Cheltenham Festival 2018 | Day 2

13:30 | Novices’ Hurdle

I’ve been a huge SAMCRO fan since I saw hist first bumper back in 2016. He just does everything so effortlessly. Last time out he won the Grade One Deloitte Hurdle, he cruised through the race and joined Paloma Blue two out. He was then given a shake of the reigns and away he went, running out a five and a half length winner. Like with all horses the big question is what price should they be? There’s been a lot of talk about what price Faugheen went off for this. He went off 2.50, but that has no relevance to what price Samcro should be.

I could write 500 words on his rivals today, but I don’t see much merit in that. On all the ratings Samcro isn’t that far clear, but he hasn’t been asked the question yet. I have no reason to believe he’ll find nothing off the bridal, he’s by Germany out of a Saddlers’ Hall mare. There’s a good mix of speed and stamina in that breed. He’s already won a point-to-point over three miles, cosily, beating Elegant Escape who was a horse I really liked for the four-miler, until he was entered in the RSA.

I expect this horse to put up a figure in the mid-160’s here, which means everything else in the race has to improve by at least stone to beat him. His current rating of 155 underrates how good this horse actually is.

BACK SAMCRO at 1.80 (Coral)

14:10 | RSA Chase

Monalee is in the wrong race her in my opinion. He’s a lovely jumper of a fence, but I don’t think he’s seen to best effect over three miles. If he’s ran in The JLT I’d expect to see him jump them into submission from the front. The type of horse I like for this race is a grinder with a touch of class. The horse that fits the bill for me this year is PRESENTING PERCY. He won the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle over three miles at last years festival. His preparation for this race has been ‘strange’, he won a 3m 5f handicap chase on soft ground by eleven lengths. That was followed with a run over 3m hurdles, where he beat Augusta Kate by five and a half lengths on heavy going. Last time out he was then stepped down to 2m 4f on heavy going, where he finished a length behind Our Duke under an ‘considerate’ ride from Davy Russell. The pair pulled sixteenth lengths clear of the third.

With Black Corton, Monalee and Elegant Escape all looking to set the tempo up front I can see the pace collapsing in this race. If that happens then it’s set up for a closer and under Davy Russell I can see Presenting Percy sitting at the rear and slowly being edged into the race before jumping the last and overtaking the leaders up the hill.

Presenting Percy is proven on the going, he stays and will get up the hill. With the way the race looks likely to be run he looks a rock solid favourite. He can post a rating of 160, which will be good enough to win this especially with most of his rivals looking like doubtful stayers.

BACK PRESENTING PERCY at 3.75 (Betfair Sportsbook)

15:30 | Queen Mother Champion Chase

I wasn’t going to have a bet in this race, but it’s now become a very interesting betting heat. I’ve always looked to oppose Altior for this. The horse done wonders for my bank balance when winning The Supreme, however he’s never actually done it on the clock. He’s also had his second win operation and with this being the toughest race he would ever have encountered I want to be against him.

It’s great to see Douvan run in this, but he’s having his first race in 364 days. Despite Ruby Walsh deciding to ride him, I want to oppose him. Douvan is such a big name horse and he’s the same price as Min that I think Ruby was comfortable putting emotion into his choice. In what should be a good test of stamina over two miles I can see him getting tired on his comeback race, therefore I’m against him.

Politiolouge wa the horse I’d originally earmarked for this race, but if he can beat the three market principles then that would be one fine training performance by Paul Nicholls. I can see him finishing in the frame as he jumps and stays well.

The way I see this race being run is Special Tiara leading them along, with Ah Mad and MIN just in behind. They’ll be followed by Altior and Politologue, with Douvan following that pair. That’s the way it will stay until they turn for home, two out. At that point I can see Paul Townsend giving Min a kick in the belly and trying to win the race.

With this in mind, I don’t see Min finishing outside the top three as he stays further than 16 furlongs. I’m probably going to take a lot of stick for advising this bet but I think Min is an excellent each-way bet. Many will say that you can’t have an each-way bet at under 5.00 if a 4th the odds, or 6.00 if a 5th the odds. I think that is nonsense! An each-way bet is two bets, one on the horse to win and one on the horse to place. With Bet365 offering a 4th of the odds on the place side for three places you’re betting into a 267% place book, where it should be 300%. That means you’re getting value. You’re getting odds on 1.75 on Min to finish in the top three, that looks like a fantastic bet to me. Yes, if he doesn’t win the race then you will make a small loss. However if I didn’t think he was a value bet to win the race I wouldn’t be backing him. As it stands I think he should be 3.25 to win this race and by backing each-way I have a value bet on the place side too. I’m having one point each-way in this as it’s two separate bets.

BACK MIN at 4.50 Each-Way (Bet365)

16:10 | Cross Country Chase

This is a simple one for me and one of the corner stones of my week. CAUSE OF CAUSES has won at the last three festivals, if it wasn’t for a mistake at the last in 2014 it would’ve been four. He won this race by nine lengths last year, before going on to finish second in The Grand National.

BACK CAUSE OF CAUSES at 4.33 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power)

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