Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 - Wednesday

The going is currently described as heavy, soft in places, with a dry day forecast tomorrow.

Ballyburn beat Slade Steel, winner of the Supreme earlier today, seven lengths at the Dublin Racing Festival and is long odds on to win the opening Gallagher Novices' Hurdle (1.30). 

2.10 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase 

Odds on favourite Fact Or File has yet to race beyond two miles five and a half furlongs under rules although he won a point over three miles on soft ground at Belharbour two years ago, beating Asian Master (excellent 16/1 fourth in the Supreme earlier today) six lengths. He has shown a tendency to jump right on occasions.

Stay Away Fay won last year's Albert Bartlett (Monty's Star pulled up) and has won two of his three starts over fences this term, conceding three pounds and beating Giovinco one and a half lengths on his penultimate start at Sandown.

Facing more experienced rivals in the Cotswold Chase six weeks ago, he lost second spot on the run up the hill which remains a slight concern; however the Cotswold Chase is run over a furlong further on the new course, generally considered to be a stiffer test of stamina. 

Monty's Star, a sound jumper who will appreciate underfoot conditions, is given every respect but on ratings Henry De Bromhead's charge has 12 pounds to find with the market leaders, as does American Mike who appeared to improve on his first try over three miles at Navan last time.

Paul Nicholls has described Stay Away Fay as one of his best chances of the week.

Selection: Stay Away Fay win, 7/2 with a number of layers this evening.

2.50 Coral Cup

The usual minefield. 

Favourite Sa Majeste has his first run in a handicap off 140; he won over two and a half miles on heavy ground at Limerick last time.

Nicky Henderson saddles three - Doddiethegreat, Lucky Place and First Street - but the stable is clearly under a cloud with five of the yard's six runners pulled up today - Luccia the only one to run her race when finishing third behind Lossiemouth in the Mares' Hurdle.

Doddiethegreat has won over this trip previously and was well touted on the preview circuit after finishing fourth behind stablemate Iberico Lord in the Betfair Hurdle just over four weeks ago.

First Street was eleventh behind Faivoir in the County last year off a mark of 152, beaten nine lengths. He goes off 143 here and has form behind Rubaud, Constitution Hill and Lossiemouth this term. He underwent wind surgery at the end of January but would ideally prefer better ground.

Might I was fourth behind Iroko in the Martin Pipe last year off a mark three pounds higher. He hasn't really taken to chasing this term; it looks as though this has been the target since Christmas and he'll handle underfoot conditions.

Guard Your Dreams, seventh in this race three years ago off 135, has clearly had problems. 

Returning after 660 days off the track he finished behind Lossiemouth and First Street in the International Hurdle and Nemean Lion in the Kingwell at Wincanton.

Rated 147 at his peak, Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge looks feasibly handicapped on 137 and should act on the ground.

Selection: Guard Your Dreams 18/1 each-way, with Sky paying eight places. 

3.30 Champion Chase

Unbeaten over fences in six starts El Fabiolo beat Jonbon five and a half lengths in the Arkle last year; his jumping isn't always foot perfect. This rematch has been anticipated throughout the season.

Jonbon has five pounds to find on ratings and, as highlighted above, the form of the yard is a concern. 

Jonbon didn't jump well at all last time when beaten a neck by Elixir De Nutz; at ten years of age Joe Tizzard's grey is in the form of his life.

Edwardstone won the 2022 renewal of the Arkle but was a major disappointment in this race last year and has finished behind Jonbon twice this term. Connections tried a step up to two and a half miles at Kempton in January but that experiment was classed a failure. 

Last time out he made all to win the Game Spirit at Newbury; in a recent preview programme, Nico De Boinville appeared to suggest, rather mischievously, that similar tactics would help his cause...

Captain Guinness, second behind Energumene in this race last year, finished behind Jonbon in the Celebration Chase at Sandown last April and behind El Fabiolo at the Dublin Racing Festival five weeks ago; he holds place prospects once again.  

Selection: Captain Guinness each-way, 11/1 with Paddy Power at the time of writing.

Finally, it's a long time since I've been brave enough to have a bet in the bumper and I'm not about to change my mind now but two things caught my eye.

Firstly, Jane Chapple-Hyam, more accustomed to having runners on the Flat, saddles four-year-old grey Stavvy here.

Secondly, a shout out for Union Avenue who could outrun odds of 100/1. 

Trained by James Moffatt at Cartmel in Cumbria, this one finished three and a quarter lengths fourth behind Royal Infantry in a listed bumper at Newbury four and a half weeks ago. 

Described by his trainer as 'a serious horse', he's a work in progress and should make up into a smart novice hurdler next season.


TW said...

A cracking blog post for Day 2.

A blank first day for me ensures I’ll no doubt spend the meeting on the back foot, but here are my FWIW thoughts anyway!

Part 1

1:30 Gallagher Novices' Hurdle (Registered As The Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle) 2m5f

Top Rated

Good efforts from Slade Steel and Firefox on the opening day provided further form evidence if it were needed and this looks a penalty kick for Ballyburn.

2:10 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (Registered As The Broadway Novices' Chase) 3m½f

Top Rated

We agree on this one.

Views on the race will depend on how punters think Stay Away Fay performed when stepping out of novice company in the Cotswold chase LTO. Did he, as a beaten 3/1F, disappoint or did he, pitched against experienced top notch chasers, come of out the race with plenty of credit? I’m in the latter camp, slight concern that the choice of the Cotswold gave him a harder prep race than he needed for this, but overall I think 100/30+ is value. Cheek pieces fitted for the first time.

2:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 2m5f

Top Rated

Sa Majeste could be anything but equally this will be unlike anything he’s yet faced so at 5/1 he is easy enough to pass.

I’d drafted, I thought, a decent case for First Street stepping up in trip off a nice mark at value odds but the now growing concern over the Henderson horses has caused me to look again. However I’m struggling to find any other edge, Might I caught the eye, Western Fold is likely to improve for the step up in trip but neither tempted me enough to invest so I’ll, reluctantly, sit it out.

Guard Your Dreams scores well on the system ratings, but is he back to where he was? On balance I had enough doubts to see a sufficient edge in the odds to take a chance.

3:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m

Top Rated


Hard to look beyond El Fabiolo, who should take this with a bit to spare.


TW said...

Part 2

4:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 2m

Top Rated

Matata’s effort in the Arkle will help assess whether Liberty Hunter is a worthy favourite, at the time of writing his odds [6/1] looked too short.

Hardy Du Seuil ran well enough back over fences on his seasonal return and a mark of 132 looks within his scope and 16/1 might be a bet. However, at huge odds, Venetia Williams Gemirande looked, to my eyes, fascinating dropped down to 2 miles. He had shown steady progress over the bigger obstacles until running flat, when hopefully needing the run, on seasonal debut in early March after an absence of 318 days. The change of trip could help or hinder him but I think he might be ridden positively from the front here, set quite a searching gallop and still have enough in reserve to be involved coming up the hill. At 50/1 [shortened since drafting the note] I’m happy to test the theory!

5:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m½f

Top Rated

I'd love to see either of the two you note, particularly Union Avenue, win the bumper but....

The market is a reliable yardstick to this race and a key piece of form looks to be the bumper at the Dublin festival. You Oughta Know was a bit slow to pick up when the pace quickened but ran on well was he got going, The Yellow Clay was cruising when he ran out of room and dropped to last, switched to the outside he flew home in catching fashion. I’ll split my stake EW between the two of them at odds of around 10/1.

Best of luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings and notes, TW.

I fancied that First Street in the Coral Cup on better ground and with the stable in better form.

Never been totally convinced by Might I.

TW said...

2:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 2m5f [Take 2]

Unable to let such a competitive handicap pass without taking an interest I’ve looked at the race again this morning and swerving Might I on your advice [:-)] I've honed in on Mark Of Gold.

Seventh in last years Martin Pipe [off 139, btn 6.25L] he followed that run with a comfortable win on the flat over 2M on testing ground.

Started this term back over obstacles over an insufficient 2M over, next time out, back up in trip, he was ridden cold which did not look to suit. He next ran in the Lanzarote, falling four out but had not been asked too many question so hard to know how he might have faired.

LTO he followed last year’s route to the festival by winning the same Kempton handicap over this trip on ground officially soft, heavy in places. Up to a career high mark of 141 for that victory, Rob Hargreaves claims 7lbs to help offset the rise. 50/1 6 places looked a bet.


GeeDee said...

Good luck, TW!

TW said...

Stay Away Fay out to 9/1 on the exchange, so I've topped my bet up, as the market looks to backing Mullins rather than the horse?


GeeDee said...

13/2 with bookies.
Fortunately have BOG.

TW said...

Captain Guinness each-way, 11/1 with Paddy Power at the time of writing.

Very well done, superb result for the blog, nothing that happened during the race detracts from that, it's a game of ups and downs!


GeeDee said...

Got a bit lucky there, TW.

GeeDee said...


Your top three for the Grand Annual finish fifth, first and second respectively.
Great effort from Gemirande @ 50/1 - paying five places, I trust... :)

GeeDee said...

Stay Away Fay proved easy to back in the Brown Advisory, sent off a 6/1 chance.

Racing at the head of affairs, he didn't appear to be enjoying himself and was beaten a long way from home, pulling up two out. A trainer's representative subsequently reported the gelding had scoped dirty after the race.

The spoils went to Fact To File (8/13f) who held Monty's Star (13/2) three and a quarter lengths with 40/1 shot Giovinco third.

Guard Your Dreams (25/1) raced prominently for much of the way in the Coral Cup but fell away badly off the home turn to beat just one home.

The spoils went to last year's winner Langer Dan (13/2) who won with something to spare off the same mark (141) as last year, a result that has raised a few eyebrows...

Ballyadam (13/2) claimed second spot with Shanbally Kid (12/1) third and Lucky Place (25/1) fourth.

In the Champion Chase 2/9f El Fabiolo hadn't been foot perfect before making a howler at the fifth which effectively put paid to his chance; he was pulled up.

Leader Edwardstone (15/2), passed by Captain Guinness (17/2) off the home turn, came to grief at the penultimate flight.

Rachael Blackmore sent the selection about his business; he had enough in reserve up the hill to hold the challenge of Gentleman De Mee (16/1) one and a half lengths.