The day we’ve all been waiting for (well, those of us of a horsey persuasion anyway) has arrived and it’s all very exciting. A little worrying too if certain rumours are to be believed but more on that in a moment.
I’ve read several trends guides, stats pieces and done some serious studying as usual and come up with the following thoughts on Day One. (Note, I usually only dabble lightly on Days 2 & 3 as I find them very tricky so probably won’t be doing a write up on those!)
1.30: SUPREME NOVICE HURDLE
A race farmed by the mighty Mullins stable for the last three years and he saddles the firm favourite again in the shape of MIN. If you believe everything coming out of Ireland then the punters who took 66/1, 40/1, 33/1 etc since he fell out of his Mum 5 years ago are all onto a good thing. Contrarian that I am, I don’t believe. At all. I laid it at 7/4 in the firm belief that bigger would be available on the day (currently 5/2) if I changed my mind. I still may but it’s unlikely. I don’t think Min has beaten much to be honest and it’s all happened on soft ground over in Ireland. This will be a much stiffer test and I’m really not convinced he’s up to it. Even Rich Ricci, the owner, thinks he’s a ridiculous price and I’d concur.
Going through all those trends and stats (all readily available so I won’t bore you to tears), I want a 5 or 6yo from the top 6 in the betting, having raced within the last 60 days and at least placed in a Graded race.
The one I thought that fit the bill antepost was TOMBSTONE and waded in each way at 16/1 & 14/1. Now for that rumour I mentioned at the top of the piece. I’ve seen a bit of information that he’s a doubt to line up. Which is a bugger to say the least. Not only would it leave me with quite a large punting deficit to recover but I really thought it stood a cracking chance with the ground coming nicely in his favour. Hopefully the rumour is just that.
Doom and gloom out of the way, I’ve had to go back in and have another look at my (not so) shortlist to see if I can prise a decent sort from there.
Next in the market are the two from the Henderson yard in the shape of Altior & Buveur D’Air. Of the two I’m definitely in favour of Buveur. He seems to have much more scope for improvement than his stablemate to my eye and is almost twice the price. My one reservation from a win perspective is The Chemist’s record in the race. Regular placers but no wins from 23 runners is a worrying thing. I have had a play each way at 15/2 but will probably go into the place only market as well.
SUPASUNDAE has been the subject of some impressive reports in the build up to this and, while I’m struggling to see him win, he is at least priced attractively at 12/1 with paddypower who are the only firm paying 4 places. Assuming Tombstone doesn’t go, I’ve got my eye on that one. Another it would be remiss of me not to mention is CHARBEL. I’ve seen this one crop up in a few places from better judges than I and, again, whilst it doesn’t fit my idea of a likely winner the 22/1 on offer with PP could be generous if those judges are correct.
All of that leaves me with the following…
TOMBSTONE @ 16/1 & 14/1 e/w – antepost.
BUVEUR D’AIR @ 15/2 e/w & 7/4 (place only)
SUPASUNDAE @ 12/1 e/w – if Tombstone doesn’t run.
2.10: ARKLE CHALLENGE CHASE
Not a race for much studying you’ll be pleased to read!!!
Another Mullins hotpot in the shape of Douvan and this time I really can’t argue against him. Of course, there’s no such thing as a dead cert but I do think if this one gets round with no mishaps (there haven’t been any so far in his career!) then he gets round in front. However, I don’t want to be piling in at 2/5 so I looked for an alternative so I can at least have an interest.
I settled on the next two in the market and favoured SIZING JOHN over Vaniteux in the “without Douvan” market. As luck would have it I did that some time ago and snaffled some 7/2 – now 15/8 after withdrawals.
SIZING JOHN @ 7/2 – without Douvan. (Now around 15/8)
2.50: ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
The first handicap of the meeting and a few strong trends have emerged over the previous runnings. The last 14 winners have carried less than 11-06, all 17 winners were aged 7-10yo and it’s a poor race for favourites.
Sadly, that weight stat may have scuppered the chances of another antepost fancy of mine, THE YOUNG MASTER. Having initially been handed just 10-12, he will now have to carry 11-08 after defections. This is offset by the 3 lbs claim of Sam Waley Cohen but may also be another nail in it’s winning coffin given the fact that only one claiming jockey has finished in front from 34 attempts!! Still, I’m pretty confident of a podium finish for that one and am on at 20/1 & 16/1 on my aforementioned antepost voucher.
I had gone in yesterday on Indian Castle at 33/1 as that one ran well in this last year but is now a non runner. No harm done as I got my money back but I have had to have yet another look. Jonjo O’Neill has a pretty good record in this but his runner that fits most of the bills is only a 6yo which puts me off a little for win purposes. Still, stats are there to be broken and 12/1 each way (5 place firms) seems a fair enough chance to take about BEG TO DIFFER.
I’ve also had a go at the current favourite, OUT SAM. I know, I know, I said at the top that favourites don’t do very well but this one does look progressive, the drying ground will suit and the stable seem confident of a big run.
THE YOUNG MASTER @ 20/1 & 16/1 e/w – antepost
BEG TO DIFFER @ 12/1 e/w (5 places)
OUT SAM @ 8/1 e/w (5 places)
3.30: CHAMPION HURDLE
Usually one of my highlights of the meeting but this year it has a bit of an “afterthought” feel to it with the withdrawal of antepost favourite Faugheen and subsequent supplementing of Annie Power.
None of the Chemist’s entries (he runs 5) appeal to me, being either undercooked for a race such as this or just plain not good enough. I’ve been a fan of The New One for the last two runnings of this (very unlucky 2 years ago) and there has been a bit of money for that this morning. However, it seems to be “unlucky” a lot and I don’t like that in a horse carrying my money so I’ve overlooked him this time around – I think we can guess what’ll happen now but hey ho.
Now, ANNIE POWER. Good horse? Undoubtedly. Good at Cheltenham? Maybe. This her ideal race and distance? Very much no!! On the drift early doors but I still can’t and won’t have her at 5/2 in a race against the boys over shorter than ideal. Not for me unless I go down the placepot route and, even then, I’m dubious.
All of which leaves me with yet another antepost punt and one I’m reluctant to try and get beaten. IDENTITY THIEF was 12/1 (and bigger) some time ago and I took the plunge then. I’ve also had a bit more this morning at 15/2 and am feeling pretty confident that the going conditions will suit him as he attempts to turn the tables on Nicholls Canyon.
IDENTITY THIEF @ 12/1 e/w – antepost & 15/2 e/w.