We’re here! Well not yet, but nevertheless my first Cheltenham post is upon us. Get in! I’m as excited as I imagine that Sutton United goalkeeper would be if Greggs told him they were doing a half price pastie week. We have lost a numerous amount of big names, Faugheen, Min, Annie Power, Thistlecrack to name but a fewwhich is obviously disapointing but still, the show must go on and all that, so here we go. As well, a lot of these could still change races etc…
SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE Kicking things off is the Supreme, won by the all conquering Altior last year. this years race is headed by the Willie Mullins trained Melon trading at around 3/1. He beat Broken Soul very convincingly in Ireland on his sole start for the champion trainer and is reported to be an absolute monster at home and just on that alone and is enough for me to back him in this. You might think that’s very erratic and you’d be right to think that, however have you seen the line up in this? It’s a very poor renewal. Moon Racer, has looked alright when beating Ballyandy and the other Mullins horse Bunk Off Early looked half decent when finishing second in a Grade 1 to Barcadys earlier this month. I do quite like Charli Parcs and the Ben Pauling trained High Bridge who I’ve succsefully backed a couple of times this season and they are both decent prices 7/1 and 16/1 respectively, very good each way bets. But my vote goes to Melon in this, mereley on reputation and connections alone.
ARKLE TROPHY The Arkle next, won by the absolutely outstanding Douvan last year when he justified his odds of 1/4 by seeing off Gold Cup contender Sizing John yet again in easy fashion. It’s pretty much de ja vu this year, as it’s headed by 1/3 shot Altior. I can not see any situation where Altior doesn’t win this. It’s a real shame that Min hasn’t made it because i’ve gone on all record and put myself on the line all season by saying I believe Min could’ve beaten Altior here and I still do believe that Min could run him very very close. But that is all pointless now as Min isn’t here, so Altior will destroy this field. On the others I think a real good each way bet is the Ricci owned, Mullins trained Royal Cavier. He looked to be going the best when coming down at the last (I know yeah) in a graded contest last time out in Ireland and I think 20/1 is a monster each way price for him. Identity Thief could also turn out to be a great each way bet trading at around 14/1, if he sorts his jumping out that is.
ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE Big handicap now, with very big prices. Of said prices i’ve noted down Singlefarmpayment as my best bet in this one. He seemed to be travelling nicely at the trials meeting here last month before being brought down and does go well round Cheltenham, currently trading at around 12/1 it’s a great price for a horse that I think has got a great chance to get in the frame. Other horses to note include last years Pertemps winner Mall Dini. He’s had a very consistent season over in Ireland with some very respectable placed finishes and is one to take seriously to get in the frame at a huge 16/1. I don’t think you can rule out the David Pipe trained Champers On Ice who absolutely loves it round Cheltenham and was third in the Albert Bartlett here last year, another great price currently around 14/1.
CHAMPION HURDLE Probably one of the most underwhelming Champion Hurdles of all time this with a poor line up to say the least. Desperately missing the big guns such as Faugheen and Annie Power we are left with a field that is headed by last year’s Supreme third Buvuer D’air trading at around 10/3. I have a very, very strong fancy for this race, and it comes in the form of Alan Kings Yanworth. He’s come in for some criticism for a few short priced workingman like efforts this season but he has nevertheless won all of his starts. He’s only lost once over hurdles and that was to Yorkhill here last year in the Neptune and I believe he is better than all of these, the ratings back this up also. Petit Mouchoir will probably be the main danger as he has been very impressive over in Ireland this year winning a couple of Grade 1’s beating Nichols Canyon very convincingly in the first of those Grade 1’s. An outside chance in this for me is Willie Mullins Footpad. He was staying on dourly when finishing second to Petit Mouchoir last time out and at around 16/1 I think he’s a great price to get somewhat of a surprise finish in the top three. But Yanworth all the way for me in this. If you do decide to ride Yanworth, Barry, don’t give it a six mile race like you did in the Neptune.
MARES HURDLE I’m actually writing this as Limini has just turned over Apples Jade at Punchestown which changes the whole complex of this race quite dramatically. It doen’t really effect my predictions in any way mind as I’ve always believed that Vroum Vroum Mag will brush Apples Jade aside and that defeat to Limini has just certified that belief even more. There will be people out there that say well, Apples Jade beat Vroum Vroum Mag earlier in the season, Nichols Canyon beat Faugheen once upon a time, doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near the better horse does it? Vroum Vroum and Limini are now both joint favourite for this at 7/4 which puts question marks over either of them staying in this race, with questions being rasied to whether they’ll put Vroum Vroum in the Stayers or Limini in the Champion Hurdle. Either way though, this is one for Willie Mullins though in my opinion. I think he’ll run Vroum Vroum mag in this though that’s my honest opinion.
NATIONAL HUNT CHASE Another difficult race with lots of big prices being branded about in this years National Hunt Chase. A selection i’ve got down for this is Beware The Bear, he’s done really well this season winning a couple of good races in the process and could very well continue that form here. A big price at 16/1 and should certainly be in contention to get in the frame. Another one that put in a big run when winning last time out was Gordon Elliots Disko, a repeat of that run will certainly see him up there and his price of 14/1 certainly wouldn’t put you off backing him. A Genie In Abottle is the favourite for this trading at around 6/1 and I personally think thats a little short for a race like this at that stage but he has been running very well over in Ireland in some big races for Noel Meade which is why he is that price. But, i’d be willing to take him on with Beware The Bear.
CLOSE BROTHERS NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE Same story for this race as the previous its another really tough one and the final one for the Tuesday. The Close Brothers is a handicap that just about anything can take if they turn up on the day. I like the look of the Willie Mullins trained Blazer in this, he’s had a few tough races at top weight and still ran a decent third last time out. I think he’s more than a decent shout at 14/1 and think that’s a great each way price. I also quite like Paul Nicholls Romain De Senam, second in last year’s Fred Winter he is a bit hit and miss this one as he can throw in a shocking run every now and then but on the other hand can put in a good one therefore might be worth chancing at 12/1. My selection however in this if he goes that is, is the Willie Mullins Blazer.