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Haydock selections 23 January

haydock-parkThis weekend’s highlights are the obvious showdown at Ascot in the Clarence House and probably the best card of the weekend in Ireland tomorrow. Nonetheless Haydock tomorrow is where I’ll be and very much looking forward to it.

1.00 Haydock 2m6f Hurdle

I have an affection for Horizontal Speed * (11/2) because he shares the same sire as Quatre Heures. He’s gone close recently and if the ground isn’t too bad this return to hurdles might be just right. However the progressive Baywing (5/2) may be just too good.

1.30 Haydock 2m3f Novices’ Chase

Bristol de Mai *** (2/1) opened far too big at 7/2 and should win this. Otago Trail has good form on heavy and if the first race is slower than expected should be respected.

2.05 Haydock 1m7f Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

This is completely misnamed as a Supreme trial. Nonetheless it’s an interesting race. Le Prezien **** (10/11) is the standout here at a very fair price. I also fancy Vieux Lille (7/2) in a forecast.

2.40 Haydock 1m7f Hurdle (Grade 2)

It’s probably folly to oppose The New One *** (4/9), winner of this last year on the same ground. However, I can’t believe that he’s getting any better and should surely be exposed to a progressive type. So is there one in the field? The short answer is “no”! I really wanted to find a horse to oppose him but can’t find one. Captain Conan is back after a long absence. Melodic Rendezvous has been campaigned well but surely his best days are behind him. I was near to backing Fou Et Sage but he hasn’t exactly delivered since moving from France and the others are there to make up the numbers.

3.15 Haydock 3m Chase (Grade 2)

It’s pleasing to see that the Peter Marsh Chase has retained its properly named place as an important race in the NH calendar. I think that the decision to put Reve de Sivola **** (7/2) back over fences off a good mark (10st 4lb) on heavy ground at Haydock is inspired and should pay off. Fingal Bay is OK on heavy ground and Virak has Haydock form but I think that the favourite is superb value. I cannot have Algernon Pazham at any price (tipped elsewhere).

3.50 Haydock 2m Handicap Chase

It’s hard to get excited about this one and I can’t make a case against the current joint favourite and highest rated Morning Royalty * (3/1), second over a slightly shorter distance and with the same ground and official rating here on 30 December. Not an obvious bet.

4.20 Haydock 2m2f Novices’ Hurdle

Similar to the last race but I’m slightly more positive about another current favourite, Vintage Clouds ** (5/4), a progressive Trevor Hemmings horse, second here last time over two miles and a winner here in his last but one over today’s distance.

I can’t sign off without a view about the big one at Ascot.

3.00 Ascot 2m Clarence House Chase

Un de Sceaux ***** (8/15) is the Moscow Flyer of the current age. Wins imperiously or falls and in my opinion of an equivalent standard. Current form going into this race is 1111F including the Irish Arkle, the Arkle and the Punchestown Ryanair. A star of our time and should be 1/3.

So, in summary, the Lucky 15 is taken from the highlighted races and is:

Haydock 1.30 Bristol de Mai

Haydock 2.05 Le Prezien

Haydock 3.15 Reve de Sivola

Ascot 3.00 Un de Sceaux 

A £2.00 line (stake £30.00) for a potential return of £322.27.

Good luck!

Initial Cheltenham selections

Note: This article was first published on 15 January and has been updated (where indicated) on 8 and 9 March.

I know that a lot of people think that the NH season is too focused on the Cheltenham Festival but, for me, and evidently many trainers and owners, this is the pinnacle. So, whether it should be or not, it’s time to take a view on the big races. Needless to say all these must be taken on NRNB (no runner no bet). The picture is, of course, the incomparable Arkle.


Tuesday 15 March

Supreme Novices’

Altior (6/1) is massive value to beat Min for an initial British win in the exciting first race. There is a pattern of Irish hot pots being beaten in this one.

8 March update: Altior has rightly shortened and there is still some 9/2 out there, now NRNB.



Ar Mad is a scarily good horse but Douvan (4/6) is even better and will win this.

8 March update: Ar Mad is out of the picture and Douvan (2/5) doesn’t now have any serious opposition. By the way, Henderson announced today that L’ami Serge goes for the JLT on Thursday (see below).

9 March update: Donn McLean in the Sky preview about Douvan: “He jumps, he travels, he has course form”. Warren Greatrex: “He’ll win easy”. Alex Hammond: “He’s a superstar”.


Champion Hurdle

The first four in the betting are Irish and quite rightly so. Faugheen (4/7) will win so that’s the WP double within three races.

8 March update: Faugheen and Arctic Fire have gone so that makes this one much more interesting. Annie Power (see below) has been put in this for the owner but I’m unconvinced that she is the champion hurdler of 2016. Identity Thief is interesting at around 5/1 and Sempre Medici is an each way gift at 25/1.

9 March update: Very pleased that Mark Howard agrees with me in the Sky Sports preview (currently live) about Sempre Medici as a live contender.


Mares’ Hurdle

My intuition says that Annie Power will be taken out for the season. That will clear the way for Vroum Vroum Mag at an outstanding 10/1.

8 March update: Vroum Vroum Mag is now evens. Congratulations to those of you who got the 10/1.


Wednesday 16 March

Neptune Hurdle

This is a new entry and there is no real opposition to Yanworth (evens). The potential opponents will run elsewhere.

9 March: Mark Howard: “It’s difficult to see what’s going to beat him (Yanworth)”.


RSA Chase

As previously advised Pont Alexandre is an outstanding candidate at a great 10/1.

8 March update: I’m not a fan of any of the betting favourites and I’m sticking with Pont Alexandre (class will prevail on good ground) at a super 20/1. This is an article from 2013 but the point about good ground is still valid.


Champion Chase

Un De Sceaux needs to do well in his prep, after the last outing, and will do. Get on now at 6/4 before he goes odds on.

8 March update: My view that he would follow up well was vindicated. Widespread reports from Lambourn that Sprinter Sacre is “as good as ever” but unconvinced, hence the 4/6 for the selection, Un De Sceaux.

9 March update: Willie Mullins: “I wish he was running tomorrow”. Donn McLean: “Look, he’s just fast…like Moscow Flyer”.

Cross Country

9 March update: Denis O’Regan: Watch out for Cantlow in the Cross Country.


Thursday 17 March

JLT Novices’ Chase

8 March update: Nicky Henderson announced today (8 March) that L’Ami Serge runs in this rather than the Arkle. Why? Well, in my view because he’s not good enough for the Arkle as reflected by the current 10/1 for this. Here lies my bet of the week. I was lucky enough to be at Haydock on 23 January when Bristol de Mai was mightily impressive over 2m 4f and he comprehensively franked the form at Sandown on 6 February. The prep is perfect and the current 3/1 average is an absolute gift. Lump on!


Ryanair Chase

Surely Vautour (6/4) should go for this and it makes sense for the owner, given his other options. If he does, he wins. No nonsense about him staying 3m 2f 110y. Nonsense! Get the odds now. There is no serious opposition.

8 March update: Notwithstanding the reports I think that he (Vautour) might still run in this. A superb betting opportunity because the main betting varies from 4/5 (Totesport) to 9/2 (32red). You know where to go.


World Hurdle

Lump on Thistlecrack (9/4). This horse has emerged and his last win was superb. Good to soft found will suit and there are no serious opponents. This one is the bet of the meeting in my view.

8 March update: That 9/4 for Thistlecrack was a gift. Now evens. The obvious threats won’t turn up.


Friday 18 March

Triumph Hurdle

Footpad is in a class of his own at Gowran

Footpad is in a class of his own at Gowran

Let’s just wait and see for the Triumph. I suspect that the winner has not yet run.

8 March update: They’ve all had their outings. Lots of hype involved in this but I think that Footpad‘s campaign has been impressive and I very much like the current 10-12/1 (will be shorter).


Albert Bartlett

I’m not carried away with Barters Hill as others are. This is wide open and far too soon to take a view.

8 March update: If Long Dog goes here I’ll take all the 16/1 available!


Gold Cup

People have got carried away about this being the best Gold Cup in years. It isn’t because many of those touted are not suited to the race. It’s down to two. Forget the Dons. One’s too slow and the other is unsuited and lazy, unsuitable for a race that is invariably run in recent years at a serious pace. We can therefore narrow the field to Cue Card (6/1) and Djakadam (7/2). I think that the former will win and, remarkably, win a £1 million bonus for the Betfair Chase, King George and the big one. 6/1 is superb value right now and I would have him beating Djakadam every day of the week.

8 March update: No reason to change here. The 5/1 is for Cue Card is still excellent value.


Foxhunters’ Chase

8 March update: Over the Gold Cup course and distance here’s an opportunity to benefit from a slightly distorted market. In a Twitter poll on Sunday I voted (with the majority) for Victoria Pendleton not to ride in this, even though she is arguably on the best horse. Just imagine the rush to the first fence! This could end up very unpleasantly for her and/or the horse. Pascha du Polder is probably the best horse but that’s not the point. I know that other amateurs have defied their riding style, never better demonstrated than by the 1982 renewal(!) but this race now features good horses and, more importantly, good amateur riders and none better than Nina Carberry on the proper favourite, On The Fringe, who happens to be J P McManus’ selection of the meeting from his own horses. This used to be a race to avoid for betting purposes but, for the reasons that I’ve set out, this is now one of the best bets of the meeting at an excellent 5/2. How many times have you bet on Nina at the Festival and she’s won. Here’s another one. Will be massively shorter than 5/2 at the off (while everyone’s faffing about VP and P du P). You know what to do, sooner rather than later.

Lucky 15s will follow each morning. Good luck.

Aintree National day selections

Well I can’t dress up the fact that Champagne Fever was anything other than disappointing notwithstanding that he had every chance. Thankfully Rajdhani Express delivered at 10/1 and a last minute bet on Thistlecrack at 25/1 (e/w) did very nicely thank you so a much more profitable day two.

Now on to the big day. The supporting races are a mixed bag but the National is a really good dilemma and there’s no doubt that the race has become much more interesting from a betting perspective since the changes made two years ago. By the way, for those doubters, the Foxhunters’ and Topham were full of thrills and all horses returned uninjured. So much for those who continue to berate this celebration of Liverpool and all that’s good about horse racing and what brings so many people so much enjoyment. Thankfully the naysayers are quite properly marginalised.

So, on to the selections!

1.30 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 2m 4f

Parlour Games has obvious claims but I’m with the highly progressive As De Mee (10/1). The course should suit. The ground is a question mark – not won on better than good to soft. There is a little rain forecast overnight and the day will be sunny but a lot cooler. I have a feeling that this one will not be inconvenienced at all by better ground and I expected the price to be much shorter.

2.05 Maghull Novices’ Chase 2m

I wonder whether the commentators will continue to call this the Mag-hull Novices’ Chase as usual! My selection is Sizing Granite (5/1) even though God’s Own is 15lb ahead on official ratings. The selection is after a three-timer. He’s a fighter and won easily last time. There’s no doubt that God’s Own’s second to Un De Sceaux’s imperious Arkle win (what a shame he’s not here) was a fine performance but his third to Vibrato Valtat in his previous race was not so impressive.

2.50 Stayers’ Hurdle 3m 110yds

There is no doubt that Cole Harden’s win in the World Hurdle was a fine performance but I was on Zarkandar (5/2) (nap) on that day and I know that I’m not alone in thinking that he would have won had it not been for an uncharacteristic blunder at the second last. I’ve been on this one many times and his three previous wins at Aintree put the cap on it. Bet of the day.

3.25 Betfred Handicap Chase 3m 1f

On any reading this is a poor race and it’s a mystery to me why it’s on this card. Having said that £60,000 prize money should have attracted a better field. It takes a lot for me to be tempted by an each way bet but I was buoyed by Thistlecrack today and I’ve therefore decided to side with Edgardo Sol (17/2 e/w). I remember seeing him win at Aintree in 2011 on his second race after moving from France (and then with Paul Nicholls) and thinking that this striking chestnut was going right to the top. He followed that up with a win in the Red Rum Chase in 2012. Admittedly his form has been in and out since then but I can’t find a better one in this race.

4.15 Crabbies Grand National 4m 3f 110 yds

So, on to the big one! I posted an “Aintree Taster” on Tuesday when I provided a horse by horse guide to the top 20 in the handicap. Carlito Brigante is the only defector from that list (lame) and the other 39 have stood their ground. It was too late for a reserve at 11.00 a.m. this morning (not sure why) and I’ve gone through all the runners. The result of my analysis is that the selection is unchanged but my second and third come from the bottom 20 in the handicap. I’ve also decided to hazard a trifecta – why not?!

So the selection is Cause Of Causes (20/1) (next best). Why shouldn’t he win? He’s a 7-y-o and history therefore suggests that he shouldn’t win. However, history takes into account the National as it used to be and is therefore an unreliable guide. He ran a poor race in the Galmoy Hurdle (Grade 2) but the four ahead of him (in a five runner race) are top graded hurdlers and, as is now apparent, that was not his game.

Why should he win? He stays in the highest company as perfectly demonstrated by his win in the National Hunt Chase over 4 miles at Cheltenham on his last outing. Staying is the name of the game in the new conditions of the National. If that were not enough, look at his winning style in that race (as I said the other day) – “held up in rear, headway 3 out, stayed on, driven out”. Does that sound like the profile of a National winner to you? Does it sound like the winners of this week’s Foxhunters’ and Topham? It does to me.

So, which ones make up the frame? I’m with Saint Are (40/1) and Soll (20/1) in that order. Saint Are can put in quality performances on his day and has a similar prep profile to last year’s winner (and my selection) Pineau De Re. Soll is on joint bottom weight, has been revitalised since moving to David Pipe (wins on last two outings since transferring) and was seventh in the race two years ago. The trifecta potentially delivers 18,000/1. Worth £1! Realistically I suggest a win on Cause of Causes and each ways on Soll and Saint Are.

5.15 Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals and Amateurs) 2m 110 yds

Let’s face it, we’re not really interested by now! If you need placepot selections I recommend Dormello Mo (12/1) and Astre De La Cour (9/1).

5.40 Bumper 2m 1f

Well, I think that Nina is going to round off a superb week with a win on Whistle Dixie (4/1). Evidently the market agrees because she opened at 7/1. This could be one of the steamers of the day.

As always, good luck!!




Aintree day two selections

Champagne-FeverWell yesterday was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I ended up just ahead. Delighted with Silviniaco showing at his gritty best and On The Fringe was mightily impressive under Nina Carberry. An exuberant plunge on Call The Cops looked like delivering an ideal conclusion, but not quite.

To be frank Ladies’ Day is not of the same standard so I’m going to be more selective. There’s one outstanding race and maybe just one bet for me.

1.40 Handicap Hurdle

No strong views about this one. I’ll pick Snake Eyes (12/1) and Dell’ Arca (14/1), both for places.

2.15 Top Novices’ Hurdle

This is a much better race and Glingerburn (2/1) is a deserving favourite, looking for a five-timer. Everything is in his favour and he should win.

2.50 Mildmay Novices’ Chase

This is the first proper race of the day and the question is whether Saphir Du Rheu can jump. He went down the Big Buck’s route but that didn’t pay off and this must therefore appear to be an afterthought. Apparently benefiting from extensive schooling but I’ll go with the tried and tested Irish Saint from the same yard at a much more appealing 6/1.

3.25 Melling Chase

I favour Champagne Fever (7/2) (nap) to beat Don Cossack. As far as this race is concerned being bitten by another horse en route to Cheltenham has done him a favour and I believe that conditions are ideal for him.

Time is tight so just selections for the rest of the day

4.05 2 Rajdhani Express (10/1)

4.40 7 Minella Rocco (4/1)

5.15 18 Buveur D’Air (7/1)

Good luck on this wonderful sunny day!



Aintree Day One Selections

Silviniaco_ContiI have been one of Silviniaco Conti’s biggest fans but even I now have to admit and he and Cheltenham just don’t get on. However it’s worth bearing in mind that, prior to the Gold Cup, he was widely regarded as the best staying chaser in training. He wasn’t over-exerted when his winning chance was gone and the general consensus is that he needs a flat galloping track which provides a decent test – Aintree!

In contrast I have never been a fan of Holywell. He’s another who failed to deliver at Cheltenham, but on the back of a much poorer season overall. He has Aintree form but I’m not convinced that he’s the same horse this season. Ma Filleule is another Aintree winner (over the National fences) but for me is has to be Silviniaco Conti (11/4) in the big one on day one, the Betfred Bowl at 2.50 p.m.

So, on to the rest of the card.

1.40 Manifesto Novices’ Chase

I don’t like any of these but, most of all, I don’t like Josses Hill, a definitive dodgy jumper. I’ll go for Vibrato Valtat (2/1) (and Newsboy – Daily Mirror’s – selection) more or less by default on the basis that the others don’t amount to much.

2.15 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

I pointed out earlier in the season that Hargam (4/6 – evens earlier today) needs decent ground. I think that he will also benefit from an open flat track and a smallish field which he’s got here. A confident selection, albeit at a short price.

2.50 Betfred Bowl

See above.

3.25 Aintree Hurdle

It’s a real shame that the field is not what it might have been with some big names not making the final decs, above all Hurricane Fly. However, what we are left with is a race which is ideally suited for Rock On Ruby (3/1), an all-out fighter over his ideal distance. A perfect opportunity for this former Champion Hurdle winner to break his Aintree duck (albeit that he’s run creditably in all previous attempts including this race in 2012).

4.05 Foxhunters’ Chase (National fences)

On the face of it selecting from 30 runners ridden over the National fences by amateurs is a daunting prospect. However, there have been short priced winners in recent years (five of the last seven) and this year I think that it’s between the four market leaders, Pacha du Polder (Pricewise selection), Big Fella Thanks, Warne (winner of this last year) and the favourite On The Fringe (a stable 4/1). It may seem a short price in such a race but with Nina Carberry on board and a commanding win in the equivalent race at Cheltenham, plus enough time to recover from that, this is one of the easier selections of the week.

4.40 Red Rum Chase

To be honest none of these appeal and this is one to sit out in my view. If you need one or two for the placepot I suggest Karinga Dancer (12/1 from 16/1) and Royal Regatta (8/1).

5.15 IJF Hurdle

Thursday’s finale provides my bet of the day in the form of deserved favourite Call The Cops (7/1 and already shortening). I backed this comfortable winner of the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival (where he was 10/1) and 7/1 on the back of that win and against a much easier field must present excellent value. Expect this one’s price to shorten considerably as the race approaches. If you want another to back up the placepot then I recommend Katgary at 10/1.

I realise that we’re looking at pretty short odds throughout the card and there will no doubt be at least a couple of longer priced winners. However, we can improve return prospects without breaking the bank by considering a few combinations.


Hargam (4/6) and Silviniaco Conti (11/4)


The above plus Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Lucky 15

Hargam, Silviniaco Conti, Rock On Ruby and On The Fringe (4/1)


Leg 1.   6 Vibrato Valtat (2/1) and 2 Clarcam (6/1)

Leg 2.   5 Hargam (4/6)

Leg 3.   4 Silviniaco Conti (11/4)

Leg 4.   5 Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Leg 5.   17 On The Fringe (4/1), 29 Warne (6/1), 19 Pacha du Polder (7/1)

Leg 6.   6 Karinga Dancer (12/1), 4 Royal Regatta (8/1)

Nap: Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Next best: Hargam (4/6)

IMG_0095As tomorrow’s Racing post front page says, “Let’s Rock And Roll” (with Rock On Ruby)

Good luck!!

Aintree taster

I hope that you were with me (in betting terms at least) last Thursday for a very profitable day at Ludlow. We very nearly had the Lucky 15 but Jimmy The Jetplane just found it a bit much for wins on consecutive days after looking all over the winner on the turn into the home straight. Still, can’t complain about numerous doubles and a treble!

As usual I intend to provide night before previews and selections for each of the three days at Aintree and, also as usual, they may degrade day by day!

For now I’ll share with you my shortlist for the National. The first thing is that Shutthefrontdoor won’t win. If you are into these things lay the horse with Betfair for as much as you like. AP’s record in the National is not great, yet the AP factor suggests that this one might be as short as 4/1 at the off. Nonsense! AP will not be retiring on Saturday so those who have tickets for Sandown on 25 April needn’t worry.

So, what of the others? Here’s my take on the current top 20.

1 Lord Windermere

Top weights don’t win and this one has had a shocking season. Very unimpressed by Cullloty’s sacking of Davy Russell after the Gold Cup.

2 Many Clouds

Doubtful runner.

3 Unioniste

A live contender and on the shortlist.

4 Rocky Creek

I understand why this one is supported but not for me.

5 First Lieutenant

A fine horse but an in and out season and dismissed.

6 Balthazar King

Should be considered seriously but this is not a cross country race and it’s run much faster. A place possibility.

7 Shutthefrontdoor

A win at Carlisle in November and no other runs since last April is not the best prep. Unconvinced.

8 Pineau De Re

Even Dr Newland seems doubtful, having identified his other no hoper as having a similar chance (obviously my twist on his words but nonetheless relevant).

9 Ballycasey

A very disappointing season and not even Ruby’s skill will get this one home.

10 Spring Heeled

Another Culloty horse and, let’s face it, the trainer’s form this season has been atrocious. Just not good enough in my view.

11 Rebel Rebellion

A sterling campaigner who could well run into a place.

12 Dolatulo

Has a higher rating than I would have expected. No obvious claims.

13 Mon Parrain

A moody horse who sometimes runs out of his skin. 17-y-o Sean Bowen on board (just – having got the required number of chase winners last weekend). Not one to be placing too much trust in.

14 Carlito Brigante

One of my favourite horses, many years ago. Changed trainer a while ago and too in and out for me. Probably past his best (which was as a young horse over hurdles).

15 Night In Milan

There are many astute people who rate this one. However the lack of winning form and speed are negatives for me.

16 Rubi Light

A star in France and much expected when he moved to Ireland but, bluntly, the plan hasn’t worked.

17 The Druids Nephew

Another that has attracted many tips. Could relish this and another for the shortlist.

18 Cause of Causes*

A super horse and bang in form. I think that AP has chosen the wrong one and Paul Carberry is lined up to benefit. Winner of the 4m chase at Cheltenham so bang in form. Held up in that race and stayed on to win – perfect for the National. My current idea of the the winner at a current 18/1 – will be shorter on the day.

19 Godsmejudge

I’m sorry but this is a seriously overrated horse. If I was Phil Smith (the National handicapper) I’d have him at least 10 lbs lower. The form this season is nothing to get excited about and he has too many PU’s on his record.

20 Al Co

A pleasing horse but not in my view a winner of this. It’s logical to give him an entry but I don’t see him featuring.

So, there’s my view of the current top 20. The winner will more than likely come from them. My shortlist for winner and places is therefore:


Balthazar King

Rebel Rebellion

The Druids Nephew

and my current selection:

Cause of Causes

All may change between now and Saturday but this is a start!

I’ll update the selections once we know the confirmed runners.



Cheltenham day four selections

cheltenham 3All eyes will be on the skies on Friday morning with the current rain due to last until about 2.00 p.m.

Taking into account that Uxizandre ran a course record in the Ryanair the ground will obviously take a fair amount but there’s a real chance of soft ground which will not suit some of the main winter performers.

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

Hargam is one of those that would not relish soft ground. He was beaten by Golden Doyen on the old course last November but came back to win over the new course in December, beating Karezak and Stars Over The Sea. I’ve made a late decision to desert him and go with Petite Parisienne (10/1), purely on the strength of his impressive Grade 1 win on yielding ground at Leopardstown. I think that he can improve on that. Peace And Co has course and distance form on soft but I think that his facile win at Doncaster has led to him being hyped. Another to take into account is ante post favourite Kalkir at 20/1.

2.05 County Hurdle

Far more of Tony Martin’s short priced favourites fail than succeed so I’m against Quick Jack (15/2). I can’t have Hawk High (25/1), Princely Conn (14/1) or The Game Changer (10/1) so I’ve decided to stick with Cheltenian (20/1). This horse has run only nine times since winning the Champion Bumper in 2011 and recent form is much improved, particularly his second in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. In my view that was an ideal prep.

2.40 Albert Bartlett Hurdle

As I mentioned in last week’s post I think that Value At Risk is a serious contender for this at 11/1. Black Hercules is a deserving favourite and Tea For two could run another big one but I don’t think that there is a great deal of depth in this field.

3.20 Gold Cup

There are a number of runners that I can’t have in this – Bobs Worth, Boston Bob, Carlingford Lough, Holywell and Road To Riches among them. Many Clouds will benefit from the rain and could run well. Coneygree is respected but I think it’s down to Djakadam and Silviniaco Conti (9/2). When a horse has been a short priced favourite for a long time there is a temptation to pick holes with a view to working out why he might not win. However, I believe Paul Nicholls when he says that he wasn’t at his best last year, the uncharacteristic fall the year before happened when he looked all over the likely winner and, above all, the dominant win in the King George convinced me that he is the best staying chaser in training.

4.00 Foxhunters’ Chase

I mentioned last week that there is a widely held view that Paint The Clouds (9/2), unbeaten over fences, is a class apart from the competition. Sam Waley-Cohen has ridden the horse throughout his hunter chase career and I can’t make a case for any of the others. I expect the price of this one to plunge before the off.

4.40 Conditionals’ Hurdle

It’s back to the Mullins show in this one with my preference for Killultagh Vic (11/1) ahead of the current favourite Roi Des Francs. Le Mercurey is also respected.

5.15 Grand Annual Chase

Named this year after A P McCoy and he has a realistic chance on Ned Buntline, fourth in this race last year. I think that WP Mullins will round off his best ever Cheltenham with another Ricci horse ridden by Ruby, Blood Cotil (9/1). I can see Walsh and McCoy battling up the home straight for a fitting finish to an excellent Festival.

Cheltenham day three selections

Balder Succes winsAn unsurprisingly poor day yesterday apart from Special Tiara’s each way place in the Champion Chase. What a shame Champagne Fever didn’t run given the way it played out.

On to what I hope will be a more profitable day and here are the selections:

1.30 JLT Novices’ Chase

4. Ptit Zig (11/2) **

2.05 Pertemps Final

15 Call The Cops (13/2) *

2.40 Ryanair Chase

1. Balder Succes (8/1) ***

3.20 World Hurdle

17. Zarkandar (15/2) **

4.00 The Plate

3. Caid Du Berlais (15/1) *

4.40 Kim Muir

17. Champagne James (17/2) **



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