Cheltenham tips: St James’ Place Hunters’ Chase antepost bets from Ruby Walsh

Ruby has had his say

Ruby Walsh Bob And Co

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Ruby Walsh has given his take on the St James’ Place Hunters’ Chase as excitement builds ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

Our resident jockey-turned-pundit believes that this race will be impacted the most by the decision to ban amateur riders from competing at Prestbury Park this year in accordance with public health guidelines.

Cheltenham Festival: Dates, race times and antepost tips from our experts

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast, Ruby ran through the leading contenders and revealed who he fancies to take the spoils.

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Listen to the full show BELOW.

I think this could be the hardest race to figure out at the festival. Not having the amateurs at Cheltenham this year could have the biggest influence on this race out of the three normally amateur contests. Traditionally, when you look at the amateur status in the UK, a lot of ‘corinthian’ amateurs have their own Hunter Chase horse and that is what they would ride in this. David Maxwell is one of those people, and he would have ridden BOB AND CO who is second favourite. So Patrick Mullins would have ridden BILLAWAY and he would have a big advantage over David Maxwell.

Now it’s most likely to be Paul Townend v Harry Cobden, so Billaway’s advantage of having Patrick Mullins ride him – and STAKER WALLACE would have had Derek O’Connor and IT CAME TO PASS would have had Maxine O’Sullivan – is gone. A lot of the other horses would have been ridden by genuine amateurs, so not having Patrick – and the rest being ridden by professionals – is a disadvantage to Billaway.

Billaway’s jumping cost him last year, but I don’t think he is ground dependent. He won at Down Royal in December and that would have been pretty testing. He then went on to beat Staker Wallace at Naas.

However, It Came To Pass most certainly is. He beat Billaway last year at the Cheltenham Festival, and actually absolutely routed him at 66/1 under Maxine O’Sullivan. He would have to be taken seriously because on good ground It Came To Pass is a much better horse.

It Came To Pass Maxine O'Sullivan Cheltenham March 13, 2020

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Billaway seems to be in great form but looking at the ratings of the opposition in this race, Bob And Co is 146 on official ratings and HAZEL HILL is 143. Has Billaway run to a rating that would suggest he is much higher than that? I would suggest he isn’t anywhere near a 150 horse. He has a big disadvantage with the change in rider in this race. Willie Mullins didn’t think Billaway had enough experience going there last year, and that’s why he’s had a couple of runs this year. We’re hoping he can jump better and I would expect that he has improved a bit from his run last year.

Staker Wallace was fourth in this race last year and there is no reason why he can’t get closer this year. It Came To Pass has been poor on soft ground this season, but he always is. I can’t emphasis enough how much he needs genuine good ground. He’ll be primed for this day though.

Staker Wallace looks to be the No 1 for Enda Bolger ahead of STAND UP AND FIGHT. Stand Up And Fight probably has a little bit more to improve, having been behind Jury Duty when we last saw him at Thurles, while Billaway has beaten him twice.

I’m lukewarm on Billaway as jockeys will be key here, and the advantage he had is now gone. I’m therefore going to go for Bob And Co.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Ruby Walsh’s St James’ Place Hunters’ Chase bet summary

Bob And Co

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY FOUR SCHEDULE

13.20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y

13.55 – County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y

14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y

15.05 – Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y

15.40 – St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup 3m 2f 70y

16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f 127y

16.50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 56y

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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