Cheltenham Festival 2016 – Day 3

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”13:30 – JLT Novices’ Chase” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

I thought I’d spotted a horse at a huge price for this last week, unfortunately it seems that a few others spotted it too. GARDE LA VICTOIRE was a general 7.00 last week, he’s now 5.00 favourite and I still think that’s a backable price.

He gave away 9lbs to Bristol De Mai at the start of the season and beat him by seven lengths, eased down. He backed up that victory with another win at Cheltenham in a Grade Two race, back in November. He’s won three of his five starts at Cheltenham, finished a quarter length second on another occasion and showed nothing when he ran in The Supreme two years ago.

Bristol De Mai is represents the juveniles from last season and I still hold the opinion that they were a poor bunch. They didn’t think that this horse was good enough to run at The Festival last year,  Peace & Co and Top Notch were the owners preferred runners, both of those have let the form down this year. The main reason people think he’s a good horse is because he won a Grade One by six lengths last time out. He was receiving 3lbs that day and was given an easy lead, something I don’t expect him to get here.

I have no idea why Black Hercules is running in this race. To my eye he looks a stayer, so running him over two and a half miles doesn’t make use if his biggest asset.

Outlander was second favourite for The Neptune last year, however he made a number of mistakes and finished back in six. He’s been switched to chases this season and has won all three of his starts. The pick of his form was winning a Grade One last time out. Monksland finished second that day and even though that is good form I don’t think it’s anything special. My main problem with him though is the ground. The only other time  he’s raced on good ground was at The Festival last year, where he made mistakes and couldn’t get into the race.

BACK GARDE LA VICTOIRE AT 5.00 (General)

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”14:50 – Ryanair Chase” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

It’s a shame that VAUTOUR is going for this race instead of The Gold Cup. Before he was re-routed the race had a very open feel about it, I fancied Taquin Du Seuil and Smashing. Now that Vautour is in the race it effectively takes a place away for each-way punters and the ground has gone against Smashing.

Vautour was thought of as good enough to win a Gold Cup, he’s won at The Festival for the last two years and was phenomenal over this course and distance last year.

I thought the best price we’d get would be 1.66, but with 1.80 available I’m forced into backing him. The reports that he wasn’t working well doesn’t bother me as I don’t believe them, I think they were just given as an excuse so that they didn’t look like they were back tracking on previous comments too much.

BACK VAUTOUR AT 1.83 (Bet Victor and Paddy Power)

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”15:30 – World Hurdle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

THISTLECRACK is the best bet of the week in my opinion. He finished last season with a thirteen length victory at Aintree over Vyta Du Roc. That was followed up by Killultagh Vic at Punchestown, Shaneshill who finished eight and a half lengths back in third that day, finished second in The RSA Chase on Wednesday.

This season he’s won a Grade Two by six lengths, with Cole Harden and Whisper further down the field. He then won the Grade One Long Walk hurdle by eight lengths. However his best performance was when he won The Cleeve Hurdle over course and distance, giving 8lbs away, on the bridal by twelve lengths. The way he won that race was Big Bucks like and he looks the best staying hurdler since him.

The only slight concern is the quicker ground, he did win a bumper on good ground two years ago but hasn’t raced on it since.

I think that he should be odds-on, so more than happy to take the odds-against.

BACK THISTLECRACK AT 2.25 (Bet365 and Bet Victor)

[symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”16:50 – Mares Novices’ Hurdle” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Limini is the second coming and the Irish banker of the week, apparently. She’s a potential group class performer on the flat and almost everything from her maiden hurdle win last year has come out and won. All this sounds like I’m mad to take her on, however I really like SMART TALK.

At the prices this Brian Ellison trained mare is the bet for me. She won a listed race by eight lengths after making all. She  followed that up with an impressive performance in winning a Grade Two by over three lengths. That level of form means that she should be shorter in the betting than she is and Limini shouldn’t be odds on.

BACK SMART TALK AT 8.00 (William Hill, Bet Victor, Paddy Power)

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