Friday, October 23, 2020

Cheltenham Showcase 2020 - a view from the cheap seats

Earlier this afternoon I watched ITV4's coverage of the first day of the Showcase meeting from the cheap seats in our front room. 

'Cheap seats' is no misnomer: they're sited at an awkward angle to the black & white TV set - viewing is difficult at the best of times and the castors broke many years ago; a pungent aroma of stale sweat and old socks emanates from the threadbare upholstery; the carpet in the vicinity is stained, torn and frayed around the edges; the paintwork can best be described as 'grubby'.

The other day I put my hand down the sides of one of the chairs and retrieved a HB lead pencil, some fluff, a 2p coin and six old betting slips. I half thought I might have chanced upon a 'sleeper'; it was nothing more than a forlorn hope.

I wasn't completely certain but I thought I'd seen something when Ocean Wind, sixth in the Festival bumper last March, carried ten stone to victory on soft in the Handicap at Doncaster.  

Then Alice Plunkett, who had a better view of the runners in the paddock than the view anyone in the cheap seats had, proceeded to tell viewers before the Bentley Flying Spur Handicap Chase that it looked as if Rouge Vif needed the run. 

In the event, running off a mark of 156, Harry Whittington's charge, a 5/1 chance, blew away his rivals with an exhilarating display.

Tomorrow's Cheltenham card looks difficult. 

I toyed with making the case for the Paul Webber trained Boughtbeforelunch in the amateur jockeys' chase at 5.00 (form with Ballymalin and behind Manofthemountain on his seasonal reappearance) but the 10/1 on offer looks positively parsimonious so, instead, I've opted for the minefield that is the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at 3.15. 

Let's get the good news out of the way first of all - with 18 declared most layers are paying five places, Sky Bet and William Hill six places.

Last year's winner Tobefair heads the handicap but, with Jack Tudor's five pounds claim, effectively races off a mark two pounds lower tomorrow; Honest Vic's fifth in the Coral Cup also catches the eye. Those are the only two runners booked to carry more than 11-00 giving the race a rather lop-sided feel; the bottom four all race from out of the handicap.

Flinck's third in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow a fortnight ago reads well enough, as does Kansas City Chief's sixth in the Pertemps Final here last March.

I've spent a bit of time on this piece of form. 

Ballon Onabudget beat Story Of Friends two and a quarter lengths over an extended trip at Newton Abbot last month (third horse Storm Home since well beaten by Neville's Cross - up 12 pounds tomorrow). 

As a result the handicapper raised both Ballon Onabudget and Story of Friends five pounds. David Pipe's runner came to the last some four lengths to the good that day but made a complete hash of it - a better jump and he would surely have secured the spoils.

The pair look closely matched yet Fergus Gillard's seven pound claim effectively means Story Of Friends races off a mark two pounds lower than at Newton Abbot. The Pipe yard has been quiet of late but I see Main Fact went in at Newbury earlier today. 

BetVictor and Paddy Power both offer 16/1 and pay one fifth the odds five places. Story Of Friends is the tentative each-way suggestion in a difficult race.

Off to source some 1001 carpet and upholstery cleaner - right now! 


Anonymous said...

A tricky race with a giddy mix of promising progressive types and some potentially very well handicapped tried and tested horses.


Goodbye Dancer tops the system output, but recent efforts do not inspire confidence and the drying ground has gone against him.

That means the systems ‘value’ option is also Story Of Friends. With a fair wind he’d have beaten Ballon Onabudget LTO. The form of the yard is a bit of a concern [yesterday’s win was akin to a penalty kick] but Fergus Gillard’s claim is very useful.

He’d drifting like a barge on BF so that is where I’ve invested in the Win market and I might back this up in the place market [4 places] later.

Here’s hoping…


GeeDee said...

Thanks for your ratings, TW; as you say, stable form is a concern. 18/1 with several layers at the moment. Hoping for a decent run...

Anonymous said...

"Honest Vic's fifth in the Coral Cup also catches the eye."

He should have perhaps caught the eye a little more and that front room could have been given a make-over.


GeeDee said...

The urgently required front room makeover will unfortunately be further delayed following the indifferent display of Story Of Friends in this Pertemps Qualifier.

The first six home qualified for the final next March but selection Story Of Friends (14/1) never threatened. Racing mid-division for much of the trip, he started to go backwards four from home, was awkward three out and then disappeared entirely from the view I had in the cheap seats, eventually trailing home eleventh, some 40 lengths behind runaway winner Honest Vic (12/1).

Honest Vic hasn't always been one to trust implicitly in the past but he certainly appeared to appreciate this step up in trip, scooting four lengths clear of Lock's Corner (20/1) with 11-y-o Kansas City Chief (18/1) an honourable third, Sirobbie (16/1) fourth and Cotswold Way (66/1) fifth.

I was surprised by the winner's SP as he was trading at much shorter odds last night.

Owner Carole Daly, mother of winning trainer Henry, gave a delightful interview after the event - clearly not a lady to take any snash from impertinent interviewers nor, indeed, a lady likely to put up with the substandard decor of my front room.

In the post-race analysis one of the commentators mentioned the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival as a possible target. At this stage that looks a tad ambitious to me - but I wouldn't want to get into an argument with Carole Daly about it.