Ceebee previews the Brown Advisory Plate at Cheltenham and he has bets on Balko Des Flos and Voix D'eau.
Thursday 2m5f Handicap Chase
The correct horse heads the market in Diamond King. A festival winner last term when bolting up in the Coral Cup he returns off a chase mark that is 1lb higher than his winning mark last term. The low chase mark is due to just three outings over fences. An easy winner first time out before two below par efforts against good company. He was already beaten when making a bad mistake at the last in the Drinmore and mistakes 5out and 2out didn’t help in Limerick.
He has had a wind-op since last seen on a track, so if inexperience doesn’t get the better of him and he turns up in the same form as he did 12mts ago he’ll be hard to beat. They are significant ‘ifs’ however, especially in the cauldron of the Festival so I’m eager to take him on. It’s easy do so when its 12/1 the field as it currently is. There’s often the temptation to wait with handicaps, on the day you’ll get an extra place and some juicy prices however when it’s 12/1 bar one there’s a bit of value to be had. There was 7 horses priced at less than 12/1 in the Festival Plate last year when the tapes went up.
Let’s wipe away some of those listed towards the head of the betting first:
Le Prezien is Grand Annual bound and Shantou Village stays at home. Lami Serge looks likely to run in the Grand Annual (please) or the QMCC whilst Tiger Roll goes for the 4miler and Frodon probably skips the Festival also.
24 go to post – any of those no.40 or lower will be lucky to get in. That includes Sizing Codelco, Starchitect, Caid Du Berlais and Blazer who are towards the head of the market.
Some of those I don’t like:
Tenor Nivernais is on a silly-high mark after recent exploits. Same goes for Eastlake. Vibrato Valtat doesn’t stay this trip. Garde La Victoire seems better over shorter also. Lord Scoundrel is badly handicapped after his Galway Plate win. Bouvreuil has only got his head in front on one of his twelve starts since joining Paul Nicholls. His Festival form from last year hasn’t worked out as a very strong race. Aso is better in the mud and the recent form of Quite by Chance isn’t good enough either. Clarcam has been highly tried this season and is very exposed. Same applies for Buywise. Art Mauresque has been beaten in five similar handicap chases run at Cheltenham and needs to be guaranteed good ground. Pleasant Company is a stayer who should wait for Aintree (take a look at his entries for a good giggle). Blackmail has just 3 chase starts and 2 completions to his name – not ideal.
Some of those I kind of like but not enough:
Baron Alco has been running really well against some top novices this season. But he tries so hard each time means the handicapper might have him from the get-go. He’s already 8lbs higher than his hurdles mark which he exploited a lot last year. And the market hasn’t missed him.
Village Vic has placed in 3 course and distance handicaps this season so is relatively solid each-way. However this will be a tougher race than any of those and he’s had no respite from the handicapper.
Irish Cavalier is only 8yrs old – hard to believe. This is his best trip and he’ll enjoy the return to good ground. At his very best he only has 2 or 3lbs in hand; unlikely to be enough but could run well where he has before.
Annacotty is a dual course and distance winner off marks of 147 and 151. Now he’s running off 151 again – plenty to like about that. He’ll want a bit of cut underfoot so wait until the day to back him maybe.
Road to Respect is a 6yr old Gigginstown novice (read on for more on another one) but I suspect he’ll run over 3miles at the Festival. Where he’d be of interest to me.
Ball D’arc is another Giggi novice but has more experience than many older horses, that’ll stand to him in a Festival Handicap. The Grand Annual might be a more likely target. On the go since September is a worry especially since his form tailed off in the spring last year also.
Ballynagour requires a leap of faith with form figures of PPP. But he has won this race before (2014 off 140) and is back down to 148 having peaked as a G1 chaser at 163.
Speaking of leaps of faith; Tango de Juilley was second in this race last year after being off for 11mts. This time he’ll be off the track for a full 12mts. But is obviously capable when fresh.
That doesn’t actually leave too many and one of them jumps off the page. A novice with decent form who hasn’t been clobbered with a big weight. At 25/1!!
Balko des Flos
In the care of WP Mullins he finished 5th in the Albert Bartlett last year before finishing 4th in the similar Aintree G1. That was ok but this term he has joined Henry de Bromhead and is now a far better horse over fences.
He started off by finishing 2nd to Bellshill (nothing wrong with that as an intro) at Gowran and then next time out defeated Arbre de Vie (since ran well in defeat) over 2m5f at Fairyhouse. At Naas in January, over 3miles on soft, he either didn’t stay or just got a handy time of it when beaten. He travelled really well behind Anibale Fly and A Genie in a Bottle and looked a chief danger before fading badly close home – it was definitely a better run than the result suggests. He bounced back however with a fine G1 3rd at Leopardstown. Neither Our Duke nor Disko (both 153+ animals) would be getting in here carrying 10-10. To finish 7L behind them was a fine effort and three more decent horses were well beaten in-behind. It also confirmed this intermediate trip is probably best for him.
Through the likes of Anibale Fly and Haymount I’d consider Balko des Flos’ form to be on a par with Diamond King. We’ve seen he’s in good form recently and has looked a solid jumper – things you can’t say about the favourite.
I’ve read quotes he goes for the JLT – he’s a 40/1 shot for that and as low as 16/1 in places for this handicap. Hopefully connections see sense but we’re backing him non runner no bet anyhow. He won’t be 25/1 on the day if lining up here.
Off a handicap mark of 145 he won a 2m5f handicap chase at Cheltenham on good to soft. The Plate sounds like quite a similar test and this guy comes back rated 146. Art Mauresque chased him home here in April and went on to win his next two handicap starts in the summer – good form.
On his seasonal reappearance he made mistakes at each of the last three fences when third at Chepstow and the step up to 3miles for his last two efforts didn’t look like it suited (especially when very keen at Sandown). He was held up off a slow pace in Ascot so has reasonable excuses for all the defeats.
This is his only entry at the Festival, it’s his ideal trip and he has performed well here before. Like many Harry Fry horses he has decent form when fresh so being off since November is no major issue.
He doesn’t leap off the page but is generally 25/1 and as I mentioned above this betting market hasn’t taken shape yet so have a little piece of the fancy prices.
2pts e/w Balko des Flos at 25/1 with BetVictor (NR/NB)
1pt e/w Voix D’Eau at 25/1 with Betfred and Paddy Power (NR/NB)