Monday, 11 March 2013

Happy Monday...Its Almost that special time ;)

Yes indeed the Morrow sees the start of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival which has been mercilessly plugged this year in fact the likes of Graham Cunningham et al have been quoting runners and races since Nov last year so it has been a wee bit frustrating at times but alas the day, the week the time is now although it starts with some disappointing news as Melodic Rendezvous a horse i like very much has been scratched due to a bad scope ( along with a few others from the yard , bug maybe ? ) and the wondrous Sprinter Sacre only has 6 rivals for his Queen Mother stroll.
The first thing i should mention is this , the Ground , why?..well this will be a major factor in how some selections run  or fail this week as they have had a fair share of rain coupled with arctic like winds and although the frost jackets have been down i feel the ground will be no better than Good/Soft soft / heavy in places and if the weather gets any worse than the ground will cut up rough , fingers crossed something great happens ..but i doubt it!..and this is a shame as a lot of the classier flat bred sorts would be eminently better on a sounder surface and this may throw up a freak result or two.
My views and selections for Cheltenham will be based on assuming the ground is good/soft ( live in hope ).
Just tried to embed a weather widget but i will leave that idea lol...

So theres the standard montage done ( adds some colour ) and now its time to move onto the more serious business of breaking down the fields and races to find some value, find some winners and see if we can again make this a festival to remember.


RACE 1 : MY TENT OR YOURS : 2nd @ 2.80

William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)

.A fantastic race to start the day and meeting off but a race that has proved a wallet buster for the fav backers as only 2 have won in the last 18 years!!...however it has to be said i simply cannot get away from MY TENT OR YOURS , a horse that 2 or 3 runs ago i had serious reservations about as it had shown a slightly quirky attitude and looked to be an animal with its own ideas on the game , i have never doubted its ability only its temperament but its last two runs have proved to me that this is indeed the real deal a horse packed with class , ability and now a winning mentality , this goes on all ground types , travels like a dream and quickens up like a group 1 flat horse , this could easily be a meeting banker bet and is my NAP for Day 1.
Lto this traveled just off the leading group then went in front  2 out on the bit and quickly went 4L clear coming home a very easy and untroubled winner from Cotton Mill , i have this on master ratings a full 20LB clear of these and if it re-produces its lto run it wins..simple as that but i still think there is improvement to come and we have not seen the best of this by a long way which is frightening , this could well up being another true mega star up there with Big Bucks, Desert Orchid and the present day Sprinter Sacre , a big lump job for me.
But what about the work a day punters that want some of the mercurial ( and imo non existent ) " Value " well the EW backers have plenty to look at as the remainder of this field are open to any amount of improvement and just about all have some form of a shout , lets start with live outsider and dark horse Cheltanian a horse with unknown and untapped potential that had a long lay off thru injury but returned with a bang when running Minella Forfitness very close and that looked a decent race with Valdez back in 3rd and this really could be anything and currently standing at 32.0 on Betfair is well worth a few EW sheckles.
of the others i like Champagne Fever although it did run a bit flat lto and that also applies to Puffin Billy.

SUMMARY : I really cannot get away from MY TENT OR YOURS here as it looks world class in every aspect i expect this to buck the recent trend for losing favourites and get me off to a winning start of the outsiders i would probably say at the prices Cheltenian is the best " value " however you could throw a blanket over the field and any one will give you a decent run.
The outstanding LAYbet in this race has to be DODGING BULLETS as i just cannot see this getting involved , a good horse but i feel plenty better here so a place Lay on this is also a solid bet.

WIN :MY TENT OR YOURS : 2nd @ 2.80

13:30 Cheltenham

Full result
1stChampagne Fever (IRE)5/1
2ndMy Tent Or Yours (IRE)15/8 f
3rdJezki (IRE)5/1


RACE 2 : SIMONSIG : 1st @ 1.56

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)

..A rather disappointingly small field turn out as the super impressive SIMONSIG has scared most of the opposition away and that really is the case here as imo this races only concerns two runners my selection and the current fav Simonsig and the excellent and admirable Overturn with both having demolished lesser opposition in small fields of late and neither being troubled this will be a test for both , they have shown a liking for most ground types are excellent jumpers , travel or rather cruise their races and can put a race to bed at will and overturn does have a classy flat background to look back on so this will be interesting but as much as i love Overturn i cannot see past SIMONSIG who is just amazing in every way, all class and when using superlatives is often overlooked by stable companion Sprinter Sacre but take nothing away from this as Simonsig is an absolute star and i see no other outcome bar a win.
For the Mentalists out there wanting to try and get these beat the best Longshot is probably Tap Night.

SUMMARY : SIMONSIG all the way , i expect Overturn to make the running and Siggy will just get a nice toe through the race before pouncing 2 out and pulling away , the LAY has to be Avrika Legionairre with Tap Night the big priced spoiler.

WIN : SIMONSIG : 1st @ 1.56

14:05 Cheltenham

Full result
1stSimonsig8/15 f
2ndBaily Green (IRE)33/1



JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

..Now we move onto a super tough and competitive 3m Hcap Chase and one thinks that you may require the use of your " Magic Pin " as this is a crazy race for punters!!.
Lets look at some stats first ,
1.Despite being a fiercely competitive handicap, horses at the top end of the betting have done well in this race in recent years. Eight of the last Eleven winners have won at single figure odds, in 2010 though we saw Chief Dan George come in at a big price so there can also be some good value in this race. The key for punters is to look for horses who stay the trip and a number of nice types are currently featuring in the betting at the moment. The Package has been in good form this season for David Pipe and could run well while the same can be said of Alfie Sherrin who is another potential runner..

Recent Festival Handicap Chase Trends

  • Favourites have a very poor record in this race, with only two favourites able to win in the past 18 runnings.
  • Only four of the past 18 winners have managed to carry more than 11 stone to victory.
  • 14 winners from the past 18 had an official rating of 130 or better.
  • British runners have a good record, taking 13 of the last 18 runnings.
  • Course form is important, 14 of the past 18 winners had previous place form around Cheltenham.
  • Place form last time out is important, with 14 of the past 18 winners of this race featuring in the places in the race prior to heading to Cheltenham.
3.The Festival Handicap Chase (formerly the William Hill Trophy) is always one of the most highly anticipated races on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival and the 2013 race is set to be no different, it is a pure stamina test and with a big field involved there is always plenty of value on offer for punters here.
We will be following some of the potential runners through the season as we put together a comprehensive form guide for the race. There are however a number of races worth keeping an eye out for with in relation to this race, one of those is the Neptune Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November.
This is a race that can also lead to a Grand National run either in the same season or in the future, it is a stamina test over the 3 mile trip so any horse finishing strongly and jumping well could be aimed towards a tilt at Aintree at some point in their careers..

So taking a few facts , figures and trends into account i have narrowed the field down to the following..
1.The Package
2.Quartz de Thaix
3.Midnight Chase
4.Hey Big Spender
5.Nadiya De La Vega
 Now filtering out more using the stats i am left with this final Podium busting 3 ,

1.NADIYA DE LA VEGA ( 18.5 )
2.HEY BIG SPENDER ( 40.0 )
All my main 3 selections were unplaced ;(...However i did also stick in Golden Chieftain ( Stablemate of Hey Big Spender as a bit of cover ;) )

Now this is a punt in anyone's terms and cannot be read too literal  but it works for me and at the prices i think i will EW dutch these three and look for best Race terms as a lot of bookies will be offering 5 places on this , thats all the advice i can give here , good luck.

SUMMARY : A very tough race and NADIYA DE LA VEGA just gets my token vote , use a pin and cross your fingers ;-)


14:40 Cheltenham

Full result
1st24 Golden Chieftain (IRE)28/1
2ndOur Mick13/2 f
3rd22 White Star Line (IRE)12/1
4th21 Tullamore Dew (IRE)33/1

RACE 4 : HURRICANE FLY : 1st @ 2.83

Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

.This is an outstanding renewal of this great race and is as competitive as any race through the whole meeting and a rock solid case can be made for many with positions and opinions divided by ones heart and head as many like me will be wanting see HURRICANE FLY take this prize and this is definitely on the cards as he has returned better than ever this year ( after a flat performance last season ) , this son of Montjeu is a class animal in any terms and is a multiple winner and CD winner and is thoroughly likable and if continuing in the same form as thus far this season should take this but it will be a fight as both Zarkander and Grandouet look top class opponents and both will have a big say in the final 2f and lets not forget Rock on Ruby or the enigmatic Binocular and finally you cant fully discount Countrywide there you see the problem here a tremendous race with so much class , literal , lateral and collateral form lines abound this cannot be worked out via form lines, i feel this race must be punted on using ones heart and not ones head as you could tie yourself up in knots trying to work out form and for me i will be cheering on the FLY.
Some Stats..

Champion Hurdle Results

The previous winners of the Champion Hurdle since the year 2002 have been
2012 Rock On Ruby 7 P Nicholls 11/1
2011 Hurricane Fly 7 W Mullins 11/4f
2010 Binocular 6 N Henderson 9/1
2009 Punjabi N Henderson 22/1
2008 Katchit A King 10/1
2007 Sublimity John G Carr 16/1
2006 Brave Inca C Murphy 7/4F
2005 Hardy Eustace D Hughes 7/1F
2004 Hardy Eustace D Hughes 33/1
2003 Rooster Booster P Hobbs 9/2
2.The feature race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly the Champion Hurdle, a grade one event run over two miles and a half a furlong.
When looking at results over the last 10 years it is impossible to ignore the fact that the Irish have had a stranglehold on the race they have won it seven times since 1998 and that includes the three times champion of Aiden O'Brien who trained Istabraq. O'Brien won it three times in the late 1990's between the years 1998 and 2000 making him a Cheltenham legend.
Another Irish horse that went onto win it in 2004 and 2005 was Hardy Eustace a gutsy performer who was at his best up the Cheltenham Hill seeing off his other Irish rivals including Brave Inca Harchibald and Macs Joy on more than one occasion.
Brave Inca got his revenge in 2006. The last Irish winner was Sublimity in 2007 while the most recent winner was of course Rock On Ruby who stormed up the hill to claim the win for Paul Nicholls and connections..

Recent Champion Hurdle Trends

  • Only 6 winning favourites from the past 18 runnings
  • 14 winners from the past 17 had won at least twice over Hurdles.
  • Cheltenham experience is important, with 16 of the past 18 winners have run at Prestbury .
  • 16 of the past 23 winners had previous winning form at Cheltenham.
  • A reasonably even split of Irish (8 winners) v British (10 winners) winners in recent years.
  • 24 of the last 28 winners won last time out
  • No northern winner for 30 years
  • Only three winners older than eight since 1951

SUMMARY : A ridiculously tough race where a multitude of people will have differing opinions or thoughts and most can be substantiated but as i have described above i feel this race has to be punted on using your heart , you could back any one of the top 6 and expect to win likewise you can LAY Hurricane Fly and expect to collect i do feel that from the favored horses Rock on Ruby is probably the weakest and is probably the LAYbet in the race.
One final note here is this, if you are a proper racing fan , please stop for 1 second and say R.I.P DARLAN who was sadly killed in its last race and would have been a leading player here as it had Rock on Ruby well covered lto.

WIN : HURRICANE FLY : 1st @ 2.83


Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country)

.This is a gloriously tough race but a standout for the seasons Hunters and there are a few class beasts in this sphere and they have usually arrived from a long and victorious career over rules and its these areas i tend to stay with plus a curio from Ireland and my three against the field are ARABELLA BOY , OUTLAW PETE & UNCLE JUNIOR with the latter 2 being experienced CD winners although the former did win a good looking 3m Trial for this but the trip is a slight concern and Bostons Angel could indeed get involved.
Sacre Tieppy . Leac an Scail and Any Currency appeal as outsiders as they all look to have a fair run in them and should go well at big double figure odds but from a personal and form perspective i firmly believe the winner will come from the 4 class horses in the race.

SUMMARY : Tough race to call the outright winner so a dutched bet is probably the best call to make if i had to nail one i would give Arabella Boy & Nina Carberry a go as this horse was not stopping lto , jumps these tricky fences well and is a good athlete and i will be mighty surprised if it doesnt get a place at least and again shop around for best bet offers as a lot of places are offering 5 places.


RACE 6 : QUEVEGA : 1st @ 1.83

OLBG Mares' Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle) 

.They should rename this the QUEVEGA Hurdle as this outstanding mare has won this race for the last 4 years and looks as well as ever this year , still only 9 yrs old she looks great and looks to have a good few more years left as she has been relatively lightly campaigned , a class mare that cannot be sensibly opposed and to be honest the opposition this year doesnt look that strong , i would say at a pinch that Swing Bowler , Une Artiste and Alasi will provide the sterner tests but even then these i feel are way below whats required to topple this star , Take Quevega out of this race and its nothing more than a wide open , bog standard Handicap , include Quevega and it becomes a little bit stellar..thats the difference she makes.

SUMMARY : QUEVEGA all the way and i see no point in trying to take this on , got the T-Shirt , been there done that etc etc...this is a quality mare eating up simple opposition.

WIN : QUEVEGA: 1st @ 1.83


Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed)

.And to round the day off and what i would expect a fantastic day off racing is this unimaginably tough 2m4f Hcap will need more than a Magic Pin here as this is just plain bonkers and any bets here should be kept to a minimum and must be made with the same aplomb as buying a lottery ticket!!...its that tough but something has to win it so heres my thoughts ,..after some stats...
1.In the six years since this race was introduced (as the Jewson Novices Handicap) at the Festival, only one favourite has won and that was Reveillez in 2006. However, the average SP is not particularly big so the top end of the betting market tends to be the place to keep an eye on in the Centenary Chase.
The Centenary Novices Chase betting at this stage is looking tight with a number of top class chasers set to take their chance at Cheltenham. One who could run a big race is Carlito Brigante who is a former Festival winner for Gordon Elliott and could have a workable mark for this one..

2.Formerly the Jewson Novices Handicap, this race attracts horses that find 2 miles too sharp and an extended 3 miles too far.  There will be the additional benefit of encouraging Novice horses away from the Grand Annual and Mildmay of Flete Handicaps. These races which are the pinnacle of the season for seasoned handicappers are often won by unexposed Novices who utilise their ratings to the full..


Centenary Novice Chase Results

The Winners of the first few runnings of the race (formerly Jewson Novices Handicap) are outlined here:
2012 Hunt Ball K Burke 13/2f
2011 Divers F Murphy
2010 Copper Bleu P Hobbs 12/1
2009 Chapoturgeon P Nicholls 8-1
2008 Finger Onthe Pulse 7 T J Taaffe 9/1
2007 L´Antartique 7 F Murphy 20/1
2006 Reveillez 7 J Fanshawe 9/2F

Centenary Novice Chase Trends

  • One of the new races when the festival went to 4 days in 2005
  • Only 2 favourites have won this race in 8 runnings -  Reveillez in 2006 and Hunt Ball in 2012
  • Mark Bradstock gained his first Festival win in the first running of this race in 2005 with King Harald
.My three against the field here are ,

2. COLOUR SQUADRON: 5th @ 7.40
3. OHIO GOLD: 3rd @ 22.0

These are " speculative " punts and i will be EW Dutching these for fun , a very competitive race to finish you and the day off , bet small , have fun and have a cracking day.

The Day's Best Bets :

1. Win Treble on :  My Tent or Yours / Quevega / Simonsig

2. " Fun " EW Trixie on : Arabella Boy / Arthurs Pass / Nadiya De La Vega

3. LAY bet on Rock on Ruby as i cant see this winning and using the stake as a WIN bet on Hurricane Fly.

***********Bet safe and what you can afford , enjoy the racing and have fun , Good Luck everyone.


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