Cheltenham Day Three Live Blog

Cheltenham Live Blog

Cheltenham Live Blog

We’re blogging live from day three (Thursday) of the Cheltenham Festival, right here, from 1.30pm this afternoon.

(Bear with me if I’m a few minutes late – train back from the West Country and commute across London give me very little (i.e. no) contingency..!)

So, the train was late, the tube was cancelled (points failure at Liverpool St) and the taxi was held up in terrible traffic. You’ve got to love London!


1810 Full result:

1st Big Shu 14/1
2nd Shakervilz 20/1
3rd Outlaw Pete 6/1
4th Bostons Angel 9/1

1800 Big Shu, on his course debut, does something that only one other course debutant has ever done, and wins. Shakervilz runs a blinder in second, and Outlaw Pete hangs on for third, to give me some place money back.

A New Story about sixth and ran an honest race.

That’s all for today. Thanks for your company, and best of luck for Gold Cup day tomorrow.

Good night.

1751 They’re (finally) off for the Cross Country.

1749 False Start! Ridiculous.

1742 They’re delaying the race another five minutes!!

1740 They’re at the start. Not long now. Come on my lot (and your lot too!) !! 😀

1738 Going down. Very hopeful that either Outlaw Pete or A New Story can win. Arabella Boy and a sliver on Sacree Tiepy. Cannot envisage anything else winning. Doesn’t mean they won’t, of course…

1733 Yay! Jockeys now aboard horses, and they’ll be going down soon… I hope!

1726 Suggestion is that cross country will be off around 1740 now.

1725 JT McNamara in a bad way. Air ambulance landing on the course now. Jockeys now being sent back into the weighing room. A sobering end to Day Three. 🙁

1723 Will the Cross Country ever be run?! Charity race due off after that…! We’ll not bother with the latter contest though… (if that’s ok)

1720 Still not jocked up here. Arabella Boy now 9/4! Incredibly short in a race like this on ground like this. Desperate punters piling in. Sacree Tiepy also well backed, now 8/1 from 11/1.

1715 Delay to the cross country, as the ambulance was being used to treat jockey JT McNamara after a fall in the 4.40. I’m sorry to report that Matuhi was put down after a bad fall in the 4.00. Real shame for a horse which had run his heart out and looked booked for a place.

1712 Arabella Boy now into 5/2. Seems extremely short to me, considering all form is on soft or heavy ground. Punters trying to smash their way out of trouble here, methinks…

1710 Just gone in again on Outlaw Pete. I think he’s a pretty big price and looks quite likely to be in the first four, barring a fall or wrong course incident…

1705 Cross Country Form and Fancies – who do you like?

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Key Stats

7/8 winners have been Irish-trained (the one ‘failure’ was when A New Story failed by a head to win last year)

8/8 8-12yo

8/8 had experience of the cross country course

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Form Preview

Three horses vie for favouritism here: Arabella Boy, Outlaw Pete, and Uncle Junior. They’re followed in close proximity in the market by Bostons Angel, Sizing Australia and Big Shu. But I don’t make the race anywhere near as competitive as that! In fact, I reckon there are only four which can win, and only three which I think might win…

Last year’s winner, Balthazar King, just clung on from the fourteen-year-old, A New Story, but is a late non-runner due to the soft ground. In my view, both of them benefited from the losses of Garde Champetre and Scotsirish, two classy horses who were almost certain to have played a hand in the finish.

He wasn’t my idea of the winner, especially not on soft ground. Firstly, he hadn’t run since mid-November and that had to be a concern. And secondly, he was beaten by the very slow Uncle Junior on that last run when he (Balthazar) was match fit. He’d had three months off prior to winning last year, so may go best fresh, but this is a long way to last out in the mud if you’re only 98% ready. Anyway, he doesn’t now go, so it’s all immaterial.

The first of my trio of possibles is Outlaw Pete. He’s really come to himself since trying cross country, and is a Festival virgin. Despite that, he’s competed in both the course trials in November and December last year, finishing third on his first sight of the track and winning the other attempt by seven lengths from Bostons Angel (Uncle Junior and Arabella Boy both uncharacteristically unseated riders that day).

He’s been kept on the boil since, with two runs in conventional handicap chases, where he’s performed respectably, and I think he’ll take a lot of beating on a course he now knows well enough. He looks nailed on for the frame, bar a fall or a ‘wrong course’ farce.

Arabella Boy is the latest off the Enda Bolger production line – Bolger’s won this race four of the eight times it’s been run – and as such is sure to have been extremely well drilled. The Boy has become something of a Punchestown cross country specialist, but unseated on his only attempt so far round Cheltenham’s tied shoelace circuit. The ground has come right for him, as all his five career wins have been on soft or heavy going.

And the last one I’m drawn to is that old warhorse, A New Story. Yes, he’s FIFTEEN years old. And what a story it would be if A New Story could win. If you think it’s fanciful, then consider that he was beaten the length of a betting slip last year, and has a full record in this race of 34132. That’s more impressive than any other runner, and though he could be regressive now, he’s a big enough price to take a chance, off a similarly low profile build up to previous years.

Uncle Junior, Bostons Angel, and Sizing Australia are all too slow to win this; and Big Shu will be having only his second start outside of hunter chase/bumper fields, and his first sight of Cheltenham’s track. That’s enough for me to say ‘no way’.

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Tips

Arabella Boy will have everything to suit and looks the most likely winner, and at a fair price (around 5/1) as well. Outlaw Pete should also go very well. A New Story is a huge price and that – coupled with his race record – merits a throwaway investment.

Most likely Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase winner: Arabella Boy
Other strong contender: Outlaw Pete
Best each way bet: A New Story

1700 Cross Country next! Looks between Outlaw Pete and Arabella Boy if the latter can handle the ground. A New Story and Sacree Tiepy could be interesting. None of the rest are of note to me.

Where’s your cash here?

1656 Same Difference was a 16/1 shot, and the full result is as follows:

1st Same Difference 16/1
2nd Super Duty 11/2 F
3rd Romanesco 8/1
4th Alfie Sherrin 9/1

1654 £1.50 of the placepot here. Looks like paying £371.10. £556.65 for me, I think. First draw of note since the first race.

1652 Sorry to favourite backers, but I’m very pleased that Twiston-Davies has had another winner at the Festival. Alfie Sherrin runs a brilliant Grand National trial back in fourth.

Placepot landed with Super Duty and Romanesco on C, and Alfie Sherrin on A.

1649 Photo! But Same Difference beats Super Duty on the bob! Thrilling finish. Romanesco and Alfie Sherrin fill out the places.

1642 They’re off!

1640 The trends, such as they are. Plus form and tips. It’s JP McManus horses for me…

Kim Muir Key Trends

15 of the last 20 renewals have been won by a horse aged eight or nine

All of the last twelve Kim Muir winners raced over at least three miles last time out

Only three of the last ten winners made the frame last time out, but all had done so in at least one of their last four runs

Kim Muir Form Preview

Three favourites have won this in the last six years, and all of them at decent prices, so the clear starting point is Super Duty. He’s tough, consistent, goes on all ground, and stays well. These are strong credentials in a race like this, and he’s ridden by top amateur Derek O’Connor. He ought to go close, but he has been beaten into second in four of his last five runs, so I’ll look elsewhere for a possible pick.

Right down towards the bottom of the weights, Alfie Sherrin catches the eye. There’s a strong chance that this is a prep race for the Grand National, and how ready he is for this needs to be taken on trust, but at 10/1, it’s clear that a strong run is expected. He’s a Festival winner (JLT Chase last year), and has a very good pilot in Alan Berry.

Prince Of Pirates is another which catches my eye, from the Hendo stable. Nico de Boinville, an amateur who is going pro next season, is an excellent jock, as he’s shown on Petit Robin this season. The horse goes well on top of the ground, has won over hurdles in a big field round here, and is extremely lightly raced. He should get the trip ok, and a clear round ought to see him in the shake up.

There are plenty of others for which I could make a case, including Harry The Viking, Becauseicouldntsee, and Chartreux.

Kim Muir Tips

It’s not a race I’ll be looking to do anything more than get through the placepot in (if still going, natch!), and selections below are accorded token status.

Two against the field: Alfie Sherrin, Prince of Pirates

1634 Big news! Leon and Mrs Matt are back from the Lakes! And the poor little fellow is teething and grumpy. Aw. Right, back to the racing now. 🙂 Anyone got anything remotely resembling a fancy in this race?

1627 Ray Placed to Win had 7.0 on the place for Tartak. Josh had a bit of Carrickboy. Lovely stuff.

1625 Onwards, to the last leg of the placepot. Six handed here, with On Trend, Prince Of Pirates, Alfie Sherrin and Chartreux; and Super Duty and Romanesco are on C (which is B in this context because it goes with all five A’s so far).

1623 Here’s the blog piece quote on Carrickboy, so I hope some backed it! I wish I had.

Carrickboy is more exposed but has run two decent races round here. First, he unseated when travelling very well when unshipping four out; and then at the Festival last year, he was sixth of twenty in the Novices’ Handicap Chase.

In truth, I think he’s a bit to find with some of these, but his price of 33/1 reflects that and is acceptable in each way terms.

1615 Good news on the placepot front, at least, with Hunt Ball keeping A tickets going, and both Vino Griego and Tartak on B. I still can’t believe I didn’t back the winner. Venetia in the Byrne Group Plate!!!

Your first 30 days for just £1

1612 Full result:

1st Carrickboy 50/1
2nd Vino Griego 11/1
3rd Tartak 20/1
4th Hunt Ball 8/1

1610 I honestly cannot believe how I haven’t backed that. Gutted. Vino Griego second, and just couldn’t get by the winner.

1608 Unbelievable!!! Venetia Williams AGAIN in the Byrne Group Plate! 50/1

1602 Standing start – and they’re off!!! Mad Moose refuses to race. Little bugger.

1600 Vet has withdrawn Cantlow at the start. The remaining 23 are lining up… and they’re off! No they’re not! FALSE START.

1559 Well done to geegeez news writer, Ian Sutherland, who backed both Solwhit and Smad Place at 12/1 and 20/1 respectively.

1557 Cantlow IS bleeding from the nose! Vets will check him down at the start. Surely you wouldn’t back him now.

1555 Blood coming from Cantlow’s head apparently. McCoy has remounted, so the assumption is that he bit his tongue rather than burst a blood vessel. Has to be a worry if you’re on him.

1548 Mister Hyde and Fingeronthepulse for Josh, due to their trainer’s 18% record in chases here at Chelters.

1542 Hugh is bidding to follow up Benefficient earlier with Vino Griego here.

I’m just looking at some of the bigger prices here, and in particular the fact that Pipe has three other runners. Zaynar having his first run for a year could be mildly interesting for pennies and Gavin likes Shoegazer.

1540 Next up, the Byrne Group Plate. 24 handicap chasers going at it over two miles five furlongs. Here’s the full skinny.

Which ones do you like?

Byrne Group Plate Key Trends

French breds have an excellent record: six wins and four second places in the last 13 years.

11 of the last 12 winners were at odds of 12/1+

14 of the last 15 winners carried 11-03 or less

23 of the last 25 winners were rated 141 or less

17 of the last 21 winners recorded a top four finish last time

17 of the last 21 winners had run previously at the Festival

Byrne Group Plate Form Preview

A very interesting race, and one which for a number of reasons is not a decent betting prospect for me. That said, I do have one I like against a couple of horses fancied by the market (but not especially by me). Let’s deal with the market first, and the first point to make is that it generally gets this race wrong. Indeed, just two winning favourites in the last three decades tells its own story!

One of them was last year, however, when the Pipe plotters pilfered the pot with Salut Flo. The same connections are attempting the same feat this year with a horse called Ballynagour, and he’s a warm favourite. On the evidence of his bolt up on British debut in a decent class handicap chase at Warwick last time, he’s a seriously good horse. But the balance of his form is a little in and out, and he might not get his own way here. If he does, and wins, fair enough. But 4/1 or so is extremely short in a race like this, even for a Pipe hotpot.

Next up is Hunt Ball. The wonderful Hunt Ball. The highly weighted Hunt Ball. The Hunt Ball which wants better ground. No thanks, not this time.

The thing to note in this race is that historically north of 141 has been a hard rating to win from. This year, all bar the bottom eleven are above that figure. In a summary and swingeing cut off, I’ll make those my ‘starting eleven’, with the exception of the 143-rated Cantlow.

Cantlow had multiple entries and I thought this would be the last place he’d end up. But, barring the Pipe plot, it looks an easier (note, not easy) race than his other possibles. He was third in the Pertemps Final last year on good ground, and has been doing is chase winning on heavy turf. So, no worries on that score. He’s also looked progressive, beating the useful Oscara Dara and then smashing Dare Me in a pair of small field novice chases.

Obviously, this is a different game entirely, but he showed with that Pertemps run that the hurly-burly holds no fears, and he’s expected to run very well in a race which has favoured lightly raced types recently.

Venetia Williams has had a field day in this race in recent years, and she’s double handed with lightweights, Kapga de Cerisy and Carrickboy this time. I’m very sweet on the former and tipped him in an ATR piece I wrote a week or so ago.

He’s progressive, as you need to be to win this, has battling qualities, goes in any ground, and has decent form. I think he’s got an excellent each way chance.

Carrickboy is more exposed but has run two decent races round here. First, he unseated when travelling very well when unshipping four out; and then at the Festival last year, he was sixth of twenty in the Novices’ Handicap Chase.

In truth, I think he’s a bit to find with some of these, but his price of 33/1 reflects that and is acceptable in each way terms.

Domtaline has a rock solid trends profile for this, and allied to his trainer being Paul Nicholls, 25/1 looks a juicy price. He does have to prove he handles a big field, but the trip and ground could be plum. I’d be happy to take a chance at the odds.

And finally, Divers, a winner of the Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2011 is just three pounds higher here. Seeing as we know conditions are optimal, he too is a big price.

Byrne Group Plate Tips

Obviously, Ballynagour could smash them all up, and Cantlow is a dangerous improver too. But at the prices, and with five places to go at, there’s plenty of each way value towards the bottom of the handicap.

Most likely winners: Ballynagour, Cantlow
Each way three against the field: Kapga de Cerisy, Domtaline [non-runner], Divers

1537 Placepot update. Still rolling with Smad Place in that last race. £14,209.58 still in from a pool of £879,798. Shaping up nicely.

I’ve got eight in this one, and still not confident!!

A has Hunt Ball, Ballynagour and Cantlow. B has Bless The Wings, Vino Griego, Kapga de Cerisy, Divers and Tartak.

1534 Mark B having a whale of a time there. Backed Solwhit and Smad Place, and laid Reve De Sivola. Sweet!

1533 Oscar Whisky never in it. Never put in it. Curious ride. Once again, I strongly believe that the owner should switch stables with his star horse.

1532 Stan James with the most offensive quote of the Festival so far: 6/1 Solwhit to win next year’s World Hurdle. #disgrace

1531 Great waiting ride from Carberry. Classic Carberry. I couldn’t believe that he could stay, but I guess they just didn’t go very fast… did they?!

1529 Solwhit?! Never raced beyond two and a half miles, and beats the worst World Hurdle field in history!!!

1520 Goggles coming down… And they’re off for the World Hurdle!

1515 Some of you hoping for Reve De Sivola. Will he go in the ground is the big (only?) question with him. It’s a total ‘no bet’ race for me, and I’ve taken four horses more in hope than expectation on the placepot.

A has Get Me Out Of Here and Smad Place; B has Oscar Whisky and Reve de Sivola.

1512 Punters smashing into Oscar Whisky, now 11/4 from 7/2. It takes a lot of cash to move a horse that far in this market.

1508 Mondo Ray, the king of Placed to Win, is celebrating a fantastic Cheltenham week. He bagged Flaxen Flare yesterday (55 to win on Betfair) and doubled up today with Holywell (40 to win on Betfair) today. Well played, Ray. Excellent, excellent stuff!

1506 Joe is happy. He’s finally bagged a winner with Cue Card. Well done, Joe. I had a winner this year too, in the very first race! It’s been a long time since then and I’ve got Smad Place and Reve de Sivola trying for me. I’m not confident…

What are your World Hurdle fancies?

1504 Davy Russell has suffered a spontaneous punctured lung, apparently. I’ve no idea what that means, but it sounds very bad. Fingers crossed that he’s ok.

1458 Here are the World Hurdle facts, form and fancies.


World Hurdle Key Trends

Big Buck’s has won the last four renewals. Inglis Drever won three of the four before that. As such, trends are fairly redundant here.

World Hurdle Form Preview

This is a bit of a messy race. Basically, I don’t think Oscar Whisky can stay this far in soft or tacky ground, and am happy to field against him unless times indicate it is riding quick. I have backed Reve de Sivola, but the vibes about him are not good, and nor is the drying ground helpful. And the senior handicapper – who knows a thing or two about form – reckons their ding-dong last time out scrap doesn’t amount to much. Hmm.

So where do we go from there? Well, waiting in the wings are some talented, and perhaps ‘forgotten horses’. This has always been the logical home of failed chasers, and the likes of Peddlers Cross and Bog Warrior (and Reve de Sivola himself) join the roster here. Mind you, Big Buck’s himself falls into that ‘failed chaser’ category so we perhaps ought not to be too harsh!

Basically, it could be a wide open contest with reasons to doubt the  top two, so I’m looking for some jam on my bread here. Bog Warrior is relatively inexperienced with just five hurdles runs to his name, four of them wins. He started off this season falling at the last fence in a Grade 2 chase, which is when connections reverted to hurdles.

Since then, he’s gone three unbeaten: a handicap hurdle of a rating of 122 (!!); an ungraded hurdle where he beat Solwhit more than six lengths (that one was returning after a long layoff); and, an easy Grade 2 success from Zaidpour last time.

Bog Warrior needs soft ground, which is why he skipped last year’s Festival. So he may not have quite come up trumps on the turf front this time either. He’s progressive and has scope to improve again. That would give him a fair chance here, but I do have a couple of reservations with him. First, he usually leads and might not be granted that concession today. Second, his jumping – even over hurdles – leaves something to be desired. And third, he has looked a weak finisher on occasion. Collectively, they lead me to look elsewhere.

Solwhit was behind the Bog Warrior on his first start since January 2011, but followed that up with a nice win from So Young last time. His overall record, which includes SIX Grade 1 wins from a career total of thirteen wins, is impressive in the context of this race, and the ground won’t be an issue, though he’d probably prefer a bit more juice in it. But the big problem here is that he’s never raced beyond two and a half miles, and he’s been beaten on two of the three occasions he went even that far. I just don’t expect him to stay the trip.

Peddlers Cross is another classy hurdler, but doubtful stayer. True, he at least won the Neptune over 2m5f here, back in 2010. But his only win beyond that trip since was when beating a 130-rated horse by less than two lengths. He might well take them along, if he can get the better of Bog Warrior and perhaps Solwhit early, but with the doubt about his stamina, he’s not for me.

Wonderful Charm ought not to be good enough. He beat Ballybough Pat of Anthony Honeyball’s last time, and Anthony has no illusions about the ceiling of that one’s ability. Whilst Wonderful Charm is capable of better, and will go in the ground, he too has to prove he stays, as his longest distance win to date was over two and a half miles. It’s also the case that a five year old has NEVER won this race, and it’s been run for the last forty years!

Get Me Out Of Here really doesn’t like soft ground, and I can’t entertain him on that basis alone. However, if it is genuinely good ground, he has to come into calculations. And that brings us to Smad Place. He’s well suited by good to soft ground, and he’s young and improving, and he finished third to Big Buck’s in this last year.

Beaten just under nine lengths there as a five year old, that was an extremely meritorious performance. Since then, he unseated in the Aintree staying hurdle at the Grand National meeting when travelling well; he was a slightly disappointing third on his seasonal debut behind Tidal Bay; and then he ran up to Reve de Sivola on heavy ground last time in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle.

He was fourteen lengths behind Reve de Sivola there, but on less testing ground here, I’d expect him to be closer, and with his liking for the track proven, he rates a good each way prospect in a race where most runners have big questions to answer.

World Hurdle Tips

Most Likely World Hurdle Winner: Reve de Sivola
Best each way wager: Smad Place

1457 OK, half way through the placepot, and I’m still going, with lots (and lots) of chances in the last two races. Just need to get through the World Hurdle, a race in which they go 6/1 the field!

1455 Alberta’s Run couldn’t roll back the years, alas, and was pulled up. Champion Court ran his heart out, as ever, but wasn’t quite good enough. Riverside Theatre ran a lot better than I thought he would, just failing to snatch third. Menorah was disappointing, and Ghizao dropped away towards the end, as many of Paul Nicholls’ have so far this week.

It’s now 8-8 Britain versus Ireland after sixteen races this year.

1452 Cue Card’s Festival record now reads 1421. The second was to Sprinter Sacre, and they definitely did the right thing swerving that one by coming here. Well played, and I was wrong because I couldn’t really have him here, but he was the meritorious winner.

1450 Full Result:

1st Cue Card 7/2
2nd First Leiutenant 2/1F
3rd For Non Stop 12/1

1448 The Tizzards are having a phenomenal meeting in chases (two wins and a third place), and I’m thrilled for them. Great lot. First Lieutenant hit a couple late on, but in truth he probably wouldn’t have got to the winner, who did it really well. For Non Stop held third from the rallying Riverside Theatre.

Cracking race!

1446 Cue Card!!!

1440 Very stable market here. Money for nothing… Bryan Cooper taking over from Davy Russell on First Left. Davy is apparently suffering from a collapsed lung, which is serious. Best of health to Davy, and good luck to all here.

1437 Incidentally, lest you think First Left to place is an unambitious bet, it’s my placepot banker, which probably means curtains… 😉

1434 Josh with Menorah here, and Johnners with Champion Court. (Hello to both, and yes, Andy, see you in the Bear tomorrow!) Me, I’m very hopeful that First Lieutenant can make the frame.

1432 Incidentally, Gavin Priestley of Festival Trends is here with me today, and he’s looking for a rag to prevail here. He likes Menorah, Champion Court and For Non Stop here.

1430 Right, time for the Ryanair. Trends, form and my picks below.

Ryanair Chase Key Trends

Seven of the eight winners came from the top three in the betting.

Seven of the eight winners had won over this specialist trip.

Seven of the eight winners had won at the course previously.

Ryanair Chase Form Preview

A small field this year, and arguably a disappointing turn out for a race that provided perhaps the spectacle of last year’s Festival, with three horses exchanging the lead on the run in, having been in the air together at the last.

Disappointing turnout or not, there’s a winner in there somewhere, and the most likely candidate is First Lieutenant. ‘First Left’ has been running some blinding races this season, getting barged out of it late doors in two Grades 1′s either side of a third place in the Hennessy at Newbury.

He’s dropping back in trip a little here, to a distance which might well be optimal for him. He was a 2m5f winner of the Neptune at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, and was then second to Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase last year.

First Left’s last three wins have all been at around the two and a half mile mark, and I think he will relish the drop back. Hopefully, Davy Russell will sit just behind the lead and then aim to stretch them from the turn, with stamina assured and the ground no problem.

Against him are last year’s 1-2, Riverside Theatre and Albertas Run. The former seems to have ‘gone’ a bit, and assistant trainer Charlie Morlock explained that they’ve had a lot of trouble trying to get him healthy, let alone fit. The latter comes here without a prep run and is now twelve years old. Surely even the most romantic of punters couldn’t expect him to win here. If he does, it will be a fantastic story, and all credit to connections. But he is certainly not for me.

Cue Card has been hovering around the top of the market all winter, but he’s never actually achieved a rating which would have been sufficient to win a Ryanair, and he looks pretty exposed nowadays. He does go well on soft, and this is his trip, but I suspect he’ll find at least one too good in this company.

Champion Court would be a popular local winner, but four second places in his last five starts tell their own story. He’s just not quite up to a race like this.

He and Cue Card will probably try to lead here, and they ought to set it up for First Lieutenant, the balance of whose form is a little better in my view.

Two at bigger prices worth a second glance are Menorah and For Non Stop. Menorah won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle here in 2010, and has been a consistent – if slightly below top class – sort ever since. His last two runs – a win against Hunt Ball and a fair third to Silviniaco Conti over a trip too far – are reasonable in the context of this field, and he could hit the board if his jumping stands up (or, more correctly, if he stands up to/from his jumping).

For Non Stop seems to have got his preferred ground, though he was also a Grade 1 winner on soft last term, and ran third in Sir Des Champ’s Jewson here subsequently. He’s been off since Christmas, which is a concern, but his price allows for a small stakes interest play if you’re that way inclined. He will certainly love the trip and has a touch of class about him. It could be a staggering 45 minutes for Nick Williams if this fellow and then Reve de Sivola in the next prevail.

Ryanair Chase Tips

Best Ryanair Chase bet: First Lieutenant
Each way possible: Menorah
Reasonably interesting outsider: For Non Stop

1428 Well done Jonathan. Chose Captain Sunshine on the train this morning, and backed it each way accordingly. Nice work. Incidentally, former Albert Bartlett winner, Bertie’s Dream, stuck on very well for fifth place if you bet with a firm paying out on that position.

1421 A few of you on Benefficient but not many words for Holywell, so I’m guessing that was less popular!

Onwards, and it’s time for race three, the Ryanair Chase. Who’s your fancy here?

1420 Jetson flying from a mile back. Slightly softer ground and he’d have won. :-S

1417 Great runs from Jetson, ‘frontdoor, Captain Sunshine and, of course, Holywell. Jonjo thought it might have been too quick for the winner.

Disappointment was obviously Sam Winner, who couldn’t cope with the big field, and may not have been so well handicapped as people said in any case.

1415 Full result:

1st Holywell 25/1
2nd Captain Sunshine 11/1
3rd Jetson 10/1
4th Shutthefrontdoor 6/1

1413 Well I’ve stopped backing seconds, as I backed a third there! Holywell wins the races!!

1405 They’re off for the Pertemps!

1402 Just seen that Josh W backed Benny Fishn’t. Well played, Josh! Looks like the Irish have the best novice chasers then, Simonsig apart…

1400 We’re up and running. Who are your fancies in the Pertemps impossible Final? My previous thoughts are below, and I’m happy to stick with those (both put up by Pricewise too).

Pertemps Final Key Trends

13 of the last 14 winners carried 11-02 or less

13 of the last 15 winners were rated 142 or less

Repeat winners Willie Wumpkins and Buena Vista are the only horses aged 10+ to win

The only five year old winner was Pragada in 1988

The Haydock, Cheltenham and Leopardstown qualifiers have been responsible for seven of the last ten winners

Pertemps Final Form Preview

Although this is wide open, there are a couple of very short priced horses at the top of the market in the shape of Sam Winner and Shutthefrontdoor. Connections of both are hugely respected, though Paul Nicholls has yet to win this race from eight runners in the last fifteen years, and one of them – Alfie Sherrin – went off 11/4 favourite! Jonjo on the other hand – who now trains Alfie Sherrin – has won it twice in the past decade.

Sam Winner was a precocious juvenile, being good enough to run fourth in the Triumph Hurdle behind none other than Zarkandar, having been given a lot to do. Of course, that’s old news but it does at least show he handles the track and it may also imply he’s very nicely weighted, give that Zarkandar is now rated 167, and the second and third are rated 155 and 166. Sam Winner has a rating of just 140!

An abortive chasing career was abandoned after two falls in two starts, and he then had a year off the track before returning in December 2012 with an encouraging fifth of twelve in a good Sandown handicap. In his only start since, he won a jumper’s bumper, and it’s certain that the stable has been holding off running him in case they buggered up his handicap mark. Although he may not be as battled hardened as some of these, he’s got oodles of class, and a gimme weight. He has an obvious chance, but is very short.

Shutthefrontdoor comes from very highly regarded connections and is hard to quantify. He’s won all bar one of his seven races (I was there the day he lost at Folkestone!), but he rarely wins by much, meaning the handicapper can’t do anything with him. He’s a novice with just four hurdle starts and that’s less than any of the last fourteen winners.  With a rating of 146 and a weight of 11-06, I don’t think he can overcome inexperience, no matter how much he’s liked at home. On that basis, I’m happy enough to be wrong if he’s good enough to prove me wrong.

So which of the field match the winner’s profile and look to be favoured by conditions? My metaphorical notebook has the following names scribbled in it: Action Master, Stonemaster, and Jetson.

Action Master won the qualifier here back  in October, and has since been nicely ‘managed’ with two runs in handicap chases to keep him fit without impacting his hurdles rating. He’s trained by the shrewd Dessie Hughes, obviously goes on the track, and loves a decent pace in big fields. But he’s probably a bit better on quicker ground, and that’s enough for me to look elsewhere this time.

Stonemaster and Jetson are the interesting pair. Both ran in the Leopardstown qualifier last time, finishing third and sixth respectively. Stonemaster was more prominent throughout, and he should make a bold bid here in a race which might just stretch his stamina to breaking point. If he gets the trip all right, after a running on sixth in last year’s Coral Cup, he’ll run well.

As for Jetson, well, his run the last day in that qualifier has to be seen to be believed. It’s a blatant non-trier job: eleventh turning in (and still on the bridle), he was steadied almost to a walk at the last flight, before staying on to be sixth of thirty, beaten ten lengths. He won that race last year, and is now rated 135 in his bid to add the Final this year to the Qualifier last.

Jetson loves big fields, loves soft ground (but acts perfectly well on good), has a viable rating, and bags of experience. He should run a cracker.

Pertemps Final Tips

Most likely (Sam) Winner: Sam Winner
Best each way value plays: Jetson, Stonemaster

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