Ceebee is having a great Cheltenham with a 31.5 points profit so far - Read his thoughts for Day 3 below.
Day Two recap – Tiger Roll delivered in fine style. Backing Min each-way was costly and judging by how close Politilogue got I can’t help feel Min at 100% would’ve gone close. 2nd & 3rd from two longshots in the Coral Cup should be celebrated but Wicklow Brave going so close only to lose in the dying strides was sickening.
Still +11.5pts on the day in addition to the +20pts from Tuesday. Let’s keep it going – I usually love Thursday, 3 big field handicaps to dissect.
Day Three – Thursday
1.30 JLT Novice Chase
Defi Du Seuil is one of my best bets of the week (there’s a few of them on Thursday alone). He was beaten by Lost in Translation (getting 3lbs) here on New Year’s Day before turning the tables on that rival in Sandown last month. That was because of a change of tactics and I see no reason why if they aren’t employed again (Barry waits to challenge late) we won’t see the same result. A previous Triumph winner he has the important Festival form.
Castafiore is the best bet for those looking for a longshot. She gets the valuable mares 7lb allowance and is on an upward curve having chased home a smart rival last time. Kildisart hit every fence on his last outing here. I can’t have Voix du Reve at this trip and Real Steel doesn’t look good enough.
3pts win Defi du Seuil at 3/1 general
0.5pt e/w Castafiore at 33/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds - 3 places)
2.10 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
A bit like the Coral Cup yesterday it’s quite easy to pick 6 or 7 in this. Those on my shortlist include: Walk to Freedom who was a little unlucky the last twice, but his style of racing will mean traffic problems are highly likely in a field this big. Cuneo can go well for Rachael – he looked to have plenty in hand when winning the key Leopardstown qualifier but disappointed a touch next time out. The stronger test of stamina here should suit him. Sire du Berlais is simply too short for all he looks laid out for this race, he’s yet to win for Gordon and is not guaranteed to stay. Aaron Lad has been kept fresh for this but his jockey is quite inexperienced at this level. Abolitionist is well handicapped compared to his chase mark but was a touch disappointing last time.
Notwhatiam is my main pick. He was an eyecatcher last time under a quiet ride when giving the leaders a good head-start. The big field and strong pace will suit his hold-up style once the gaps appear. He has won twice and been placed twice (form has worked out very well) yet is only 13lbs higher than when Skelton got him from Ireland. He can go a bit further today.
Ah Land Abloom has been 2-2-1 in his past three runs, all 3m handicap hurdles. Clearly in form, he’ll race out of trouble on the front end and will stay well. He had First Assignment and Notwhatiam behind him on one of those second places and whilst they are weighted to reverse places they need to go and do it. This fella is overpriced at 50/1
2pts e/w Notwhatiam at 12/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds - 5 places)
0.5pt e/w Oh Land Abloom at 66/1 – 6 places with Paddy Power and Betfair
2.50 Ryanair Chase
This is an incredibly hard puzzle. But being brief – Un De Sceaux wasn’t good enough last year so is unlikely to be now. Balko Des Flos, last year’s winner, has been poor since. Frodon may lack the class required, his wins have come against lesser opposition. The Storyteller isn’t good enough either. If Coney Island rediscovers his very best he’ll get into this – he probably didn’t get home over 3m at Christmas. I don’t really like Footpad, especially at the prices. It’s not his fault but he just hasn’t beaten much of note over fences. Monalee is solid but was found wanting (two decent 2nds) at the last two Festivals and I wasn’t blown away by his prep run. Terrefort is useless. I think Aso and Charbel can run well – both have decent middle distance form to their name from this season and can benefit from not having to chase the freak Cyrname this time. Charbel will also be happier going left-handed.
The best for last – Road to Respect. I’d have been eager to back him in this year’s deep Gold Cup; he’s that good. Traffic problems and poor jumping hindered him the last twice and only for that he could be 3 from 3 in G1s this season. An impressive CD winner at the 2017 Festival and followed it up with a 2m4f G1 Powers Gold Cup win so he has plenty of pace for this step back in trip. Plenty of front runners will suit him (once his jumping holds up).
2pt win Road to Respect at 4/1 with Bet365
0.5pt win Charbel at 33/1 with Bet365, William Hill. Paddy Power and Betfair
3.30 Stayers Hurdle
Paisley Park is a likeable favourite having had the perfect 4 from 4 season including the Cleeve and Long Walk where he beat most of these. He’ll be vulnerable if they don’t go a strong pace (they likely will) and he may also meet some traffic problems under a holdup ride in a big field. Jockey, trainer and horse don’t have the most inspiring festival record either so I’m taking him on.
Supasundae won’t get home, neither will Wholestone. Bapaume is terribly overrated, his Gowran form isn’t great. Kilbricken Storm has been off over 3mts and hasn’t raced over hurdles in nearly a year. Yanworth was stink last time out. Top Notch is unproven at 3m and usually finds one too good at this sort of level. The 5 rags have no chance. So despite the 18 runners there are plenty to scratch straight away.
Black Op is the main selection. He has 14L to turn around with Paisley Park from the Cleeve but this lesser test of stamina (better ground) will help him as he didn’t truly get home that day. Fehily chased a very strong gallop – under a more conservative ride he’ll be fine. That was also his first start over hurdles after a failed chasing campaign so there’s room for improvement there also. A good 2nd to Samcro here 12mts ago he can go one better now.
West Approach twice second to Paisley Park is 33/1 which is insulting but my second pick is the horse who was behind them all in 4th that day – Sam Spinner. He’s had his problems but most of them stem from getting bad rides. Even in the Cleeve when the instructions were to be aggressive Joe Colliver went an uneven gallop and often far too fast. Sam Spinner faded late but it’s worth remembering that he probably needed it fitness-wise after the poor start to his season with jumping mishaps at Newbury and Ascot. Under a well-paced ride from the front this guy still has the engine to take many of them out of it.
1.5pt e/w Black Op at 12/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds - 3 places)
0.5pt e/w Sam Spinner at 40/1 with BetVictor and Betfred (1/5 - 4 places)
4.10 Plate Hcap Chase
3 races to go - I’ve written too much. Siruh Du Lac and Janika have obvious chances but haven’t been missed by the market. At a big price Bouvreuil can go well post wind-op; he has strong Festival form. Kalondra and River Wylde have serious talent but both have jumping issues and neither had an ideal prep being off since November. Novices have a good record in this race recently so I’m going with Azzerti. Alan King (who’s going well of late) has won 2 from 4 novice chases with Azzerti. The other two efforts were a fine 3rd on debut that worked out well and a fall here when travelling very well 3 out on Trials Day. It’s good that he’s got a clear round in at Ludlow since in a very weak novice chase and didn’t go up for it. As a 6yo last term he achieved a fair level over hurdles and looks capable of far more than he’s shown to date over fences.
1pt e/w Azzeri at 16/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds - 5 places)
4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle
5.30 Kim Muir Hcap Chase
LiveloveLaugh is very much unexposed as a staying handicap chaser and has the assistance of one of the best jockeys in Patrick Mullins. He comes into this is good form having been 2nd (winner got a great ride) at the Dublin Racing Festival last time. Speaker Connolly was 3rd but LLL is weighted to confirm places.
I tipped Lake View Lad for the Ultima on Tuesday because he had solid staying handicap chase form from this season. Nothing fancy but form in the book. Well Captain Chaos chased him home on both occasions this season so a repeat of those efforts will see him involved here. He will race prominently, handles a bit of cut and does stay well. Gina Andrews could be in line for her 2nd Kim Muir win.
The 4/1 favourite hasn’t looked like winning in 3yrs, now 11yrs old off the back of a few/major injuries (educated guess) he’s a rotten price. I don’t like Any Second Now either – he looked a non-stayer over 3m at Christmas. This will take getting. Hence why Out Sam is respected – the Thyestes is working out and Cork National win shows he has the stamina.
Finally, Treackle Tart looks overpriced also. A novice who’s last win, a 3m handicap chase at Doncaster, has worked out incredibly well with the 3rd & 4th winning since. She also ran a fine race around here at the October meeting.
1pt e/w Livelovelaugh at 20/1 with William Hill (1/5 odds - 5 places)
1pt e/w Captain Chaos at 22/1 with Boylesports (1/5 odds - 5 places)
0.5pt e/w Treackle Tart at 40/1 with William Hill (1/5 odds - 5 places)