The waiting is over – well nearly – and tomorrow at 1.30 the Cheltenham roar will go up and 12 hardy warriors and their steeds will charge off up the Cheltenham Hill. No doubt there will be thrills and spills and happy and sad tales over the week, but it’s for me the best week of racing all year. And coming from someone that prefers the flat nowadays that says a lot. The punter in the street will be taking advantage of every little offer going and the pundits and pros will be telling you to back this and back that. Main piece of advice I have, which goes above everything else below, is there is no point whatsoever paying for tips for Cheltenham! One it’s best to form your opinion and make your own decisions and secondly if you are stuck there are loads of great bloggers/tweeters out there offering advice for free. Don’t pay…
I covered this in depth the other day so won’t drone on. I don’t actually plan on droning on about anything too much as have to start work soon, but there you go am droning! Anyway My Tent Or Yours is the archetypal favourite everyone loves to hate. Every preview evening I’ve seen it’s he won’t win, terrible price, won’t get up the hill, flat track bully. And so on – however, I think everyone’s pretty much wrong. I think the horse is too big if anything at the current 2/1. He’s nearly a stone clear on ratings and whether people say the Betfair was a terrible race etc. He was beating proving handicappers off a mark of 149 by a country mile. Running to 149 in here would probably win it. Alas having backed him at 14s I won’t back him again but if you’re thinking of laying him I bid you ‘good luck’. The other animal I’ve backed Dodging Bullets has drifted since backing him and I kind of wish I’d backed him with Hills now e/w as they are still paying 5 places and a quarter of the odds!! Which considering there are only 10 runners (two have as much chance as I would) is a gift from the gods. Again I’m not overly sure why he’s drifted so much. Walsh picking Champagne Fever is a negative but the ground will help that one. DB though has won on good-to-soft and soft-yielding in Ireland. Plus he ran ok in deplorable ground at Kempton. I wouldn’t give up on him and at 11s in places he is too big. There are a couple of others worth chancing with the e/w 5 place job now. Pique Sous has a fair bit too find on official figures. But he was only beaten a length in the Champion Bumper so good course form and he’s won on heavy and only been beaten in a three run egg and spoon race. 20s with Hills is worth a going with the 5 places job. I’d also chance Cause of Causes at 25/1 – can be backed at 40s with Ladbrokes – so up to you what you decide. Put the bad run in the Betfair behind him “was a shocking race remember lol” and his previous form entitles him to be shorter. Third in the Greatwood, beating Midnight Game/Hisabaat, winning the Ladbroke etc. Ignore the bad run and 25s with 5 places is worth a crack. I’d have reservations about the rest and will go to war with these four.
Pique Sous 1pt e/w @ 20/1 – William Hill 5 places
Cause of Causes 1pt e/w @ 25/1 – William Hill 5 places
This will be short and sweet. Simonsig wins doing handstands. You can back him with Ladbrokes and if he loses you get a free bet back. It’s pretty much a no-lose bet if you want to do that. I’ve backed him in a treble with Quevega & Sprinter Sacre so won’t bother adding to it. The without the favourite market is possible somewhere worth having a little play. Overturn at 8/11 in here is probably a solid bet – but I think he could just get passed by Simonsig and then fall into a hole and get passed by a few runner on for a place. Bar his last time out fall Arvika was progressing well but again because he’ll be up in the van with Overturn they could end up cutting each other’s throats and at 11/4 he’s worth passing over. Majala is two from two over the distance and has won on the ground, he’s a best price of 12s w/o fav. The one though who could well just plug on enough to nick second – and it’s a big “if” is His Excellency at 33s with Bet Victor. He’s been highly tried this year but a look back through the form doesn’t make him a 33/1 shot in my opinion. He has form on the ground and the run behind Shooters Wood back in December off 147 – pulled miles clear of third entitles him to some ability. Other runs behind the likes of Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire have shown him to be out of his depth, but that run at Cheltenham and a previous effort when he beat Third Intention off levels suggest he likes the place. Ended up not short and sweet.
His Excellency 1pt win @ 33/1 Bet Victor in market without Simonsig
Our Mick has been punted off the boards in the past fortnight in this and having got an ante-post voucher on at 10s it’s probably worth sitting back and letting that run on him. Merry King has been smashed up since moving to this race from the 4m race – and although he’ll like the ground and connections think they’re on to a winner – did similar with Alfie Sherrin – he’s probably too short now. Though saying that he’ll get backed further no doubt! Fruity O’Rooney always runs his race but looks better on good ground and would have been beaten by Our Mick had he not fallen last time out. Of the rest it’s really a case of trying to find something which looks well handicapped and will like the trip, ground and course. Stats could also help here last ten winners have been 6-10 – scrub out the oldies. Horses carrying 11st have only won 1 of the last ten – scrub out the big weights. All 10 winners were rated between 129 to 143 – scrub out anything else (not good for Our Mick). 10/10 had won over 3 miles. 10/10 had won a class 3. Anyway taking all that into account I’ll have a stab at these two. Loch Ba and Summery Justice. The former is an improving sort who will like the ground and won very easily last time out. The latter is really a shot in the dark job but merely fits the 10/10 trends job and is 50/1 so worth a few shekels – will be tailed off lol.
Loch Ba 1.5pt win @ 12/1 Paddy Power
Summery Justice 0.5pt win @ 50/1 Bet Victor
Champion Hurdle –
I’m really droning on and this already miles more words than I wanted. Short and concise has gone out the window. Anyhow – Hurricane Fly is by all accounts too old and the trends would suggest that also. However, he now has his ground and to all intents in purpose it will look like it will be a muddling affair. I’d expect Rock On Ruby to try to make it a test and lead from the front, but that’s not easy to do at Cheltenham all the way. The Fly if it’s a muddle and a bit stop start should benefit. Mind at the price and with a few big trends to bust I wouldn’t plough into him. I think he’s the most likely winner and could end up leaving people with egg on face but he’s not one I’d back. Fortunately with Paddy Power you can take advantage of the Money back if Hurricane wins offer. Grandouet I’ve backed ante-post here so won’t be going mad and definitely won’t be going in on him again. The lack of a run and subsequent issues are a real concern. He could well run a mighty race but I can see him plugging on into 4th or 5th. Zarkandar looks a different horse this year and is 3/3 from and the International Hurdle form looks the best about – he though looks no value at 7/2 though with the Fly money back offer is a sensible choice I guess. Binocular I couldn’t have – ran a shocker really in Ireland and he’s a horse who would prefer it better ground. The remainder really lack the required class to win. So really when all is said and done I can’t actually put my finger on something I’d back to win. If Grandeout is a big old smoke screen he is the value in the race now at 9s with Boyle but too many question marks. I’ll probably back Zarkandar with Paddy and take my chances that way. With Grandeout ante-post and Zarkandar running for me and the Zarkandar cash returning in Fly wins that’s probably sensible. No advised bet though.
Cross Country –
This should speed up matters. No bet – make a tea .. have a nap etc …
Mares Hurdle –
Quevega is in the treble and will most likely win being as she’s miles clear on ratings and looks a class apart. She is no betting proposition though unless you’ve the keys to Fort Knox. Betting without her is the way I’d go and take a chance on a couple who could chase her home. Une Artiste is the logical place to start and is a vastly improved mare – she’ll love the ground and looks to hold decent claims. In truth she’s about the right price though so not worth chancing. Swing Bowler also keeps improving and her form is rock solid – more so if My Tent wins the Supreme. The two I’m chancing though and they are really just chances more than anything are the French raider – Sirene D’Airay – the last run was an absolute breeze god knows what she beat and the handicap mark of 126 suggests not a lot but she could really be anything and is worth a fiver. She Ranks Me is also worth a shot – and I’d back her e/w in the without market at 14s. She is held by Une Artiste on Wetherby form, but since then she beat Mi Fillule a neck that won has since won a GD2 and last time out she was narrowly denied by Utopie Des Bordes – never looked like beating her admittedly but was giving 5lb to an animal rated 146. Think she’ll run well. She’s 20 with Coral with Quevaga so logically to take 14s without her! That French horse oddly is 20s with Hills with Quevega….
She Ranks Me 1pt e/w @ 14/1 Bet 365 w/o Quevaga
Sirene D’Airay 0.5pt win @ 25/1 Bet 365 w/o Quevega
Pulteney Thingy Bob Novice Race –
I’ve no time to even look at this or write word – worth noting though that 7 of past 8 winners came in first five of betting and 8/8 had run in 60 days and finished in first two last time out. That only leaves two of the main four principles. Colour Squadron and Shangani. The former looks too short to me and based on connections – plot job to now to get his handicap, lack of a win worries me. Truth is I also don’t think he’s that good. Both will like the ground though. I’m siding with Venetia’s runner though and the form of his latest win is working out really well. At bigger prices I think it’s worth chancing Ohio Gold and John’s Spirit who have both looked progressive. Albeit latter ran a stinker last time out. The Druids Nephew has some excellent form in the book and should be favourite.
Shangani 1pt win @ 8/1 Various
John’s Spirit 0.5pt win @ 20/1 Stan James
Ohio Gold 0.5pt win @ 25/1 Ladbrokes.
Good luck all. Let’s hope they all come back safe!!