Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:26 pm Post subject: Cheltenham Seletions Thread - Friday 16th
The minefield that is The County Hurdle and I simply haven't got the patience or literary skill to do an Aidenesque write up on all 28 runners so I'll get straight to the point . My pick here at the prices is the Jeremy Scott trained novice Ifyouletmefinish @20/1 B.O.G with Bet 365 or 20/1 at Stan James - BOTH firms are paying FIVE PLACES for Each Way wagers. Last time out the progressive youngster dead heated with the highly regarded Nick Williams trained Urbain Du Sivola who contests the Triumph Hurdle 35 minutes earlier. Ifyouletmefinish went up 16 pounds in the official ratings for that run - which may be deemed harsh by some but when you consider Urbain Du Sivola was rated 144 that day and Jeremy Scott's charge gets in here on 135 it's probably a fair assessment of the improvement shown ; Nine lengths back in third place that day was Dualla Lord - himself a 130 rated horse. That top quote is one that I see shortening by the morning and should Nick Williams's runner succeed in the Triumph the surely the price on Ifyouletmefinish will contract further.........Regardless of that he looks one with a decent Each Way claim.......... Alderwood is another that makes some appeal at around 28/1+ but at the current prices it's an Each Way play on Ifyouletmefinish.
What a fantastic Gold Cup line up we have in store here as always this race produces some great winners and is always a race which lives long in memory. Quel Esprit is my pick for the Gold Cup from the Willie Mullins stable and the horse himself has improved massively of late having won three times in a row most eye-catching was last time out when winning the Hennessey Gold Cup (Grade 1) at Leopardstown over 3m won by 2 lengths on the day with Roberto Goldback in 2nd who did also get beaten by Synchronised by 13 3/4 lengths at Cheltenham in December last year and of course Synchronised is in this race today. So Quel Esprit on form lines would need to improve alot to get within Synchronised but I do think Quel Esprit is on the upgrade as this horse has had it's ups and downs having been unreliable during February to May last year when falling twice and also got brought down in a race but from then on has completed a nice hatrick of wins. Paul Townend is the jockey on this horse today which is a positive as he has won five times on this horse including in a Grade 3 race at Thurles so clearly is a good jockey booking however the ground is a slight worry as it's probably dryed up quite a bit over the past few days but hopefully this horse runs well on good ground as he normally runs in softish conditions. What I find interesting is that Willie Mullins targeted the RSA Chase with this horse at Cheltenham last year and was a 20/1 shot during that race but led over the 13th going well and fell 3 out so interesting he now targets the Gold Cup instead and Paddy Mullins who is Willie Mullins father won the Gold Cup in 1986 with Dawn Run which I find interesting. Wille Mullins has had two winners so far this Cheltenham Festival with Champagne Fever winning the Champion Bumper on Wednesday and Quevaga winning a Grade 2 hurdle on Tuesday so at least has managed to get some winners on the board and there is a worry about this horse lasting out the 2f at the end having not gone this far before with the furthest he's been being 3m which has not been a problem so hopefully is able to stay out this distance which I believe he will as this horse goes well in soft ground which is obviously more stamina sapping. So overall as it stands when I'm writing this Quel Esprit can be bet on at odds of 20/1 which I believe is very good value considering how much this horse is improving of late and I hope Paul Townend can drive this horse to victory in this very much important race.
The last day of the festival of racing from Cheltenham and it’s been another up and down meeting for me and to be honest more downs than up’s.
The first race of the meeting for Friday is the JCB Triumph and all eyes will be on the useful Alan King trained GRUMETI who would of won all his races except for falling at the last when having the race in the bag at Newbury. With Alan King horses not firing as they should be, I would be suspect of backing this one and any other runner from this stable until the winners start coming.
The horse that could be a positive proposition in this race, is the Dermot Weld trained HISAABAAT, who has progress with each run and won last time out in a Grade one race over two miles at Leopardstown. The form of his previous race was given a boost when Edeymi was a fast finishing second here yesterday. Has several of today’s field behind him here and can confirm the form with these. Dermot Weld will know where he stands with GRUMETI, through DODGING BULLETS as HISAABAAT was second to this one at Sligo on the flat and there was only 1 ½ lengths between GRUMETI and DODGING BULLETS. I would of been in the Grumeti camp but for the stable under a cloud, I am a bit weary and feel Dermot Weld runner has a realistic chance at a good price to be involved in at the finish. Another I do like and is a massive price runner is ASAID who has form that comes with HASAABAAT when finishing behind this one at Leopardstown. John Ferguson has been unlucky to have Cotton Mill to practically run out three from home and New Years Eve getting run out of it in the closing stages yesterday. Possibly improvement to come as he was not paying attention at Towcester last time and his jockey had to get strict with him before he ran on, coming up a hill in fine style, interesting piece is Barry Geraghty has come in for the ride and the 50’s on offer with Paddy Power could be worthy of small support.
Vincent O´Brien County Handicap Hurdle Grade 3
A good handicap to work with, top weighted STARLUCK carrying 11-12 back over hurdles after a stint over fences, his last outing was over hurdles and was out classed by Binocular at Wincanton. With COURT IN SESSION at the bottom with 10-8 who also has gone to the bigger obstacles to ply his trade, with little effect. The one that interest me is one that is in the bottom half of the weights from Ireland CITIZENSHIP from the Mrs John Harrington yard, who had a disappointing runner on Tuesday with Steps to Freedom. CITIZENSHIP won his last race and was a top class event and worth £50,000 to the winner and kept on well at the finish and was impeded during the race, which would not of helped his cause but showed grit to keep his stride, this was at the first flight, so had plenty of time to get into his stride but could of been off putting. R Power stays in the saddle and will be biding his time before placing his mount into a position to challenge. Compensation awaits for this stable with this runner and he has only raced three times over hurdles and could be progressive and on a upward curve to better things.
We had Bobs Worth on the Tuesday and now we have a useful individual called BOSTON BOB coming from the all conquering Willie Mullins stable that has been on the score sheet at the festival and will be expecting a good run from this fine looking Bob Black gelding, who has yet to taste defeat since going hurdling. Won twice at Navan over twenty furlongs and done it in good style. His last win was at Leopardstown, once again over 20 furlongs on heavy ground and this was a grade two race and was driven out by his jockey Ruby Walsh and had the second Lyreen Legend 2 ¼ lengths away.
His first run was at Tallow on the point to point seen over three miles and won that by staying on well this was under D T Barry flag before joining Howard Johnson under the colours of Graham Wylie, won a nation hunt flat race at Hexham for these connections and due to Howard Johnson had his trainer ticket taken away, Graham Wylie took him to Willie Mullins, which looks to be a positive move as he looks a very top quality horse in the making. Ruby knows the horse well and tactics will depend on the speed of the race and he will either sit off the pace or be held up, whatever they decide, he will be a hard nut to crack. He is a short price runner and he is 11/8 with Bet365 from 13/8. As for the rest of the field, they have their work cut out to beat this one.
3.20 CHELTENHAMGOLD CUP
All the noise over the past month also is about KAUTO STAR fall on the training ground. Because he is in the spotlight all the time, these things will get blown out of propulsion, he has suffered plenty of falls on the race track and a couple of them looked pretty bad, this has not stopped him being a champion and this hiccup at local schooling ground will not stop him being a Champion as he will hopefully show this afternoon. He has amazed everyone with his last two runs after we all thought he was the finished article and became just another house hold name to talk about for years to come.
Today he will be back and those green and yellow colours will be everywhere tomorrow and everyone will be cheering him all the way to the start, possibly the LONG RUN fans.
KAUTO STAR deposed of LONG RUN at Kempton and Haydock in good fashion and LONG RUN was all out next time at Newbury to beat his stable mate BURTON PORT who takes his position in the line up this afternoon. BURTON PORT could not beat Diamond Harry who also saw the back end of KAUTO STAR, there is good field going to post and most of them have form that can be covered by KAUTO STAR. I was watching the channel four racing and they did a bit about KAUTO STAR and ARKLE and I believe that KAUTO STAR would be superior to this excellent horse from the past, even though ARKLE had to carry ridiculous weights, but the opposition was watered down compared to what KAUTO STAR has to run against. (May be I am wrong) I will never know. But it would cause a good debate and some members can remember Arkle better than me.
With drying ground conditions and ground staff going out of their way to splash water about to keep it moist and not let nature take its course and if the ground becomes fast, horses that can go on this will be seen at their best, just like Mr Frisk when winning the National and the Whitbread.
Everything is in favour of KAUTO STAR to continue his winning sequence and become the first horse for a long time to win the GOLD CUP at 12 years old. He would become the third one to do so and join the likes of SILVER FLAME 1951 and WHAT A MYPH 1969.
7/2 with most boards looks to be a great price to play at and the owner has 5/1 in his pocket, so he has not deserted him.
BRING THEM ON, KAUTO TO BE KING OF THE STARS ONCE AGAIN.
4.00 Christie´s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
After the excitement of the GOLD CUP we have the Foxhunter chase to look forward to and the one that I take out of the field to stay the best over this trip of three miles and two furlongs and 110yards is CLOUDY LANE, from Donald McCain yard. This one stays well and jumps adequately, looking at his form he has only ran here the once over fences and that was back in 2007 in the Fulke Walwyn Amateur rider race in which he won with Mr R Burton in the saddle, he was then trained by Donald senior, who will be looking down on this race and going “bloody hell, get it right at the fence, otherwise you will be winning nothing” in his northern accent. Hopefully his jockey Mr O Harding does get everything right and gets his horse on a good stride and be delivered up the hill with a winning ride. He was 16 lengths behind CHAPOTURGEON at Newbury but this was over 23 furlongs the extra distance will suit CLOUDY LANE, not sure if it will suit the Nicholls horse.
This will be his third run of the season and being twelve he will be fresh and ready to run a big race here this afternoon. CLOUDY LANE has won seven races over fences on all sorts of going and will be happy with the conditions he will be encountering today. Dangers! Many I have to haste but I think this twelve year old will have the resources to see him stay on well to the line.
Last edited by meoldmate on Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:41 pm; edited 3 times in total
Joined: 17 Jan 2011
Location: Wigan, England.
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:45 pm Post subject:
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
1. Burton Port has always been a classy horse but equally injury prone. Looked all the world like he was going to beat Long Run in the Denman Chase last month, and many were shocked when he wasn't pushed all out to do so. I think jockey Berry Geraghty would have been told not to have him all out that day, as it was his first for 447 days so they must have been extremely mindful of over doing it and him bouncing in this race. He was closing in on Long Run under a "not all out" ride, and I think the extra distance will suit him well and I expect him to be very close come the finishing line.
2. Carruthers generated one of the loudest crowd cheers of the season when winning the Hennessy in November. Has already had two attempts at this race finishing no close than 30 lengths to Imperial Commander and 60 lengths to Long Run. In keeping with such is his Course form where he is currently a maiden from 6 attempts round here. A sketchy profile and is one who's good performance are now few and far between it would seem.
3. China Rock seems to be a solid 2m4f horse who struggles to finish off at 3m. His 10 length defeat behind todays rival Quel Esprit last time out when prominent all race before dropping away would suggest just that. Coupled with him not finishing last years running of this race, and his furthest win being a full 4 furlongs short of this distance (23 furlongs) and there's enough doubt over his stamina to cast him aside.
4. Diamond Harry is a top class horse on his day, but that day is ever so infrequent these days that it's hard to justify backing him. Some good chase wins have been followed up with poor showings behind some of todays rivals and based on his previous two showings has to reverse the form with 6 rivals today. A fairly insurmountable task by any short standards, never doing so in the Gold Cup.
5. I don't think Kauto Star will beat Long Run. I thought Long Run would reverse the form over this longer trip and "the fall" has only further enhanced my view. He seems a world class 3 miler, but perhaps won his two Gold Cups against less horses. Denman ran him ragged over this trip, and approaching the 3 mile mark last year Kauto looked to be well away from Long Run before being outstayed. Can see the same this year.
6. I think I'm going to back Knockara Beau for the place in the Gold Cup tomorrow, available a 100/1 and 27.00 for the place on Betfair. Was given a breeze up in a far too short 18 furlongs hurdles against easy 2/7 winner Simonsig, which nothing in terms of this race can be read. Has raced 3 times over 26 furlongs at Cheltenham and being staying on at the back end every time after being flat footed on the push for home including last time out in the Argento behind decent market fancy Midnight Chase. He'll be suited by the extra distance and will stay the hill.
7. Long Run as previously written earlier in the post should get the beating of Kauto Star over this trip. Looked beaten when approaching the hill last year, but has the staying power to make it count in the last 2 furlongs just like he did to win. Much has been said of his two defeats so far to Kauto, and I'm inclined to agree with the view he hasn't looked as good this year. Not only the almost fortuitous win against Burton Port, but the proximity of What A Friend who he beat plentily last year, and who has been beaten by enough of this field to be used as a yardstick. Certainly not one to be backing at anywhere near Evens even with trainer Hendersons phenomal form so far at the Festival.
8. Midnight Chase is obviously a course specialist, but at 12/1 is short for a horse who hasn't won a Grade 1 (all last 10 winners has previously done so). Beaten by 3 of these in last years race would suggest he's just short of top class but he refaces these rivals with them looking a little jaded and work weary. I think he'll probably find this a step too far.
9. Quel Esprit hasn't really beaten much for me and the fact that this horse has won three times in a row and only been raised a total of 5lbs for all those wins suggest the handicapper agrees with that view. Has a fair bit to find on Synchronised through Roberto Goldback who he beat by 13 lengths comfortably, opposed to Quel Esprit's 2 length beating.
10. Synchronised was a comfortable winner of the Lexus Chase but that race's form isn't bearing to well and at as short as 10/1 there is little value in him when considering lack of course form (especially comparing to Midnight Chase at virtually the same price).
11. The Giant Bolster has only won as far as 23 furlongs. 6 races over further have been relatively fruitless including being brushed aside by Time For Rupert in the Newbury Betfair Graduation Chase in December. Has been behind some of todays rivals aleady this season and doesn't look set to keep or better that form over todays further trip.
12. The Midnight Club is officially the worst horse in the field and further considered as much by the bookies. The fact that his best win would be a Class 2 Handicap Chase also tells you why they think so. Winless this season and if he can't make his mark in lower class races than this, then his chances are closer to zero than the rest. Unless of course he has been injured or not himself, but there is nothing in his profile to suggest him making an impact here.
13. Time For Rupert like Midnight Chase isn't a Grade 1 winner and What A Friend has been behind a few of todays rivals this season. In the face of it against just those two he seems to be up against it before factoring in the other 7 more fancied horses. Has his work cut out here and would be considered a good run if snuck into the places.
14.I have stamina doubts over Weird Al as he's lasted 25 furlongs on flat tracks but the form doesn't bode to well from those races, and he's tried 27 furlongs a couple of times and disappointed including pulling up in last years run of this ace.
15. What A Friend seems forever fancied to run a big race and probably will one of these days, however its increasingly difficult to assess if he'll turnup. Ran into 4th in last years race, and then into 3rd behind Long Run and Burton Port in February's re-named Denman Chase. He has work to do on that basis and hard to see the reversal here.
Kauto and Long Run don't seem the horses of old or even last year. Their seemingly reversing proximity to some of the horses they beat readily in years gone by would suggest as much, and with their prices of not much value in these circumstances I'm going to go for a new Gold Cup winner in the shape of Burton Port. Loads to like from his last run behind Long Run and some may say Long Run wasn't fully fit, but neither could Burton Port have been being off the track for so long and only one of them looked like they'd be pleased with further to race. Knockara Beau caught my eye in the Argento staying on well, and would benefit from a readier ride for the turn and he will be my Each Way bet.
1.30 Baby Mix, Adonis winners do well here fancied this for ages though as well and backed it last time, love this horse Win
2.05 Ted Spread fav 6 days ago for a big field handicap , Walsh / Nicholls combo not expecting much but 16/1 here worth a play, wide open race
2.40 Boston Bob 6/4 Looks the class act in the race and could well go off at a shorter price
3.20 Kauto Star 7/2, broken most records, always remember that 36 length KG win in the 09 season, should be fav really considering he has beaten LR twice this season, Burton Port is not without a chance so do not rule him out and he's worth a bet to win too at 17/2, dutch both of these, I'm opposing Long Run think his best season was last year, something isn't right with him looks like there's a few chinks in his armour i.e jumping/attitude, his jockey isn't much good either suppose you can't blame him though if he is mostly sorting out people's teeth!
4.00 Chapoturgeon big fancy for me, one of the OLBG toilet tips as well so go and check out Martyn's tip if you want some more confidence but last time out winners do well here 23/25 in the past years and this one is based in the same stable as where Rock On Ruby is based at and he won the CH earlier in the week, 6/1 big bet for me to win,
4.40 Wide open but got to be with the Pipe horses here as the race is in his fathers name so he will want to win it, he hasn't done so yet but I've gone in on his Street Entertainer at 7/1 , this one looks the most fancied of his and maybe theres a chance of it going off as fav, good claimer up so should go very close, looks to have been primed for this
5.15 Toubab was 10/1 at the start of the week now 7/1 have taken the 7/1, walsh/nicholls could get backed and sure to go off as fav can see this going off 4/1 5/1 depending on how the day goes for the stable
Joined: 21 Sep 2008
Location: By The Thames on a warm Bank Holiday afternoon
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:57 pm Post subject:
1:30 Triumph Hurdle - DARROUN EW @ 12/1
The only place I can see value here away from the market leaders is with Darroun and the fact that aidan has selected him as well has swayed me. I just think there could be any amount more for him to give and the market leaders all have top form with each other but are they now exposed? Its not my type of race but its Cheltenham so I am involved in a small way with this one.
2:05 County Hurdle - LOCAL HERO @ 20/1, SNAP TIE @ 14/1, ALARAZI @ 40/1 (all EW)
So after a very productive Coral Cup and a shocker in the handicaps yesterday I'm back into the fray with an equally tough County Hurdle and my three against the field kick off with Snap Tie. He has an obvious question mark against his well being after so long off course but if there is one in the race who is definitely well handicapped on his best its him. As a quick recap he was 3rd in the Supreme behind Binocular, second to Harchibald in the Christmas hurdle and 7th in a Champion Hurdle before injury struck and appears here off a pitiful 137 mark. Money seems to indicate he is in good heart and lets face it he is thrown in if he's fit so its worth a chance in my book. Local Hero is another with interesting form in the book. He won the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham last year, from Third Intention, form which puts him well in off his current mark of 140. That would be an oddity if it weren't for the fact that he has also held his form fairly well since, coming 8th in the Triumph itself in front of Brampour and then belying 33/1 odds to come 3rd only 4 lengths adrift to Neptune Hurdle winner Simonsig in the Morebattle hurdle. He looks worth a bet at 20/1. Lastly, from the less exposed to the thoroughly tried Alarazi; we know he has the class to win top 2m hurdles as he won the Imperial Cup last year and he has also been running well off his higher marks (although has not got his head in front) and his no show in this race last year can be put down to his exertions the week before. He's had an easier prep this year but still looked to be running a fine race in a muddled Betfair hurdle when very badly hampered by the falling Darlan. He's in good heart and I think is a fair chance to outrun odds of 40/1 with some bookmakers... a price I can't see lasting...
2:40 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle - SIVOLA DE SIVOLA EW @ 25/1
The prices are drying up now but I was on at 33/1 earlier in the week and I'm happy to back it up with a little more today. The issue with him is that he is yet to win at Cheltenham at 3 attempts but they were all in hard races over the last year and a half. The reason I think he can get up there this time is the way he stuck to his task lto in a competitive race. He is more experienced than he was last year, and than many in this race, and that could be a factor that really helps him here as the handicaps he has been battling away in should not be underestimated in terms of strength of form. He would have been among the favourites for the Pertemps off his mark if he had got in so you can expect that there is more to come. Finally, at the Kempton preview evening Paddy Brennan nominated him as his bet of the meeting, whichever he went to, and also expected him to go off at about 10/1 so it seems worth getting these prices now.
3:20 Gold Cup - LONG RUN @ 9/4, MIDNIGHT CHASE EW @ 12/1
Okay I'll try and make it brief because I think its a fascinating race this year and this could be a very long post indeed but I have to be against Kauto Star today, Cheltenham doesn't play to his strengths (he was just exceptional in his pomp) and given a clear round I'm sure Long Run will reverse with him, let alone his age and the well reported problems. Synchronised would have a shout on softer going but I think he is underpriced now, Wierd Al is a bit of a wild card particularly given the form of his trainer, whereas Quel Esprit is in form but won a poor Henessey in Irish. I really think that Midnight Chase has a hell of a chance of getting a place at least from the front for these reasons:
1) Front runners are being favoured by conditions at this festival
2) He is still lightly raced for a 10 year old and could even have improvement to come
3) He ran better than the bare result last year where Scu, great rider though he is, didn't probably ride him to his strengths. Costello knows him well and will stoke him up and keep that pitch in front as long as possible.
4) He ran his best race of his life lto
5) He had been off course for over 3 months when he ran last year, but is one that thrives for racing and has only had just under 2 months off since The Argento this time.
I can see him getting the rest off thr bridle coming round the bend then its just a matter of who can catch him and I'm happy to have a few more quid on him at 12/1 to top up 20's and 16's I already have. Here's hoping I don't break the "toilet tips" run of luck!
16:40 Martin Pipe Conditionals - ARAB LEAGUE EW @ 33/1
I've been through this several times but there is only one I want on my side and that is Arab League. He has been held back for this since hacking up in another, much weaker, conditionals event at Taunton at the end of December under this claimer. He was raised 13lbs for that win but that doesn't seem too high in comparison with the ease of the win. There are plenty in this that look classy types but are not guaranteed to stay but this fella has won at 19 and 20 furlongs over hurdles and at up to 2 miles on the flat. It is also worth noting that the claim off his back is the maximum in this race due to the claimer being part of the Pipe team and his relative inexperience, and that David Pipe is keen to win the race named after his father.
Good luck all _________________ "The problem with the future is that there are more things that could happen than will happen" - Plato (liberally paraphrased)
Barbers shop at 14/1 in the foxhunters.Third in the King george in 2009,then he went of the boil for a while and after a long break out has come back too win 2 foxhunter chases.
I think he is the class horse of the race and the way the Henderson team has been this week i think he is great value
Another Henderson horse is French Opera racing in the Johnny Henderson grand annual.It would be a great ending to a great week if Henderson won another race.I think French Opera is by far the best horse in the race,my only problem is his weight.Jeremiah McGrath takes off 5 which is a good help and i think he will get at least a place.
The Triumph Hurdle is always a hugely competitive event that features the cream of the juvenile crop, and this year's renewal doesn't appear to lack for strength in depth with several of these showing themselves to be above average; notable recent winners of this race include Detroit City, Katchit, Celestial Halo, Zaynar and Zarkandar.
The selection is a well-bred son of Dalakhani from the Willie Mullins stable who was picked up for €140,000 at auction last summer from the Alain De Royer-Dupre stable, for whom he had won the third of his three outings in France when landing a middle distance maiden on good ground in the French provinces last June, travelling well throughout and readily accounting for the opposition to run out a convincing 2 length winner. He made his timber debut in a 2m maiden hurdle at Punchestown on New Year's Eve, going off a 4/1 chance; raced in behind the leaders until moving through to lead past the halfway stage, travelling well but making one or two novicey jumping errors, headed and ridden after the second last but soon regained the lead from the top of the straight, only to lose it again to Shadow Catcher after clearing the final flight, sticking on well on the flat but coming off second best in the end as he came home half a length adrift. He went one better next time when contesting a similar contest at Leopardstown a month later on better ground, sent off a 7/4 chance; soon led and put in a better round of jumping on this occasion, ridden after clearing the second last and running slightly wide on the home turn, soon joined by the strong travelling Hisaabaat but getting his act together approaching the last and staying on well on the flat to run out a 1¼ length winner (first three nicely clear). He did well to win at all considering he still showing signs of inexperience throughout the race (only his fifth career start), and the runner-up went on to score at Grade 1 level next whilst his conqueror on debut (who re-opposes here) chased him home, so the form looks very good indeed (third at Leopardstown was Tuesday's Fred Winter runner-up Edeymi). This gelding hails from a stable that supplied the Irish with their last winner of this race back in 2002, but there isn't an awful lot between the English and Irish juveniles this term; another positive would be the recent success of Aga Khan bred runners in this race, with Zaynar and Zarkandar a couple of winners whilst the likes of Barizan, Alaivan and Mourad have all run well in defeat. The drying ground will also be in this son of Dalakhani's favour (strong travelling type who looks as though he will do even better on a sound surface), and this stiffer track should play to his strengths given he has shaped as though a thorough stayer on both outings so far; no surprise to see this gelding go very well here at likely decent odds for a stable that has already tasted success on three occasions this week.
Alan King has sent out Penzance and Katchit to win this in recent times and is double handed on this occasion, the first string being the Choc Thornton ridden Grumeti, a 100,000gns purchase from the Michael Bell stable (progressive handicapper over 10f on the Flat) who made a deeply impressive winning debut at the expense of subsequent handicap winner Ted Spread in a novices' hurdle at Taunton back in December, coming clear after the final flight to run out a 14 length scorer. He was in the process of following up when falling at the final flight at Newbury the following month (yet to be asked a question and some ten lengths clear at the time), but he bounced back well when running a sound race in defeat over this course and distance in a trial for this race, leading approaching the last but headed on the flat and losing out by a short head to Pearl Swan. However, he was awarded the race in the stewards' room after it was deemed that Pearl Swan has leaned in enough to stop this gelding from getting back; made it three from four when winning the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton last month, taking up the running before the second last and soon having matters under control, his lead reduced significantly on the run-in by the fast finishing Dodging Bullets, eventually scoring by 1½ lengths. He looks to have the ideal profile for a race of this nature, and his handler has long viewed him as his main hope for this race; wasn't quite as impressive as his other two victories when awarded the race at the expense of Pearl Swan over this course and distance earlier this year, but that did come tn days after his unfortunate last flight exit at Newbury. He is reportedly back on track after suffering a minor setback in preparation for this race, and the fact he is the choice of Choc Thornton is another indicator that all is well; slight suspicion that he will prove best on flatter/sharper tracks than this, but has to be respected on what he has achieved so far and coming from a stable with such a good record in this (also saddled Franchoek and Walkon to finish second).
Stablemate Balder Succes didn't race on the Flat in France, but the son of Goldeneyev made a winning start to his career at Auteuil when winning a big-field newcomers' event by a nose from subsequent winner Theos An Einai. He has maintained his unbeaten record since switching stables, landing a novices' hurdle at Plumpton on testing ground at the beginning of the year in the manner befitting a 4/9 favourite; raced off the pace until moving closer past halfway, getting the third last slightly wrong but travelling well and continuing to make progress to jump to the lead two from home, soon in control and coming clear easily after the last to score by 8 lengths from Jodawes. He has since netted a couple of contests at Ascot, not having to improve to land a three-runner juvenile hurdle from Brilliant Barca but looking a hugely exciting prospect when barely having to leave the bridle to see off Captain Sunshine in a novices' hurdle a month ago, coming clear with ease off the home turn to go some 15 lengths clear, eased inside the final 100 yards and seeing his advantage trimmed to 7 lengths. The obvious worry with the horse would be the drying ground and also the fact he lacks a Flat background, but otherwise this gelding has looked an extremely smart prospect to date, and the manner in which demolished the opposition last time was very taking; form doesn't amount to a great deal and this is another test altogether, but no surprise to see this supposed second string put in a bold showing here.
The Tom George trained Baby Mix is another French import who staked his claim for this race as far back as December when taking apart a useful field over this course and distance, close up from the outset and travelling strongly through, effortless taking over approaching the last and coasting clear to a 7 length victory over the useful Hinterland. However, he proved a bitter disappointment back here in a Grade 2 the following month when finishing last of six behind Grumeti and Pearl Swan, making a couple of errors at crucial stages and then dropping away as the front two began to assert, hanging once beaten. He bounced back in fine style to put himself back in line for a crack at this race when landing the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last month; tracked the leader and made a serious blunder at the third, but soon recovered and continued to track the pacesetter travelling well before taking over at the third last and opened up from the top of the straight and held a healthy advantage approaching the last, idling on the flat but always holding off the fast-finishing Sadler's Risk (who he was giving 3lbs) to score by 2 lengths. This gelding doesn't look the most straightforward of individuals, but his two performances either side of that flop here back in January have suggested he is very much a leading player here; ground conditions in his favour here, and a major contender if able to put his best foot forward.
The Paul Nicholls trained Pearl Swan showed just fair form in France for John Hammond, but he has proved a revelation since joining top jumping connections, kicking off with a convincing debut victory over obstacles when landing a novices' hurdle at Taunton in mid-January from the useful Ifyouletmefinish, scoring by 4 lengths. He was upped in grade almost immediately, contesting a Grade 2 over this course and distance nine days later; raced in last for the most part and was a little tapped-for-toe at one stage, but he picked up in very good style approaching the last to mount a serious challenge and continued to press after the final flight, holding a narrow lead when beginning to hang across Grumeti in the closing stages, scoring by a short head. He lost the race in the stewards' room afterwards, but it was still a very good effort considering that he was giving 3lbs to a rival who is considered to be one of the smarter sorts in the juvenile division; obvious claims off level weights with Grumeti here (winner since) and open to further improvement, but the worry would be the current form of the yard at this meeting.
Stablemate Dodging Bullets was a progressive sort on the Flat in Ireland for Andrew Oliver, improving significantly for the switch to handicap company when breaking his duck at the eighth attempt at Galway over 1m from a mark of 79. He followed that up with victory in a 10f handicap at Sligo from a 10lbs higher marker, seeing off subsequent Grade 1 winning hurdler Hisaabaat (giving that gelding 7lbs) by half a length and shaping as though even further would suit further down the line. He made a hugely eyecatching debut over hurdles for these connections when chasing home the more experienced Grumeti in the Grade 2 Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton last month, unable to quicken initially before coming home to good effect to close to within 1½ lengths of the eased down winner at the line. This is a stiff task on just his second outing over hurdles, and there is no doubt that he will have to settle a lot better than he did at Kempton in order to see this out; interesting he is allowed to take his chance despite his lack of experience, and can only improve for that debut effort, but was flattered to get as close as he did to Grumeti and this demands a whole lot more against more proven rivals.
The Philip Hobbs trained Sadler's Risk was a very useful performer on the Flat for Mark Johnston, winning his maiden at two over 1m at Leicester before returning there the following spring to land a 10f handicap from an opening mark of Jacobs Son, scoring by a comfortable 4 lengths. He was highly tried on a couple of occasions thereafter, including when fourth of fifth behind high-class colt Treasure Beach in the Chester Vase; struggled to make an impact in handicap company in two further starts off marks of 100 and 97. However, he switched stables in the early autumn (remained with the same owner) and looked destined for greater things in this sphere when demolishing his rivals in a juvenile hurdle at Kempton back in January, travelling well throughout and coming well clear to score by an eased down 17 lengths from Otto The Great. He shaped well in defeat over the same course and distance the following month when contesting the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle; proved very keen in behind the leaders throughout the early stages, moving into second going nicely before two out but soon pushed along in an attempt to keep tabs, unable to quicken initially before finally beginning to hit top stride approaching the final flight, continuing his progress after the last once switched right to get to within 2 lengths of Baby Mix. He shaped as though this stiffer test would suit him well, but the fact he was unable to mount a serious challenge on a rival whom he was in receipt of 3lbs suggests he does need to improve; that possible after just two outings over timber, however, and his useful Flat form coupled with bullish noises from a stable that took this a few years back with Detroit City suggests this gelding could well have a fair bit more to come.
The Nick Williams trained Urbain De Sivola is another in the field without any Flat form to his name, unseating on his debut outing in a juvenile hurdle at Market Rasen back in September when 2/1 market leader; looked on course to atone for that debut mishap when getting the landing all wrong at the final flight and losing valuable momentum in a similar contest at Chepstow, staying on again once recovering but it being far too late as he came home in third. However, he got off the mark at the third time of asking when readily accounting for the subsequently impressive dual winner Ranjaan and a couple of next time out winners in a juvenile hurdle at Newbury in December; made all and travelled best of all, pushed along approaching the second last and forging clear once ridden after the final flight to run out an impressive 10 length winner. He followed that victory up in a novices' hurdle at Taunton against older horses, but he was made to work very hard indeed; attempted to make all once again, his jumping far from convincing, but he found plenty for pressed when strongly challenged after the final flight to force a dead heat with Ifyouletmefinish, who had chased home Pearl Swan on that one's debut. This gelding is a lot better than he was able to show last time, best judged on his earlier success at Newbury when seeing off a trio of subsequent winners including smart prospect Ranjaan; obviously needs to tidy up his act in the jumping department if he is to stand any chance in what is a much better race. _________________ Dark Horses 2013 - Flat
1.30 SADLERS RISK 6/1 was the stables best fancy at the festival but ran a stinker LTO against BABY MIX, he has all of the attributes of a Triumph winners, bred out of Sadlers Wells, has winning form on the flat over 12f off a Rating of 82, the only mark against him was his 2nd in the ADONIS which is normally a good pointer to the Triumph winner, however, i have feeling that he may not have been ready that day and will be running on up the hill tommorrow, one that has EW claims and should go off at a nice price is WEST BRIT @ 40/1 who seemed to benefit from a wind op and the fitting of a tongue strap, winning comfortably in a very fast time, when eased up LTO.
2.05 TED SPREAD 16/1 (EW) and IFYOULETMEFINISH 20/1 (EW) on a day when trends are significant, these two hit most of them, of particular note is that 7/10 of the last runnings have been won by horses with no previous Cheltenham form and that Paul Nicholls has been able to train three winners and a second in the County Hurdle in the last eight years, all of which had pretty dire form prior to the race. IFYOULETMEFINISH DH LTO with short priced favourite URBAIN DE SIVOLA who runs in the Triumph Hurdle and could provide a significant pointer to my selections chances.
2.40 BOSTON BOB 6/4, MOUNT BENBULLEN 11/2 and BRINDISI BREEZE 11/1 are my three against the field here all three have done nothing wrong leading up to the festival, however, i think the Irish may have the edge and BOSTON BOB is my selection to win with BRINDISI BREEZE a confident EW bet.
3.20 LONG RUN 7/4, KAUTO STAR 7/2, QUEL ESPRITE 16/1 (EW) and SYNCHRONISED 11/1(EW) are the major players on show and i expect all four to be involved in the shake up, however, my heart is saying KAUTO but my head says LONG RUN to win with QUEL ESPRIT being my EW bet, he has been unlucky with his falls in his earlier races and his jumping has been impressive this year especially in his latest Grade One win.
4.00 SALSIFY 6/1 to win and BRADLEY 40/1 (EW) who i think is a cracking EW bet, lightly raced and has the necessary credentials having won the Intermediate Point-to-point Championship Final Hunters' Chase back in May 2010 when running on over 3 miles 1f at Cheltenham on Good ground.
4.40 BOURNE 11/2 won a competitive handicap LTO, and doesnt look too badly treated for that race, has plenty of scope for further improvement.
5.15 DE BOITRON 10/1 EW has C&D form runs off a cracking mark and looks to be in with a cracking chance, im sure Ferdy also said it was his best chance of the meeting, at a bigger price NORTHERN BAY 33/1 EW could go close off a cracking mark, but the C&D form for DE BOITRON gets my vote to win.
In what is a thrillingly competitive event in which every horse stands some chance of winning I like the look of Lifestyle who I think could run in to a place especially the way his trainer and jockey are banging the winners in. He disappointed as an 11/10 favourite is a race that definitely wasn't that strong at Doncaster when he was beaten into third by 6 lengths. Barry Geraghty was worried about the ground that day though so perhaps there was an excuse for that poor effort and she could fare better on today's ground. This will be her first start at Cheltenham but she looks on a nice enough weight and it wouldn't be a surprise if she were to run a good race here.
2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Sea Of Thunder- 0.5pt e/w- 10/1 (Ante Post)
He ran and jumped superbly on his only start at Cheltenham two starts ago until taking an unlucky fall at the last when he was about to trounce the opposition. Over 2m 4f on his latest start he only finished fifth but you could ignore that run as it was on heavy ground as he's much better suited by good ground which he'll have tomorrow. The way he ran on his run at Cheltenham looked like a typical Festival winning performance and although there's a few dangers- a repeat of that run (except the fall of course) would see him involved.
5.15 Grand Annual Chase
Astracad- 1pt win- 10/1 Best odds guaranteed
Nigel or Sam Twiston-Davies have yet to have a winner this year but I think their wait could be worth it as they have a good chance to win the final race. Nigel was very keen on this horse and described it as his best chance of the meeting. His son Sam, also said this was the horse he was most looking forward to riding. In an open contest 10/1 does look a good price as he's ran reasonably well over fences winning two of his four runs. He was 3rd to the useful Champion Court in October then 2nd to Al Ferof the time after pulling clear of the third horse. He won by a head over course and distance last time out 97 days ago and has been kept fresh for this race.
*****2.05 Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle *****
SNAP TIE @ 14/1
I like the chances of Alarazi in this race at Cheltenham today but another horse whose chances I also like is the Philip Hobbs trained Snap Tie at odds of 14/1. Hobbs has a good record in this race having won it with Rooster Booster & Moody Man in the past and since 1990 Hobbs has saddled 2 winners, a second & 3 thirds from 19 runners but what attracts me to Snap Ties chances in todays race is what happened in the lead up to this race last year.
Last year Hobbs saddled Nearby & Cockney Trucker to finish 3rd & 4th in this race but it was Snap Tie who was supposed to be his leading fancy for this race before been pulled out the night before due to injury. Hobbs had nominated Snap Tie as his bet of the meeting last year and you would have to think that the gelding would have gone very close to winning this race with Hobbs other two runners filling 2 of the first 4 places. Last year Snap Tie was laid out for this race on what would have been his seasonal debut and it looks like Hobbs is doing the same this time round as he more or less said so last October in a stable tour.
Snap Tie has not seen a racecourse for 882 days but he has a impressive first time out record with 3 wins from 4 first-time out runs and the only horse to have beaten Snap Tie on his seasonal debut was Imperial Commander back in October 2006 when Snap Tie finished 2nd over a 2m 1f NHF race here at Cheltenham. Snap Tie knows this Cheltenham track inside out as 8 of his 14 career runs have come here and he has ran well previously at the Festival meeting as he finished 7th behind winner Punjabi in the 2009 Champion Hurdle which was just 3 runs back for the 10 year old gelding.
In Snap Ties 8 previous Cheltenham appearances he has won twice, finished runner-up 3 times & 3rd once. In Snap Tie's last hurdle appearance he finished 6th of 14 runners in the 2009 Scottish Champion Hurdle, beaten 5 1/2L behind winner Noble Alan. That run came off a mark of 158 but today Snap Tie runs off a mark of just 137, that's a notable difference of 21lbs.
If Snap Tie can run anywhere near to his form of 2009 then he could easily waltz up in this race today but there is the worry of his long absence to consider. Hobbs was very keen on Snap Tie's chances in this race last year after a absence of 520 odd days so I don't think it is inconceivable that Hobbs could have him spot on this time around after a further year's absence. I have a feeling that there will be strong support for Snap Tie in the hours leading up to this race today and given his stellar Cheltenham record, I think Snap Tie could put in what would be one of the training performance of this year's Festival.
ALARAZI @ 40/1
Alarazi was sent off as the 6/1 fav to win this race last year after impressively winning the Paddy Power Imperial Cup six days earlier at Sandown but that run obviously took more out of Alarazi than connections had thought as the gelding finished down the field in this race but this time round the Lucy Wadham inmate has had plenty of time to prepare for todays race and at these odds of 40/1 I can't help but think that Alarazi is crying out to be backed each-way.
Alarazi finished down the field in his last start in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury but he would have finished a lot closer to the leaders but for been badly hampered 2 out when in with every chance. That run came off a mark of 139 and Alarazi gets to run off a 1lb lower mark in todays race.
Three starts back Alarazi ran a very good race to finish 3rd of 16 runners in the 2m Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot off a mark of 136, beaten just 1/2L behind one of todays fancied runners the Alan King trained Raya Star. Alarazi was giving Raya Star 2lbs in that Ascot race but today Alarazi is getting 5lbs from that rival so you would have to fancy a fit & ready Alarazi overturning the form with Raya Star with a 7lb turn around in the weights for just a 1/2L beating yet Raya Star is been quoted at odds of around 11/1 and Alarazi at 40/1.
I think its also worth pointing out that Alarazi had the Paul Nicholls trained Prospect Wells 1 length back in 4th in that Ascot race and Prospect Wells done that form no harm at all with a running-on 5th in Tuesdays William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Three of the last four winners of this race won at odds of 20/1, 20/1 & 50/1 so big odds should not put anyone of a horses chances in this race today and considering that Alarazi was 6/1 fav to win this race last year, I think he has to be worth some interest today at the very generous odds of 40/1.
Joined: 03 Feb 2010
Location: New home now. Spring here at last.
Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:31 am Post subject:
Cheltenham Gold Cup..
What A Friend.
I can see an upset today, with Long Run and Kauto Star,going
for favourite,Long Run was flash in the pan last year.
Kauto was below par last year, bang on form this year.
Hope he ok after that nasty fall.
Got Kauto on ante post,his odds has tumble now, victories over
Long Run.,be nice see a 12 year old win it, age is just a number.
What A Friend: Is for gotton horse,did well in last year Gold Cup,
so this time round can sneak into the places.
What A friend reminds me of Cool Ground, who was carryed out,when
fancied that year, went on to Gold Cup following year big odds.
Can see What a friend doing that, plus he might be a Spring horse to.
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