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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016: day two betting

Morning everyone.

Not a bad day yesterday with three winners although with two of them odds-on, it didn't set the world alight. However Altior in the opening Supreme Novices' race was a decent price at just over 9/2 on Betfair and 4/1 SP.

Native River was second at 7/1 (hit evens in-running) which would have been nice but overall, I'm happy to make a modest profit on the day.

Very much looking forward to the Champion Chase. It's got a great narrative with the old horses taking on the new. I think the Mullins horse will get there, provided he stays up. Below is today's Irish Independent column - best of luck with your bets today. Race by race guide near the bottom of the page:

Un De Sceaux to dethrone the old guard in Champion

The 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) winner Sprinter Sacre will today attempt to emulate the great Moscow Flyer by winning the race aged in double figures.
But there's a reason the younger horses have a good record here and that's because it's usually run at a fierce pace. Unlike some of the less frantic staying races, it's extremely difficult to recover from a mistake over the two-mile trip so accuracy when jumping is of paramount importance.
I'm sure he'd raise the roof if he came home in front, and having backed him numerous times down through the years, I'll be kicking myself for not being a part of it. But Sprinter Sacre's had a number of problems since his outstanding win three years ago and it's a big ask.
Fair enough, he showed that he's still got something to offer when winning the Shloer Chase and the Desert Orchid Chase this term - but a price of 9/2 or thereabouts is a fair reflection of his chances.
2014 winner Sire De Grugy is also aged ten but was beaten by Un De Sceaux and Sprinter Sacre in his latest two races, and there's nothing to suggest the form will be reversed this afternoon.
Dodging Bullets is worth a mention too having won this race last year. With Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy running far below their best in that renewal, the strength of that form is open to question but to win any race at Cheltenham is a big deal so I'm going to give credit where it's due. Unfortunately, he's been mostly out with injury and was beaten on his comeback run by Top Gamble in the Game Spirit Chase.
So with question marks over the last three winners of the race, the vote has got to go to Un De Sceaux, albeit at an odds-on price. He destroyed Sire De Grugy in the Clarence House, he has the speed for this type of race - and he jumps aggressively which all points to a first Champion Chase for Willie Mullins. But paradoxically, that vigorous jumping may actually be his Achilles heel. He's now fallen twice in his seven races over fences so it will be interesting to see if Ruby Walsh tries to temper his enthusiasm a little this afternoon.
Third in this last year, Special Tiara has place claims although he was beaten fair and square in the Tingle Creek by Sire De Grugy.
In the RSA Chase (2.10), 2014 World Hurdle winner More Of That will probably go off as favourite but I must admit that I've found it hard to get a handle on this horse.
While seven wins from eight runs is a fantastic record, his career has been going in a stop-start fashion for a number of years, and his latest race when winning a three-runner novice chase here in December didn't teach us much.
Previously, he won a novice chase with a bit more depth to it at the November meeting so he certainly has claims, but at the prices he's best avoided.
Gordon Elliott's No More Heroes ticks the right boxes for me. A good hurdler in his day, he's shaping up to be an even better chaser winning all three starts over fences, although the downside is that he hasn't had a race since December.
Having said that, Don Poli won this last year after a similar break and No More Heroes has done some schooling with Don Cossack which I'm sure has taught him quite a bit.


The Ferdy Murphy-trained French Holly won the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (1.30) at the age of seven in 1998 priced 2/1 but overall, older horses have a very poor record here.
Since that success, some 50 horses aged seven or older have competed but not one has won. Parlour Games (13/2) and Outlander (4/1) finished second and sixth respectively last year in a race which went to Dermot Weld's Windsor Park (9/2). Weld saddles the only seven-year-old today, Vigil, which is expected to go off around 20/1.



Willie Mullins' Yorkhill is yet another top-notch prospect but this can go to Alan King's Yanworth, which was trading a shade odds-against yesterday evening. An outstanding course win here in January confirmed he's one of the best in this division.

This could end up being a match between More Of That and No More Heroes and preference is for the latter at a slightly bigger price. Gordon Elliott has some of the best chasers in training at the moment and this is one of them.

Quite a tough race for punters recently, Long House Hall gets an each-way vote around 14/1. Dan Skelton's gelding won a Cheltenham handicap hurdle in April, and he might be well handicapped on a mark of 140 considering he won a novices' chase at Bangor with plenty in hand.

Quite a number of previous winners have come back for more and Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets and Sire De Grugy all deserve respect. But the fast-paced nature of the race may see the older horses struggle leaving Un De Sceaux to claim the prize for Willie Mullins.

Enda Bolger used to win this race regularly and Josies Orders' winning course and distance form gives him in edge - but he's very short in the betting and Third Intention gets the nod instead at an each-way price. His form has been up and down but this type of race might give him a lift.

The John Ferguson-trained Jaleo races in a handicap hurdle for the first time and an opening mark of 135 seems fair. He was full of zest when beating Our Thomas in a juvenile hurdle at Catterick last month and I've stuck him in the notebook as one to keep onside in his next few races.

Good recent form is a must in the bumper but this year, around two-thirds of the field have won their most recent race so that doesn't narrow it down very much. As always, the Willie Mullins' horses will prove popular in the betting but Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyandy has done little wrong and won a similar race here in November.


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