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Month: February 2020

Initial thoughts about the main Cheltenham Festival races

This post is really for my benefit, as a reminder about my current views about the big races.

Tuesday

Supreme: Asterion Forlonges (6/1)

Arkle: Fakir D’oudairies (6/1)

Champion Hurdle: Pic D’orhy (16/1)

Mares’ Hurdle: Benie Des Dieux (4/5)

National Hunt Chase: Copperhead (8/1)

Wednesday

Ballymore: Envoi Allen (5/4 – great value)

RSA: Allaho (13/2 – also great value)

Champion Chase: Chacun Pour Soi (11/4)

Cross Country: Easysland (3/1)

Champion Bumper: Appreciate It (2/1)

Thursday

Marsh: Itchy Feet (11/2)

Ryanair: Min (7/2)

Stayers’: Paisley Park (8/11 – good value)

Friday

Triumph: Goshen (4/1 – all in – NAP)

County Hurdle: Ciel de Niege (10/1)

Albert Bartlett: Thyme Hill (5/1 – great bet)

Foxhunters’: Hazel Hill (5/1 – also good)

Gold Cup: Bristol De Mai (33/1 e/w – ground dependant)

Grand Annual: Greaneteen (10/1 n/b)

Martin Pipe: Column Of Fire (9/1 – watch this one’s price contract)

Timeform update

The Timeform updates following an excellent weekend’s racing in Dublin are eye-catching. I’m not betraying any confidential information here because they’re all available on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Timeform.

Chacun Pour Soi – 176p

Uprated from 170p he’s now their joint top rated chaser alongside Cyrname, following his impressive defeat of Min (174). It’s also worth noting that this one’s time rating was highly impressive.

3/1 for the Champion Chase


Honeysuckle – 154 from 157p

Her victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle was viewed as “workmanlike” – I agree.

6/1 for the Champion Hurdle; 11/4 for the Mares’ Hurdle


Notebook – 155p

Unchanged but could easily be enough to take the Arkle. The Timeform assessors were also impressed by Cash Back – 152p from 147p.

Notebook 3/1 for the Arkle; Cash Back 7/1


Latest Exhibition – 144 from 141

13/2 for the Albert Bartlett; 16/1 for the Ballymore


Itchy Feet – 153p from 127P

Meanwhile at Sandown Itchy Feet showed real class to take the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and this 26 points hike is the first real eyecatcher.

8/1 for the Marsh (JLT); 16/1 for the Arkle


Appreciate It – 119 from 106

I highlighted this one in Saturday’s preview and it’s no surprise that he’s now 11/4 favourite for the Champion Bumper (9/1 bar). A great buy at 60,000 euros and already a winner of a 100,000 euros bumper (59,000 to the winner)


Asterion Forlonge – 153p from 131p

Unbeaten in a point, a bumper and two hurdles, this one is now only second to Envoi Allen among the novice hurdlers.

5/1 for the Supreme, 8/1 for the Ballymore and 16/1 for the Albert Bartlett


Irish Gold Cup

I’m unconvinced that this race revealed a likely Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. It seems that Timeform assessors are in agreement – Delta Work 168p unchanged, Kemboy 173 from 176 and Presenting Percy 165 from 167. Of the Irish Al Boum Photo is currently 7/2 for the big one and holds no other entries before the Festival.

Gold Cup odds:

Delta Work: 6/1

Kemboy 7/1

Presenting Percy 14/1

Al Boum Photo 7/2


Faugheen – 160 from 161

Amid all the hoopla I think that this is a very sensible assessment. It was thrilling but did he really beat any other serious contenders? I hope that they go for the Marsh (formerly the JLT) rather than the RSA because, regardless of his age, the latter is a mighty ask for a horse that excelled at 2 miles and seems to benefit from jumping at speed.

Marsh Chase – 6/1

RSA – 12/1

4 Miler (now 3m 6f) – 20/1 (please no!!!)


I’m going to do my first Cheltenham preview after this weekend’s “Super Saturday” at Newbury at which we can expect to see Chantry House and Ecco in the 2m 4-y-o novices’ hurdle, Altior, Sceau Royal, Dynamite Dollars and Kalashnikov in the Game Spirit Chase and Native River in the Denman Chase (albeit against limited opposition). The Kingmaker at Warwick could also be interesting.


A quirky note for Friday is that the featured (14:45) hunter chase at Bangor has three entries for David Maxwell Racing Limited. Bearing in mind that these horses (two with Philip Hobbs and one with Paul Nicholls) are in training for the owner to ride them, it will be interesting to see which one (if any) he selects to ride.


Finally, one to note on Thursday is that Shishkin is entered to run in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon (14:31). This one is currently 4/1f for the Supreme but the owner also has Asterion Forlonge, currently 5/1 in the same race. Personally I prefer the latter.


The big week at Cheltenham is not far away now!

Dublin Racing Festival

What a great weekend of racing in prospect. Just a few Saturday selections this morning.

Leopardstown

12:50 Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 6f

Latest Exhibition (15/8) was very impressive last time out and is probably the right favourite but I’m with Elixir D’ainay (11/4) to build on his last time second to Envoi Allen.

13:25 Dublin Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 1f

Chacun Pour Soi (7/4) needs to improve on his last outing and could well do so. He’s also the selection of Paul Townend of the two Ricci horses. However, Min (9/4) is on a hat-trick in this race, is completely proven at this level and is a confident selection, under Robbie Power.

14:00 Arkle Novice Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 1f

Notebook opened as favourite for this race but has now been joined by Fakir D’oudairies (both at (9/4) and the latter was always going to be my selection and I expect him to supplant Notebook as the favourite for the Cheltenham version after this.

15:10 Irish Champion Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m

I’m not in the least surprised to see Sharjah (5/4) as the short odds favourite for this. Honeysuckle gets the mares’ allowance and is unbeaten, but this is a big step up. I’ll also have a little each way on Aramon at 25/1 (ran very well against Klassical Dream (non-runner today) at last year’s meeting).

15:45 Ladbrokes Hurdle – Grade B – 2m

Buildmeupbuttercup (11/2) is ideally suited by a big field challenge such as this.

16:20 Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m

WP’s 13/8 favourite Appreciate It is surely the one to beat.

Sandown

13:50 Contenders Hurdle – Class 1 – 2m

It’s worth noting that the ground is heavy at Sandown today and we could see some slow-motion finishes. Call Me Lord is too short for me at 8/13 and Quel Destin (13/2) is a tough campaigner with form on the ground.

14:25 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 2m4f

I wanted to oppose Laurina, whose last race was too bad to be true and subsequently turned out to be attributable to a burst blood vessel. The chase debut before that was also unconvincing. However, I’m finding it hard to find a suitable opponent in this field. I might have a small wager on Itchy Feet (8/1).

Musselburgh

12:57 Novices’ Chase – Class 3 – 2m 4 1/2f

I have a strong preference for Espoir de Teillee at 9/4 ahead of the odds-on favourite Southfield Stone.

14:05 Scottish County Hurdle – Class 2 – 2m

Miranda (11/4)

14:40 Scottish Champion Chase – Class 3 – 2m

Greaneteen (6/4f)

Wetherby

14:45 Towton Novices’ Chase – Grade 2 – 3m

Chapel Stile (13/2)

15:58 Hunters’ Chase – Class 6 – 3m

A small field for this type of race but fascinating nonetheless with Hazel Hill (1/3f) looking to build on a winning point return 20 days ago and Minella Rocco (85/40) who won his hunter debut 10 days ago.

Good luck

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