Ceebee previews the first day of Cheltenham and his bets include Grand Sancy and Roksana.
Tues 12th – Day One
1.30pm Supreme Novice Hurdle
The key here is finding the right bookie! William Hill are offering 7 places, Paddy Power 5 places with some money back specials and SkyBet are offering money back on all losers! Shop around for the offers, especially for the first race/day.
Grand Sancy is the selection, each way. To date he has probably achieved more than all of these. If there’s no massive improver or superstar in this year’s renewal Paul Nicholls’ charge may be good enough. He won a G2 against more experienced horses last time and found only Elixir de Nuts (non-runner here) too good in the G1 Tolworth. He handles soft and the yard are flying of late, it’s hard to see him out of the places.
There was very little between Aramon & Klassical Dream when they clashed in a Leopardstown G1 and it’s just possible that that is the best piece of form on offer – it’s hard to know whether the Irish or UK novices are ahead. There shouldn’t be much between this pair again although the greater test of stamina (uphill finish) should ensure KD comes out on top. So a small Mullins forecast looking for the big payout is on the agenda.
1.5pt e/w Grand Sancy 14/1
0.5pt s/fc Klassical Dream, Aramon
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase
Usually the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle or Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby wouldn’t be great trials for the Spring Festivals but with rain falling as I type Lake View Lad could be the ideal type for the Ultima. Arguably the form horse in the race, 2 from 2 this season, handles soft and stays well. Behind him in his two wins were the winners of the North Yorkshire National, Eider Chase & Peter Marsh Chase – the form is rock solid. Off 155 now he probably doesn’t have much in hand on the handicapper, but he may not need to as there is a lack of unexposed novices in here and he has the class to travel deep into the contest. The Alexander yard have had 4 winners in March which is a great sign.
1pt e/w Lake View Lad 22/1
4.10 Mares Hurdle
I mentioned in the weekend preview (check it out for a few other tips) that I’d be against Benie des Dieux. She’s obviously the most likely winner but with some firms offering free bet specials if the favourite wins (Paddy Power & Boylesports) the sensible play here is an each-way bet against the fav.
Roksana is my pick. I wouldn’t be certain Stormy Ireland or Lady Buttons will see out the trip, Mia’s Storm won’t be happy on soft ground and Limini is somewhat overrated after her last Gowran effort where they went very slow. Roksana ran very well behind Santini in an Aintree novice G1 last spring and prepped for this with a decent 3rd to Buveur D’Air. She is a cracking each-way bet here, her stamina will ensure she runs right to the line.
2pts e/w Roksana 8/1
4.50 Close Brothers Novice Chase
I tipped Good Man Pat at the weekend and he’s still probably my best bet of day one. Although happy to admit there’s a good few in here I like and he could easily run well and finish 6th! Others I like include Red Indian (has he enough experience), Huntsman Son (does he have the stamina) and Highway One O One (front running will be difficult here). If this turns into a test of stamina and Solomon Grundy can rediscover some of his late 2018 form he could also run a big race.
Good Man Pat chased home two very smart horses last time in what was essentially a quiet race to get a handicap mark. He won despite an error the time before. Handles soft and stays a little further. Will be ridden from off the pace and with a bit of luck in running he’ll appear late and power home.
1.5pt e/w Good Man Pat 14/1
5.30 National Hunt Chase
Ok Corral is by far the best horse in this race and will be ridden by the best jockey (it’s an amateur jockeys’ race so that is very important). I’m shocked to see him drifting to 4/1 second favourite. If he was trained by someone else he’d be running in the G1 on Wednesday not this lesser race. Sure all this rain may not suit but if he’s ridden very patiently with loads of cover he can arrive late on the scene and out-class them all.
2pts win Ok Corral 4/1
And a little added rant to start the week… I’ve often maintained that for Cheltenham week if you read enough blogs, text messages, emails and newspapers whilst listening to people claiming to be in the know, racing podcasts and preview nights that you could find a tip for every single horse running. Every single one. Some of the tips will be genuine, researched and shrewd but many will be guesses from folk who haven’t or aren’t capable of doing the required research. And some will even be charging for tips. Don’t be a fool. Rant over.