I’ve had a good week so far, I’ve made a profit on both days and my level stakes profit now stands at +5.50 points. What that means is that it’s bookies money that’s paying for my bets today and if the worst happened, my first bet tomorrow. However more importantly I only need one more winner this week to guarantee that I’ll keep my Cheltenham Festival record in tact and may it twelve years from twelve.
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Yorkhill was near the top of my list of horses to oppose this week. In my opinion, he’s too head strong, he pulls too hard, doesn’t jump well enough and I don’t think his form this season is up to much. He won The Neptune last year and obviously I rate that form highly, even though it took a knock on Tuesday, but he got a peach of a ride from Ruby Walsh that day. With the way I hope this race is run, I can see him pulling his chance away after the first three fences.
For me this race is all about what DISKO does, I’m hoping that they send him to the front in a similar fashion to what they did last time out. He was allowed to get into a rhythm, his jumping improved for it and he beat a very strong field. RSA Chase third Bellshill was in it and he would’ve had no chance even if his jumping held up. The race also contained Our Duke who had won a Grade One, in which Disko finished third, the time before. If Disko turns up and jumps the way he did the last day, then I can see him jumping these into the ground from the front.
Politologue is a nice type for Paul Nicholls, yet his form doesn’t really stand up in comparison for my liking. Top Notch is a horse that frustrates me, I backed him to win The Triumph Hurdle a few years back, he finished 2nd, just like he did when I backed him in a Price Rush Hurdle and The Fighting Fifth. Now this season he’s ran up a string of victories, including a Grade One last time out. He’ll give it his all, however I’m not sure he’s going to be effective on the ground as the more cut the better for him.
As I said above I can’t be trusting Yorkhill at the price and if Disko can get into the same rhythm as he did last time I can see him being very difficult to peg back.
On a separate note, as there are only 8 runners it’s not the worst race in the world for having an each-way bet and if Yorkhill did go odds-on I would definitely suggest doing that, however at the time being I’m on win only.
BACK DISKO at 7.00 (Paddy Power, Bet Victor, Betfair)
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It’s an outrage that they’re deciding to water the track ahead of Thursday’s racing, they don’t use hairdryers on it when it’s soft to try and help those horses who like to hear their hoofs rattle. Quick ground at this distance would expose Un De Sceaux, we saw in The Champion Chase last season that he was as effective as he usually is and the ground was used as the excuse that day. This will be the first time that he’s tackled this distance over fences, although he did win over a similar trip over the French version of hurdles, which are like mini-fences, however that was on soft ground. His record on ground described as ‘good’ is 0/3 beaten a total of 33.5 lengths.
Empire of Dirt finished second in The Irish Gold Cup last time out, however not only am I sceptical of that form I also think he’s in the wrong race. I think he’s at his best over further than this and it’s really surprising that connection haven’t gone to The Gold Cup with him, especially considering they don’t have Don Cossack or Don Poli this year.
UXIZANDRE was given a fantastic front running ride to win this race two years ago, Don Cossack who was apparently the Gigginstown banker of the week, was back in third. He that had issues that kept him off the track for almost two years. He returned in the rescheduled and relocated Clarence House Chase and finished a very creditable second to Un De Sceaux on ground that was unsuitable for him to perform at his best. I believe he’ll be sent to the front in this and with condition more in his favour that they were last time, I can see him reversing the form. The bounce factor is a concern when a horse comes back from a long lay off and then performs well, but he’s had a 47 days to get over that last race so I’d be confident that he’s over any ill affects.
BACK UXIZANDRE at 5.50 (888 Sport)
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This is a race that has puzzled me this week, I think Unowhatimeanharry is the correct favourite and I can even make a case for him to be odds-on in this. He’s beaten most of this field all season long, he won the Albert Bartlett at last season’s Festival, so I can’t knock his form and if I’m being honest I can see him winning bet 1.50 lengths. However I have a few nagging doubts around him, his record on good ground before last season’s Albert Bartlett reads 0/3, although that was three years ago and he’s obviously improved since then. My other concern is that he can be lazy in front, he still wins but he never really pulls away from the field in the fashion you’d expect after the way he’s travelled through the race.
As I said Unowhatimeanharry is the correct fav and on form he has this lot beaten, but there’s one horse and formline that I believe can put it up to him. When I talk about flat racing a term I use a lot is “class horses win class races”. The class horse in this race is JEZKI. The 2014 Champion Hurdle winner is still having the form of that race franked when My Tent Or Yours finished second in another Champion Hurdle on Tuesday. He’s spent a large part of his carer finishing second to the great Hurricane Fly and a very similar fashion to 3013 World (Stayers) Hurdle winner Solwhit did. Solwhit was the class horse in the race that year and he won at a similar price to what Jezki is here. Jezki had his issues which meant he missed the entire 2015/16 season, but if we go back to his last two runs of 2014/15 we can see that he won an Aintree Grade One over twenty furlongs, and then followed that up with another Grade One win at Punchestown over twenty-four furlongs, beating Hurricane Fly and Zabana who is well regarded and won a Grade One Novice Chase last season.
After his issues Jezki returned to the track in January, where he won a minor event in Ireland. That was then followed by a well below par effort on ground (Heavy), that he absolutely hates at Gowran Park last time out. That run was also less than a month after his comeback run, it’s certainly plausible that he could’ve bounced and with the combination of the unsuitable going he just didn’t run his race.
Jezki has the best form in the race, he is getting the ground that he wants, he’s the class horse in the race and if he settles early on then I fully expect him to put it up to Unowhatimeanharry coming up the hill and in that scenario I know who I’d prefer to have my money on.
BACK JEZKI at 9.00 (William Hill)
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So Willie Mullins stable are in meltdown apparently, because he hasn’t had a winner this week and Douvan getting turned people are starting to question if their is something wrong in the yard. The way I see it he’s horses have been running well enough, Melon, Haymount, Vroum Vroum Mag, Limini and Bellshill have all ran well enough this week.
I see this as a two horse race between the Mullins pair of LET’S DANCE and Airlie Beach, but one of them is superior and I fully expect Let’s Dance to win this in a similar fashion to the was Limini won this last year. I don’t think that the drop back in trip will inconvenience her, she travels well, jumps efficiently and quickens up nicely. I fully expect Ruby Walsh to be holding onto until the last then push the button for her to skitter away up the hill.
I’m surprised that she isn’t odds-on for this, especially as the would’ve been second favourite for The Nepute which is a much stronger race.
BACK LET’S DANCE at 2.62 (General)