Ceebee previews the first day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and he bets include Western Ryder, Mossback and Faugheen.
Keep it brief, keep it bloody brief. Somebody sent me a link yesterday that was a 57 page pdf preview, I read two and gave up. I’ve seen, read, listened to and watched more Cheltenham previews in the past two weeks than I’d care to admit. I’m going to assume you have too so this is just a quick snapshot of each day.
Quick overview for the newbies…
It starts at 1.30pm every day, the first five races will be on TV3/ITV and the last two will require a trip to a bookmaking or alcohol serving establishment. Use oddschecker to get the best odds, and watch out for which bookies are doing specials like extra places or money-back. It’s a good week to open new accounts and get free bets. Have a few sneaky (each-way) multiple bets; trebles, fourfolds, yankee etc. that might make you rich. Just don’t lose your bollox on day one. And if you win big don’t go telling everybody. Ok on to the important stuff….
Tuesday – Day One of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival
Supreme Novice Hurdle
I’ve seen Getabird described elsewhere as ‘meh’. It’s perfect. He’s neither exciting nor does he look weak. No surprise if he’s beaten (he hasn’t done a huge amount in his career to date) but no surprise if he’s the real deal either so I’m not very interested in getting heavily involved in the first race.
First Flow who is 3 from 3 in easy fashion or Paloma Blue who was the best horse behind Samcro last time could be the best each way options but at a bigger price I’m going to have a nibble on Western Ryder.
Western Ryder has both Festival (5th in Champion Bumper) and course (winner here in Nov novice hurdle) form. When winning here in November he gave weight to those behind him and they included Summerville Boy who’s now 9/1 for this Supreme. Ignore his disappointing Tolworth effort behind Summerville and Kalashnikov. WR was not himself that day, and remember he went off favourite. He was beaten in his last outing at Huntingdon which isn’t your usual Festival prep but Vinndiation (4 from 4) who beat him is very good. The two of them were miles clear of a few smart horses.
1pt e/w Western Ryder 40/1 Ladbrokes
Arkle Novice Chase
Footpad is a bit more than ‘meh’, he has looked superb all season long. 3 from 3 and nobody has even got close to him. I’ve gone full 180 on him - from picking holes in his hurdle and Festival form to the lack of opposition he’s faced this season but I’ve slowly come around to thinking he’s a great bet. Bit of soft ground will help, he’s won over further, he’s run well in in two Festival G1s (remember as a 5yo he had no chance in the Champion Hurdle), the likely fast pace will suit as he’s a strong traveller and most importantly he has very little opposition. I’ve re-watched his recent win and struggle to see Petit Mouchair turning it around. Sure he was a better hurdler than Footpad and needed the run the last day but this is now, as chasers, Footpad looked a more natural jumper and had his measure easily at the end. Saint Calvados looks very smart as well and will appreciate the recent rain but on the balance of their form Footpad looks more like the classy G1 chaser and Saint Calvados still needs to go prove it.
4pts win Footpad 5/4
Ultima Handicap Chase
The first big handicap of the Festival and first opportunity to back a few big priced runners each way. I’m against the favourites – Gold Present (too much weight after winning earlier this season), Singlefarmpayment (not in great form this season) and Coo Star Sivola (sorry but jockey just isn’t that good). And some of the others don’t appeal either – Yala Enki had a gruelling race last time, O O Seven doesn’t look a strong stayer and Vicente is targeting the Scottish National.
Wakanda is a strong staying 3mile chaser who handles soft ground and is in better form than 90% of these. He was beaten a head in the Rowland Meyrick before winning the SkyBet by a head. Both of those big handicap chases were as good as this – it’s a bad Ultima compared to previous years. The Rowland Meyrick has thrown up a few winners including the Eider Chase since. At 20/1 he’s a solid each way bet.
Shantou Flyer is another in decent form. He has finished second on his last three starts, two of them around Cheltenham. He handles soft ground and has a cracking 3lb claimer on board, loads of positives at a big price. His two defeats at Cheltenham (the latter to the well handicapped Frodon) were over 2m5f and based on visuals and previous form the step up to 3m1f should be to his liking.
1pt e/w Wakanda 20/1
1pt e/w Shantou Flyer 20/1
As the highlight of day one it’s a pity this is a bad betting heat. The odds-on favourite looks fairly special (although relatively untested) and his main rival, Faugheen, is anything but a safe each way alternative. Faugheen has looked a shadow of himself since November (when he looked awesome). If he is ridden aggressively from the front and tries to win (that’s the plan), and isn’t at his best, he’ll be swallowed up late but those ridden to place.
Either go with the favourite and put him in a few multiples or have a small win only bet on Faugheen in case he is back to his best or have a small each way play hoping to nick second or third if Faugheen is poor. The selection for that final bet is Mick Jazz. He’s not good enough to win this but 2miles with a strong pace is absolutely ideal for him and that’s what he’ll get here. He won the big Leopardstown hurdle at Christmas and finished third in the Irish Champion Hurdle so is having a fine season without being top class.
1pt win Faugheen 13/2
0.5pt e/w Mick Jazz 33/1
Tuesday is a tricky betting day in my opinion. There’s four short priced favourites and chances are they won’t all win but it’s hard to see an alternative. The fourth is Apples Jade and she is probably the most solid of the four to be honest. She won a stronger renewal of this last year and has been in top form all season. Don’t bother looking for an each way selection, just skip the race or lump on the favourite.
National Hunt Chase (4miler)
Jury Duty’s finishing effort the last time didn’t scream 4miler to me. Whether he was tired, didn’t stay or just idling it wasn’t an ideal prep. Rathvinden’s best form is over 2m4f which doesn’t inspire staying confidence nor is coming here after a fall ideal. No Comment lacks chasing experience, you want a strong conditioned chaser with a bit of class. Two I like:
Mossback will appreciate the soft ground. He’s potentially the best horse in this race. Last time he finished alongside the Thyestes winner, a strong staying 150 rated chaser. Previous to that he jumped the last alongside Jury Duty in Naas. Earlier in the season he beat Snow Falcon and finished close to Invitation Only. Four chases and four really good efforts. Lisa O’Neill won the race for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown last season so all three of them teaming up again is no negative.
Ms Parfois gets a 7lb mares allowance which actually makes her the best in the race on official ratings, yet she’s 8/1 fifth in the betting. A fine prep last time behind the smart Black Corton after previously winning three in a row showing that strong staying tests on soft ground are perfect. Will Biddick booked is fine in a race where there will be a few bad amateur jockeys. Plenty to like.
1.5pt win Mossback 6/1
1pt win Ms Parfois 8/1
Novices’ Handicap Chase
A real challenging finale. I could make a case for loads of them but it’s the last and I swore to keep it brief. Barney Dwan is the selection, I really like him despite it being a feircly competitive race.
Barney has run in three chases, winning his last two in good style yet still gets in here off a mark 3lbs below his hurdles ratings. That’s generous. Over hurdles he finished 2nd in the Pertemps Final at last year’s Festival, splitting Presenting Percy and Jury Duty. That Festival form is a major positive. The fact he stays further is no bad thing either with a likely strong pace on soft ground it could be stayers to the fore.
Ballyhill has winning course form on soft ground and Ibis du Rheu is a previous festival winner, both make appeal at big prices. I’m a Tycoon Prince fan but coming here on the back of a fall isn’t ideal. I don’t think Any Second Now is the plot people think he is. If you ask me he’s been trying on every start this season. Strange for such connections I know. He has kept good company but Monalee, Invitation Only and Footpad put him away with ease. He was no better than this mid 140s level over hurdles either. De Plotting Shed is well-in on his best hurdles form but I’m not too sure about him. He’s lost his last 10 starts and was single figure odds for 7 of them. He’s far too short now.
1.5pts e/w Barney Dwan 8/1
Day one done. Summary – upset in the first, Footpad & Apple’s Jade get it done but Faugheen returns to upset Buveur Dair. The solid unspectacular types dominate the Ultima whilst Elliott gets another 4miler and festival form pops up in the last.