Paddy Power Meeting – Cheltenham Friday preview

CeeBee previews Friday's card at the Cheltenham Paddy Power meeting and he has bets on an Evan Williams runner in the opening handicap chase & Allthekingshorses in the Cross Country Chase.

13.05 2m Handicap Chase

I’m no expert on French form, but by all accounts La Vaticane is fairly chucked in here. Inexperience may be an issue, but I have the upmost respect for his trainer, who has a tremendous record both at this meeting and with French recruits in handicaps. The price is probably right, if a little tight, for all that he may be ‘a good thing’. Remember Monetaire got beat in this race last year despite being very well treated. Preference is for a bit of each way value further down the list.

Going Concern got no further than the 2nd fence in this race 12 months ago. The two main reasons I think he could go a lot better this time around are what he did subsequently and his trainer’s current form. After Cheltenham last year he got a 3mth break before returning to the track at Chepstow. Here he defeated Dresden. Dresden then won next time out and won already this season off a 10lb higher mark. As a result he’s now 19lbs higher, but since Going Concern hasn’t seen the track much since, he’s been left just 9lbs higher. The 3rd home in Chepstow, beaten 20L, was Quite By Chance. He won a handicap two starts later. It’s very strong form and hints that Going Concern could win again off this new mark.

Going Concern reappeared at the Showcase meeting with a somewhat eye-catching performance. Held up a long way off the pace, he was handled ‘softly’ coming down the hill whilst the principles got away on the front. He finished 6th of 12 but with more effort could’ve gone closer. I’d assume that was simply a run to blow the cobwebs off. He should be right today. The likely strong pace set by Pearls Legend and Sew on Target should suit a similar hold up style. Evan Williams has had 5 winners, from his last 10 runners, over the past 3 days. I’ll be backing Going Concern at 25/1 to keep the hot spell going.

The Clock Leary represents the also red-hot yard of Venetia Williams. He also won first time out last season, so the long spell off the track shouldn’t be a huge worry. A lightly raced sort, only 2 chase starts, he could easily be ahead of the handicapper but still has plenty to prove.

Pearls Legend recently finished 2nd in a similar event at Ascot. If he improves for that outing he could get involved, but this would require a career best. He was beaten 7L last time. The two Sandown races he won last term weren’t very competitive. This is.

Astracad won his first race in a long time but that was off 130 with an additional 7lb claimed off. Back up to 137 and without the claim I expect he’ll struggle.

Also racing off 137 is Sew on Target, considering he was a C&D winner off 135 last season and finished 2nd (split Bold Henry & Monetaire, strong form) in this race off 130 means he must enter calculations here. Now 10yrs old I just doubt he’s improving sufficiently to win off what would be a career high winning mark.

Advised Bet:

1.5 points each way Going Concern at 25/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power, Betway

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Two decent races follow, but the novice chase and novice hurdle are more a watching brief than betting event for me.

14.50 Cross Country Chase

Now this is a betting event. I love the cross country races as both spectacles and betting opportunities. The same horses take part time and again, so with a bit of homework an opportunity generally presents itself.

Champion Court wasn’t a strong stayer in 3mile races, so 3m7f will hardly suit. Any Currency likes this place, but now 12yrs old, off a career high mark, no thanks. That’s ignoring his quirkiness. Uncle Junior will find this ground too lively. Rivage D’or doesn’t run too well too often. He has a C&D win to his name but his well-being must be taken on trust. Not having Davy Russell up over this course is probably a slight negative to his chances also.

Off all those who ran in the Festival Cross Country race, Dogora is the best handicapped this time around. The big worry with him is he hasn’t won since a 4yo hurdle almost 3yrs ago. His form has as many letters as numbers recently. Certainly not a ‘solid bet’.

Josies Orders is the correct favourite for the formidable Cross Country duo of Enda Bolger and Nina Carberry. His form/ability must be taken somewhat on trust though. The 3m banks race he won at Punchestown was a brutal standard. Some of his best form in traditional races came on heavy ground, which may be a slight concern here.

It’s interesting that I called Enda Bolger formidable, because he hasn’t won this race (Open meeting) since 2009. Since then Philip Hobbs has won it 3 times. So let’s back the Hobbs horse here at 28/1.

Allthekingshorses isn’t of the same quality as Balthazar King or Lacdoudal, but now that this race is a handicap he won’t need to be. The trip certainly shouldn’t be a problem as he won over 3m5f in Warwick three starts ago back, in April. The ground, which some of these winter horses may find lively, won’t affect this fella. He has won on Good and been narrowly defeated on Gd/Fm. Ok his last two runs have been below-average (burst blood vessel last time, probably needed the run the time before),  but he’s only 9 and ran well on all four occasions last season (23U1 from Oct-Apr) so shouldn’t be written off just yet. He likes to race prominently, which can be an advantage as those in behind can meet traffic problems with 16 runners on this tight twisty circuit. The pace can often be slow and develop into something of a sprint so being front rank would be better.

I also know Allthekingshorses has schooled over the Cheltenham Cross Country fences just last week (the power of twitter). With so many ‘dubious sorts’ in the race 28/1 is well worth taking.

Advised Bet

1 point each way Allthekingshorses at 28/1 with BetVictor & Paddy Power