Ceebee looks ahead to Cheltenham next week and in this first preview he has bets including Min, Native River and Good Man Pat.
I’m not going to preview every race for the 4 days – I wish I had the time to – but you probably wouldn’t read it anyhow. There are literally thousands of previews out there (many of them absolute garbage) – you could find a tip for every horse running over the 4 days if you looked hard enough!!
Most people tend to get involved in the opening few races and depending on how that plays out determines their betting bank for the rest of Cheltenham week. My best advice for 2019 would be to wait – the opening two races are very tricky whilst the Tuesday highlight will be won by either Apples Jade or Buveur D’Air and you won’t get rich backing either. There are better betting races later on the Tuesday card and later in the week.
Gold Cup (3.30 Fri)
The big one first. Native River was awesome winning this 12mts ago. If he repeats that performance, and I see no reason why he wouldn’t, I’d be amazed if any of these beat him. The extended 3m2f trip is key – he can set a strong tempo from a long way out and still see it out strongly. More rain would suit but he should be ok on the likely ground. He’s had an unimpressive but not terrible prep beaten twice but neither race, nor his fitness levels, would’ve suited him. This thorough test of stamina, going left-handed on softer ground is ideal.
Presenting Percy is a terrible price – he has just one piece of form (last year’s RSA) which gives him a shot here. Others have more form and a come in off a better preparation. Clan Des Obeaux is solid but right-handed speed tests over 3miles seem to suit better – and this is obviously the opposite of that. Kemboy won a farcical race at Christmas. Al Boum Photo is the best chance Willie Mullins has of winning his first Gold Cup and may be an each-way bet.
2pts e/w Native River 5/1
Stayers Hurdle (3.30 Thurs)
The highlight of Thursday’s card has for me the best bet in the Championship races. Black Op was given a very aggressive ride in the Cleeve Hurdle and in the end, he didn’t get home ultimately finishing 3rd beaten 14L by Paisley Park. Under a more conservative ride, on better ground Black Op will get home just fine. That was also his first hurdles start of the season so he can improve for it. If there’s less pace (possible) it’ll also suit as Paisley Park needs a thorough stamina test. Black Op has decent Festival form to his name with a clear 2nd to Samcro 12mts ago and he followed it up with a G1 win at Aintree – he’s a quality horse well capable of landing this at generous odds. He has shown far more than Kilbricken Storm this season and is a better horse than Bacardys. Faugheen is now 11yrs old and it’s questionable how much he has shown this season.
1.5pt e/w Black Op 14/1
Queen Mother (3.30 Wed)
Min will either beat a below par Altior (jumping issues last time) or he’ll finish 2nd to Altior in an exciting race. Nothing else here matters. Min has had the easier season (that Tingle Creek was gruelling) and he’s younger with less racing to his name. He led over 2out and the last 12mts ago before Altior powered clear. If he can delay his challenge this year and try do the fav for speed late on he might be in front at the line. The potential lack of pace in the race will suit this game plan. Back Min each way and sit back to enjoy.
2pt e/w Min 5/1
Close Brother Handicap Chase (4.50 Tues)
Good Man Pat is my pick in what is a super competitive handicap chase on Tuesday afternoon. Alan King’s 6yo is one from three over fences but kept good company in his two defeats. He got a very quiet ride first time out and then won next time despite being hampered at the second last. His third outing (to get a handicap mark) was just 10 days later so may not have seen him at his best but again under a patient ride in a decent G2 novice chase he finished a close up 3rd. Those ahead of him are rated 139 (got 2lbs) and 153 whilst the 4th home is a 145 horse. Good Man Pat is much better than 139, we haven’t seen the best of him at all. Softer ground and the likely strong pace will suit – he stays well over 2m4f and will be ridden to pick it up late.
1pt e/w Good Man Pat 16/1
Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (2.10 Thurs)
Notwhatiam is my second handicap bet of the week. Another hold-up horse the likely strong pace and big field will help him deliver his best late on. Dan Skelton got this horse from the Adrian Keatley yard in Ireland and has won twice and been placed in decent handicap hurdles the last twice yet has only been raised just 13lbs – there’s more in him. Last time at Warwick he gave them all a head-start and finished a ‘never nearer’ 4th. An eyecatching prep run before the big target! His 3rd before that, over an inadequate 2m4f, worked out really well with the winner taking a G2 next time. The time before that he won in Uttoxeter and the 2nd home that day is now 6lbs higher having won and been placed since. There’s no way to knock the form of Notwhatiam. From a yard well able to take Cheltenham handicap hurdles this fella looks to be in form but yet well handicapped and with conditions to suit. He’s a big player at decent odds.
1pt e/w Notwhatiam 16/1
Each-way multiple with a view to early retirement:
Min, Black Op, Native River, Notwhatiam, Good Man Pat.
€10 e/w fivefold - All 5 place pays €3,500.
As I’ve mentioned above I’m against Altior and adding to that I won’t be backing either of Benie des Dieux (Mares Hurdle Tues - questionable as to how good her two G1 wins last year are) or Sir Erec (Triumph Hurdle Fri – made look good at Leopardstown with a handy lead, be different story here)
The best favourites of the week: Ok Corral, Tiger Roll & Defi Du Seuil – a treble pays 29/1
Ones to avoid for the week.
I’m more of a form over hype type of guy. The ‘sexy horses’ that everyone is talking about at preview nights are traditionally over-bet and represent bad value.
1.30 Tues - Supreme Novice Hurdle – Neither Al Dancer nor Angels Breath appeal – they haven’t achieved as much as Elixir de Nutz, Aramon or Grand Sancy (he’s the best e/w bet) yet are half the price.
2.10 Tues – Arkle Novice Chase – a tricky race but the one I definitely wouldn’t side with is Duc Des Genievres. He looked very average until getting a soft lead (maybe the only trier) in Gowran the last day. No bet in this race.
2.50 Tues – Ultima Chase – Minella Rocco (8/1) has shown nothing in his two outings in the past year. It’s questionable whether he retains the ability that saw him finish 2nd in the 2017 Gold Cup. If that GC was one furlong shorter (the Ultima trip) he’d have been 4th – this guy needs further (Grand National winner?). Crucial Role & Jerrysback are both 16/1 and as lightly raced unexposed novices they are fine alternatives.
5.30 Wed – Bumper – Blue Sari (4/1) was visually impressive on Thyestes Day but they went slow and then sprinted home on terrible ground. This will be a very different test and he’s far too short now. Get in the Queue (7/1) has achieved far more in his two wins and is a great e/w bet.
4.50 Thurs – Mares Novice Hurdle – Epatante is 6/4 favourite as she was visually impressive on her last outing and is very well regarded at home, but she beat very average horses in a slow time the last day. Posh Trish at 5/1 is a rock solid each-way alternative.
5.30 Thurs – Kim Muir Chase – I can see the angle to like Measureofmydreams but at 5/1 for a big handicap chase he’s a silly price. Well handicapped on his best form for sure but he’s now 11yrs old and it’s 3yrs since he’s looked like winning a race, bouncing back at this level is a big ask. At 20/1 I prefer Captain Chaos who has been 2nd in two similar races this season.
Other handicap favourites; Dallas des Pictons, Uradel & Wonder Laish are all very short now. Priced more on connections and hype rather than form and won’t be on my list of bets this week.