cheltenham preview evening reports 2015

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cheltenham preview evening reports 2015

Postby beaker1 » March 6th, 2015, 10:20 pm

like last year me and a number of friends attend preview evenings below is the ones we attended


CHELTENHAM PREVIEW EVENING at BANGOR-ON-DEE RACECOURSE


the panel consisted of leading local trainer Donald McCain (DM), commentator and broadcaster, Stewart Machin (SM), Jumping Prospects author, John Morris (JM), Form and Speed Figures analyst Andy Holding (AH) and Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide author Paul Jones (PJ). The M.C. was Darren Owen.


Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

DM: I don’t think the British are keeping up with Willie Mullins. Good luck to him, he has a system and it works. Douvan all the way. I think Jollyallan should be running in the Neptune.
SM: Of Willie Mullins’ four short-priced favourites on Day 1, Douvan is the one I would look to try and get beat. L’Ami Serge makes most appeal against him. I was really struck by Nicky Henderson’s demeanour after he won the Tolworth. L’Ami Serge is my pick at the prices.
AH: Douvan ticks the boxes on my speed figures for both his starts. He must be a hell of a horse to beat Sizing John by 12l on the bridle. He is a big unit but I think he can be even better of faster ground. L’Ami Serge has also been impressive visually and on the clock and I make it between the pair. Jollyallan has no chance of beating L’Ami Serge on the times they clocked on the same day at Newbury.
JM: Douvan could be exceptional but I don’t like backing shorties. Tell Us More looks a big each-way price at 25/1 as it could be this step back to 2m is what he needs right now. It might be a blessing disguise he was beaten over 2m4f last time. Jollyallan doesn’t jump fast enough.
PJ: We know Douvan will be well backed and it will be McCoy this and McCoy that in the build up so I see Jollyallan also being well backed as well so something has to give and it’s likely to be L’Ami Serge. Given Henderson has had nine top-four finishers in the last eight runnings and he looks the best of the Brits so you would like to think he will be thereabouts again so he is interesting each-way near off time as I think that is when he will be at his biggest price. If Tell Us More runs here, he is the only horse at a double figure price that would interest me.


Arkle Trophy

DM: Un De Sceaux will be exciting. It might not be pretty though as I don’t think he’s that good over a fence. He is not bomb proof and he has had freebies in Ireland. Vibrato Valtat has been classed as quirky so he knows how to mind himself and that’s no bad thing in the Arkle. The way the race is run should suit and he travels strongly. Josses Hill jumped well at Doncaster when the gun was put to his head so I see him enjoying the strong pace too.
SM: Un De Sceaux is not my kind of price at 4/7. Vibrato Valtat has impressed me more and more as the season progressed and it looked effortless for him at Warwick to go by a 150-rated rival in Top Gamble.
AH: Un De Sceaux was spectacular on the clock at Leopardstown. He should be favourite for the Champion Chase if he was running there. He jumped well last time but he can be a bit hit or miss and the pace he will be going he’ll have to meet everything on the right stride. Vibrato Valtat is the obvious main danger and has Cheltenham chase experience on his side.
JM: Un De Sceaux jumps a bit flat which is my worry. Sgt Reckless is my little dark one. He has only had one chase start but jumped very well and he has some class about him. Henrietta Knight would be overseeing his schooling.
PJ: I am waiting for firms to bet without the favourite and, taking the view the British are not up to a lot, I fancy an Irish 1-2 and looking at Clarcam in this market. He may not have a 5yo allowance but he is a dependable jumper and very professional. I can see Vibrato Valtat chasing Un De Sceaux from 3 out and Clarcam picking up the pieces. Hopefully that’s the way he will ridden as it didn’t work trying to go after Un De Sceaux last time and being ridden for a place and hope to get lucky might be their plan. He will be hard to kick out of the first three.


Champion Hurdle

DM: The New One should have done it a lot better at Haydock. I have been a big fan of Hurricane Fly but he can’t go on forever and Jezki beat him last year so the door is wide open for Faugheen.
SM: I think Faugheen will win. I was talking with Walsh at Royal Ascot last year and he was telling me he is some machine and jumps so fast. I thought he meant Vautour at first but he was talking about Faugheen. The New One has to put himself right at his hurdles which is a worry.
AH: I timed The New One from the moment he was hampered in last year’s Champion Hurdle and Faugheen from the same point, albeit 24 hours later, and Faugheen was quicker so I have to say he is a faster horse. The New One only won at Haydock as Bertimont raced in the swamp against the far rail. To say Faugheen has beaten nothing is wrong as Blue Heron looked a good winner of the Kingwell. Faugheen is the closest I’ve seen to Istrabraq in that he floats along and also has the power. Jezki each-way is the obvious alternative though I would prefer Geraghty to McCoy on him being 5-5 when he has ridden him.
JM: Faugheen is some tool and can keep on improving. He should win with no mistakes and Arctic Fire is the best each-way value.
PJ: I fancy Jezki to be more of a threat to Faugheen than The New One who is a better horse on the New Course and doesn’t make ground at his hurdles like a Champion Hurdler should. Jezki is much quicker over a flight and looks an obvious each-way bet at 6/1.


Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

DM: No real view but I would have run Jollyallan here and not run Beast Of Burden as he should be in the Albert Bartlett.
SM: Not a race I have a strong opinion on but I’m not sure whether Parlour Games will cut it. Windsor Park would be my tentative selection.
AH: Outlander beat a good field but not in a good time last time out. I’ve not seen too many holes in Nichols Canyon and he won the best trial in a good time. He is a professional and tough off the bridle so I like his attitude. Parlour Games is the best of the British but Challow winners have a bad record. He was very impressive before that off a slow pace but showed he can also slog it at Newbury.
JM: This always goes to a fancied horse. I was really taken by Beast Of Burden when he won here (Bangor) and when I saw him in the summer. Rebecca Curtis likes him a lot.
PJ: Parlour Games won the Challow and all 14 winners to run here were beaten but most get beaten as they find the faster ground compared to Newbury at Christmas too much, but he is a Flat horse so I wouldn’t be put off by that stat if you like him. I just think the Irish are miles better. I fancy Windsor Park can reverse Deloitte form with Nichols Canyon over a longer trip and being put into the race, which he wasn’t at Leopardstown until it was all over.


RSA Chase

DM: I’d run Coneygree here rather than the Gold Cup. He makes it very uncomfortable for other novices but he won’t be able to do that to top class professionals. I don’t think Mullins will get his way with Gigginstown so expect Don Poli to run here. I’ve been mightily impressed with Kings Palace and think he will improve for better ground. I’ll go with him.
SM: If Coneygree and Kings Palace run it will be like an RSA of old as they just gallop. I think it would be madness to run Coneygree in the Gold Cup. The tempo of race is just different to novice races.
AH: Don Poli all the way if he runs on the speed figures and the strength of his form when he won the Topaz.
JM: Kings Palace’s jumping worries me at the pace they will go. I will go for Coneygree if pressed if he runs as this looks his ideal race.
PJ: Don Poli has plenty of stats to defy if he is to win; 6yo, not run since Christmas, less than three chase starts. But then again the other leading hopes also aren’t perfect on trends. I will back Valseur Lido wherever he turns up but, as we don’t know yet where he, Don Poli, Coneygree or The Young Master will run, I don’t want to commit to the race yet.


Queen Mother Champion Chase

DM: The way Gary Moore has campaigned Sire De Grugy has been fantastic. They are not scared of trying anything different. Sprinter Sacre was drunk after he won at Punchestown and running at all three spring Festivals looks to have taken its toll on him.
SM: Sire De Grugy won a proper race last time and handicap form is so much more informative than beating three rivals at long odds-on in a pattern race. I was impressed by the way he did it. I couldn’t back Sprinter Sacre though wouldn’t be surprised if he won. Dodging Bullets doesn’t catch my imagination. The Newbury race Mr Mole won fell apart though he would have probably won anyway.
AH: The race of the meeting. I am very strong on Hidden Cyclone who is a massive price at 14/1. He committed too early when second in the Ryanair last year and again at Leopardstown at Christmas and a fast run 2m will be perfect for him if restrained more. However, Sire De Grugy did impress me last time or otherwise I would be even more confident.
JM: I like Hidden Cyclone for a bit of each-way value.
PJ: I think it’s between Champagne Fever and Sire De Grugy though accept that Hidden Cyclone is in a very good place right now. I’m not bothered that Champagne Fever would probably have been beaten by Don Cossack when he fell as I think he will hack up in the Ryanair so that’s top class form. I can’t wait to get stuck into Sire De Grugy to beat Sprinter Sacre at odds against when firms offer match betting. I have doubts that Ascot form is that great anyway and sense Nicholls prefers Mr Mole of his pair.


JLT Novices’ Chase

Skimmed through it as first half went on longer than planned.

DM: Pass.
SM: Splash Of Ginge each-way value.
AH: Apache Stronghold – I’m keen to oppose Vautour.
JM: Vautour – he’s on my front page cover so have to!
PJ: I will back Valseur Lido wherever he runs. He travels and jumps like a real class act and can reverse with Apache Stronghold as he wasn’t fully tuned up in the Flogas.


Ryanair Chase

DM: I just called Gordon Elliott and asked for what he fancies at the meeting. He gave me two and neither were Don Cossack which means it’s a certainty!!!
SM: I wouldn’t be with Cue Card and Balder Succes has yet to do it at Cheltenham. Don Cossack is priced up right and is the most likely winner. Eduard has been at the satellite yard at Newmarket and would have won the Peterborough Chase but for a mistake. That form is some way removed from this but I can see him running well.
AH: Don Cossack at 4/1 is a good price. I see him starting much shorter. He has come of age this season having been frail off the bridle but he looks really strong in the latter stages now. The time of his win last time was tremendous being over 9 seconds faster than Vroum Vroum Mag who won a Grade 2 which is ridiculous. I am looking for reasons not to back Don Cossack but can’t find any.
JM: Don Cossack is my map of the meeting. He has got it all together now.
PJ: Don Cossack for a clean sweep as I can’t have Cue Card on this season’s performances. His form compared to that of his likely rivals this season is on a different level. Module is the each-way value at 40/1, he’s been crying out for this trip so ignore his two runs before the New Year and he has run well at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.


World Hurdle

DM: Rock On Ruby is probably best at 2m4f. I think Cole Harden has had his wind done since his last run.
SM: I don’t know if Rock On Ruby will stay so I can’t back him. I don’t know how good Saphir Du Rheu is but I do know the price differential between him and Un Temps Pour Tout on Cleeve form is too big.
AH: I could short list half a dozen and still not find the winner it’s that competitive so I’ve chanced a couple each-way at bigger prices in Jetson and Monksland. Jetson’s defeat of Quevega last year was no fluke and he has run well both starts this season which were runs to get him ready for the spring.
JM: Zarkandar is my fancy. He was fourth last year and Nicholls told me in the summer he will be a better horse for this season. Cole Harden could be the each-way value if returning to the form of his Wetherby win.
PJ: I like Zarkandar. He’s a different horse this season in the way he travels and jumps since his wind operation, he loves this New Course and deep down and I fancy Nicholls prefers him to the chasing-type, Saphir Du Rheu. Only beaten 8l last year in a better race off the back of a poor season last year, this is weaker and he is in far better form.


Triumph Hurdle

DM: I ran Starchitect against Peace And Co and he annihilated us. Then I ran him against Hargam and he was not as impressive but beat us well in a nice relaxed fashion so he might be the one better suited to the demands of the Festival.
SM: I was very impressed with Top Notch’s hurdling at Haydock. The stiffer track and extra furlong worries for me for Beltor who pulled at Kempton. He will be hard to beat at Aintree.
AH: Nothing impressed on the clock until Petite Parisienne won at Leopardstown in a race that has featured the last three Triumph winners. I’ve backed Hargam and I can see his form lines being franked in the Fred Winter. I like the fact he has twice run at Cheltenham and he put up a better time than The New One overall and on the sectionals there in December.
JM: I was impressed by Beltor at Ludlow and that form has been franked and was impressed again with him at Kempton. Dicosimo took off in the final furlong on his debut for Mullins and looks the best of the Irish.
PJ: Like everyone else I was very impressed by Peace And Co at Doncaster but the more I think about it, he is a short price for a buzzy horse, especially on Gold Cup Day where the atmosphere will be at its height during the week. Karezak is the type to place again but I am warming to Top Notch who just looks like the ultra professional for 4yos and the longer trip will be in his favour.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Again, this was skimmed through sharpish.

DM: Beast Of Burden should be running here, not the Neptune.
SM: Value At Risk has solid form and should relish the step up in trip.
AH: It’s been a while since we saw Black Hercules which is unlike Mullins.
JM: No real view
PJ: Value At Risk is bred to really improve for the step up in trip and 12/1 represents excellent each-way value.


Gold Cup

DM: I would love to see Many Clouds win and he has his chance. McCoy couldn’t wait to me at Kelso he was impressed with Holywell which is unlike him. He doesn’t say these things for nothing. I think he was very taken with him.
SM: I am still unconvinced Silviniaco Conti will come up the hill even if he is a better horse this season. My two against the field are Djakadam, who this might come a year too early but has so much potential, and The Giant Bolster each-way. There is no reason why he can’t place again.
AH: Holywell has the best profile. He is 2/2 at the Festival, comes alive in the spring and when fitted with blinkers and his Aintree form from last season is the best in the race. If McCoy had the choice I think he would ride him and not Carlingford Lough.
JM: Road To Riches and Holywell are my two against the field. Road To Riches is improving and consistent so just give him the edge. This has never quite been Silviniaco Conti’s course and that worries me.
PJ: Boston Bob is too big at 25/1 and worth an each-way bet. He’s a stayer who has never run over the Gold Cup trip so I am expecting him to improve for that and he is a spring horse to boot who will enjoy faster ground. Don’t forget he might have beaten Lord Windermere when he fell at the last when leading the RSA. Looking for a back up selection, if the ground is on the easy side then Many Clouds is a hard horse to pass as he really wants it and it if was good ground, then I would favour Holywell.


Naps:

DM: The Young Master (if runs in NH Chase)
SM: Faugheen (Champion Hurdle)
AH: Hidden Cyclone (Champion Chase)
JM: Don Cossack (Ryanair)
PJ: Ned Stark (Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase)
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Re: cheltenham preview evening reports 2015

Postby beaker1 » March 6th, 2015, 10:22 pm

CHELTENHAM PREVIEW EVENING at WARWICK RACECOURSE


Jamie Moore (JM), Oliver Sherwood (OS), RacingUK pundit and county cricketer Will Smith (WS), Trevor Harris (TH) of the sponsors, Star Sports,The M.C. was Roger Hart (RH) who is connected to Jonjo O’Neill’s stable where he runs their stable tours.


Supreme Novices’ Hurdle


JM: L’Ami Serge stuffed Violet Dancer and Kilcooley at Newbury and look at what they have done since. He smashed them up. To do that to battle-hardened handicappers will stand him in good stead.
OS: I always have evening dinner with Willie Mullins on Wednesday so he had better have a good first day! I do think that 7/4 is tight about Douvan though and L’Ami Serge offers better value. The vibes in the Lambourn valley are strong about him.
WS: I have to take on Douvan at the price as it’s a real cauldron in the first race and I would prefer a more battle-hardened horse. Shaneshill has Festival form when second in the Bumper last year and he is an each-way suggestion at around 16/1.
TH: Do you want to take 7/4 about a horse you’ve never seen come off the bridle? He is priced up on reputation. As a bookmaker we have to take him on.


Arkle Trophy


JM: The only way Un De Sceaux gets turned over is if he turns over. He is unbeatable with a clear round. Top Gamble is a good horse and Vibrato Valtat made him look very moderate last time and he is the one to finish second.
OS: Nothing much to add to what Jamie said, it’s a two horse race and Un De Sceaux should win and Vibrato Valtat should finish second.
WS: Hard to go against Un De Sceaux who is as fast a 2m chaser as I’ve seen. He is just electric.
TH: The feeling is that bookmakers have to lay horses when they are short but I’m not keen to lay Un De Sceaux. If you back Josses Hill, then best watch from behind the couch.


Champion Hurdle


JM: The talk in the weighing room is that Hurricane Fly is going better this season that last season and he could cause a surprise. I hope he wins but I would ride Faugheen if given the option.
OS: Best to wait for the ground until making a decision who to back as Hurricane Fly comes right into this if it is soft and 8/1 could be huge. The grass has not started growing on the course yet as it is too cold which is good for his chances as the longer the grass is the more moisture it soaks up.
WS: There are reasons to take on all the big four. Faugheen on form, The New One isn’t the slickest hurdler, Jezki can’t win purely on this season’s form but we know this is the day for him and Hurricane Fly on age and maybe ground. I can’t have Jezki out of the frame so he appeals each-way. A better bet is Arctic Fire at 66/1 for next season’s Champion Hurdle. He won’t be anything like that price if he hits the frame.
TH: I like Faugheen but I don’t like the price. I would rather play The New One and Jezki combined at 11/8 than 6/5 about the favourite. Hurricane Fly is for sentimental punters only.


Day 1 Shoulder Races


JM: Vino Griego goes for the 3m handicap chase. We worked him in a tongue tie for the first time and he went well and is off 139 having once been 156. He’ll be a massive price but he has a definite each-way chance. He’s in very good form.
OS: Mischievous Milly is my only other runner apart from Many Clouds and runs in the Mares Hurdle. I made a pig’s ear of it by running her at Ascot so soon after Sandown so ignore that run. She was twice second to Glens Melody last season who was second to Quevega in last year’s race so she has plenty of ability. If it is soft I will be disappointed if she is not in the first four.



Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle


JM: Ryan tells me that the Melrose at York is the toughest handicap on the Flat to win all season so for Parlour Games to win it that tells me he is up to this. Ordo Ab Chao looked decent at Cheltenham last time.
OS: It’s a little sad to see so many Flat horses at the top of the market for this NH race. Parlour Games would be my preference.
WS: Mullins holds the key with Nichols Canyon, Outlander and probably one or two more. It will be interesting if Alvisio Ville still runs here as there was loads of money for him for the Neptune before he was beaten in the Deloitte. Weld mentioned Windsor Park in the same breath at Forgotten Rules and I liked his Deloitte run and think he can reverse with Nichols Canyon.
TH: John Ferguson seems to have been training his horses more for Cheltenham this season and this could be his year with Parlour Games. Nichols Canyon should be in the Supreme and I have doubts he will stay. Outlander travels well but will he get home?


RSA Chase


JM: Kings Palace lights up when he sees a fence. It will be good to see him and Coneygree go at it from the start from the front. The Young Master won’t be far away.
OS: The vibes in the valley is that they are favouring the Gold Cup with Coneygree. Kings Palace has impressed me since day 1 and I can’t see past him.
WS: I’d be inclined to run The Young Master in the four-miler. The money for Don Poli suggests this is where he will run. If Coneygree and Kings Palace both run, that can set it up for Don Poli.
TH: Coneygree and Kings Palace could cut each others’ throats and set it up for a real stayer like The Young Master. This is a warrior’s race and who stays best wins.



Queen Mother Champion Chase


JM: Sire De Grugy has come out of Chepstow well. We felt that run was needed to give him confidence and he probably wouldn’t have run if he completed at Newbury. I’ve ridden Grey Gold ten times and honestly thought we would struggle to give him 20lb but he brushed him aside. He got a bit tired in the run in but it was soft ground. I honestly think he’s every bit as good as last year and the one to beat.
OS: I think you’ll see a different Sprinter Sacre to at Ascot. The drums are beating in Lambourn he is coming back, whether it’s in time for Cheltenham I don’t know. Running at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown two seasons ago may have taken it out of him. Mr Mole has huge ability and I can see him travel very well for a long way but it has to be Sire De Grugy.
WS: Sire De Grugy was electric at Chepstow and demonstrated his high cruising speed again and I much prefer him to Sprinter Sacre who is my lay of the meeting. Simply Ned is interesting in betting without the favourite or front two in the market each-way. His season has been geared around this day back on bouncy, spring ground.
TH: I can’t have the Nicholls pair of Dodging Bullets and Mr Mole. I am far happier to lay Sprinter Sacre than Sire De Grugy who ran up to his handicap mark last time out and he should be favourite. I do like Champagne Fever more than all of them though.
RH: Don’t be surprised if Johns Spirit runs here rather than the Ryanair. I know they are strongly considering it so any 33/1 NR No Bet would be interesting.


JLT Novices’ Chase



JM: I’m a Ptit Zig fan despite his fall last time out.
OS: Vautour is the nap of the meeting, he was so impressive in the Supreme last year.
WS: It might be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole running Vautour in this race as he looked a natural for the Arkle to me. Valseur Lido does looks a JLT type though as he has pace and stays well and he was probably underprepared when beaten by Apache Stronghold last time.
TH: I am not convinced Vautour is the same horse as 12 months ago. Happy to take him on with Valseur Lido.



Ryanair Chase


JM: I hear that Ma Filleule will improve from her Ascot run. Ballnagour is a bleeder but he is great when fresh and fully tuned up as we saw here last year.
OS: My lay of the meeting is Cue Card. He looks past his sell-by date. Balder Succes has really moved forward since he was stepped up in trip and his confidence is sky high which is a big thing with me and he has the speed to travel. Eduard has had a light campaign and also travels well.
WS: Ma Filleule’s spring form last season is top class and she looks to be peaking at the right time. Eduard can run well.
TH: Don Cossack should win if the ground is not too fast. I can’t have Cue Card or Balder Succes on my mind.


World Hurdle


JM: Un Temps Pour Tout ran a good race on Trials Day. He would have been fit but he got a bit tired and I think that run will sharpen him up.
OS: It all depends if Annie Power turns up and I think she might. If she runs she can win it. If prefer Saphir Du Rheu of the Nicholls pair. I can’t have Rock On Ruby.
WS: I am more keen on Saphir Du Rheu than Zarkandar but Monksland each-way is my fancy. He was a leading hope two years ago until he was injured and 16/1 is a nice price.
TH: They were falling over themselves to back Un Temps Pour Tout before the Cleeve when Saphir Du Rheu beat him. Blue Fashion has an each-way chance at 16/1 on his seconds to More Of That and Faugheen.



Triumph Hurdle


JM: Top Notch is as quick over a hurdle as I’ve seen in a juvenile this season and he has a good each-way chance. I was also impressed with Beltor at Kempton.
OS: I was really impressed with Beltor. Maybe Aintree will suit him better but he didn’t half travel. He would half his price if trained by Nicholls or Henderson.
WS: Peace And Co looks like he could be anything but he is short enough for such a young horse in a race where horses will improve for spring ground. Hargam each-way is a better option and he has good course form as well. If Devilment ran here rather than the Fred Winter, he would be interesting at a price.
TH: Peace And Co is my lay of the meeting. He is definitely the most talented in the race but his demeanour worries me. He looks like he has been stung by a wasp. Beltor’s form looks strong.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle


JM: I’ve won on Blaklion and I like him as he tries very hard.
OS: I am a Caracci Apache fan who has improved in leaps and bounds. They thought he was absolutely useless after his first run.
WS: Value At Risk did well to lay up against speedier horses over 2m4f last time and was staying on and moving up to 3m will help him. He looks a big price at double figure odds.
TH: Dan Skelton doesn’t shout about his horses but he’s keen on Value At Risk. Thomas Brown showed the right attributes for this race when he won at Cheltenham but I’ll go with whatever is the Gigginstown number one.



Gold Cup:


JM: Many Clouds would be my choice. The Hennessy seems to be a good guide to the Gold Cup down the years. Holywell would have a better chance with McCoy on but Ritchie McLernon is 2-2 on him at the Festival.
OS: Paul Nicholls thinks he has found the key to Silviniaco Conti getting home but he still has to prove himself at Cheltenham. Touch wood I’ve not missed one single day with Many Clouds all season and it’s all gone to plan. He schooled for the first time this morning since he won at Cheltenham and will do so again next week. His confidence is sky high. I’d love to see them turn on the taps!
WS: If Silviniaco Conti was to see out his race better as his ulcers have been treated that is one thing, but I still think he is better on flat tracks. Boston Bob is a horse I have always thought could be a Gold Cup horse and he appears to have been trained with the race in mind judged by held-up efforts in Ireland this season. Blinkers would make him interesting.
TH: I have to take the favourite on. Would you back the in-form golfer in The Masters if he has a bad Augusta record? On His Own is a bigger price than when he almost won it last year and he is the value.



Naps:

JM: Sire De Grugy (Champion Chase)
OS: Vautour (JLT Novices’ Chase)
WS: The Druid’s Nephew (Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase)
TH: Don Cossack (Ryanair)
PJ: Ned Stark (Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase)
RH: Sam Winner (Gold Cup)
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Re: cheltenham preview evening reports 2015

Postby beaker1 » March 7th, 2015, 7:46 pm

CHELTENHAM PREVIEW EVENING at TOWCESTER RACECOURSE


sponsored by Sky Bet, the panel comprised of jockey, Nick Scholfield (NS), who is connected to Paul Nicholls’ stable and gave an insight to his contenders, Timeform’s Chief Correspondent, Jamie Lynch (JL), RacingUK presenter and pundit Oli Bell (OB) and Niall Hannitty (NH), sportinglife.com’s value betting columnist Ben Linfoot (BL) and Michael Shinners (MS) was on hand for the latest market news. David Ord acted as MC and did a fine job to rattle through and keep order finishing at 10.00pm



Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

NS: L’Ami Serge’s Tolworth win on soft ground hard on the bridle was impressive on griund he is not at his best on having quickened up to win really well at Ascot. Douvan is more of a talking horse yet to do it at Grade 1 level unlike L’Ami Serge.

JL: Willie Mullins has been saying some frightening things about Douvan. However, this means that you can back L’Ami Serge at a price you wouldn’t normally be able to do so. The speed horses often don’t win the Supreme and Douvan is speed whereas L’Ami is a grinder.

OB: L’Ami Serge is the play as there is not much between him and Douvan on official figures but he is a much bigger price and Henderson was confident about at his media day last week.
NH: Douvan looks even better coming into the Festival than Vautour and Faugheen did last year. I think L’Ami Serge will be better switching to this left-handed course. Qewy wants softer ground and Jollyallan doesn’t jump well enough. Douvan looks the real deal and I’m a massive fan of his for this race.

BL: Douvan is way too short and worth taking on. He has won twice on soft ground on right-handed tracks in Ireland so this is a different test. Vautour and Champagne Fever were proven Grade 1 winners when they won the Supreme for the same conditions. Vautour isn’t and he is a shorter price than them. Shaneshill was too keen when beaten by No More Heroes and dropping back to 2m he is interesting. I also like Qewy and his form was franked at the weekend by Cardinal Walter. Shaneshill at 12/1 is my idea of the best bet.

MS: There was money for Qewy and Seeedling today but generally it’s all about Douvan but there is no rush to back him as I’ll be stunned if you don’t see 9/4 or 5/2 on the day.

Arkle Trophy


NS: From Walsh’s point of view of Un De Sceaux, Cheltenham is different track to Leopardstown where there is only one downhill fence so his jumping will have to be 110%. Cheltenham can catch a horse like him out as he will going so fast. Peck at one downhill fence and his game could be over.
JL: You can’t back a horse at 4/7 in the Arkle. Court Minstrel is a horse to have caught my eye. He was a shorter price than Vibrato Valtat when they ran against each other earlier in the season and I will have a swing at him at a biggish price.

OB: A hard race to punt in. Vibrato Valtat is the obvious one to finish second given the way the race will pan out and on general ability. Josses Hill hasn’t taken to chasing and they just keep coming up with excuses with him.

NH: I wouldn’t have a bet. Un De Sceaux will be a fair hair-raising ride though and Vibrato Valtat can get a lovely toe into the race. The forecast from Wednesday onwards is spring-like weather and that will suit Sgt Reckless who looks the best of those at double figure prices.

BL: You don’t need many reasons to take on a horse at 4/7 in the Arkle and Un De Sceaux has fallen and never run at Cheltenham before. I do think that Josses Hill will put in an improved effort jumping at championship pace though.

MS: Tony Martin stated he might send Ted Veale here and nick some prize money when I was on a panel with him last week.


Champion Hurdle

NS: I can’t see much pace in the race and can see Ruby popping along on Faugheen and keeping it simple and having the race run to suit committing from two out. He has a very good cruising speed but can quicken off it.

JL: What has Faugheen beaten? The answer is everything. He has just gobbled them all up. His time splits suggests that he will have the race sewn up between the last two flights. This might be the last chance you get to back Faugheen at odds-against in his career. I think he is outstanding. Jezki would probably be beating The New One if he was running in the same races he has been winning in Britain.

OB: I think Faugheen is a monster. It’s the ‘in’ thing at the moment to question his form but his season is all gearing towards Cheltenham. Was last year’s Champion Hurdle brilliant? I don’t think Jezki has looked brilliant this year and Faugheen looks a level above all of them. I can’t have The New One.

NH: I am really against The New One even ignoring his Haydock run and especially if it gets tactical. Jezki can still be a bit keen but he will be thereabouts and appeals each way. Faugheen could have the race run to suit. Hurricane Fly’s brain is at Leopardstown rather than Cheltenham.

BL: I can’t think of a tactical situation in which Faugheen will be vulnerable. Of all the Mullins hotpots, he is the one I am most interested in backing.
MS: Jezki has been popular each-way and will be on the day

Day 1 Shoulder Races

NS: In the novice handicap chase I ride Ceasar Milan who beat Whisper at Exeter on New Year’s Day. He is unexposed and very much improved and jumps well and reminds me a bit of Hunt Ball who won the race a few years ago. I schooled him last week and he went well.

OS: I would side with Glens Melody at the prices to beat Annie Power in the Mares Hurdle who has not had the ideal preparation. On good ground Buywise will be a better jumper and he can go well if he runs in the 3m handicap chase. He has other entries, maybe the Plate is where he will run, but he will be interesting wherever he goes.
NH: Ned Stark has been well found in the Ultima but I can see why.

BL: Grand Vision is a cliff horse of mine and I’ll back him. He is in handicap chase and four miler. I also like Thomas Crapper who saves his best for Cheltenham and is better over 2m4f and has been running over 2m and he appeals in the novice handicap chase.

MS: Cause Of Causes has been well backed today for the NH Chase following news Jamie Codd will probably ride.



Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

NS: There is a massive doubt over Nichols Canyon’s jumping. Parlour Games can be the one, though whether a bigger field will suit him I don’t know.
JL: This race is ripe for a bet right now. Nichols Canyon was a mudder on the Flat and has only run in testing conditions over hurdles so the ground is the question mark with him. Parlour Games might be a bully beating small fields. Windsor Park doesn’t jump well enough and Outlander wasn’t fancied when he won last time. Ordo Ab Chao’s price is all wrong. His last win is strong form and 16/1 is too big.

OB: Ordo Ab Chao is too big a price and showed a tough attitude to beat a good field at Cheltenham. I am amazed he is 16/1. I do think Windsor Park will improve for the step up in trip but I won’t be surprised if he reverses form with Outlander and Nichols Canyon from his last two runs.

NH: An end-to-end gallop will suit Outlander and they changed the way they rode him last time.

BL: There was no fluke about Ordo Ab Chao last time and he’s a bet at 16/1. Outlander is the best of those at the top of the market.
MS: The money horse is definitely Outlander. Barry Connell made Martello Tower his best chance of the meeting in the Albert Bartlett on a panel in Ireland last week and he beat Martello Tower last time out in a Grade 2 quote easily.


RSA Chase

NS: Experience counts in the RSA and two runs over fences isn’t ideal for Don Poli. Kings Palace likes being up front in small fields and he will be more vulnerable here. It’s a massive negative he has not run in bigger field. Coneygree at 11/2 is the best bet of the Festival if he runs here. I rode Virak at Kempton and thought there was no way he could keep up that gallop. If you can back Coneygree NRNB then do so.

JL: The longer it goes on then the more likely Coneygree will run here. We could be talking about Don Poli being Gold Cup favourite next season so if you do fancy him, and you should, this is the horse why other horses are being moved around for. He stays and jumps and is ideal for the RSA.
OB: I don’t think Kings Palace is a horse I want to beat at the prices bearing in mind what happened at the Festival last year after beating small fields and he has been beating small fields again. I think Coneygree will run in the Gold Cup so best back Don Poli now.

NH: This looks a strong race and I am a massive Kings Palace fan. I am not sure he needs to bully small fields. Don Poli is the other one I really like.
BL: Don Poli lacks chasing experience with two starts over fences but a strong pace can suit him if Coneygree and Kings Palace run. I have backed Valseur Lido but I think he will run in the JLT.
MS: Don Poli is sure to go off shorter than 7/2 and especially if Coneygree doesn’t run. If Mullins mops up on Day 1 then even more so.



Queen Mother Champion Chase

NS: The bleed incurred by Sprinter Sacre wouldn’t worry me at all. All horses have a little bleed at some point. He will so much happier when he gets better ground. I was at Ditcheat this morning and Dodging Bullets looks tremendously well. Paul fancies him and Mr Mole to run very well. Paul had Dodging Bullets trained to the minute at Ascot, he was 110%, but Sprinter Sacre was about 80% so he can turn around that form. He will be cantering two out.

JL: Sprinter Sacre splits opinion. The more I think about it, the more I think he is a good bet. He is the best horse since Arkle on Timeform ratings but after his troubles some will think he is hard to back. It was race against time to run at Ascot and everyone there felt he looked a bit light as he tried to get fit in time. Now he has put the conditioning and muscle on he only needs to improve around 7lb to win. It’s a black and white view but that’s what I am arguing.

OB: Physically Sprinter Sacre had improved to my eye when I saw him last week compared to when I saw him at Ascot but what would concern me is he didn’t go through with his challenge and he bled. I couldn’t back a bleeder for any race at under 3/1. Sire De Grugy’s Chepstow’s win should have taken something out him being so close to the Festival. Dodging bullets isn’t the same horse in the spring so I come down to, and I never thought I would say this, Mr Mole. He could be the jumps edition of Noble Mission who was a quirky horse who then turned it around on the Flat.

NH: I like Sprinter Sacre at 3/1. If he is back to 80% of where he was then he can win. If he can improve like Sire De Grugy did between his first and second run then he will win.
BL: Henderson hasn’t convinced me that Sprinter Sacre is back to his best. Champagne Fever seems to have been forgotten but I am with Mr Mole. I thought he was unbelievable at Newbury and 10/1 is a decent bet about this reformed character

MS: Sprinter Sacre is a public horse and by far our worst result and I will be amazed if he doesn’t go off favourite.


Day 2 Shoulder Races

NS: I think Paul Nicholls will run three in the Fred Winter and Noel Fehily will probably be on All Yours and I think they like his chances. Aux Ptit Soins has only run three times and has been give a mark of 139 for the Coral Cup. The horses he has worked against at Wincanton suggest he is much better than that rating. They are hoping he could be a Grade 1 race. Moon Racer has been put away for the Bumper since winning in October and he stands out for me of all the British horses I’ve seen.

JL: I like Mick Jazz for the Fred Winter who looks tailor made for the race and a lot of people at Timeform have backed him and backed him heavily. Killultagh Vic only has a mark of 135 in the Coral Cup and his form is better than that, he is of interest NRNB.
NH: Starchitect in first-time blinkers would be interesting in the Fred Winter.

OB: Two British horses to catch my eye in the Bumper are See The World and Wait For Me. Go and watch See The World win if you haven’t seen it and you will see why. Wait For Me won a traditionally good bumper well on his debut and Hobbs has won this race recently.

BL: Volnay De Thaix appeals in the Coral Cup on his second to Rock On Ruby and I think he could develop into a Grade 1 horse.



Ryanair Chase

NS: I spoke with Joe Tizzard recently and he says Cue Card is in really good order. He will appreciate the better ground and drop back in trip. I schooled Wonderful Charm last week and I think he has had a little tinker with his wind since he ran in the King George.
JL: Cue Card has the back form but his price of 11/2 assumes he is nearly back to his best but he has that to prove. Don Cossack is a boring a favourite who has been beating small fields and fell in the RSA last year so I am left with Ma Filleule.

OB: Ma Filleule thrives in the spring and I think the Ascot Chase in which she was second to Balder Succes is strong form. I wouldn’t rule out Cue Card who goes well at Cheltenham in March and will appreciate being dropped back in trip. He has a horse to write off at your peril.

NH: A lot of Don Cossack’s form is right-handed so 7/2 doesn’t excite me. I like John’s Spirit at the prices.
BL: Don Cossack is a bad favourite at 7/2 given his small field, soft ground, right-hand course profile. Johns Spirit is better on the other course at Cheltenham. Hidden Cyclone each-way is the value having finished second in this race last year.
MS: Certainly the momentum horse has been Ma Filleule.


World Hurdle


NS: I won on Saphir Du Rheu over fences and he would have the speed for 2½m and is a class animal. I was impressed with him beating Reve De Sivola on soft ground and he will be better on better ground. I personally don’t think Zarkandar is an out-and-out stayer. Rock On Ruby is very much ground dependent over this trip and he can run a big race if it’s good ground
JL: This is a second division World Hurdle so I prefer to look quite deep. Whisper won at the meeting last year in the Coral Cup achieving a rating that would have finished third or fourth in the World Hurdle. He is fresh are an abandoned chasing career. It hasn’t worked out for Briar Hill this season but it looked like he was coming back last time and he is the other horse I would consider at a nice price.

OB: I don’t have that strong a view. I haven’t worked out whether Zarkandar is a monkey or not. He has probably had enough chances. Cole Hardden has reasonable form for a 25/1 chance.
NH: Rock On Ruby is the one at the prices and drying ground will really suit. All his half-sisters stay well and he has the class of course. Celestial Halo was second in a Champion Hurdle and almost won this. Rock On Ruby has won a Champion Hurdle.

BL: The Irish look a couple of notches below what is required. Un Temps Pour Tout will come on for his Cleeve Hurdle a ton, he stays and 12/1 is a bet.
MS: It might be 11/2 the field and I imagine Saphir Du Rheu will just about go off favourite.



Thursday Shoulder Races:

NS: I have schooled Ptis Zig since his fall and he has shown no ill effects. He will have learned from that and done him some good. The 2m4f of the JLT is made for him. Vautour jumped adequate at Leopardstown last time out but if he is good as Ruby says he should win.

JL: Regal Encore took off over 3m last time in the finish suggesting he is a Pertemps type. I also like Brother Brian for the same race.
OB: Brother Brian is one of my strongest handicap fancies and he runs in the Pertemps. He was doing his best work late on behind Rock On Ruby last time and his breeding says he will improve for this step up in trip. That run says he is better than his handicap mark of 144.
NH: Regal Encore for the Pertemps.

BL: Monetaire has been saved for the Festival since he won at Newbury in November. If it’s good ground he will go for the Plate according to Pipe rather than the Grand Annual. I also like Un Ace for the Plate if he runs here rather than the Grand Annual



Triumph Hurdle


NS: The New Course is a much more galloping track and that might be against Peace And Co who might not finish off his race properly if he pulls too hard so for that reason I will go with Hargam who is tough, uncomplicated, jumps well and stays well.
JL: Peace And Co is out on his own. People keep telling me he is a terrible price but he is that far ahead on Timeform ratings on his Doncaster win that he would have won every Triumph bar Our Conor’s in the last 15 years. The Irish challenge is threadbare and I don’t think they will get into the first four.

OB: Pulled a cart and still bolted up at Doncaster. He was being taught to settle last time and one concern is if they try that again and he pulls. As long as relaxes he is a certainty. Beltor is talented but in terms of natural talent you will struggle to see a better horse at this stage of their career
NH: 7/4 is too short about Peace And Co. I really like Hargam at 7/1 each way. Lightly raced, he was impressive last time and proven on the track.

BL: I don’t think Beltor has the stamina for a Triumph or the Irish are up to it. My main worry about Peace And Co is whether the occasion will get to him. At the prices Hargam appeals most.
MS: I would guess some bookmakers will pay four places this year. Pain Au Chocolat is a slow burener but very talented and he looks a fair each way bet.



Gold Cup

NS: Silviniaco Conti had stomach ulcers last year but he has been finishing his races off better now that has been sorted. He has no excuses now so, for me, this is his Gold Cup. If he doesn’t win it this year he never will. Bobs Worth was favourite last year and has had only one run since when Barry was easy on him. He improved loads for his first run last season when he won the Lexus and is too big a price.
JL: The cheekpieces have been crucial to Silviniaco Conti. What sort of price is he backable? At 4/1 I would happily weigh in at. The best novice last year was Holywell and he has had one target all year and he is the best of the rest.

OB: Silviniaco Conti has been unfairly uncrabbed for last year. It was a freak race. I can forgive him wandering around last year. Cheekpieces help him keep straight this time and h is one of the best bets of the Festival. It would great if Many Clouds won and he showed himself to be versatile winning at Cheltenham off a slow pace. Coneygree is a save.
NH: The forecast is a worry for Many Clouds. If Bobs Worth or Lord Windermere win the Gold Cup again I’ll eat my feet. My one ante-post bet is Djakadam. There is a question mark about the trip and he is tight enough now at 10/1. I can make a case that Boston Bob is overpriced for a horse who gets it together in the spring.

BL: Road To Riches at 33/1 is my one shining light in my ante-post portfolio for me. I think the track will play to his strengths. Silviniaco Conti is the best horse in race but is he the best horse at Cheltenham over 3m2½f? I’m worried about the ground for Many Clouds. Sam Winner was onmy beaten 2l in Lexus and won at the course earlier in the season and he has the tools to run a huge race being a strong stayer, especially if headgear is applied.

MS: I’ll be amazed of Carlingford Lough is not backed for McCoy. The other money horse can be Djakadam on the Walsh factor.


Friday Shoulder Races:


NS: I rode Jolly’s Cracked It in the Betfair Hurdle who was stone last and didn’t jump well but he flew in the home straight. If he can jump he can go well in the Martin Pipe and he has had a lot of help since then. Harry Fry is very sweet on Thomas Brown in the Albert Bartlett.

JL: I like Ordo Ab Chao for the Neptune so I also like Value At Risk for the Albert Bartlett who did well to finish half a length behind him last time. He would need to settle better though. Make A Track is block entered at the Festival and interesting wherever he turns up moving from the retired Charlie Swan to Gordon Elliott.

OB: Arzal is an interesting one for the Imperial Cup and County Hurdle. Jolly’s Cracked It would be interesting in the Martin Pipe but he is also in the Coral Cup. Fry told me there isnt much between him and Jollyallan who is fancied for the Supreme. In the Foxhunters’ I like Current Event who has won his last seven races and this has been the plan for a while.
NH: I like Martello Tower for the Albert Bartlett. Moving back up to 3m will really suit him and he is overpriced.

BL: I have backed Hawk High for the County Hurdle at 25/1. He likes good ground and he only got beat by Glingerburn last time giving him weight who has been impressive in victory since.
MS: The Game Changer has been the steamer in the County and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryan Cooper rode him. He has gone from Charlie Swan to Gordon Elliott and not run for three months.



Charity Bets

NS: Hargam (Triumph Hurdle)
JL: Value At Risk (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)
OB: Brother Brian e/w (Pertemps Final)
NH: Djakadam (Gold Cup)
BL: Un Temps Pour Tout (World Hurdle)
beaker1
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Re: cheltenham preview evening reports 2015

Postby beaker1 » March 7th, 2015, 7:48 pm

CHELTENHAM PREVIEW EVENING at LONDON run by the LONDON RACING CLUB

One of the longest running preview evenings on the circuit took place at the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum and the panel comprised the BHA Head of Handicapping Phil Smith (PS), broadcaster and journalist Lydia Hislop (LH), Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide author Paul Jones (PJ) and Martin Chapman (MC) of the sponsors Star Sports on hand to give betting updates. The Racing Post’s Lee Mottershead acted as the MC.


Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

PS: Douvan’s early form in France was not good at all. We keep provisional ratings and had him on only 111 but his transformation for Mullins has been fantastic running to 153 and 155. L’Ami Serge’s Newbury win has been franked tremendously and his breeding suggests he will go on faster ground. Qewy could be a bit of fun. He has to improve being rated 138 but he has only run twice over hurdles.

LH: L’Ami Serge each way looks the way to go. He jumps very well and moves like a horse who will prefer better ground compared to what he has been ploughing through during the winter.
PJ: I find it hard to split Douvan and L’Ami Serge so it would have to be the latter at the prices and each way seems sensible if he drifts which I think he might and given his trainer’s record of nine top-four finishers in the Supreme in the last eight years.
MC: Douvan is priced up on reputation. Jollyallan’s run at Sandown is as good a piece of form as there is in the race. We’ve seen each-way money for Bentelimar.


Arkle Trophy

PS: Sprinter Sacre was rated 167 heading into the Arkle and came out of it rated 169. We have Un De Sceaux on 166 which is enough to win most Arkle’s. However we only have Vibrato Valtat 4lb lower on 162 and Three Kingdoms was only beaten half a length by him at Kempton and he jumps well so he could be one to run well at a nice price.
LH: Any horse who tries to take Un De Sceaux on has had it. He looked more tractable last time and his jumping was more measured. It will be a test of nerve for Sam Twiston-Davies on Vibrato Valtat how late he dare leave his challenge. Nicholls says he won’t go chasing the favourite. I couldn’t back Un De Sceaux at the price given how headstrong he is in this cauldron of atmosphere. I think Josses Hill will become a good jumper but I wouldn’t be on it this season.

PJ: I am looking at Clarcam in some way. Either place only or without Un De Sceaux. He’s just a really solid professional horse and dependable jumper with the rating to hit the frame who will probably be ridden to place and hope to get lucky as they know they can’t beat the favourite on Leopardstown form. He has become a bit forgotten but he beat Ted Veale by 17l on his previous run.
MC: If you can’t lay a novice chaser at 8/13 you shouldn’t be a bookmaker. Sgt Reckless each-way is the way I am looking.


Champion Hurdle

PS: We have Faugheen joint top rated with Hurricane Fly on 170. We have dropped Jezki 3lb this season to 166. We have kept The New One on 167 but his best effort since last year’s Champion Hurdle is 162.

LH: Last season’s Champion Hurdle has been a bit disappointing. I can see the case for progression with Jezki who is being trained to improve for the day and I wonder if they may play around with headgear? He doesn’t race keenly now so maybe a switch from the hood? Hurricane Fly is perfect for cat and mouse games in Ireland but this will be different. Faugheen’s jumping has been better this season and it is hard to find a flaw in him.

PJ: I don’t fancy The New One who will have been a length off the lead at the last to have a chance and reckon he will be done for speed before then. The price doesn’t interest me about Faugheen so I am looking to back Jezki either each-way or in a betting without Faugheen market. I don’t see him being out of the first three and probably not the first two so place-only at around Evens also appeals.

MC: Faugheen has done enough to be the price he is in my view. Harry Skelton rode Bertimont when he was second to The New One and said he was really impressed by the way The New One quickened past him.



Tuesday Shoulder Races

PS: I fancy Carole’s Spirit to run a big race in the Mares Hurdle.
LH: The Mares Hurdle is not a slam dunk for Annie Power after her problems and Polly Peachum only has 7lb to find. Cape Tribulation could be a dangerous floater even at his age for the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap.

PJ: I sense that Henderson is very happy with Polly Peachum and she could upset Annie Power in the Mares Hurdle. Thomas Crapper will go well in the novice handicap and Doing Fine is too big a price in the NH Chase.
MC: We’re more than keen to lay Annie Power at 4/5.

RSA Chase

PS: We have Don Poli on 156 and last year’s winner was rated 156 after he won and the previous winner was rated 154. We also have Kings Palace on 156 but I have a degree of caution whether he can replicate that. Coneygree is rated 166 and should run here. I am a big fan of the horse. I also have to be a fan of The Young Master who has ‘won’ three handicaps and that will stand him in good stead.

LH: I have belatedly come round to Don Poli but the price has gone. Him or Coneygree if he runs. I backed Kings Palace in the Albert Bartlett last year so have lost some of my affection for him. He jumped beautifully on his first two chase starts but he was awful in what was basically a two-horse school last time with a cataclysmic error. I give him no chance.
PJ: He is not a stats horse by any means but neither are the other leading fancies and it is best not to overcomplicate this. Don Poli is too good for these if Coneygree runs in the Gold Cup as I think he will. I can see him starting at 11/8.

MC: Southfield Theatre has become a bit forgotten and he will be a better horse on this better ground.


Queen Mother Champion Chase

PS: This race has me totally and utterly confused and the prices reflect that. It was a pretty encouraging comeback from Sprinter Sacre who we had running 20lb below his best on 168. The word he is working very well with solid work horses. Sire De Grugy won off 172 last time but I would have been very disappointed if he didn’t win that race well.

LH: Sprinter Sacre kept on quite well on his return. He didn’t fall into a hole. He is in the mix. News has come out recently that Sire De Grugy had a corn two days before his Newbury run and his jumping suggested it was affecting him and he ran in plastic shoes at Chepstow. No one seems able to forgive Dodging Bullets for his form tailing off in the spring in previous seasons but faster ground may go against him. I can’t have Mr Mole. The Ryanair is imploding and I wonder if Champagne Fever may switch races.

PJ: I like Champagne Fever if he runs here. Although he would have been beaten by Don Cossack at Thurles when he fell, I think that is strong form. It’s no given Sire De Grugy will run to his mark coming so soon after Chepstow but I see him as the biggest threat. Sprinter Sacre was always going to jump and travel well so it was a question for me beforehand of what he would find off the bridle, and it wasn’t a lot. I fancy Nicholls prefers Mr Mole to Dodging Bullets but neither are for me.

MC: Surely Mr Mole can’t win a Champion Chase and is Champagne Fever really a two-miler?


Wednesday Shoulder Races

PS: Roi Du Mee would be the best horse to run in the Cross Country if he takes his chance. Aux Ptit Soins is favourite for the Coral Cup on his British debut but he has not run since September 11th and only had three runs.

LH: No decision on the Neptune yet except I don’t like Nichols Canyon after he inexplicably fell and is unlikely to be ridden so aggressively as in the Deloitte over this longer trip. I like Zarib for the Fred Winter.

PJ: I like Sire Collonges for the Cross Country who I was surprised didn’t run in the December race which would have been an obvious target having won it the previous season. I am hoping because Nicholls didn’t want to mess up his handicap mark. Windsor Park can reverse Deloitte form with Nichols Canyon over this longer trip.
MC: We have seen money recently for Moon Race in the bumper.


JLT Novices’ Chase

PS: Vautour is favourite but we only have him fourth top rated. The race revolves around Ptit Zig who is the best horse and whether his Ascot fall has affected him. I don’t know why trainers run novices against Grade 1 horses in open races as they go that shade faster so it is was no surprise he fell.

LH: I don’t have a lot of love for Vautour. His jumping concerns me. He had no pressure put on him for the lead on his two chase wins but in between he made a significant error. I want to be against him even if I think this step up in trip is what he wants. I like Valseur Lido whose jumping is slick and his trainer seems to think he will reverse with Apache Stronghold now he is fitter. I would prefer to see Apache Stronghold in the RSA.

PJ: I backed Valseur Lido for the RSA after he won the Drinmore as Mullins said the RSA was the plan but this is the right race for him as he has a combination of speed and stamina and jumps very well so I have since backed him to win the JLT. I don’t like last-time-out fallers at the Festival as their strike rate is about 3% so Ptit Zig is not for me.
MC: Valseur Lido is such a sound jumper he looks a good each way be.


Ryanair Chase

PS: Don Cossack is progressive and we have him running to marks of 155, 162, 166 and 166 for his four wins this season. I can’t see past him in terms of the most likely winner. I respect Ma Filleule who I think will reverse form with Balder Succes. She is rated 159 but with her 7lb mares’ allowance she effectively joins Don Cossack as joint top rated. That win at Ascot last time was Balder Succes’ level.

LH: This race is falling apart so I am wondering if Champagne Fever may now run here. Don Cossack has improved for dropping in trip and is largely a good jumper. Henderson thinks Ma Filleule has more to come and he can reverse with Balder Succes.

PJ: Don Cossack is a strong fancy for me. He did well to recover from a mistake two out at Thurles where he lost momentum at a crucial stage to still look like he was about to take Champagne Fever’s measure and just keeps on getting better and better. There is some talk he is better right handed but I have not seen anything in his make up to suggest that his best runs being on left handed courses is just a coincidence. Module is overpriced moving back up in trip which he wants and the best each-way value.

MC: Eduard was trying to give weight to Many Clouds at Carlisle and is overpriced.


World Hurdle

PS: Saphir Du Rheu is top rated on 165 so the general view is that it is a moderate renewal and therefore more chance of a turn up. Whisper is on 164 but there is an act of faith in that he can run to that having run in one novice chase this season. A 165ish performance could easily be good enough.
LH: I don’t think that Rock On Ruby will stay. Briar Hill showed signs of life last time. I quite like Whisper but would be envoking a show of faith. Zarkandar is the horse who has been running consistently well in the top races.

PJ: Given the way he has travelled and jumped in his races this season, I see Zarkandar being the last off the bridle and therefore hard to kick out of the first three. This New Course suits him well. I backed Briar Hill at the start of the season and although he is a bigger price now, I still haven’t given up on him.


Triumph Hurdle

PS: Peace And Co is on 155, which is high enough to win a typical Triumph. If Mullins is to have a double-figure price winner at Cheltenham then it could be Petite Parisienne.
LH: I liked Peace And Co’s Cheltenham win more than most. I think he will drift though as since then a lot has happened with lots of horses staking their claims. Petite Parisienne each-way is my preference at the prices with her fillies’ allowance.

PJ: Having not wanted to take on Peace And Co, I am now coming round to the fact he is probably too skinny for a buzzy horse in the first race on Gold Cup where the atmosphere will be at its most electric. Top Notch is such a professional that I see him being the main danger but fancy that Karezak can outrun his odds and hit the frame.



Gold Cup

PS: It is asking a lot to have vintage Gold Cup every year. Can Silviniaco Conti replicate his flat track form? I have some doubts. He is clear top rated but there are plenty of horses rated within 3lb-5lb of each other and you have to think at least a couple of those are heading in the right direction. Road To Riches’ defeat of Rocky Creek at Down Royal looks even better now. Djakadam is the horse with the most likely progression. He stays well. You don’t win a Thyestes carrying 11st 10lb by 8l with 19l back to the third and not stay well. That was some run. So I will suggest that Irish-trained pair. I have some doubts over Holywell’s jumping and think McCoy would do a better job of bullying him into his obstacles than McLernon.

LH: Silviniaco Conti has the best form and is an improved horse this season and probably committed too soon in last year’s race but the fact is that he has been beaten twice in the Gold Cup before. Lord Windermere did not set a high enough standard when he won it last year. Road To Riches is a proper contender and I have respect for Many Clouds but I have been keen on Djakadam since he made his chase debut where he screamed he would be quality when sent over staying trips. He does need to learn not to land so steeply like when he fell in the JLT last year.

PJ: I’ve not given up hope that Boston Bob can put in a career best now he tries the Gold Cup trip for the first time and I have always seen him as an out and out stayer and the ground is coming right for him. He is the best 20/1+ shot for each-way purposes. I am leaning the way of Holywell over Many Clouds now the ground is coming in his favour, or at least the forecast is. I respect Road To Riches but feel this is a year too soon for the 6yo Djakadam and Carlingford Lough just doesn’t jump well enough. I think McCoy would drop him like a shot for Holywell if he had the option.


Friday Shoulder Races

PS: Paint The Clouds and Current Event are the two I like for the Foxhunters’. I don’t think that On The Fringe stays well enough judged on his two previous runs in the race.
LH: I like Un Ace for the Grand Annual. I fancy Blaklion for the Albert Bartlett and pleased Sam Twiston-Davies takes over from Ryan Hatch as he wouldn’t be able to claim his 5lb here.
PJ: I like Monetaire wherever he runs, hopefully the Plate, Harbour Court for the Foxhunters’ who had an interrupted preparation when fifth as favourite last year and Savello is 16lb lower over hurdles than fences so he is a big player in the County Hurdle to back up last year’s Grand Annual win. Value At Risk is the best of the British in the Albert Bartlett but the Irish are strong.


Charity Bets

PS: Barry Geraghty (Top Jockey)
LH: Djakadam (Gold Cup)
PJ: Ned Stark (Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase)
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