1.30 Cheltenham – Jewson Novices´ Chase
A race that revolves around David Pipe’s classy grey, Dynaste. One of the festival big talking horses, there was much debate about where he was to run. He ditched the RSA to run here and it was the right call for me. He is the classiest horse in this field, has course form, jumps for fun and represents a top stable. He’s the one to beat, but his price suggests that.
Of the challengers, I don’t think Aupcharlie is good enough and it looks there has been a bit of an overreaction to his run last time out. Yes, Back In Focus and Tofino Bay ran well yesterday, but put it in perspective – it was over four miles. I’d much rather the chances of Texas Jack at the pries whose form looks that bit more solid. Captain Conan is another who represents top connections and is sure to go well. There is a doubt about him over this trip, two miles might just be his optimum, but you’d be hard pressed not to say he stays this far. He jumps really well and is an ideal chaser – big and scopey. He’ll run well and I hope connections make a bit more use of his jumping today and race him handy. They look the main protagonists and while I couldn’t put you off Dynaste he does look a little bit on the short side. At the prices I’d much rather back Captain Conan in the ‘without Dynaste’ market. He’s a much bigger price and given his connections, course form and jumping he’ll get the nod.
2.5pts each-way Captain Conan without Dynaste @ 4-1
2.05 Cheltenham – Pertemps Final
Now back to the really hard stuff, a 24 runner handicap. As you’ve seen throughout the week these are supremely competitive and luck in running is needed. We did give Medinas a good mention yesterday, never stuck him up though and he went on to win at 33-1. Black Thunder was still in with a chance when falling at the second last so we can take heart from this.
The 148 rating of the top rated horses suggest this isn’t the classiest renewal of the Pertemps which would lead me to favour horses to the fore in the handicap. Sam Winner looks to hold an outstanding chance given his current rating, but with no form over this trip I’m not willing to take a chance at that price. Shutthefrontdoor is another handicapped to win, but the ground may just be going against him now. On soft he certainly would have got the call. I still think he’ll be tough to beat, but at the prices we’ll take him on. The ones that made the shortlist include Junior, Close House, According To Trev, Pateese and Berties Dream. Most are big prices and a case can be made for all of the above. Close House has the best opportunity of winning, as his price suggests and given his form, course knowledge and connections I can see him running well. While I don’t like backing six-year-olds in these events Close House looks to have had this in mind for quite a while. He ran well in last year’s Neptune behind Simonsig and now back in handicap company he’s of interest. This stamina test should suit. According To Trev can be forgiven for his latest runs on ground deemed too soft. His earlier form makes him interesting and he can run well too. Junior, from the same yard as Close House is another to note. Given his course form and higher chase rating he is another to go well. Summing up, there are plenty that could go well. I couldn’t put you off Close House, but at the prices the latter two will get the nod.
1pt each-way According To Trev @ 22-1
1pt each-way Junior @ 25-1
2.40 Cheltenham – Ryanair Chase
Another competitive race, where you could give a great chance to most of the field.
Three time a Cheltenham winner and twice a scorer of this race, Albertas Run is back, but at the age of 12 I can’t see him winning. Champion Court is sure to attack from the front and while he jumps well I can see him being a sitting duck late on. Cue Card is the most talented horse in this line-up, but I’m not sure he’ll see it out as well as some on the new course. The ground drying will help however. For Non Stop will appreciate the better ground and has an each-way chance, but doesn’t look good enough. Menorah is one of those horses capable of running well, but his jumping needs improving. Cheltenham doesn’t look to be Riverside Theatre’s favourite track, but he’s a classy, solid horse and he can’t be ruled out. For me however, the one they all have to beat is First Lieutenant. It’s an unoriginal selection, but his Cheltenham Festival form, class and connections mean he deserves his position in the market. The strong gallop should suit and while this trip is probably just shy of his best he should be mooring home once hitting the hill. I think we’ll know our fate early because if he doesn’t jump well in the first half of the race he might just be taken off his feet. Mouse Morris’ horses are running out of their skin this week so hopefully he can take this price for the race sponsor, Michael O’Leary of Ryanair.
5pts win First Lieutenant @ 9-4
3.20 Cheltenham – Ladbrokes World Hurdle
A really open looking World Hurdle where again, five or six look to hold genuine chances of scoring. Bog Warrior is a classy operator, but the ground may just be going against him now. I still have my doubts about him over this trip as I feel he beat a non-stayer in Zaidpour last time out. The latter mentioned runs too and he is another I can’t even consider. Reve De Sivola is another that may find circumstance against him with the ground drying. All his form this season has been on heavy going – some of the worst ground we’ve seen this year and so is over looked. Oscar Whisky is the race’s class horse and I think he’ll turn around his last run with Reve De Sivola. I like Oscar Whisky, but I still have my doubts about the trip for him. The two I want on my side are Get Me Out Of Here and Smad Place. The ground looks to becoming right for both. Get Me Out Of Here’s festival from is second to none and given there is plenty of staying prowess in his pedigree he could improve further for this trip. He really deserves a Cheltenham win. Of the two I’d just favour Smad Place whose third behind the great Big Buck’s in last year’s World Hurdle looks well. Now a year older he is sure to be stronger and can hopefully run well.
2pts each-way Smad Place @ 9-1
1pt win Get Me Out Of Here @ 9-1