Cheltenham Festival 2018 | Day 3

13:30 | JLT Novices’ Chase

This is not a deep JLT. The British formlines all revolve around small field races and the form of those races is awful. The best two British novice chasers this season were Saint Calvados and Black Corton, they’ve been beaten a combined seventy lengths this week. I can’t make a case for any of them to be under 11.0 in the betting.

The four Irish runners is the place to concentrate. Monalee would have won this by a distance, however he ran yesterday when finishing a very creditable second to Presenting Percy in the RSA. SHATTERED LOVE won a grade one over Christmas, where Monalee fell. She jumped and travelled beautifully that day, she gets the mares allowance here. She’ll have no issues with the going and she is going to be difficult to pass on the front end. I have her down as a 7.00 chance.

The horse who should be favourite for this is INVITATION ONLY. He is favourite, but I have him priced up at around the 3.25 mark. He finished third in what looked a really good renewal of the grade one Flogas Chase last time out, less than a length behind Monalee. Snow Falcon was a further four and a half lengths behind him, it’s difficult to see that form being reversed. Invitation Only will be on the front end with Shattered Love and I can see that pair fighting out an exciting finish.

There’s no rule that says you can’t back two horses in the same race and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. Dutching the pair gives you combined odds of just over 2.97.

BACK INVITATION ONLY at 4.33 (Coral) for 68.69% of Total Stake

BACK SHATTERED LOVE at 9.50 (Bet365) for 31.31% of Total Stake

14:50 | Ryanair Chase

It’s a huge shame this race has cut up so much. The likes of Waiting Patiently and Fox Norton would’ve really added to this card. However we still have and interesting field and an opposable favourite. Un De Sceaux is a class horse, he won this race last year, he’s won numerous grade, yet I think he’s worth taking on over two and a half miles. His best conditions are two miles on testing ground. He’ll get the ground here, but this ground coupled with the additional distance will really test his stamina. Watching last years race back he took a very keen hold and pulled Ruby Walsh to the front. He travelled like a dream form most of the race, but when he was asked the question after the last he had nothing to give up the hill. He was fortunate that day that and he might not be so lucky this year.

The question for what to oppose him with is an interesting. On the one hand I’m tempted to lay him, but that would mean I have five running for me at an odds-on price. Some of those I don’t want on my side though. Cue Card ran a cracker in defeat at Ascot last time out. My feeling with him  is that he was trained to the minute and you’d have to have your doubts in his ability to reproduce that form less than four weeks on. I don’t think that Sub Lieutenant is good enough, and I’d use his one and a half length second in this last year as a negative for Un De Sceaux rather than a positive for himself. Frodon loves Cheltenham, but he was a long way behind Cue Card in the Ascot Chase and without the assistance of Bryony Frost and her claim he. It’s difficult to see how he turns that form around.

That leaves me with two. CLOUDY DREAM has had 18 career starts. He’s won seven of those, finished second in nine of those and third in the other two. With that number of seconds you do wonder whether he puts it all in. However on a closer inspection of his form he’s only ran over his optimum distance of around two and a half miles four times. He’s won two of those, including beating Waiting Patiently (over hurdles) who showed the best chase form of the season when winning the Ascot Chase. At Cheltenham last year he got to within six lengths of Altior, that’s the same Altior who won The Champion Chase by seven lengths despite not travelling well. I have no idea why he is 13.0, he’ll travel well throughout the race, the trip is perfect and there are no concerns about the ground.

BALKO DES FLOS ran a career best last time out against a horse that interests me for The Gold Cup. He’s drifted throughout the week for this due to concerns about the ground. Henry de Bromhead has stated that the rain will ruin his chance, but everything has its price. He won a bumper and a beginners chase, impressively, on soft ground.  At 7.00 I probably wouldn’t be backing him, but now I can get 13.0 he’s cheap enough to get on my side as some cover.

I’m going to use hutching for this bet, which means I’ll be having more on Cloudy Dream than I will be having Balko Des Flos. If the latter wins, I’ll get paid out at 1.95 if Cloudy Dream win the payout will be just over 11.0.

BACK CLOUDY DREAM at 13.0 (Bet365) for 85% of Total Stake

BACK BALKO DES FLOS at 13.0 (Bet365) for 15% of Total Stake

15:30 | Stayers Hurdle

As the jumps season revolves around this week and a handicap in Liverpool, you tend to get comments like “that horse is rubbish, it’s never won at Cheltenham”. You get that comment even if the horse has won at Cheltenham, but not a festival race. No horse brings this out more in people than YANWORTH. The horse has had one bad run in its career, yet many will say it’s not good enough. Last season he won Grade Ones over two and three miles, he is a good horse and he’s been a profitable horse. Eighteen career starts, twelve wins and a level stakes profit at SP of £14.91 to £1 stakes shows that he isn’t a dog.

He started the season chasing and won a grade two at Cheltenham in January. He hasn’t had a run of hurdles this year, but I’m confident that he can still jump them. His last run over hurdles was the 3m Liverpool Hurdle. He beat Supasundae in that, who has shown he’s a good horse by winning The Irish Champion Hurdle at a distance too short and getting within half a length of Apple’s Jade over Christmas.

Sam Spinner has had a great season, with his best piece of form being his win in the grade one Long Walk Hurdle. He made all that day and won well. However the form of the race doesn’t have a good look to it. He’s also not guaranteed to get an easy time in front either. You also have to ask has he done anything that Yanworth couldn’t do? In my opinion Yanworth could’ve won a Long Walk hurdle.

Over the years a some classy two milers have won this race, Nichols Canyon and Solwhit are two that have done it in the last five years, Annie Power almost managed too. In my opinion Yanworth is the best horse in the race and he has no issues with the going. He won a Neptune trail here on heavy ground, by seven lengths without even being asked the question.

BACK YANWORTH at 7.00 (General)

16:50 | Mares’  Novices Hurdle

There’s not much point in going into great depth looking at this race. LAURINA should be winning this easily. I tried opposing the Mullins stable in this race when they had Limini and that didn’t work out well. They seem to think a lot of this mare, if all the rumours are correct. She hasn’t broken sweat in her two starts this season, where she’s won by fifteen and eleven lengths. She’s already rated far superior to all of these apart from Marias Benefit. She was ran close by Irish Roe last time when attempting to make all. She’ll take the lead here, but it’s difficult to see how she holds off Laurina, who still looks to have plenty of improvement to come.

BACK LAURINA at 1.62 (General)

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