Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Cheltenham Festival 2023 - Wednesday

This afternoon Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle delivered performances that will live long in the memory.

Marine Nationale, trained by Barry Connell and ridden by Michael O'Sullivan, won the Supreme with something to spare - the first British trained runner to cross the line was Strong Leader in ninth. 

O'Sullivan went on to win the Boodles by a neck on the Gordon Elliott trained Jazzy Matty. 

He pairs up with Connell again tomorrow to ride Good Land in the Ballymore at 1.30, currently second favourite behind Impaire Et Passe. Challow winner Hermes Allen is the only British trained runner priced under 80/1.

In today's Times Rob Wright highlights the fact that, over the past 30 years, field sizes in handicaps at this meeting have remained 'broadly stable' whereas field sizes in grade one races are nearly 40% down. 

Outside handicaps, as the number of races has increased, field sizes have decreased, accompanied by an increase in the number of winning favourites and odds on runners; over the previous two years 15 favourites have won grade one races.

All of which often makes it feel more difficult to put up a selection that makes much appeal in the top grade races... 

Anyway, here's a couple of suggestions for tomorrow's card.

2.10 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase

Unbeaten in seven starts, Gerri Colombe is the short-priced favourite. 

I'd have to say he didn't look the quickest at his fences and took a bit of organising when winning the Scilly Isles at Sandown last time.

In marked contrast The Real Whacker jumped well when making all to win the Dipper over course and distance on New Year's Day. I'd imagine connections will adopt similar tactics tomorrow.

Sir Gerhard won the Ballymore last year but this is just his second chase start.

Galia Des Liteaux jumped well on her chase debut at Bangor but the wheels came off big time in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day. 

She made a bad mistake at the second, possibly caused by the low sun, and lost confidence thereafter - Thyme Hill, wearing first time cheekpieces, came home 15 lengths ahead of McFabulous.

Normal service was resumed next time in the Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick when Galia jumped well, if slightly right on occasions, to beat Complete Unknown 13 lengths with The Goffer - a good fourth in the Ultima earlier today - 31 lengths behind in third.

Trainer Dan Skelton had a good word for his charge at the Sandown races on Saturday, pointing out the mares' allowance will help the cause; she's best on soft / heavy. 

The last nine-year-old to come home in front was Miinnehoma (owned by Freddie Starr as I recall) so Galia Des Liteaux is preferred over Thyme Hill as the each-way play.

Selection: Galia Des Liteaux each way, 8/1 with Sky Bet paying four places.

4.50 Grand Annual Challenge Cup

I'd imagine connections of Saint Segal, Red Rookie and Rouge Vif amongst others will all be desperately disappointed to have missed the cut; the last-named had been specifically aimed at this and backed in from 40s to 12/1.

The market is headed by a number of Irish trained runners. 

J.P. McManus owns Dinoblue, a mare with just three chase starts to her name, and top weight Andy Dufresne who was second in this last year off this same mark, beaten three lengths by Global Citizen (now three pounds higher). 

Final Orders is only the second Irish handicap runner I've stumbled across - so far - able to run off his Irish rating (Punitive is the other, declared for the Kim Muir 5.30 Thursday).

Third Time Lucki is very talented and back to form but on occasions he has the look of a horse that needs a bit of kidding; most of his recent runs have been on right-handed tracks.

Elixir De Nutz finished second behind Funambule Sivola in the Game Spirit last time - that form reads well with the winner as well as the third, Greaneteen, both going in the Champion Chase tomorrow. The Game Spirit was run on good ground but in his younger days Elixir won the Tolworth on soft.

I'm a Malystic fan. 

He finished fourth in the Game Spirit after winning a Class 2 Handicap Chase at Doncaster in course record time - Peter Niven's charge has had a good season. Pulled up on his only run at this track, he scoped dirty after the race; he meets some better handicapped rivals here.

Course and distance winner Before Midnight was fourth behind Malystic at Doncaster, losing two places on the run-in and eventually beaten six lengths. Sam Thomas' charge is now four pounds lower than his rating in the autumn. Cheekpieces are tried; stable form is a concern.

Finally a quick word for Sizing Potsie who competed off 155 in the Topham last year. 

He goes off 140 tomorrow, his lowest mark since arriving at the Pipe yard, and sports first-time cheekpieces. I can't help wondering if this is a plot... He has been backed this evening and is currently priced at 18/1.

Selection: Elixir De Nutz each way, 12/1 with bet365, Sky and Paddy Power paying six places.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

The Real Whacker (8/1) jumped well racing from the front and just held the fast-finishing Gerri Colombe (5/4f) a short head in the Brown Advisory.
Selection Galia Des Liteaux (14/1) held every chance in third rounding the home turn but she was outpaced thereafter and failed to come up the hill, eventually finishing fifth, beaten just over 16 lengths.

In the Grand Annual Thyme White (28/1) was travelling well when coming to grief two out. Maskada (22/1) was duly shaken up and the mare went on to win this competitive handicap by six and a half lengths.
Selection Elixir De Nutz (16/1) raced in midfield but went backwards from three out. He came home ninth, beaten 28 lengths.