Ceebee takes an early look at Cheltenham 2019 and has bets including Tiger Roll, Sam Spinner and Native River.
Open oddschecker, click on ante-post racing and Cheltenham. Flick through the various markets, watch a heap replays and scribble a few thoughts. Here’s what I got:
Arkle Novice Chase - Kalashnikov is silly short at 6/1. Yet to jump a fence in public. He didn’t even win what may yet have been a bad Supreme Hurdle (3rd to 7th all beaten since). Both Paloma Blue (only 1 from 6 over hurdles but possibly settles better for fences) and Mengli Khan (not a fan after his run-out at Leopardstown) have very little to find with fav but are three times the price. Hard to find another exciting runner at the minute.
Champion Hurdle – Samcro should go this route, he’s all speed. He was so far ahead of all other novice hurdlers it’s hard to imagine not being immense in open company. 4/1 actually appeals if it still exists once they announce he’ll start off in the Morgiana. Buveur D’Air is 10 from 11 over hurdles but it’s been a weak divison for two seasons beating the likes of Irving, My Tent or Yours, The New One and Melon. No Annie Power, Douvan, Altior or a healthy Faugheen to trouble him. Laurina yet to face a smart rival is a very short price now.
Mares Hurdle – 4 of them 5/1 or less. And they all could have other options (Apples Jade - Stayers and Laurina - Champion Hurdle). Benie Des Dieux wasn’t overly impressive winning last March. Next.
National Hunt Chase – trying to find a staying chaser who’ll be really good but not G1 RSA good. Giggi Elliott have tonnes of options. Cracking Smart, Dortmund Park, Champagne Classic, Delta Work but preference might be for Blow by Blow (Festival winner and unlikely to be grade 1 standard). But no lads just don’t get involved here in October.
Champion Chase – betting on Altior at 7/4 is hardly appealing nor is betting against him. Impressive winner last season, still unbeaten. Hopefully Footpad takes him on at some point. I think Douvan will run in this after a very light campaign (no King George). Moving on.
Cross Country – It’s often in the weirdest of place that one finds what they consider a good bet. Tiger Roll was only 8yrs old when winning his 3rd Festival race last March. All his likely cross country challengers were 10+yrs old. He followed it up with what was obviously a career best in the Grand National. Lightly enough raced in the past 2yrs and likely to have had an extended summer break he should be back in fine fettle. A repeat performance would almost definitely be enough; he was a comfortable winner enjoying the unique course. 5/1 is a bet.
RSA Novice Chase – on paper it’s a hot race already. Santini and Next Destination head the market at 8 and 10/1 respectively. Which makes the 33/1 about Kilbricken Storm stand out. A festival winner, beating Santini, and then ran Next Destination to a half-length at Punchestown. He’ll stay well which is key in the RSA every year. Same comments apply to the 25/1 about Delta Work. Risky bets for sure at this stage.
Stayers Hurdle – Penhill is a dual Festival winner and yet I’m still not convinced he’s any good. The 2018 renewal was a joke and his 2017 novice win came against non-stayers. Faugheen will be 11 and obviously has issues. Supasundae and L’ami Serge don’t really get this trip. I’m not having Identity Thief as a Grade 1 3miler; I’ve no idea how to explain that Aintree result. Last year’s favourite, who is only a 6yr old with 11 career starts and got the worst ride of the Festival, is now available to back at 33/1. You can argue his Long Walk win has worked out as well.
Ryanair Chase – Willie has 4 of the first 5 in the betting and you can be damn sure all of them won’t be running. UDS will be 11 and after a lot of hard racing. Min is too keen to get 2m5f based on his exciting Melling Chase defeat. Last year’s winner Balko des Flos at 10/1 is arguably too big but Henry might try make him into a Gold Cup horse. Monalee 16/1 will like this trip more than any GC ideas connections may have but he has some jumping issues to sort out. Too many questions. Next.
JLT Novice Chase – Topofthegame at 20/1 might be the best pick, in what is a tough race to sort 7mts out. After just 6 starts Nicholl’s charge is rated 154 over hurdles and came incredibly close to winning the Coral Cup under a big weight. He travelled well on the front end and was there to be shot at coming up the hill and one of the closers got by. He might step up to 3miles but shouldn’t need to based on what we’ve seen to date. That 154 is higher than Black Op, Messire des Obeaux, Lostintranslation, Santini and level with Next Destination. He just hasn’t come the G1 novice hurdle route so isn’t at the top of any of the novice chasers to follow list. He’d be one for the ‘to win at the Festival’ market as he’ll have a lot of options.
Cheltenham Gold Cup – the best part of this quick article was re-watching last year’s Gold Cup. A treasure of a race. As good and all as Presenting Percy was in the RSA, having him as favourite ahead of Native River (8s is big) and Might Bite is all wrong. Native River will only be 9yrs old next March and will be having another light campaign geared around Cheltenham only. He should be 4/1 fav. Sure the ground helped his stamina from the back of the last, but he’s not slow! It’s hard to look beyond those 3 with only Waiting Patiently at 33s anyway interesting.
3pts win Tiger Roll – Cross Country Chase – 5/1 William Hill
0.5pt win Kilbricken Storm – RSA Chase – 33/1 Paddy Power, Betfair
1pt win Sam Spinner – Stayers Hurdle - 33/1 William Hill
0.5pt win Topofthegame – JLT nov chase – 20/1 William Hill, Ladbrokes
2pts win Native River – Gold Cup – 8/1 Betfred
3 of them are previous Festival winners and a 4th beaten a head. Sam Spinner with the most to prove and the novice chasers the riskier bets. Now that’s enough about Cheltenham until after Christmas. Let’s focus on the day to day action and big Saturdays throughout the Winter. Far too much emphasis is put on Cheltenham by owners, trainers, punters and the media.