Cheltenham 2018 – Grand Annual Preview

Ceebee looks at the Grand Annual and he is siding with familiar faces in Powersbomb and Dandridge.

Grand Annual Handicap Chase

2miles, last race of the Festival - the bet ladies and gentlemen is the Brian McMahon trained Powersbomb. You might know the name as he finished 4th at the Festival last year. Good old Festival form, couldn’t beat it with a stick.

That was the Novices Handicap Chase over 2m4f and if you re-watch it you’ll see he hit the front travelling well (and wide) before making a mistake at the last and not quite getting home as strongly as others. Hence why the step back to 2miles for the Grand Annual looks a wise move. The form of that Novice Handicap has worked out extremely well. The winner Tully East, up 6lbs ran very well at Leopardstown recently and will take loads of beating in the Plate this year. More on that later in the preview night. Two Taffs was 3rd and he went on to win at Ayr resulting in a combined rise of 12lbs. Gold Present raced off 137 when finishing 2nd and is now up to 155 having won a few times this season. The fifth, Last Goodbye, won a valuable handicap at Leopardstown’s Racing Festival recently. Powersbomb meanwhile returns off the same mark of 138 (UK handicapper may give him an extra lb or 2 but shouldn’t crucify him).

Prior to the Festival last year he showed he’s capable in big field 2m handicap chases. He fell when in front at Leopardstown before finishing second, after a bad mistake, four weeks later at the same venue. A bit more luck would’ve seen him win 3 or 4 races last winter and be much shorter in the betting here.

He hasn’t been out yet this season after having his wind done but that could easily be a blessing in disguise. Powersbomb is entered at the weekend. Naas over hurdles. A decent showing will put him on more radars and potentially see his odds cut for the Grand Annual.

They’ve installed the Nicky Henderson trained Theinval at the head of the market due to Nicky’s good record in targeting the race named after his father. Theinval finished 3rd last year and comes back on the same mark but he’s tried and failed in a few weaker races since.

Vaniteux has slipped 7lbs from a career high 158 but having joined Pipe he’ll need to slip a little more. I count 10 times he’s been beaten around Cheltenham.

There’s some 33/1 about Le Perizen – he was 7/2 fav last year (I was on too)

Dandridge has placed in the last two renewals (hello Festival form) and returns off an even lower mark in 2018. 2016 2nd off 137, 2017 4th off 143, 2018 rated 136 currently; however it’s May’17 since the great Arthur Moore last had a winner – not ideal. Still at fancy prices I want him on my side.

Advised Bets:

2pts e/w Powersbomb at 25/1 with Paddy Power

1pt e/w Dandridge at 16/1 with Paddy Power