Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Cheltenham Festival 2020 - Wednesday

Unbeaten in seven starts to date, Envoi Allen takes his chance in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (1.30) with Davy Russell doing the steering. On official ratings Gordon Elliott's charge is seven pounds clear of nearest rival Sporting John (unbeaten in three) and is priced accordingly.

Champ is a horse with a serious engine but his price has been on the drift for the RSA Chase (2.10); he doesn't look the easiest of rides or the best of jumpers for that matter. Both his defeats over obstacles have come at this track; he finished second behind City Island in last year's Ballymore and then took a crashing fall at the penultimate flight when in command of the Dipper on New Year's Day. His jumping up to that point wasn't always as slick as you might have wished for - I'm a layer rather than a backer.

Minella Indo won last year's Albert Bartlett at odds of 50/1 with Allaho third, beaten nine lengths. Alloha reduced that deficit to two lengths in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in May. In the RP Weekender [04-08.03.20] Willie Mullins informed readers Alloha 'can be quite keen in his races' and they were looking to 'give him some more work before Cheltenham to try to get some of that keenness out of him'.

Battleoverdoyen fell last time out and was pulled up when sent off 3/1 favourite for last season's Ballymore.

Colin Tizzard saddles two, Copperhead and Slate House, and the pair are joint top-rated. The former looked most impressive when winning the Reynoldstown at Ascot last month; Tom Segal (Pricewise) expects this one to oblige. Slate House was set to go close in the BetVictor Gold Cup here in November but came to grief two out. He was disappointing in the Cotswold Chase last time but has more experience than several in the field.

A couple of trends in a trappy race: since 2000 only two horses younger than seven have collected the spoils - 5-y-o Star De Mohaison (2006) and 6-y-o Don Poli (2012); nine of the last ten winners have run at least three times over the larger obstacles.

Copperhead (win) gets the nod.

Alfa Mix is the each-way suggestion for the fiercely competitive Coral Cup (2.50) on the back of Gavin Cromwell's comments that the gelding is 'one of the few Irish handicappers who can run off his Irish mark'. Several layers are paying six places on this race - at the time of writing Coral go 11/1.   

This year's Queen Mother Champion Chase has received star-billing in recent weeks with the battle of the 'big three' - Altior, Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi - anticipated with some relish. Altior was reported lame on Sunday and unfortuantely has failed in the race against time; he misses the chance to defend his title.

Chacun Pour Soi defeated Defi Du Seuil a convincing four and a quarter lengths in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown last May; a mistake five from home didn't help Defi's cause. Defi remains unbeaten since (including a course and distance win in the Schloer Chase in November). His track record - 6 from 8 - tips the balance for me; he is my idea of the winner but with just six facing the starter now this is a race I'm going to watch rather than bet on.

Tom Segal has said anything can win the Boodles (4.50). Well, my fancy for this, Rowland Ward, can't as he never made the final declaration stage. Badly hampered last time out, he is probably better than his final finishing position might suggest.

Irish runners filled the first three places in this race last year; Gordon Elliott has expressed a reservation about Aramax on very soft ground and appeared to favour Tronador.

I like Philip Hobbs' understated style and his Zoffee is of interest. In the RP Weekender 26.02.20-01.03.20 he states:

"We are lucky to have a strong team for the Cheltenham Festival this season and one of the more interesting ones could be Zoffee. He finished second on each of his first two starts before trotting up at Doncaster last time out. He has really thrived since then and is very much on an upward curve. He goes for the Fred Winter and I hope he will be competitive." 

Quoted at 16/1 with Sky Bet - the only bookmaker paying six places at the moment - Zoffee is the each-way suggestion.

I'm happy to lay Champ in the RSA and back Israel Champ each-way in the bumper (5.30).

Irish runners have won six of the past ten renewals and the word on the street is that the Willie Mullins trained Appreciate It is the one. That said, there have been some shock results over the years including Cue Card, the last four-year-old to come home in front at odds of 40/1 in 2010.

Course and distance winner Israel Champ looks the best of the British and comes from the David Pipe stable responsible for Moon Racer (owned by Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew) in 2015.  Panic Attack won a listed mares' race at Market Rasen for Willie Mullins in January and was subsequently bought by Bryan Drew and transferred to the Pipe stable last month - she could be absolutely anything. I think I'm correct when I say the only filly /  mare to win this since 2000 was Fayonagh in 2017.

Most layers are paying four places and at the time of writing Unibet offer 12/1; Israel Champ is the each-way pick.   


Anonymous said...

Festival Balance: Invested 7PTS, Returned 3.4PTS, Net -3.6PTS

1:30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Baring Bingham) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m5f
Envoi Allen chance looks to have been enhanced by performances in the Supreme and Champion Hurdle, Sporting John has does nothing wrong and could still be anything. Easywork looks to have been overlooked by the layers, 25/1+ looks big, the step back up in trip and the going should help though a bit better run from Asterion Forlonge in the Supreme on Day 1 would have been a plus.

0.5PT EW Easywork 25/1 3 places 1/5 odds

2:10 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m½f
Fascinating renewal and a strong case can be made for a few of these. Allaho is 2-1 down in his matches with Minella Indo but there is not that much between the pair, Allaho is a year younger so perhaps has that bit more improvement in him still, he has taken well enough to fences and might just edge the value in this.

1PT Win Allaho 5/1

2:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m5f
Pointless over complicating things: Dame De Compagnie sits clear top on the system ratings, is as well or better suited by conditions as any other runner and likely has more to offer. Of course, there are several other notable unexposed horses in this but even so the 10/1 4 places ¼ odds looks a sound enough bet.

1PT EW Dame De Compagnie 10/1 4 places ¼ odds

3:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m
With Altior a non-runner this looks a match between Chancun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil. CPS may have a touch of fragility about him but he’s already beaten DDS, proved his well-being in the Dublin Chase and must have a great shout in what should be, despite Alitor’s absence, an exciting renewal. With 4 other runners in the race and 13 fences to safely navigate it is not quite the toss of a coin but the 6/4 about CPS looks value.

1PT Win Chacun Pour Soi 6/4

4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Fred Winter) (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo) 2m½f

In a race full of horses with untapped potential I’ll take a chance with Zoffee. He only managed to win once from nine starts on the flat for Tom Dascombe and would probably prefer better ground than he’ll get here. On the plus side he has ran three nice races over hurdles; 2nd to Alan King’s Lord Lamington [pair pulled well clear field], 2nd again to Alan King’s Blacko [meets him here 1lb better off, pair pulled well clear of the field] and then made it 3rd time lucky when strolling home by 11 lengths at Doncaster LTO.

1PT EW 22/1 5 Places 1/5 odds

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Good luck, TW! Off home to watch the recordings... ;)

Sandracer said...

Copperhead: Maybe the Ascot meeting 3 weeks ago drained anything that ran well. Who ever actually knows. I have always struggled with the jumps.

GeeDee said...

Me too, Sandracer. Think I need one of me tablets...

GeeDee said...

Nice tipping, TW. Easywork second in the opener and, as you said, 'pointless over complicating things' Dame De Compagnie wins the Coral Cup!

GeeDee said...

A bad day at the office...

Copperhead (6/1) didn't really fire in the RSA and was beaten three from home - he came to grief with a tired jump at the last. The finish appeared to concern Minella Indo (3/1) and Allaho (5/2f) with the former just getting the better of the tussle. Champ (4/1) was some eight lengths adrift at the final flight but had other ideas; he turned on the burners up the hill to win by a length going away - an unlikely victory.

Turning for home Alfa Mix (14/1) looked to be going well within himself at the head of affairs in the Coral Cup and, in the worst case scenario, nailed on for one of those six places Paddy Power were paying. The beast got swamped coming to the last and finally finished seventh, some seven and a half lengths behind the comfortable 5/1f winnner Dame De Compagnie.

In the Boodles 16/1 chance Zoffee led but faded quickly three out and was pulled up before the penultimate flight. Last season Irish runners filled the first three positions in this; this season Gordon Elliott trained horses claimed three of the first four places with Aramax (15/2) dispelling pre-race doubts by beating David Pipe's charge Night Edition (16/1) a length and stablemates Saint D'Oroux (14/1) and Recent Revelations (14/1).

A bit of money for Israel Champ (8/1) in the bumper. He led up to the three furlong marker and then quickly went backwards to come home a very disappointing seventeenth. Appreciate It (15/8f) was all the rage but, as we've seen happen so many times before in this event, the Willie Mullins favourite was beaten by a bigger priced stablemate. Held up, Ferney Hollow (11/1) didn't have the clearest of runs but he kept on well up the hill and won by two and a half lengths. Queens Brook (6/1) was third.