CeeBee previews next weekend's Paddy Power Chase and he has a number of ante post bets which are Double Ross, Darna and Little John.
We are 10 days out from the Paddy Power Chase at Cheltenham, so let’s have an early look at the entries and odds and see can we find a little long priced value before the market fully takes shape after the 5 day declarations.
There’s 49 entries – I won’t be going through them all here but let’s quickly rule some out: I have Johns Spirit (157) as the most likely top weight which means everything below 131 will be out of the handicap proper. Eliminate; Ericht, Minella Present, The Clock Leary, Tara Road and Upepito. To be honest they are unlikely to get into the race anyhow. Vibrato Valtat (Tingle Creek bound), The Giant Bolster (needs another mile), African Gold (not finished a race in 2yrs), Alelchi Inois (badly handicapped summer chaser), Third Intention (ran last Tuesday), Salubrious (only 1 chase start, over a year ago), Benny’s Mist, No Buts and Present View (all 3 were pulled up well below par last weekend) can be confidently scratched. Only 35 left to choose from now.
Others who can be scratched for various reasons include: Mr Mole (very stiff mark of 162), Astracad (well beaten in last 2 renewals), Easter Day (FPP last 3 runs), Texas Jack (an awful donkey recently), Ballycasey (speaking of donkeys), Next Sensation (has no form beyond 2miles), Croco Bay & Sew on Target (two more who are at their best over 2miles), Dell Arca (very light on chasing experience), Horizontal Speed (tailed off at Kempton this week) and Pumped Up Kicks (tailed off last week). Only 24 left now.
Onto the likely favourites:
Kings Palace – Obvious chance but plenty of negatives; has mostly been campaigned at 3miles recently, has no big field handicap experience and has to bounce back from a poor festival run in March. Current favourite - others easily preferred.
Oscar Rock – showed himself in fine form with a good win at Market Rasen but going up 8lbs for it won’t help his chance here.
Sound Investment – winner of the Old Roan Chase at Aintree so certainly one of the form horses in this and may be the Nicholls number one. Up 4lbs for that run leaves him on 159. I’d be surprised if he has another few lbs in hand that’ll be needed.
Thomas Crapper – Went close in the Festival Novice Handicap Chase but is a maiden in 10 starts over fences and was very poor when last seen 3wks ago.
Irish Cavalier - is similar to Oscar Rock and Sound Investment. He comes in here in good form but doesn’t look at all well handicapped after recent victories. Went up 5lbs for his seasonal reappearance, 5lbs he could do with in a handicap like this. It took him a long time to get on top of Thomas Crapper and Little Jon when winning at the Festival and is now 19lbs higher.
Johns Spirit – won this off 139 in 2013 and then won at the Showcase meeting in 2014 off 147 before narrowly going down last November off 156. Only 8yrs old now and running off 157 he must enter calculations with such special course form.
Cocktails at Dawn – seems to need a soft lead, something he surely won’t get here. He got a fair hike (12lbs) for his Sandown win at the end of last term which may eventually prove to be a softly won race against rivals who’d had enough for the season.
Generous Ransom – was value for far more than the winning margin here last January and then ran a solid race to be 3rd behind Irish Cavalier at the Festival. A repeat of either of those would see him in contention. His reappearance, whilst only a prep for this, was fairly disappointing. The sole 25/1 on offer with SkyBet is a bit big but I’m going to wait as he may not have been right when last seen.
Boondooma – Was a good winner at the Showcase meeting but will need to be improving quickly to win a much stronger handicap like this. He was very fresh and free from the front and it was a run that didn’t suggest an extra 5f would suit. Short enough at 8/1.
Gitane du Berlais – Willie hasn’t traditionally supported this race keeping his UK raiders to a minimum until Christmas.
Ptit Zig – is probably more likely to take in the Ascot 2m3f graded chase rather than concede weight all around here.
Monetaire – Lightly raced last term. Unlucky on UK debut, made amends in Newbury before a narrow defeat at the Festival. 3lbs higher now but that Festival run is a race which must also bring the winner Darna into consideration here. Now 5lbs higher (a lenient enough rise for a competitive festival win) he travelled and jumped perfectly in the Festival Plate. 10/1 Monetaire v 33/1 Darna doesn’t look right for a 2lb swing after a 1L beating. For all the hype, money and expectation Monetaire only won 1 of his 5 starts last term whereas Darna won twice including at the Festival. Breathing issues were put forward for his below par runs mid-season.
A few interesting ones:
Shanpallas – needs good ground so is not an ante-post proposition but is of interest. Beaten 6L in last year’s renewal having previously won the Limerick National. This year he got brought down early in Limerick but it could result in saving a few lbs from the handicapper.
Taquin du Seuil – starts this season 7lbs lower than last term after a very poor season. A JLT course winner if coming back to his best would be well in off 152. It’s a big if and he may go for the Betfair Chase instead. Would also rather he had a prep but definitely one to keep an eye on when declarations come through.
Splash of Ginge – was soundly beaten in the Wetherby hurdle last week but I’d guess that was just to blow the cobwebs off for this. A dual C&D winner as a novice, including a handicap on New Year’s Day off just 4lbs lower than he’s currently rated. Could easily make a case for him but two other stablemates appeal more.
Annacotty – C&D winner who’ll be making his first start for Alan King. A move which may bring about some improvement. I think he may need further than this to be at his very best. Interestingly he was cut in a few places recently.
Buywise – 5th in last year’s renewal beaten just over 3L and then 4th in the Plate also beaten 3L (behind Darna & Monetaire). In his novice year he was 5th in the Festival Handicap and then won easily in April. That’s 4 real good runs over C&D. His reappearance this season was solid behind Sound Investment at Aintree so his form isn’t a worry. What really interests me however is a recent quote from Evan Williams suggesting headgear might be applied to help his jumping. This would be a good move because he has consistently lost his chance of winning by clattering fences. In the same interview he suggests a real strong gallop would help him. Well Little Jon, Cocktails at Dawn and Kings Palace all like to blaze a trail in front. Plenty to like.
Double Ross – had Cheltenham form over around 2m4f that read 1123 in the season before last. The two wins came in decent handicaps, as a novice. Last season however he was unsuccessfully campaigned as a G1 staying chaser. Beaten in the Charlie Hall, Betfair, King George, Denman Chase and Ryanair. He did however show a return to form when running well to chase home Pendra at Ascot last week. In a race where very few got into it from off the pace he made slight mistakes at both 6 out and 5 out which left him with too much to do but made up plenty of ground in the straight. Certainly a run which signalled a return to form and off 153 he could find himself well handicapped (160 this time last season) back at his optimum trip/track.
Little Jon – Is the 3rd of Nigel’s to catch my eye and like the other two above he has plenty of Cheltenham 2m5f appearances. He had quite an unlucky season last term, first running out and then falling in two decent novice chases at Cheltenham. He then finished a decent 4th against experienced handicappers (Annacotty won) before coming 6th in the Festival Novice Handicap. At the Festival he made two bad mistakes early but still got to the last fighting for the lead until a third mistake eventually finished his challenge. With better jumping he could’ve finished ahead of Irish Cavalier, Thomas Crapper and Generous Ransom. He’s now 1lb lower whereas they are 19, 4 & 4lbs higher respectively. Little Jon finished the season with a confidence boosting easy novice chase win and returned this season with a respectable reappearance.
0.75 points win Double Ross at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
0.5 points win Darna at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
0.5 points win Little Jon at 25/1 with Ladbrokes and Betfred
Even if you don’t fancy a bet at this stage, as it’s obviously very risky before the 5 day declarations, this homework will at least have us ahead of most others when the 5 day and final declarations do come through.