Martin Malone

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Month: March 2013

The best of Cheltenham 2013 and Aintree beckons!

This is a superb video from Racing UK which captures the very best of Cheltenham 2013.

No better taster for Aintree, which is turning into the best for years (Sprinter Sacre, Flemenstar, Cue Card). Previews will follow.

Here is the Channel 4 trailer for the Grand National:

Superb again! Forget Easter – bring on the most thrilling racing weekend of the year!

Cheltenham Day Two Preview

So, the predicted attritional ground didn’t materialise and what a day!

Champagne Fever was a mightily impressive winner of the Supreme and confirmed his Cheltenham form. I think that the top three all ran to their form (including My Tent Or Yours – impressive).

Simonsig’s Arkle will not go down as one of the best but Golden Chieftain’s win in the JLT Specialty was special. Hurricane Fly was genuinely impressive but the undoubted highlight of not just today but many Cheltenham days was the extraordinary and thrilling win was Quevega’s in the Mares’ Hurdle, beating the all over likely winner 33/1 Sirene D’Ainay. The latter is a serious horse to follow.

On to day two and some quick selections.

1.30 4m Amateurs’ Chase – Rival D’Estruval

2.05 Neptune – Pont Alexandre (nap)

2.40 RSA Chase – Houblon des Obeaux

3.20 Champion Chase – Sprinter Sacre

4.00 Coral Cup – Fiveforthree

4.40 Fred Winter – Saphir Du Rheu

5.15 Champion Bumper – Shield

Cheltenham Placepot

placepotSo here’s my Cheltenham Placepot. Remember that it is multiples per line: one selection in each race, say, £2 bet. Two selections in one race – £4 and so on.

1. 6 Jezki
2. 6 Simonsig
3. 12 Merry King
4. 9 Zarkandar 7 Khyber Kim
5. 5 Arabella Boy 8 Big Shu 14 Sacree Tiepy
6. 4 Quevega

You can also choose unnamed favourite but remember that the prospect of all favourites coming in, particularly at Cheltenham, is almost infinitesimal.

Cheltenham Day One Preview

The eve of Cheltenham (it does have a feeling of Christmas Eve!) and now is the time to pin my colours to the mast.

I’m pleased that most of my initial selections (see earlier posts) have made it and my approach this year is to stick to my guns unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.

There are inevitably some short priced favourites but my view is that the bookies want to get all they can so the short prices (other than ridiculous shortening just before the races) are generally justified.

In my last post I made clear my views about the ground. Trainers that have waited for good ground will be disappointed. There are some runners that are not obvious and I’ll look for some value where I can.

1.30 Supreme Novices’

Having been kind to the bookies above I see that the top seven in the betting are all shortening!

Champagne Fever (8/1) has attracted obvious support given the likely ground and Festival form. I listened to Simon Claisse this afternoon and it seems a safe bet that we will be on soft ground but that can cover easy to sloppy to sticky to tiring to gruelling and I think that the last two are likely to be what we’ll have, particularly because of the covers (which will be lifted only just before this race). That will suit this one.

I can’t have My Tent Or Yours. He has no form on a track such as Cheltenham and we have no idea whether he’ll get up the hill. He’s no doubt a very good horse but I suspect that the hype about the Newbury handicap hurdle win is just that. It wasn’t the best field ever and he’d won before really challenged. Following race results like that can prove costly.

Dodging Bullets is a live contender but I don’t think that he’s shown star quality. Fourth to Countrywide Flame in last year’s Triumph is nothing to write home about.

It’s a cliche to say that Un Atout could be anything but that’s the only possible assessment. However I think that he’s too short at 7/1. He’s worth an each way at that price.

So that leaves Jezki. I was hugely impressed by his win in the Christmas win at Leopardstown and I saw an interview with Jessie Harrington on an Irish website a few days ago which did nothing to put me off. Unlike Un Atout this one is proven at the top level and I’m expecting a win by at least five lengths as he powers away from his rivals.

2.05 Arkle

This isn’t a deep race and it’s now easier than it was. All the signs from Seven Barrows suggest that Simonsig is right up there with Sprinter Sacre (if not ahead at the same stage) so even at 4/6 he represents excellent value. The ground has done for Overturn and the unconcealed confidence of Donald McCain must have evaporated in the last 72 hours. Outside the market leaders Arvika Legionnaire will run his own race (probably belting off and then down the field up the hill) and the others are there for a Festival day out. I can’t for the life of me understand why Tap Night is in this when there were better options.

2.40 JLT Specialty Chase

Over 3m 110y this will sort out the stayers from the rest if the ground is anything like it’s predicted to be. Merry King (15/2) appeals with his usual jockey on board. I’ve had a few quid on Jadanli (75/1) having seen him win the Thyestes on testing ground and an undulating course. I’m also interested in White Star Line (14/1), second to Back In Focus on heavy last September, second to Hunt Ball here last year, second to Sir Des Champs on soft at Navan and second to First Lieutenant, albeit back in October 2010.

3.20 Champion Hurdle

The way it’s turned out is ideal for a head to head between Hurricane Fly and Zarkandar (7/2). I’ve made it clear from early in the season that I’m with Zarkandar and the ground has sealed it for me. He’s a fighter and I readily believe Paul Nicholls’ view that he does what he needs to win. He’ll grind it out up the hill. Hurricane Fly will probably run him closest and could lead after the last but I’m all the way with Zarkandar to collar him. Balder Succes is not up to this, Binocular has not shown anything to suggest that he’s back to winning the Blue Riband again, Cinders And Ashes has the wrong ground, Countrywide Flame is just not good enough, Grandouet (fragile) would have been a dodgy choice even before the ground turned out as it has, Khyber Kim is a good call for a place at 50/1 and Rock On Ruby had the benefit of a dream run last year which almost certainly won’t be repeated.

4.00 Cross Country

Unlike others I take the view that this is a perfectly valid betting race. Most of these have no chance but there are some interesting less obvious candidates. As previously indicated I’m very impressed with the favourite, Arabella Boy and he’s my win bet (placed now at 5/1 because he’ll shorten). However, I’m concerned by the suggestion (on RUK this afternoon) that he’s an out and out Punchestown specialist and the main target is the La Touche Cup next month. The race is much easier without Balthazar King (in and out but could easily have won on decent ground). This race was won last year in a course record time. That won’t be repeated and brings in other, perhaps less obvious, candidates. For me, they are Big Shu (12/1), proven on this ground, and, in particular, French challenger Sacree Tiepy, whose form is more or less exclusively on very soft or heavy.

4.40 Mares’ Hurdle

Ahh, a moment of calm in the frenzy as Quevega, a very generous 4/6, comfortably wins the right race for her and probably falls under the radar as one of the greatest ever Cheltenham horses. There’s absolutely no reason to put forward a case for any other. I know that this run will inevitably end at some point but she should be 1/3 at least – a gift!

5.15 2m 4f Novices’ Chase

The strong temptation is to go for a long shot in this one. For me the question for most of the possibles is which of these is going to progress out of the handicap ranks? The candidates are: Colour Squadron (6/1), Klepht (25/1), Vulcanite (20/1), The Druids Nephew (8/1), Ohio Gold (25/1), Johns Spirit (20/1) and Arthur’s Pass (16/1). However, I can’t desert Carlito Brigante, with superb Cheltenham form (Coral Cup and won 2m4f Novices’ Chase here last October, beating Domtaline). I’ve backed him so many times, and often chosen the wrong race, so beware that I’m choosing him on that basis.

I’ll wind up for today with:

Pricewise selections

2.40 Merry King 15/2 (really didn’t know that in advance)
4.00 Sacree Tiepy (I swear that I didn’t know that when tipping him up above and pleased to have the bet on – was 20/1 now 14/1)
4.40 Swing Bowler (10/1, now 8/1 – as you’ve read, not one for me)

Timeform strong plays

My Tent Or Yours 2.96
Our Mick 8
The Druids Nephew 8.4

I think I’d better post this now before more distractions. I’m off to the excellent racing pub Rigbys in Dale Street, Liverpool tomorrow where I will no doubt find lots of vigorously but civilly put opposing opinions. Guinness, racing fans, popping out for ciggies and bets, proper facilities for racing coverage. Perfect!! Alan, I’ve saved your excellent printed preview for my bedtime reading!

Cheltenham and the weather

Good evening to whoever may read this.

It’s the Friday before the Festival so it’s time for a general chat before decision time. My views are now tainted by watching several previews including, in particular, the Betfair preview:

Click on the links on the right hand side to get the previews for the subsequent days.

As indicated in the day two comments below the broadcast, I think that Anthony Bromley is the star in this. He’s the only man who, in a meaningful way, bridges the gap between Henderson and Nicholls (plus anyone else who gets a chance). He’s obviously French focused but that’s accounted for much of what we’ve seen in the UK over the last few years, and increasingly in Ireland (look at WP’s stars).

I don’t take any pleasure (really) from the fact that opponents to my selections seem to be drifting away. I’m sure that we would all want all the best horses to turn up. However!! We are now looking at very interesting weather with reports of covering all the courses and below freezing overnight for every night of the Festival until next Friday. I can’t tell you off hand which year it was that there was a lot of snow at the Festival (I’m thinking it was the early 90s). If I spent long enough watching the Racing UK replays I’d be able to tell you. Here’s the thing. If the ground is coming off frost, even if it is officially good to soft (as it will undoubtedly be), ground off the frost just isn’t the same and will be much better suited to winter campaigners – it just will be that way! That’s very significant for the horses requiring good ground (it won’t be) and is a good reason for supporting winter campaigners rather than those who have been saved.

Some of the selections might not perform so well on that ground but the bottom line is that good horses will go well in anything other than terrible ground. For example, I feel better about Sprinter Sacre, Jezki, Dynaste, and all the other Irish challengers. Well, that’s it for now. I’m going to take a look at tomorrow’s runners so there may be a brief list of selections to follow.

Good luck!

Cheltenham update

It’s a shame that Imperial Commander is out of the Gold Cup but, as you know from earlier posts, I never had him as a winner.

Quick call on others.

Tuesday

Supreme Novices Stick with Jezki 5/1 over MTOY.

Arkle Don’t believe the hype about Overturn (Simonsig 8/11 is a machine).

Champion Hurdle Zarkandar at 5/1 is still good value.

Cross Country Arabella Boy, joint favourite of three is a comfortable best choice.

Mares’ Hurdle Quevega (8/15) is still worth a big bet plus all multiples for the week.

Pont_Alexandre

Wednesday

Neptune Pont Alexandre at 9/4 is still overpriced (possibly the joint best horse of the week; the other one is two races later).

RSA Dynaste is fairly priced at 5/2.

Champion Chase Sprinter Sacre is too short at 2/7 but still good for multiples.

Champion Bumper Shield (16/1) wouldn’t be going to Cheltenham unless AOB thinks he has a real chance.

Thursday

Jewson Captain Conan should win.

Pertemps Sam Winner (5/1) is an addition to my selections. Nicholls couldn’t be more positive about him.

Ryanair I’m still with Cue Card (4/1) and I think that this race could cut up seriously.

World Hurdle I see no reason to depart from Reve de Sivola (5/1) for the World Hurdle and I’m not concerned about Oscar Whisky.

Friday

Triumph For anyone who’s in doubt about Rolling Star (5/1) I recommend reviewing his races to date.

Gold Cup Regular readers will know that I’m determined that Silviniaco Conti (5/1) will win.

I’m still open minded about the Fox Hunters’.

Full daily reviews, including the handicaps, will follow.

Saturday racing

I’m getting near to my final update for Cheltenham including the non-championship races but that will follow in a few days. For now, I’m sharing my views about one of the least predictable weekends of the year, because it’s too near to the great event. Therefore, with some trepidation, here we go!

1.15 Doncaster 3m Class 4 Novices’ Chase

Why is Ruby at Doncaster? Because he’s identified winners – simples! This could be the reason. Themilanhorse should win this. Not great odds but good for multiples.

1.45 Doncaster 3m 110y Class 1 Mares’ Hurdle

Ma Filleule will win this. Another one for the multiples.

2.20 Doncaster 2m 110y Chase

This is looking like a Canadian in the making! Toubab will win.

2.55 Doncaster 3m 2f Chase

This is made for Join Together (why Ruby’s here) but you’ll get a good price (about 9/2) and not one for multiples. Quentin Collonges (11/1) is another lively candidate.

3.30 Doncaster 3m 110y Class 2 Hurdle

Aaim To Prosper should be all over this. Way better than the rest and current 7/2 is a gift.

2.05 Newbury 3m 110y Class 2 Hurdle

Beware…or perhaps better advice, avoid! I’ll choose Dream Again Boys but with no confidence.

2.40 Newbury Veterans’ Chase 3m 2f 110y Class 2

Another one to avoid. Lots of reasons not to favour the favourites. Reluctant choice is Desperate Dex (4/1) but if I’m betting on this something’s gone wrong!

3.15 Newbury 2m 110y Hurdle Class 3

I hate this sort of race which features horses who aren’t quite good enough. Tentative selection is Tango de Juilley to maintain the Venetia Williams roll.

3.50 (the preferred time) 2m 4f Grade 3 Class 1 Chase

Interested to see that Ballabriggs is 80/1 for this, which seems about right. All the money is with Garynella (about 9/2) so I can’t oppose the flow.

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