Sunday, March 12, 2023

Cheltenham Festival 2023 - Tuesday

Last year Constitution Hill won the Supreme in a time of 3m 44.35s - breaking the track record, I think - and Honeysuckle the Champion Hurdle in 3m 50.13s on going that was described as good to soft. 

On Tuesday Constitution Hill faces just six rivals and will be no betting proposition in this year's Champion Hurdle (3.30) while Honeysuckle, currently sharing favouritism with Marie's Rock, will have her final race in the Mares' Hurdle (4.10).

At the time of writing the going at Prestbury Park is described as soft, good to soft in places, with rain and strong winds forecast on Monday and showers on Tuesday.

A couple of suggestions for the first day...

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Favourite Facile Vega was unbeaten in six before trailing in fifth behind stablemate Il Etait Temps in the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival just over five weeks ago (Inthepocket second, Dark Raven third, High Definition unseated rider). 

He went off too fast that day, as Willie Mullins acknowledges in the most recent edition of the RP Weekender [08-12.03.23], which, incidentally, now costs £5.20 a copy...

"It was an odd race as they went off fast and I remember thinking he wouldn't keep up that pace unless he was an aeroplane, and sure enough he paid for it turning for home."

The trainer goes on to say:

"It was disappointing, but Paul gets things 99% right and these things happen. He'll adjust things for the Supreme. When you go to big races like that you learn a lot about your horse and he'll have it all sorted out. He had a very hard race last time but had a few easy days after that and I'm happy with him now."

Previously Facile Vega had beaten Il Etait Temps four lengths at Leopardstown over Christmas and connections clearly feel he's their best chance but it's difficult to be confident after the last day; at the price on offer he makes no appeal.

Marine Nationale is unbeaten in four, beating Irish Point a head at Fairyhouse at the beginning of December; on a line through Irish Point, Il Etait Temps has his measure.

High Definition's hurdling looks a work in progress and a similar comment also applies to Il Etait Temps as Mullins explains (Ibid):

"He made a mistake at the first...but Danny (Mullins) said that when he turned down the back he flew his hurdles and got it all together.

"He's very keen but when he settles I think his jumping will come together. I know we have Facile Vega in the Supreme but this fellow will be a live one as well."

Tahmuras heads the British challenge having won what looked a below average renewal of the Tolworth in January but the third that day, Nemean Lion, beat the fourth, Colonel Harry, in the Premier Novices' Hurdle at Kelso just over a week ago. Soft ground will help his cause.

Olly Murphy had a word for Chasing Fire at the Sandown races yesterday - he's considered one of the best novices in the yard and rates an each way play but stablemate Strong Leader wouldn't want the ground too soft.

Rare Edition beat Rubaud (won Dovecote Hurdle since) seven lengths on soft ground at Kempton on Boxing Day. He was subsequently beaten by Marble Sands over two miles three and a half furlongs in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon but merits respect. Trainer Charlie Longsdon describes his current mark of 138 as 'very fair'.

The Irish hold a strong hand. 

Labaik (2017) is the only winner to be returned at double figure odds in the past decade.

With some layers paying four places Il Etait Temps looks an each way bet to nothing at odds of 6/1.

Selection: Il Etait Temps each way, 6/1 with bet365, Coral and Betfred paying four places.

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase 

Current market leader Corach Rambler won last year's renewal with Oscar Elite third, Tea Clipper fourth and Fantastikas seventh. 

This year Corach Rambler carries six pounds more, Tea Clipper two pounds, Oscar Elite one pound while Fantastikas is an eye-catching twelve pounds better off. 

To my mind Tea Clipper doesn't quite see out this trip while the Tizzard stable jockey Brendan Powell prefers The Big Breakaway to Oscar Elite.

Fantastikas looks to have had this as a target after being pulled up in the Welsh National. His jumping isn't always the most assured and I see connections have opted for first-time cheekpieces. He has been backed at 33s - I just wondered whether he saw the trip out last year.

Into Overdrive has been in sterling form this term finishing second behind L'Homme Presse in the Rehearsal at Newcastle and then beating Sounds Russian (holds Gold Cup entry) in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby last time out. He's now on a mark 15 pounds higher than at the end of October.

Course and distance winner Threeunderthrufive finished sixth behind L'Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory at the Festival last year. He didn't quite stay the extended trip in the Classic Chase at Warwick two months ago.

Stable form is the concern with Happygolucky while Monbeg Genius is on the radar and remains unexposed but enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by the fact this represents his first chase start with more than seven runners.

Nassalam's third behind Midnight River on New Year's Day over the extended two miles four of the New Course suggests he'll appreciate this set up in trip.

The Goffer looks feasibly treated two pounds above his Irish mark while the Martin Brassil trained Fastorslow was beaten a short head in the Coral Cup last year off 141. He also holds an entry for the Magners Plate (Thursday); this will be first try beyond two miles five furlongs.

The last Irish trained horse to come home in front was Dun Doire (Ruby Walsh up) in 2006.

Over the past ten years one favourite has obliged (Coo Star Sivola in 2018) and one top weight (Un Temps Pour Tout in 2017). Golden Chieftain won off a mark of 132 in 2013 and Un Temps Pour Tout off 155 but in the remaining eight years the winner's mark has fallen in the range between 139 and 151.

Ultimately an ultra-competitive Ulltima. 

Selection: The Big Breakaway each way, 14/1 with Sky Bet who pay eight places. 

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Marine Nationale (9/2) ran out an impressive winner of the Supreme.
Selection Il Etait Temps (4/1) wasn't quick enough over the hurdles and finished nine lengths adrift in fifth.

Corach Rambler (6/1jf) held Fastorslow (7/1) a neck to win the Ultima for the second consecutive year.
Selection The Big Breakaway (16/1) struggled to go the pace and was pulled up before four out.