Frazzled looks at Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival and has bets in the JLT Novices Chase, Pertemps Hurdle and Road To Riches in the Ryanair Chase.
This looks a very strong JLT Novices' Chase on paper, mainly as a result of horses not wishing to take Douvan on in the Arkle on Tuesday. As a result of this we have a better and deeper race than the Douvan stroll, although there looks to be negatives about a number of these at the front of the market.
It is not easy to pick flaws in the actual form of Garde La Victoire, given that he was a 154 rated hurdler, has plenty of course form and is unbeaten over fences. However the concern with him could be his jumping under the pressure of a fast pace. He does get low over his fences and one mistake could be the end of him in this contest.
Bristol De Mai represents a Nigel Twiston Davies team that landed a double yesterday, but he has no form on ground like this to speak of and he makes very little appeal at the odds.
Outlander could be a big winner for Ceebee followers at 25/1 and he has to be respected, with the concerns about the ground that have been flagged up by many, seeming a little unfounded, given how well he ran in the Neptune Novices Hurdle last year.
However we will have small interests in two at bigger prices.
Three Musketeers has always been a horse that we thought could make up into a Grade 1 chaser. He was a promising novice hurdler last season and ran a blinder in the Grade 1 behind Nicholls Canyon at Aintree. This season he was an impressive Newbury scorer from Activial in between being short of fitness at Huntingdon and hating the ground at Cheltenham in January when his stable was out of form. His jumping will be a real asset here and 12/1 about a horse with only 1lb to find on official ratings with top rated Bristol De Mai, looks very big.
Zabana is the other one that could outrun his odds. He ran a blinder in the Coral Cup last year and despite his pedigree, he looks every inch a chaser. He was impressive on his chasing debut before disappointed last time in a swamp at Leopardstown. He will relish the good ground, his jumping will be an asset in a race like this and he is worth a small play at 10/1 with William Hill.
1 point each way Three Musketeers at 12/1 with Stan James, Bet365 and Coral
1 point win Zabana at 10/1 with William Hill
A huge field go to post in this contest as usual and we will have a few bets at big prices here.
One of the key races for this contest seems to be the trial that was run at Mussleburgh last month. That was over 2 furlongs further and Cup Final returned from a long absence to win this as a heavily punted favourite. He has been raised 7lb for that win and has his chances here, but on this much faster ground, it is hard to believe that Warrior's Tale is as big as 25/1. He was returning from fences in this contest and was a major market drifter, but ran an absolute corker to finish second. He is a strong traveller that might not fully see 26 furlongs out, although he was running right to the line last time. However despite the fact that he has not raced om ground as fast as this for some time, there is no reason to believe he needs or even wants it soft. His sire gets plenty of horses that act on decent ground and the manner in which Warrior's Tale travels through his races suggests that he could excel on this better surface. His trainer clearly earmarked this race after he was pulled up over fences at Catterick and he looks to have a major say here off just a 3lb higher mark than last time, with the Nicholls yard now in much better form.
Another horse that looks to have been completely dismissed by bookmakers and punters alike is Broxbourne. This seems to be on the back of what look to be two moderate efforts on her last two starts. However she is simply not as effective on a softer surface and when she was 3rd at Kempton over Christmas, her stable were not firing like they are now.
She was a very useful staying handicapper on the flat and won the marathon race at Goodwood off an 84 rating. Since then she has shown some very useful form over hurdles, most notably when second to The Govaness at this track in April of last year on good ground over 21.5 furlongs. She stayed on strongly that day off a rating of 127 and was beaten by the 129 winner who went on to achieve a rating of 142 ahead of this festival. This step up to 3 miles on good ground will surely benefit her and she has Nico De Bonville in the plate. Nicky Henderson has performed miracles this week so getting his mare to return to form on ideal ground over what could be her ideal trip should not trouble him too much. She looks a big price at 28/1 and is worth an each way bet.
1.5 points each way Warrior's Tale at 25/1 with BetVictor, Bet365 and Coral (all 1/4 odds 5 places)
1 point each way Broxbourne at 28/1 with Bet365, Stan James and Coral
This race really centres around Vautour, whose defection from the Gold Cup has added a huge amount of quality to the race, even if it has completely messed up ante post book framing by punters who were taking shorter prices about his rivals on the basis that he would nit be a factor in this.
There are rumours rife that all is not well with him, but they are best ignored as are stable announcements in general. If he is at his best then he wins this by quite some way and that is the likely scenario.
The horse that was of real interest here up until Vautourgate was Village Vic. He has been improving rapidly this season and is now rated 157 with little to find to make the top grade. However he might be the horse most badly affected by Vautour running here, as he could potentially have had a nice easy lead in this race and dominated from the front. He could now get into a duel with the favourite, which is far from ideal and he is passed over now that the shape of the race has changed.
Road To Riches is also an effective front runner, but he can sit just in behind the pace and he should be able to do that today. The pace will be strong which will suit him as he is more effective over 3 miles and would have had a real chance in a better ground Gold Cup after running a blinder last year. Despite this being a little shorter than ideal, it is likely to prove to be quite a severe test at the trip, given the likely pace scenario and it us hard to see him being out of the frame as a result. He may not beat the fav but he should be bang there at the end and while Village Vic'schances could be compromised to the tune of him running below par and out of the places, Road To Riches looks a decent price at 7/2 in the without Vautour market in addition to looking a very decent each way bet at 8/1 in the main market.
2 points win Road to Riches at 7/2 with BetVictor and Ladbrokes (w/0 Vautour)