02.20]:

"I gave him a run over hurdles at Leopardstown over Christmas as I feel his mark is more favourable - he is rated 15lbs higher over fences. He has a mark of 134 over hurdles here in Ireland and 140 in Britain so the plan is to go to Cheltenham for the County Hurdle."

That discrepancy between the hurdle and chase ratings makes Moon Over Germany an intriguing proposition (28/1 in places this evening) but the last nine-year-old to come home in front was Pedrobob in 2007.

Thatsy is the each-way suggestion, 14/1 with Paddy Power who pay one fifth the odds six places. I note that no favourite has won this in the past ten years.

Al Boum Photo may well go off favourite for the feature Gold Cup (3.30) as he bids to become the first horse since Best Mate to win two consecutive renewals (2002/ 2003/ 2004). You could never accuse Henrietta Knight of over-racing her stable star; Al Boum Photo has followed a similar preparation to last year - after finishing second to Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo has had just the one run over an extended two miles five at Tramore on New Year's Day.

The handicapper rated stablemate Kemboy the best chaser in the land after that Punchestown victory but he hasn't been in quite the same form after a delayed start to the season following problems regarding his ownership. He has been beaten twice by Delta Work this season and questions marks remain over his jumping.

Santini will be challenging for favouritism and certainly looks a stayer but Bristol De Mai made a significant mistake three from home in the Cotswold Chase the last day, ceding the initiative to the Henderson horse.

Connections fit cheekpieces for the first time here but I'm just not convinced and I don't think drying ground will help his cause.

Lostintranslation ran a shocker in the King George at Kempton last time but before that was a must for any shortlist. He has undergone wind surgery since he 'made a noise' at Kempton and wears a first-time tongue tie; handler Colin Tizzard has been very pleased with his preparation..

Clan Des Obeaux has won two King Georges at Kempton over three miles but patently didn't come up the hill in last year's renewal (close 3rd two out, soon ridden, no extra from last). Paul Nicholls has adjusted his charge's preparation, missing out the Denman Chase in February (run at Ascot last year), and feels this will make all the difference; from a very early stage Nicholls has compared this one to See More Business who won the Gold Cup for him in 1999 (Mick Fitzgerald up).

Presenting Percy looked very good when winning the 2018 RSA Chase by seven lengths from Monalee but he was beaten 33 lengths into eighth behind Al Boum Photo in last year's Gold Cup and has finished behind Delta Work twice this season.

Bristol De Mai appeared at the end of his tether when claiming third last year while Monalee is certainly a smart operator and overpriced at 25/1 (beaten a head by Delta Work the last day) but has stamina questions to answer. Elegant Escape simply doesn't jump well enough while several commentators have put up Chris's Dream (won Red Mills Chase with Real Steel pulled up) as one that could make a place at a price.

In 2014 Lord Windermere won at odds of 20/1 and Al Boum Photo obliged at 12/1 last year but all the other winners over the past decade have been priced in single figures. The Irish challenge looks particularly strong with Al Boum Photo the percentage call and Delta Work bang there.

I'm going to take a leap of faith and support Lostintranslation who on official ratings has two pounds to find with top-rated pair Al Boum Photo and Kemboy.

Lostintranslation is the win selection, generally an 8/1 chance, but William Hill go 17/2 at the time of writing.   


Anonymous said...

Day 1: Invested 7PTS, Returned 3.4PTS, Net -3.6PTS
Day 2: Invested 6PTS, Returned 18PTS, Net +12PTS
Day 3: Invested 7.5PTS, Returned 12.35PTS, Net +4.85PTS

2:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m1f
I think this race may fit your "Festival handicaps are an absolute minefield, come with a health / wealth warning and really need to be avoided at all costs."

That said I’ve taken a small interest in Oakley at 40/1 5 places. He ran a decent race in similar conditions at the December meeting and whilst he did not improve on this in the Betfair Hurdle a return to this course on slightly slower ground might help. He’ll probably not be good enough to win but might make a place.

0.5PTS EW Oakley 40/1 5 places 1/5 odds.

2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
Thyme Hill [TH] tops my system output and suggests that there is a squeak of value in the available 9/2 price and if he drifts further, I might be tempted to play EW at 4 places 1/5 odds.
The system also suggests, substantially on a line through TH, that The Cashel Man [TCM] potentially represents outstanding value at 33/1 4 places 1/5 odds [50/1 at BET365 3 places 1/5 odds]. Of course, there are always negatives with any longshot and TCM is no different. As an ex flat horse he does not, Penhill aside, have the profile of typical winner of this race, his hurdling is sketchy at best, he’d like the ground to better than he’ll get here and he was lucky to be awarded the race LTO.

The positives: well he was a close 2nd to TH in the Challow on ground that would have favoured the winner more and despite a couple of those hurdling errors. His record from 7 starts over hurdles reads 2221121 and whilst some of these have been taps in others a bit more notable (nk 2nd to Pym, nk 2nd to Reserve Tank, strolled home in a Class 2 handicap & that 2nd to TH). He looks to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a big field, he generally travels well in his races and just keeps on running to the line so might enjoy the hill.

0.5PTS EW 50/1 3 places 1/5 odds

3:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m2½f
This looks a very open renewal; take out the four with the lowest official ratings and there is only 7lbs between the rest and they are bunched closer still on my system ratings. Given this the two that standout at the odds on my system prices are Bristol De Mai and Monalee. Skybet and Betfred are currently paying 4 and 5 places respectively but I’ll not get on; whilst it is possible other layers may follow suit later today, I think I’ll need to take 3 place 1/5 odds. I dithered over splitting my stake between the two but in the end Monalee just edged it. The selection has been a bit of a nearly horse but on the whole been very consistent, this first try at 3m 2F may bring further improvement, might have had the beating of Delta Work at Leopardstown over Christmas had Rachael not lost an iron at the last with Kemboy and Presenting Percy further behind.

1PT EW 25/1 Monalee 3 places 1/5 odds

5:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m4½f
BET365 are a standout 50/1 [5 places ¼ odds] about Happygolucky. A £55,000 purchase the gelding has had only 3 runs under rules since joining Kim Bailey and an initial mark of 137 looks like it might just underestimate his potential. Won his maiden easily before twice finishing 3rd in two Grade 2 affairs. He may not deliver in this, but I’ve certainly backed 50/1 shots with worse credentials.

0.5PT EW Happygolucky 50/1 5 places ¼ odds.

Best of luck and thanks for taking the time to write the blog each day.


GeeDee said...

Thanks for your comments and selections, TW. Good luck for the final day!

GeeDee said...

Nice footnote to a profitable week for you, TW, with Happygolucky picking up fourth spot in the finale!

GeeDee said...

Well, I'll go to the bottom of our back yard - the favourite wins the County!

Saint Roi (11/2f) beat Aramon (8/1) four and a half lengths with a neck separating Embittered (14/1) in third and Buildmeupbuttercup (16/1) in fourth. Under a hold-up ride, selection Thatsy (8/1) made ground from two out but didn't have the pace to pose any serious threat. He was run out of the final paying sixth place by, er, Moon Over Germany (25/1)...

Just for a moment I dared to dream in an enthralling Gold Cup with Lostintranslation (10/1) holding a narrow lead coming to the last but he was quickly passed by 100/30f Al Boum Photo and, although running on gamely to the line, had to settle for third as Santini (5/1) came with a rattle up the hill to throw down his challenge, eventually going down a neck.

Al Boum Photo becomes the first horse since Best Mate to win back-to-back Gold Cups - and on the day land a treble for jock Paul Townend and a four-timer for trainer Willie Mullins.