CeeBee continues his preview of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival and he has a 25/1 bet in the Grand Annual Chase in the shape of former winner Next Sensation.
Even by my own trigger happy ante-post punting fingers, the 2nd week of January is early to be getting stuck into Festival handicaps.
The Grand Annual Handicap Chase which brings down the curtain on the Festival is the race in question. And the selection is last year’s winner; Next Sensation.
Michael Scudamore’s charge arrived to Cheltenham last March off the back of a 3 month break and 3 bad early season runs. This year? Well he’s gone a step further and had 4 bad runs before his 3 month break. His last ‘effort’ was on the 12th of December and it was recently reported that he’s had a wind operation and will go straight to the Grand Annual.
He was also 4th in the 2014 Grand Annual (after arguably a rare bad Richard Johnson ride). Clearly Cheltenham in the springtime suits him. Or it may be that he just tries a bit harder when there’s a big prize on the line. Either way I’d have full confidence in him again leaving his winter form well behind come March 18th.
He raced off 142 when 4th and then won off 143 last year. He’ll race off 144 this year as a result of dropping 7lbs for his 4 poor efforts this winter. That is clearly a workable mark for Next Sensation who went up to 151 immediately after last year’s victory. His form is reminiscent to the likes of Buena Vista, Son of Flicka, Getmeoutofhere and plenty more over the years. They put in minimal effort through the winter and returned to a happy hunting ground on a similar mark each March. Whether it be the track, better spring ground, wind-ops, blatant non-trying or a combination of all four, something clicks in March for these sorts and Next Sensation certainly fits the bill.
The 2 mile handicap chase division is not overly competitive on either side of the Irish Sea. Just look at the Dan Moore in Fairyhouse or the last two 2m handicap chases at Cheltenham in Nov & Dec. Bold Henry, Pearls Legend, Eastlake etc. are all well exposed now. Ned Buntline is another towards the head of the market. He’s an awful unreliable soft finisher.
With the target assured, great festival CD form and a workable handicap mark beside his name; the 25/1 available (albeit not in many places) about Next Sensation is worth snapping up.
2 points win Next Sensation at 25/1 with Bet365 and William Hill
The getting out stakes wrapped up in January – who’d have thought it!