Ceebee previews the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival and has bets on For Good Measure, Golden Doyen and Electric Concorde.
Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final
3miles Thurs 16th March
The cut-off has been around 135 the past few seasons but the top weight has also been low 150s where-as this year the top rated horse is just 148. 135 is number 32 on the list and I don’t see too many Stayers Hurdle or even Coral Cup runners in this list so it could be the cut-off again.
Flicking through some of the recent editions the following profiles jumped out on more than one occasion. G1 placed or G2 winning novice hurdler the season before. May have been chasing and mark dropped a little or just been protected – not necessarily intentionally. Ran over shorter in build-up is common for those who got involved in the final. Winning a trial on last start is no disaster. Experienced novices have run well, as Mall Dini did last year!
The Irish challenge looks decent – if they get in – two of the eye-catching ones will probably miss out. Billy’s Hope fits the experienced novice category. Travelled better than anything in Leopardstown without quite getting home. On better ground with a more patient ride she would be of interest. Glenloe is a bit too inexperienced for me but he was ‘never nearer’ in a trial that has since worked out very well. He’ll win soon.
Isleofhopendreams is on a major upward curve, despite being 10yrs old. Jury Duty has been competitive in his last five handicaps, I suspect he doesn’t have a whole lot more in hand. Oscar Sam was well beaten last year and despite winning on good he seems to be better on softer ground. Presenting Percy and Sutton Manor have both won recently and look open to more improvement but the handicapper has had his say.
Electric Concorde is the one I like. He was a convincing winner at Leopardstown and is a young lightly raced horse. The obvious issue is his last run – it was awful but I guess when we’re backing a 25/1 shot not everything will be in order. He only saw a racetrack for the first time 12mts ago and with just eight starts to his name should still be open to plenty of improvement. The break since that Thurles effort (or lack of) will do him the world of good.
Jim Culloty gets his fair share of abuse – most of it deserved as he goes long periods without a winner - but his Cheltenham record is terrific. So too is that of owner Dr Lambe. Jim’s capable of getting them ready for the big day. His long periods of poor runs often help with the handicapping. And Electric Concorde is well handicapped here in my opinion.
EC and Isleofhopendreams carry the same weight here. When they clashed at Leopardstown EC was rated 15lbs higher. Presenting Percy was giving him 1lb that day but now must give him 6lbs. Even Oscar Sam who was well beaten in 8th is worse off at the weights now. If Electric Concorde returns to the form of his Christmas win I’d be shocked if an Irish horse beat him. Watch that Leopardstown run again, he looked a cut above this class travelling well on the front end and the form has worked out tremendously well.
It’s well documented connections of Presenting Percy have made a bit of a balls of this. Up 10lbs for his recent Fairyhouse win and another 6lbs from the UK handicapper will make life difficult. But he has a fair amount of ability and is clearly in great form so still has a squeak. Sutton Manor is another who’s been heavily punished for a recent victory. He was held in the trials by Oscar Sam and Isleofhopendreams but now meets them on even worse terms.
Moving onto the UK horses; similar to the last two mentioned above, Gayebury got a 15lb hike for his last win. That’s never ideal pre-Cheltenham. The Tourad Man finished 3rd in the 2015 renewal of this which catches the eye but he probably doesn’t have the few lbs in hand that’ll be needed. Fingal Bay won that 2015 renewal but he’s a shadow of that class horse now. The market hasn’t missed El Bandit or Tobefair. The latter faces his stiffest challenge to date – the amazing winning run could be coming to an end.
For Good Measure is the home challenger I want on my side. Hobbs and McManus both have a strong record in the Pertemps and they team up here with a lightly raced 6yo who possesses good course and distance form. He was beaten a short-head by Golden Doyen in October and then 4L behind Call to Order in December. On the latter occasion he was ridden like one who connections already had ‘Pertemps Final’ in their head. He’ll be one of the last to make the cut here and getting weight off everything.
The issue is a horrible looking head carriage and three recent second place finishes that hint he’s not the most straight-forward. A big field, strong pace and something to take aim at will help him. But back him each-way just in case he doesn’t fully go through with it.
Golden Doyen got a mention above as he is a course and distance winner with For Good Measure in behind. Up only 3lbs for that he’s weighted to beat his stable mate again. I think FGM will enjoy this test and is open to more improvement but Golden Doyen must have a strong chance. That was his first and only start at 3miles so is unexposed as a staying handicap hurdler. His flat form suggests the staying trips will bring out the best of him. He seems to be coming in under the radar a little.
Caid du Berlais has placed at the Festival before and may have accidentally protected his hurdles mark by going chasing this winter after an Aintree handicap win in November. He’s currently 25/1 so is on the shortlist.
Also on the shortlist, at 25/1, is Barney Dwan. He won a good novice handicap hurdle last spring which suggested he’d be better than what he has shown this year so far. He was running well (unseated at the last) behind Tobefair at Warwick in January and now has a 12lb swing with that rival.
The third one that just missed out on selection is Impulsive Star, a progress novice in good form.
2pts e/w For Good Measure at 14/1 with Coral and William Hill
1.5pts e/w Electric Concorde at 33/1 with Betfred
1pt e/w Golden Doyen at 16/1 with Skybet and Bet365 (NR/NB)