Martin Malone

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Month: March 2017

Ready for Aintree

After an expensive Gold Cup day at Cheltenham, attention now turns to the increasingly prestigious Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The importance of this meeting over all three days should not be underestimated. Thursday features four successive Grade 1s, plus the Foxhunters’, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3. Every single race on Friday is graded (four Grade 1s, one Grade 2 and two Grade 3s including the Topham over the National fences). Saturday is, of course, the biggest racing day of the year for the general public featuring, in my view, the most exciting race of the year, notwithstanding the necessary changes to the course. Take it for what it is: an adapted race which attracts better horses and just as much excitement. The card for the big day is much improved with three Grade 1s and two Grade 3s (including the National itself because it is a handicap).

To get you in the mood here are some great pictures from the best racecourse in the world with, of course, the obligatory Champions music:

It’s too early to make selections but I recommend a visit to Rigbys in Dale Street, Liverpool, next Monday at 7.30 p.m. for the best preview with Paul Ferguson and Dan Kelly:

Cheltenham 2017 Friday selections

A mixed day today with Un de Sceaux delivering in scintillating style and Let’s Dance winning easily in the end, both under superb Ruby Walsh rides. Yorkhill turned out to be a reformed horse and was a very impressive winner of the JLT while Unowhatimeanharry was beaten fair and square. Overall, slightly up for the day.

Now on to the big finale and two big selections! If you want them without reading the rest they are Charli Parcs**** and On The Fringe****. It’s worth mentioning that not one of my selections has been chosen by Pricewise!

Triumph Hurdle

New Choice: Charli Parcs**** 9/1 -> 7/2 (over the last two weeks). I am resolute that I will not give up!

One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 40/1) …remains of interest for a place.

Defi du Seuil is the justified favourite. I started by supporting Charli Parcs**** for the Supreme and Defi du Seuil for this one but, having heard what Nicky Henderson has said throughout and particularly this week, I’m keeping the faith with the former. The last race has to be written off. There’s no doubt that he wasn’t running well before falling but I think that this will be his day, and the first of many top level wins. He’s a confident selection and, although the times were slow today, the ground will be better tomorrow.

I still like Coeur de Lion for a place at a very attractive 40/1. He was second to Defi du Seuil at Cheltenham on good to soft over the same distance last December and, based on that form, the price is too big.


County Hurdle

Two weeks ago: Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov** at 20/1 ( -> 10/1).

It’s worth bearing in mind that Ivanovich Gorbatov** won last year’s Triumph Hurdle over the same course and distance and in doing so beat Apple’s Jade, Footpad and Let’s Dance. His subsequent form of 2333433, while campaigned at the highest level, makes him a nailed on each way selection.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Two weeks ago: No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate** at 10/1 ( -> 17/2 -> 5/1).

Everyone wants Death Duty*** (5/2 -> 2/1) and Wholestone (13/2 -> 6/1) is another popular choice.

Many people’s choice of the week is Death Duty*** and I’m torn between this one and the tough mare Augusta Kate**, who was giving Death Duty a real race when falling last time out. I’m absolutely 50/50 about them and I’ll wait to see what Gordon Elliott says about the favourite on tomorrow morning’s Opening Show on ITV4 before making my final decision.


Gold Cup

Choice: Cue Card*** (7/2 -> 3/1 -> 4/1 -> 9/2)

I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1 -> 20/1 -> 25/1) running into a place.

I was on the verge of switching to Djakadam while watching this afternoon’s racing. However, with the benefit of a little more reflection I’ve decided to stick with Cue Card***. He comes to this on the back of a season including two spectacular 15 length victories in the Betfair and Ascot Chases and appears to have lost none of his ability and enthusiasm notwithstanding that that this is his 36th outing since his debut in January 2010.

Djakadam has age and an ideal prep on his side and I understand the support for Native River, but it remains to be seen whether his form is good enough and the ground won’t play to his advantage.

I will certainly be having a decent each way bet on Bristol de Mai* at a very appealing 25/1 (with Paddy Power who are offering first four).


 Foxhunters’ Chase

Choice: On The Fringe**** (6/4 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 7/4)

No reason to change this selection.

I made my mind up about this one after his second to Foxrock at Leopardstown a month ago. He was not exerted with a hands and heels ride from jockey Jamie Codd and it’s his best preparation yet. 12 years old is not too old for a hunter and it’s worth remembering that his form in this race is 311. This is my second big selection of the day and he will be around evens at the off so get on as soon as possible. My bet is placed with relish.


Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Two weeks ago: The Storyteller (9/2). If Gordon Elliott is right this one is nailed on.

Battleford** (10/1 -> 7/1) is one to watch for this one.

Unfortunately The Storyteller has not taken his place in this one and would have been my selection. My reserve is Battleford**, another that has progressed well from his bumpers (beaten by a nose by Ballyandy in last year’s Champion Bumper with Bacardys third and second to Bacardys with Ballyandy in the Aintree bumper). He is the class of the field with the right connections (Mullins/Wylie).


Grand Annual

Theinval (16/1 -> 12/1) is just the sort of horse for this one. Under the radar.

By this time I’ll be disappointed if the champagne and dancing have not taken over so I’ll get this bet in early. Rarely out of the places and returning after a break, having won last time out.


Placepot selections

1 – 2 Charli Parcs; 3 Coeur de Lion

2 – 3 Ivanovich Gorbatov

3 – 6 Death Duty

4 – 3 Cue Card; 1 Bristol de Mai

5 – 16 On the Fringe

6 – 22 Battleford


Lucky 15

Charli Parcs

Death Duty

Cue Card

On The Fringe

 

Good luck!!

Cheltenham 2017 Thursday selections

I thought I’d missed the bus today with a slow start. Bacardys’ race was scuppered as a result of the sadly fatal fall of Consul de Thaix. Might Bite prevailed against my view of him although he did his best to lose the race. He’s clearly a very good horse and now 3/1 for the King George and 10/1 for next year’s Gold Cup. I’d mentioned in the previews that Douvan hadn’t beaten much and it was clear from early on that he was unsettled by the shape of the race. I’m convinced that WP was right when he said that he over-stretched in his jumps and he will undoubtedly be reported to have injured himself. I hope that he comes back from it but he’s now in the Sprinter Sacre category. Special Tiara was a very well deserved winner and has capped his CV with this unexpected achievement.

Then things got much better. Cause of Causes is now a Cheltenham hero with his third festival win. Divin Bere was a valiant second and Fayonagh (7/1) provided the perfect end to the day with a classic Jamie Codd last to first charge in the home straight, after a dreadful start. This is the Festival of Gordon Elliott, Jamie Codd and Noel Fe-hily, no matter what else happens.

With an eye to Friday it has to be said that, bar Fox Norton’s second in the Champion Chase, Colin Tizzard has had a poor Festival to date and this must be a factor when considering the Gold Cup selection.

So, on to Thursday. The decision to water the course when the going is good, good to soft, has caused some consternation, but it’s no surprise given my initial view on Tuesday and its tendency to run faster than the old course.

JLT Novices’ Chase

Choice: Politologue** (9/1 -> 8/1 -> unchanged -> 13/2 -> 6/1)

Bookies are divided about my selection, with prices varying from 9/2 to 13/2. I’m not going to change now, particularly with WP’s uncharacteristic drought. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of his horses have run well and been fairly and squarely beaten (Melon, Limini, Vroum Vroum Mag) but others haven’t come to the party and Yorkhill, although very talented, is a headcase and could win by a mile or bomb out. Top Notch, particularly given Nicky Henderson’s form deserves respect, but I’d prefer Politologue in a head to head.


Pertemps

No selection

This is not a race that I have a strong view about and I may well swerve it. Impulsive Star has a lot of fans and Golden Doyen should not be ignored. I’ll be having a little each way wager on Aubusson, whose best form is on soft and heavy, but has a classy race in him now and then.


Ryanair Chase

Choice: Un de Sceaux*** (5/2 -> 4/1 -> 100/30 -> 11/4)

One to watch: Uxizandre (7/1 -> 6/1 -> 4/1). Three weeks ago: “I’m still happy with this one as a place selection. Get on now because this race will cut up severely”.

Well, the race has cut up severely and here is a genuine dilemma. I’m inclined to stick with Un de Sceaux to buck the WP trend but Barry Geraghty said at the start of the week that Uxizandre was the ride that he will most miss. Empire of Dirt runs here, contrary to the trainer’s preference for the Gold Cup, so you have to think that this is all about the owner winning his own race. For that reason among others I’m going to stick with my initial selection.


Stayers’ Hurdle

Choice: Unowhatimeanharry**** (13/8 ->11/8 -> unchanged -> 5/4)

I said weeks ago that Unowhatimeanharry**** should be odds on and you can still get 6/4 in places. This one is going to give Noel Fehily an unbelievable treble of championship race wins and good for him. The only threat in my book is Jezki and you have to buy into all kinds of possibles and maybes to go down that road.


Brown Advisory Plate

I said no choice in this one throughout the build up and I haven’t changed my mind. Which one would you have? I’ve heard people in previews big up Diamond King, the current 5/1 favourite but I can’t select him. I think that this one will go to a long odds winner and, of those, I’ll make a very tentative selection with Champagne At Tara*, although the ground is probably against him.


Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

This is a pain in the arse race because it messes up other options. If Let’s Dance** (3/1 -> 7/4 -> unchanged) turns up here, she is the selection and will win.

Well, this is about WP’s runners whether we want it to be or not. The bottom line is that I think that Let’s Dance** is better than Airlie Beach and I can’t have any of the others. Having said that, I should mention that ATR’s Gary O’Brien flagged up Forge Meadow as a live contender.


Kim Muir

I can see why Squouateur is the favourite but he’s not for me. My preference is for Mall Dini** at an appealing 7/1 to round off the penultimate day. However, this is another watch the market race, because there is often a plunge horse.

Cheltenham 2017 Wednesday selections

Zabaik! Well, I didn’t get where I am today without spotting the odd one. I got 33/1 and I’m delighted that my friend and fellow watcher from the pub GKR got 40/1 so we were guaranteed to be in profit from the first race, which made for a very jolly day. Altior duly obliged but connections of Douvan don’t need to lose any sleep for the two miles king. Noble Endeavor was, well, noble in the Ultima and Petit Mouchoir delighted his trainer with a valiant third.

Well done Buveur d’Air, even though I abandoned him on account of the stated preference for soft ground. The second highlight of the day was Apple’s Jade’s superb victory in the Mares’ Hurdle which was a genuine race with the best three to the fore and the winner showing what a good horse she is. The best news of the day is that Moon Racer is apparently none the worse after being pulled up sharply in the Champion Hurdle. So, on to day two. We have a a lot to live up to!

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

Choice: Bacardys*** (7/2)

Finians Oscar was my initial choice but didn’t make it to the show. My replacement was Bacardys*** (7/2) on the basis that he could see off Neon Wolf (2/1) (who I would have preferred in the Supreme). They have both made it to the race and comfortably head the field. I see no reason to change my mind and have Bacardys battling up the hill and just seeing off the favourite.


RSA Chase

Choice: Royal Vacation** (20/1 -> 16/1 -> unchanged -> 12/1 -> 8/1)

I had chosen Might Bite but I’ve gone against him. This is an attritional race. Even with the master guidance of Mouse Morris, ever since I played Totopoly I can’t have a horse that burst a blood vessel badly in his last race so that excludes Alpha Des Obeaux.

I’m going with this evening’s plunge horse and my initial one to watch, Royal Vacation**, who has shortened from 20/1 to 8/1 and could go off as low as 6/1. Whisper is another one deserving of respect.

I think that I believed too much of the hype about Might Bite which is why he is now overlooked.


Coral Cup

Choice: Tombstone*** (5/1 -> 4/1). They obviously think this is a good one. Could have gone for a bigger test.

My choice was made a couple of weeks ago (Tombstone***) and the only one I see as a serious opponent is WP’s Tin Soldier in what is normally a lottery of a race.


Champion Chase

Choice: Douvan***** (4/11 -> 1/3 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 2/7)

Douvan***** is a lot better than today’s Arkle victor Altior and is, quite simply, the best horse on show in the Festival. Unopposable.


Cross Country

Choice: Auvergnat** (12/1 -> unchanged -> 8/1 -> 15/2 -> 13/2)

Two weeks ago: Serious support for this one. Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd like Cause of Causes (4/1 -> unchanged) a lot, particularly on good ground.

This used to be a race to avoid until the trends emerged. First introduced to the Festival in 2005, Enda Bolger is rightly regarded as the master of these races but his record is not as strong as you might think (five from eleven). Nonetheless, he is the one to start with and I think that Auvergnat** is the best of his four entries, and my selection. I have an affection for Cause of Causes**, a Cheltenham favourite. The ground is always firmer on the cross country course and he has the maestro Jamie Codd on board. My selection is marginal and I might well end up betting on both of them.


Fred Winter

Choice: Divin Bere* (6/1)

This is one in which my initial selections have defected so I will probably give this a swerve. The preview panels have directed me to Divin BereDomperignon Du Lys and Dolos, from whom the former was most supported, hence the selection. Not one I’ll take credit for as a selection if he wins.


Champion Bumper

I said ten days ago that I’m against Carter McKay and I’ve not seen anything in the previews to change my mind. I’ve considered possibly too young 4-y-o Debuchet and Carl Hinchy’s horse Cause Toujours, but I’m drawn to another Gordon Elliott horse Fayonagh** (9/1), another Jamie Codd ride, who may well beat the boys in this one. However, this comes with the annual caveat that you must watch the market on the day.


Placepot (this is very winnable)

1 – 1 Bacardys

2 – 10 Royal Vacation

3 – 5 Tombstone; 19 Tin Soldier

4 – 1 Douvan

5 – 4 Auvergnat; 8 Cause of Causes

6 – 1 Divin Bere; 5 Dolos; 9 Domperignon du Lys

Good luck!!

Cheltenham 2017 Tuesday selections

Well, it’s make your mind up time because the Festival is now upon us. First news must be about the weather forecast which, from the latest BHA report, is “2mm of rain Sunday morning, dry outlook through to Friday”. With no watering (yet) the old course is expected to be, surprise surprise, good to soft (going stick 6.0/average good to soft is 6.8). With drying weather during the week we should expect that to change to good, good to soft in places and the new course (for Thursday and Friday) good. If you believe the reports this will have an impact on some of the key selections every day.

At last we have the final entries for Tuesday although experience has taught us that there can be late news about runners right up to the off. This week’s highlight must be, quite rightly, the Gold Cup on Friday. For much of the season expectations were that there would be a short-priced favourite but now the market is headed by three entirely viable candidates, any one of which could go off as favourite. Anyway, more of that later in the week. Now on to the first day which provides, in my view, the best overall card of the week and the only soberly prepared preview!

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Choices: Bunk Off Early** (7-1 -> 5/1) / Crack Mome*  (16-1 -> 9/1) (latter e/w)

My initial choice was Charli Parcs (now in the Triumph on Friday and I’m still keeping the faith), with Bacardys one to watch and, latterly, Neon Wolf as a substitute for the first selection. None of them have shown up for the race so we might as well start over.

Melon is all about what you believe. The racecourse form is nothing to write home about but WP is reported to have thought of this one for the last two years as potentially one of his best and he’s Ruby’s choice. His only hurdle race was against no serious opposition in a low value maiden hurdle at Leopardstown in late January and his in-running report included “not fluent 4 out…eased clear before last where mistake”. His opponents that day have subsequently done nothing to write home about.

Ballyandy is the opposite of Melon in terms of racecourse experience and his impressive win in the competitive Grade 1 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury was an excellent prep for this. He is my preference from the leading two in the market.

However, the defection of several would-be serious candidates means that this appears not to be the toughest of renewals. Last week I highlighted Bunk Off Early** (7/1 -> 5/1) and Crack Mome* (16/1 -> 9/1 e/w), both of whom remain of interest. I’ll also be having a little wager on Labaik* (33/1 e/w) who Gordon Elliott thinks the world of. The only problem is that his race may be over at the start, having refused to race in four of his last seven starts!


Arkle

Choice: Altior***** (1/2 -> 1/3-1/4 ->1/3 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 1/4)

There is no reason whatsoever to change my view on this one. Not a betting proposition per se (but one for combinations).

As previously mentioned I fancy Royal Caviar** (14/1) for a place. There will be loads of offers so look for at least 1/4 the odds (first three) and hope for no late defections!


Ultima Handicap Chase

Choice: Noble Endeavor*** (10/1 -> 9/1 -> 7/1).

I put this one up as a definite selection three weeks ago and nothing’s changed my mind. The price is fair, bearing in mind that I don’t like the next five in the market (Singlefarmpayment, Holywell, The Druids Nephew, Ibis du Rheu and Henri Parry Morgan). There is every chance of an outsider winning and I like Theatre Guide** (25/1) for a place (look for 1/4 the odds first five).


Champion Hurdle

Choice: Petit Mouchoir** (9/2 -> 4/1 ->11/2 -> 6/1 -> unchanged -> 8/1)

Footpad was a definite selection if the ground was soft, but it’s not, so he’s deselected. As previously discussed I can’t have Yanworth because the pictures don’t lie. However, he’s good for a placepot selection. Nicky Henderson has been clear that Buveur d’Air prefers it soft while Brain Power prefers good ground, hence the shortening of the latter to 6/1.

Petit Mouchoir** has won on good and good to yielding and I can see him leading them home up the straight. I am going out on a limb with this one and most would think that the horses at the top of the betting are, basically, better than him. Of them, I would side with Brain Power, even though he has not yet campaigned at the top level. He might just be very good indeed. I’m confident that the winner will come from the top four in the betting in what is a below par renewal.


Mares Hurdle

Choice: Apples Jade* (2/1 -> 11/4 -> 5/2 -> 11/4 -> 3/1 -> 4/1)

So now we know that the WP pair of Limini (6/4) and Vroum Vroum Mag (11/4) have lined up against each other and Ruby’s choice is the former.

I’d already indicated that I would be opposing Limini. Vroum Vroum Mag could have faced a stiffer challenge in one of the other races. The last race at Doncaster was won in a workmanlike manner by Vroum Vroum Mag and was a far from ideal preparation. You have to disregard that race to go with her and I’m not inclined to do so.

Apples Jade* can be very good indeed on her day and I’m sticking with my choice throughout the build up, albeit not with great confidence.

Of the remainder Rons Dream* has winning form at Cheltenham on good to soft, will stay all day and is very good value for a place at 66/1 (1/4 the odds first three).


National Hunt Chase

Choices: A Genie In Abottle*** (5/1 -> unchanged); Flintham* (25/1 e/w)

Selection A Genie In Abottle** has been stable at 5/1 and has the considerable benefit of Jamie Codd on board. His best form is on soft and heavy but he won his only Point to Point on good to firm.

I cannot have Champers On Ice or Arpege d’Alene but Beware The Bear is of interest.

Of the remainder Flintham* is the each way choice at 25/1 (1/4 the odds first three).


Close Brothers Novices Chase

Choice: Sizing Tennessee* (25/1 -> 20/1) each way

Only one of my selections has made it into the final field for this one and it’s the least favoured of the three in the shape of Sizing Tennessee* (e/w 1/4 the odds first four).

Of the remainder I’m interested in Burtons Well (20/1) and Gold Present (10/1). Not a race I’m going to get heavily involved in.


Three for the day

Altior
Noble Endeavor
A Genie In Abottle

Placepot selections

1 – 1 Ballyandy
2 – 2 Altior
3 – 2 Noble Endeavor
4 – 12 Yanworth
5 – 1 Apples Jade; 16 Rons Dream
6 – 1 A Genie In Abottle; 6 Beware The Bear

Good luck!

 

A quick look at the betting for next week

This is just for my benefit. A little reminder before a bigger preview over the weekend.

Tuesday

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

(Initial Choice: Charli Parcs (6/1 -> 7/1 ->16/1 -> 14/1) OUT. It’s the Triumph or nothing and I think that Defi has to be preferred.)

(Initial one to watch: Bacardys (33/1 -> 14/1 -> out of this one – see below)

New choice: Neon Wolf  6/1 (with a run); otherwise Bunk Off Early 7/1; Crack Mome 16/1 e/w.

This race has cut up but normally produces a star. Just a matter of finding it. Willie thinks a lot of Melon but we’ve been down that road before!


Arkle

Choice: Altior (1/2 -> 1/3-1/4 ->1/3 -> unchanged -> unchanged)


Ultima Handicap Chase

Choice: For now, Noble Endeavor (10/1 -> 9/1).

Definite selection.


Champion Hurdle

Choice: Petit Mouchoir (9/2 -> 4/1 ->11/2 -> 6/1 -> unchanged)

Definite selection. Footpad (20/1 e/w) if soft.


Mares Hurdle

Initial Choice: Apples Jade (2/1 -> 11/4 -> 5/2 -> 11/4 -> 3/1)

One to watch: Lets Dance (11/1 -> 8/1 -> 16/1 -> 10/1 -> unchanged)

Limini (5/4) apparently lined up for this one but happy to oppose.


National Hunt Chase

Choice: A Genie In Abottle (5/1). Don’t ignore Flintham (33/1).


Close Brothers Novices Chase

No selection yet.

Candidates: Romain de Senam (10/1), Value at Risk (10/1), Sizing Tennessee (25/1).


Wednesday

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

Initial Choice: Finians Oscar (9/2 -> unchanged ->5/1). Now against this one.

New choice: Bacardys is now routed here and is a serious candidate at 6/1 -> 5/1. Less keen on Neon Wolf in this.


Coral Cup

Choice: Tombstone (5/1). They obviously think this is a good one. Could have gone for a bigger test.


RSA Chase

Choice: Might Bite (6/1 -> 7/2 ->100/30)

One to watch: Royal Vacation (20/1 -> 16/1 -> unchanged)

No change.


Champion Chase

Choice: Douvan (4/11 -> 1/3 -> unchanged -> unchanged)


Cross Country

Choice: Auvergnat (12/1 -> unchanged -> 8/1)

Serious support for this one. Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd like Cause of Causes (4/1) a lot, particularly on good ground.


Fred Winter

Initial choice: Coeur de Lion OUT

No strong view. Possibly Dinaria des Obeaux (10/1)


Champion Bumper

I’m unlikely to have a choice in this one until the day. As in previous years, I might well go for a big mover on the day (if it materialises).

Not Carter McKay. Slow wins.


Thursday

JLT Novices’ Chase

Choice: Politologue (9/1 -> 8/1 -> unchanged -> 13/2)

One to watch: Frodon (25/1 -> 16/1 -> 20/1 -> 16/1)…remains of interest to me.

Unchanged.


Pertemps

Barring any big news in the meantime I’ll have a bet on the day.

Keep an eye on Ballymalin (20/1).


Ryanair Chase

Choice: Un de Sceaux (5/2 -> 4/1 -> 100/30)

One to watch: Uxizandre (7/1 -> 6/1). Two weeks ago: “I’m still happy with this one as a place selection. Get on now because this race will cut up severely”.


Stayers’ Hurdle

Choice: Unowhatimeanharry (13/8 ->11/8 -> unchanged -> 5/4)

One to watch: Footpad (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> unchanged)

Convinced Unowhatimeanharry will win and should be odds on.


Brown Advisory Plate

Too early. I think that we might see one suddenly emerge in this one. There are still lots of interesting entries.

Still no choice.


Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

This is a pain in the arse race because it messes up other options. If Let’s Dance (3/1 -> 7/4) turns up here, she is the selection and will win.


Kim Muir

Another one to wait for and another with the top of the market full of horses I don’t fancy.

If I avoid any race it will be this one.


Friday

Triumph Hurdle

Choice: Defi du Seuil (3/1 -> 9/4 -> unchanged) is the justified favourite.

One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> unchanged) …remains of interest for a place.

Charli Parcs is in this at 9/1. Definitely worth an each way. I am resolute that I will not give up!


Foxhunters’ Chase

Choice: On The Fringe (6/4 -> unchanged -> unchanged)

No reason to change this selection.


County Hurdle

Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov at 20/1.

Mick Jazz, Diego du Charmil and Ivanovich Gorbatov are the contenders.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate at 10/1 -> 17/2.

Everyone wants Death Duty (5/2) and Wholestone (13/2) is another popular choice.


Gold Cup

Choice: Cue Card (7/2 -> 3/1 -> 4/1)

I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1 -> 20/1) running into a place.

No change of view notwithstanding the strong support in the previews for Djakadam.


Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Choice: The Storyteller (9/2). If Gordon Elliott is right this one is nailed on.

Battleford (10/1) is one to watch for this one.


Grand Annual

Theinval (16/1) is just the sort of horse for this one. Under the radar.

At The Races Final Furlong Preview

I was delighted to listen to Mick Fitz talking on ATR about the racecourse gallops after Leopardstown yesterday when he related the following story. He was called in to ride Hedgehunter for the equivalent gallops in 2006. He left afterwards without speaking with WP, who asked him later how he felt. Mick gave him a good report and he ran in the Gold Cup, coming second (ridden by Ruby Walsh) behind War of Attrition. WP said he owed him one for the report and duly put him on board the winner of the Grade One Punchestown Champion 4-y-o Hurdle. That winner was Quatre Heures, the horse who is in the featured image on this website.

QH provided me with my best ever moment on a racecourse, when he was running in the Supreme Hurdle the same year and approaching the home turn. Comments in running: “The sole four-year-old in the line up, who had created a decent impression when winning on his previous two outings and looked a player when making ground to join the leaders three from home, yet he failed to sustain his effort and was ultimately well beaten”.

Anyway, here we go with another Cheltenham preview, this time live streamed on Facebook (ATR) from The Goat Bar in Dublin. Didn’t get it all but some good points.

Our panel is:

Emmett Kennedy (EK) (Chair)

Kevin Blake (again) (KB)

Tony Keenan (TK)

Jamie Codd (JC)

Sean Boyce (SB)

Tuesday

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Choice: Charli Parcs (6/1 -> 7/1 ->16/1 -> 14/1)

One to watch: Bacardys (33/1 -> 14/1 -> out of this one – see below)

KB: Ruby will ride Melon. WP quite bullish – on home work Melon is the best of the four or five he will run. Inexperience worries me. Ruby will try to bury him in the race. I like Bunk Off Early – race will suit him. Thinks Paul Townend will ride him

TK: I think the favourite is more lemon than melon. Neon Wolf will shite on these if he runs. probably not going to run but definitely the bet if he does. Ballyandy loves a strongly run race. Moon Racer‘s too short. Won a bit of a joke of a race. Give Bunk Off Early a chance. Little chance to Crack Mome.

JC: I think it’s an ordinary Supreme. I think Neon Wolf is very good, particularly if there’s a little rain. In like Finians Oscar but think he goes for the Neptune. Labaik – one of the best work horses I’ve seen in my life (probably won’t run). If he jumps off, just for the sake of it at 50/1.

SB: Finians Oscar may go for this. Don’t want Melon. Go Finians Oscar NRNB. Also River Wylde – properly bred.


Arkle

Choice: Altior (1/2 -> 1/3-1/4 ->1/3 -> unchanged)

KB: Don’t want to put up negatives against him. Royal Caviar without the fav.

TK: Royal Caviar without the fav.

SB: Flying Angel (10/1) without the fav.

JC: Just sit back and watch it.


Ultima Handicap Chase

Choice: For now, Noble Endeavor (10/1). This may well change.


Champion Hurdle

Choice: Petit Mouchoir (9/2 -> 4/1 ->11/2 -> 6/1)

EK: Mark Walsh on Yanworth

KB: A really good choice. Race has a wide open look but Yanworth is a champion horse

SB: The more I’ve seen of Yanworth the less I like him. He’s tricky, not very natural. I back My Tent Or Yours and the best bet is 66/1 e/w Cyrus Darius. Very lightly raced; very high class.

TK: Between Petit Mouchoir and Yanworth

JC: Moon Racer is a very good horse. He’s an older horse. I’d say he’s a great chance. I also like Yanworth.


Mares Hurdle

Initial Choice: Apples Jade (2/1 -> 11/4 -> 5/2 -> 11/4)

One to watch: Lets Dance (11/1 -> 8/1 -> 16/1 -> 10/1)

KB: I’ve been mad keen on Vroum Vroum Mag all season but no vibe when we went to the yard. Going to run here. I can see excuses for Apples Jade last time out. Want to mention Jers Girl. May not be good enough. Limini very difficult to train, more so than Annie Power, according to WP.

TK: I’d lean Apples Jade.

JC: Vroum Vroum Mag – she’s an absolute jet. I’d forgive her last time out. Mo Farah mightn’t be at his best every time but he still wins. It’d be Vroum Vroum Mag for me all day long.

SB: No interest in the English horses. I like Jers Girl. She’s also in the County and the Coral. A safe price.


National Hunt Chase

No selection yet.

JC: Not selected ride yet. A Genie In Abottle probably the ride.

TK: A Genie In Abottle. Edwulf has a chance.


Close Brothers Novices Chase

No selection yet.


Wednesday

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

Choice: Finians Oscar (9/2 -> unchanged ->5/1)

One to watch: Bacardys is now routed here and is a serious candidate at 6/1. I’m against Neon Wolf

JC: Finians Oscar – I like him but prefer him for the Supreme. I think that Neon Wolf would do better here.

TK: I’d back Neon Wolf in this or the Supreme. I question Finians Oscar‘s form. I think there is improvement in Bacardys. One at a price – Shattered Love.

SB: Neon Wolf or Bacardys


Coral Cup


RSA Chase

Choice: Might Bite (6/1 -> 7/2 ->100/30)

One to watch: Royal Vacation (20/1 -> 16/1 -> unchanged)

KB: Might Bite good but would go with Alpha des Obeaux.

SB: No strong view.

TK: Don’t like Might Bite. His jumping isn’t great. I like Royal Vacation and Our Kaempfer.

JC: American – a sneaky one. Not as exposed as the others and Harry Fry a good trainer.

 


Champion Chase

Choice: Douvan (4/11 -> 1/3 -> unchanged)

KB: I like Douvan, will probably bolt up but met Sizing John seven times. He’s just won at Cheltenham. Never beaten a horse rated higher than 150/151. Probably going to win. Could be workmanlike. Don’t go for distance wins.

SB: Douvan‘s really good. Enjoy him. Bet without him.

JC: Sit back and enjoy this horse. He’s probably one of the best we’re going to see. He’s an incredible beast, just to look at him.

TK: Agree


Cross Country

Choice: Auvergnat (12/1 -> unchanged ->)


Fred Winter

Coeur de Lion (one to watch in the Triumph at 33/1) is apparently being routed here (16/1). If confirmed, he’s the selection.


Champion Bumper

I’m unlikely to have a choice in this one until the day. As in previous years, I might well go for a big mover on the day (if it materialises).

JC: Not too sure about Carter McKay. Won two slow bumpers. I like Some Day and Fayonagh.


Thursday

JLT Novices’ Chase

Choice: Politologue (9/1 -> 8/1 -> unchanged)

One to watch: Frodon (25/1 -> 16/1 -> 20/1)…remains of interest to me.

KB: Nothing to worry about with Yorkhill yesterday. Absolutely riddled with talent. A strong case is the key. He’s gonna win because that’s what he does.

SB: Yorkhill is a big no no. Most solid horses are Whisper and Politologue. Lay Yorkhill. Selection is Politologue.

TK: Disko is very solid. Two others: Flying Angel and Frodon.

 

JC: Yorkhill


Pertemps

Barring any big news in the meantime I’ll have a bet on the day.


Ryanair Chase

Choice: Un de Sceaux (5/2 -> 4/1)

One to watch: Uxizandre (7/1). Last week: “I’m still happy with this one as a place selection. Get on now because this race will cut up severely”.

TK: Two Grade 1 horses in this: Empire of Dirt (a massive chance). Un De Sceaux should be 7/4 rather than 7/2. Put the two of them together. Bet now, prices will shorten.

KB: There’s a lot of rain coming. Couple Un De Sceaux and Empire of Dirt at 6/4. Gordon Elliott sickened that Empire of Dirt running in this rather than Gold Cup. I favour Un De Sceaux but couple them.

SB: Want a bigger price for Uxizandre. I’m less of a fan over Un De Sceaux over fences. I prefer 5/1 Empire of Dirt.

JC: Un De Sceaux is good but proven horse is Uxizandre. I think Mark Walsh rides him. Tough, stays well. Not sure Un De Sceaux will stay. Empire of Dirt bred to stay and Gordon thinks he should be in Gold Cup. I agree.


Stayers’ Hurdle

Choice: Unowhatimeanharry (13/8 ->11/8 -> unchanged)

One to watch: Footpad (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged)

KB: Unowhatimeanharry is a good thing, well clear of the rest. No depth in the race; can’t see what’s going to beat him.

JC: Shaneshill. He’s there with his chance with Clondaw Warrior. Is Jezki the forgotten horse? 100% not his ground last time out. Unowhatimeanharry form not good enough. I’ll take him on with Jezki all day long. Jezki has too much class for any of these horses. If I was a betting man I’d be on Jezki at 8/1.

SB: I like Jezki a lot but will he stay? Ballyoptic 10/1 in the without market.

TK: Unowhatimeanharry is a right good bet. Cole Harden at 5/1 to me is a right bet.


Brown Advisory Plate

Too early. I think that we might see one suddenly emerge in this one. There are still lots of interesting entries.


Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

This is a pain in the arse race because it messes up other options. If Let’s Dance (3/1) turns up here, she is the selection.

TK: Aerlie Beach e/w

KB: Aerlie Beach


Kim Muir

Another one to wait for and another with the top of the market full of horses I don’t fancy.


Friday

Triumph Hurdle

Choice: Defi du Seuil (3/1 -> 9/4) is the justified favourite.

One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged) …remains of interest for a place.

JC: I think Gordon’s will win it with Mega Fortune. He’s tough, he’s honest, all over him. Defi du Seuil has beaten feck all in England.

KB: With Mega Fortune even though he’s bone idle. By far the best of the Irish.

TK: I like Defi du Seuil

SB: I think that Charli Parcs is better suited by the Supreme. Like Master Blueyes at the price.


Foxhunters’ Chase

Choice: On The Fringe (6/4 -> unchanged


County Hurdle

Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov at 20/1.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate at 10/1.

JC: Maybe too much of a slog for Death Duty. I like WP’s mare (Augusta Kate).

SB: Against front of the market. An attritional race: Ami Desbois and, if he pitches up here, Catamaran du Seuil.

TK: Race might beat Death Duty rather than opponents. Want a tough bastard for this race: Wholestone is the solid one


Gold Cup

Choice: Cue Card (7/2 -> 3/1)

I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1) running into a place.

TK: Opposed to Djakadam. Been there and not done it. Not sure about Cue Card or Native River. I like Sizing John: changed yard, been held up and gone up in trip. Another is Outlander. Finished out very well in the Lexus.

JC: I think Djakadam will win. It’s going to be Willie’s year. Don Poli is never going to win a Gold Cup. I loved the way Outlander went through the line but needs to do everything right. May be the last one to challenge. Djakadam had a bad cut last year. Can’t underestimate it. For me, he’s the one. Native River might just not have the class. More of That value at 20/1.

SB: Could be a long odds winner. Djakadam might be good enough. I’m looking at Bristol de Mai. Is improving, needs to. I was lying on my bed this afternoon and gave Rebecca Curtis a call. I’m a big fan of Irish Cavalier. Needs good ground. Could easily run a good race. (NTD confirmed Blaklion doesn’t go for the Gold Cup and will go for the National.)

KB: I think Don Poli will run well for a place (only). I like More of That at a big price.

EK: AP schooled More of That this week and said “God, I’d love to ride this horse”.


Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Still too early but Battleford (10/1) is one to watch for this one.


Grand Annual

 


 

Betfair Cheltenham preview

Here are the key comments from Wednesday’s Betfair preview night

Key:

PN – Paul Nicholls

BO – Barry Orr (Betfair)

GE – Gordon Elliott

KB – Kevin Blake

DY – Dave Yates

G O’B – Gary O’Brien

Tuesday

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Choice: Charli Parcs (6/1 -> 7/1 ->16/1)

One to watch: Bacardys (33/1 -> 14/1)


PN – Movewiththetimes – the obvious choice of race for him (10/1).

KB – I would take on Melon with Bunk Off Early (8/1).

GE – No runner in this race. Likes Melon but goes with Movewiththetimes. Not sure Moon Racer has the experience. The most ordinary bunch of novice hurdlers we’ve had in Ireland for a while.

DY – Instinct to take on Melon but WP very keen on him.

Arkle

Choice: Altior (1/2 -> 1/3-1/4 ->1/3)


BOAltior 2/7, will be longer on the day. Forest Bihan best bet without Altior.

GE – Can’t see anything to beat Altior.

KB – the only horse in training that would give Douvan a race in the Champion Chase. Each way chance Royal Caviar (WP) (20/1).

PN – No point running Le Prezien – will go for the Grand Annual.

Ultima Handicap Chase

GENoble Endeavour (12/1) must have a very good chance. Plan is to come here off a good weight. Well handicapped – won’t be far away.

PNIbis du Rheu could be quite interesting.

KB – Davy Russell will ride Noble Endeavour.

Champion Hurdle

Choice: Petit Mouchoir (9/2 -> 4/1 ->11/2)


BO – 100/30 the field.

KB – Hard to go away from Yanworth.

GE – Thought would supplement Tombstone but well weighted for handicaps (Coral Hurdle / County Handicap). Tombstone an awful lot better than Petit Mouchoir when I had them but has improved. Good e/w chance but Petit Mouchoir 5/1 too short. With Yanworth.

DYBuveur d’Air murdered by Altior – bad favourite. Yanworth keeps getting it done. Petit Mouchoir closely matched with Buveur d’Air. Brain Power (8/1) is the interesting one (David Mullins). Best bet on the first day (including e/w).

PN – No real stand out. Keep coming back to Yanworth.

KB – Don’t like Buveur d’Air. Very windy about Petit Mouchoir. Yanworth keeps staring me in the face. Rock solid. Should be clear fav. Think he’ll win.

Mares Hurdle

Initial Choice: Apples Jade (2/1 -> 11/4 -> 5/2)

One to watch: Lets Dance (11/1 -> 8/1 -> 16/1)


GEApples Jade. Not one for making excuses. Want Limini to run in the Champion Hurdle. Vroum Vroum Mag last two runs disappointing. Would prefer to take her on. 5/2 a fair price.

KB – Big on Vroum Vroum Mag. Seen her limitations. This is her level. Not pleasing WP but getting better. Lots of respect for Apples Jade.

BOVroum Vroum Mag 6/4 NRNB. Think WP will win Vroum Vroum Mag and Let’s Dance a good chance.

PNLifeboat Mona (14/1 big price) will run in this. Sam Twiston-Davies will ride. Thinks Vroum Vroum Mag very short – looks jaded. This can happen to mares.

National Hunt Chase

GETiger Roll – a chance on a going day, no chance on an off day.

PNArpege d’Alene will stay.

Close Brothers Novices Chase

PNRomain de Senaim best chance on the first day.

Wednesday

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

Choice: Finians Oscar (9/2 -> unchanged ->5/1)


BO – 9/4 Neon Wolf.

PN – Harry Fry’s Neon Wolf very good. Ballyandy – 8/1 could be a massive price. A very smart horse.

DY – Couldn’t fail to be impressed by Neon Wolf. Beware – connections were initially lukewarm about Cheltenham.

PNCaptitaine not going to Cheltenham.

KB – No strong opinion. Don’t like Finians Oscar and Neon Wolf. Bacardys the pick of the Irish challenge.

GEFinians Oscar not good enough. Neon Wolf – everyone’s carried away with him. Not chosen by WP after P2P who is normally good at picking them. Monalee 20/1 – would have a good bet on this horse.

Coral Cup

GE – Prefer County to Coral for Tombstone. Automated should run well. Runfordave (with a run) might do well (but may run him Sunday before Cheltenham).

PNModus is a possibility (top weight 156) – could go to Aintree. Old Guard will run – not without a chance.

RSA Chase

Choice: Might Bite (6/1 -> 7/2 ->100/30)

One to watch: Royal Vacation (20/1 -> 16/1 -> unchanged)


KB – Not so keen on Might Bite. Does he prefer a flatter track? I like Alpha Des Obeaux (burst a blood vessel last time). There’s enough time for Mouse Morris to get him right.

GEAlpha des Obeaux was the highest rated 4yo of his season but burst blood vessel is a worry. I think Coney Island is made for this race.

DY – Want to take on Might Bite – should be 7 or 8/1. Better suited by a flat track. Run at Doncaster was meaningless. Would want to take him on. Coney Island at the head of the others. Whisper was top class. Royal Vacation may benefit from second time blinkers. Lay Might Bite.

PN – Haven’t got an opinion. Might Bite very novicey. Coney Island – quite like what I saw of him.

Champion Chase

Choice: Douvan (4/11 -> 1/3 -> unchanged)


KB – Not saying Douvan will be beaten but met Sizing John seven times and not overly impressive. Is he fond of Cheltenham? Beaten relative scrap. Still don’t think there’s anyone to beat him. Not yet met a really good horse. Don’t crown him just yet.

PN – Impossible to find one to beat Douvan.

GE – It’s a race to sit back and watch. He won’t get beat. Not a chance.

Cross Country

Choice: Auvergnat (12/1 -> unchanged ->)


GE – Bless the Wings is not good enough. Cause of Causes been a great horse. Schooled well. If ground good he has a right chance. Cause of Causes my selection for the day.

Fred Winter

Coeur de Lion (one to watch in the Triumph at 33/1) is apparently being routed here (16/1). If confirmed, he’s the selection.


PNDream Catcher is unexposed.

KBDinaria Des Obeaux – will like the likely ground

Champion Bumper

I’m unlikely to have a choice in this one until the day. As in previous years, I might well go for a big mover on the day (if it materialises).


KBWestern Rider – big chance. Think race will suit. Conceded 21lb to Henderson horse last time.

GE – Patrick Mullins said at a preview in Ireland that Carter McKay is one of their two bankers for the week (the other is Yorkhill).

Thursday

JLT Novices’ Chase

Choice: Politologue (9/1 -> 8/1 -> unchanged)

One to watch: Frodon (25/1 -> 16/1 -> 20/1)…remains of interest to me.


BOYorkhill has jumped a bit sketchy but banker of the meeting.

PNPolitologue definite runner. Beaten on very heavy ground. Jumps well. Will be much better in a big field. Must have a big chance.

KBDisko has a chance but can hit one. With Yorkhill. Been knocked unfairly. Can jump left. Would give Altior a better run than anything in the Arkle. Will take an awful lot of beating.

DY – I would want to take on Yorkhill at 7/4. I’m not convinced with the way he jumps. WP said we can always go back over hurdles next season – not a ringing endorsement. Will need soft ground. I like Politologue.

GE – I’m a Yorkhill fan. Patrick Mullins thinks he’s one of their bankers (with Carter McKay in the Bumper).

Pertemps

Barring any big news in the meantime I’ll have a bet on the day.


GESutton Manor no chance with weight. Jury Duty would have a chance.

PNEl Bandit goes in this race – a really good horse (10/1).

Ryanair Chase

Choice: Un de Sceaux (5/2 -> 4/1)

One to watch: Uxizandre (7/1). Last week: “I’m still happy with this one as a place selection. Get on now because this race will cut up severely”.


KBUn de Sceaux a very fair price. Put in his place by Sprinter Sacre on good ground. Trip a question mark but won over same on heavy ground in France. Empire of Dirt the other proper Grade 1 horse.

GE – I’d love to run Empire of Dirt in the Gold Cup but need to split them up. I’d run him in the Gold Cup but Michael pays the bills. He’s good fresh. Doesn’t excite me but keeps winning on the track. A very, very good horse. Wouldn’t surprise me if he wins this but I would prefer the Gold Cup. My joint selection for the day.

PN – I think that Un de Sceaux will win. Very impressed with his win in the Prix La Barka on heavy ground over 2m 5f. Thinks the trip will suit.

DY – I think Un de Sceaux would be running in the Champion Chase if Douvan wasn’t there. Horse prefers soft. I’m really taken with Empire of Dirt. Brown Plate shows he can win at Cheltenham on good ground. For me Empire of Dirt.

G O’B – I like Sub Lieutenant

Stayers’ Hurdle

Choice: Unowhatimeanharry (13/8 ->11/8 -> unchanged)

One to watch: Footpad (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged)


PNUnowhatimenaharry is the one to aim at. I run Zarkandar – in really good form at the moment and a good price (20/1). Showed plenty the other day. Could run into the frame.

DYUnowhatimeanharry gave Cole Harden 8lbs. Lots of horses in the list won’t run in this one. Won the Albert Bartlett and has improved. Thoroughly deserves to be favourite.

KB – I’m all over Unowhatimenaharry. Just the type of horse you want for it. Will go and win a shade of odds on.

GE – I doubt we’ll run any in it. I Like Unowhatimenaharry. I can’t see what’s going to beat him. Cole Harden has no chance.

Brown Advisory Plate

Too early. I think that we might see one suddenly emerge in this one. There are still lots of interesting entries.


GEDiamond King (13/2) has got a very good chance. Good ground will really suit him. My joint selection for the day.

PNBouvreuil a really nice weight and is a spring horse. Caid du Berlais really well handicapped. Not a lot between them.

DY – Colin Tizzard says Sizing Codelco well treated for this race.

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

This is a pain in the arse race because it messes up other options. If Let’s Dance (3/1) turns up here, she is the selection.


GE – Might run Barra – not good enough to win

PN – Coillte Lass – a really big price each way

Kim Muir

Another one to wait for and another with the top of the market full of horses I don’t fancy.

Friday

Triumph Hurdle

Choice: Defi du Seuil (3/1 -> 9/4) is the justified favourite.

One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged) …remains of interest for a place.


BODefi du Seuil is nap material.

GE – I like Defi du Seuil and Mega Fortune will come home very strong.

KBMega Fortune stays very strongly. Much improved form. He’ll be fine on good to soft. Just the one you want for Cheltenham. Best juvenile form in Ireland. He’ll be in there swinging when others are crying off.

PN – On all know form Defi du Seuil is the deserving favourite. I thought Mega Fortune was impressive. I think Defi du Seuil will be hard to beat.

DYDefi du Seuil has had plenty of practice at Cheltenham. Mega Fortune a definite player. Against better judgment I don’t want to cast Charli Parcs off completely. One of the first horses in trouble in the Adonis. Surprised he was in contention. Nicky Henderson is of the opinion that he was back on the bridle and he did seem to be warming up.

GE – Were you watching a different race? He never jumped a hurdle.

PN – I agree with you; he’s talking absolute shite.

DY – I accept he didn’t travel. But he got to the second last at the same time as Master Blueyes. He was alongside him and I think that’s interesting. Nicky Henderson has a very good record in the Triumph and still interested in running him.

PN – Shall we go to the audience?

G O’B – 2 or 3 of you interested in Charli Parcs

Foxhunters’ Chase

Choice: On The Fringe (6/4 -> unchanged)


PNWonderful Charm – if the ground is good would have a really good chance, if soft I wouldn’t run him. Ask the Weatherman would want it soft and another good horse is Pasha du Poldeur. We’ve kept him really nice and fresh.

County Hurdle

Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov at 20/1.


GE – I’d love to run Tombstone (9/1). It’s about training winners. I’d love to win a County. Mick Jazz goes for this one and will run very well.

PNDiego du Charmil is on 150 which is a stiff mark.

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate at 10/1.


BODeath Duty is the Irish banker

GEDeath Duty is a better horse than Don Cossack at the same stage. Does all his winning on the track and I love him to bits. I’m not worried about anything.

KB – I have been impressed and could get shorter than 11/4. I would prefer him in the Neptune. I’d go with Monalee at a bigger price (if he runs). If it turns out soft Monalee might prefer the slog.

PN – I think Colin Tizzard’s West Approach is a decent horse. Thinks Death Duty has a great chance.

DY – Colin Tizzard said that it was about this time in career that he saw similar progression in Thistlecrack (half brother to West Approach). Death Duty very hard to beat indeed.

Gold Cup

Choice: Cue Card (7/2 -> 3/1)

I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1) running into a place.


BO – Money horse is Djakadam in the last few days.

PNSaphir du Rheu – he’s in no man’s land. Andy very keen to run him. Just started to show the signs again. Could finish 5th or 6th. I think Native River will win the Gold Cup. Reminds me of Denman. Won well the other day. I think he’s got it all.

GEOutlander is unexposed. Worried about the 3m 2f. He has an e/w chance at best. Don Poli is too slow. I think Djakadam has been there and he’s got the experience. I don’t like Cue Card. I don’t think at his age he’ll win a Gold Cup. (Reference fall at the third last)  it was still a long way to the post. He’s old news. Would love to run Empire of Dirt. Could be my best chance if he runs. Worried about Sizing John getting the trip. DjakadamOutlander and Empire of Dirt for the first three.

KB – I’m the biggest Don Poli fan but doesn’t do much in front. Difficult to get right. Hopefully at Cheltenham a better ride. This race confuses me the most. Native River jumps, stays and gallops. Djakadam – WP has made a very convincing case for him. WP has had a really good run with him this season and may not need to find to much. Finding it hard to find one that stands out from the pack. I thought More of That came on very well in his last race. 25/1 is too big and he’s had a wind operation. Hard to find one that stands out from the pack. Don Poli place only.

G O’BChampagne West a very good winner of the Thyestes Chase.

DY – Tizzard can’t split Native River and Cue Card. I would love to see Cue Card win but I just can’t. I want to lay him. Native River is very strong. I like the way that he does things. Dispelled idea that he’s a slogger at Newbury. Djakadam – 6th in Gold Cup two years ago and interrupted prep last season. In his press preview it was clear that WP likes two for the Festival and couldn’t hide it – Melon and Djakadam.

BO – I’m a big Djakadam fan – he goes there a fresh horse.

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Still too early but Battleford (10/1) is one to watch for this one.


GEThe Storyteller is the pick of them. Weight OK. It’s a race I’d love to win.

PNBrio Conti at 135 is interesting. Tommy Silver wants goodish ground. Lac Fontana hard to get fit but could run really well

Grand Annual

PNDodging Bullets has slipped to 151 – competitive. Le Prezien a really good novice; I really like him

Best bet of the day?

DY/PNNative River

GEDjakadam

KBMega Fortune

BOTombstone (County Hurdle)

Charity bets

KBNoble Endeavour in the Ultima (win only)

DYDeath Duty (Albert Bartlett)

PNNative River (Gold Cup)

GEThe Storyteller (Martin Pipe)

BODjakadam (Gold Cup)

G O’B Forge Meadow (Mares Novices Hurdle)

 

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