Racing as a whole and the Cheltenham Festival in particular is all about finding the value, as subjective as that may be.
With that in mind I have out forward six double figure priced horses worth a second look now and during Festival week.
Of course the big conundrum is the weather, but it is hard to see the word ‘Good’ being the stand alone description during the week so I have based my selections on ground good to soft, soft in places.
Tuesday: Supreme Novices Hurdle – 13:30
I am a huge fan of favourite Getabird, but behind the market leader there may not be much strength in depth to grab hold of and Claimantakinforgan can take advantage of that.
Nicky Henderson’s charge is two from three in his novice hurdle career and had he not bombed out at Musselburgh last time out I suspect this athletic son of Great Pretender would be trading at a single figure price.
It was hugely apparent that he was never happy on the sharp Edinburgh track and once his chance had gone Nico de Boinville was not overly hard on him.
It was also clear on paddock inspection that he didn’t look as well in his coat as he had at Ascot. If back to his best – and there should be plenty more improvement to come – he has every chance of hitting the frame at the very least and it is worth remembering that Mr Henderson has a rather good record in the Festival opener.
Tuesday: Ultima Handicap Chase – 14:50
Gold Present is the progressive stayer in the line-up and could be a graded chaser in disguise, but I’m not sure he really wants too much give in the ground and Vincente looks the forgotten horse.
The dual Scottish National hero, (both wins off 146), was always thought to be a definitive good ground horse, but several runs on a softer surface have blatantly blown that theory away.
The nine-year-old should be at the peak of his powers now and would have got up in another stride when rallying to great effect when second to Perfect Candidate here in November.
He has a cracking record fresh, acts on the track, is only 5lbs higher than for his Ayr victories and will running on up that hill when others have cried enough. At a double figure price what is there not to like?
Wednesday: Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 13:30
Everyone wants to see Arkle II, Samcro, do the business in this second day opener and to my eyes he will either win or blow out completely. It is worth remembering that Ballymore market-leaders have a terrible record in this race going all the way back to the great Denman (beaten at 11/10).
So having bypassed the Supreme, I fancy a massive run from the unexposed Ainchea (20/1).
Colin Tizzard’s charge would have made it two from four had he not fallen at the final flight at Sandown and on his style of running and breeding will be perfectly suited to a fast run race over this trip on soft ground.
It is also worth noting that his yard were still finding its feet when he ran at the Esher venue.
Wednesday: RSA Chase – 14:10
Presenting Percy is the rightful favourite here and is the class act in the line-up, but I think it is highly significant that Dounikos has been re-routed by Gigginstown here from the National Hunt Chase.
His run in the red hot Flogas Novice Chase has not been hyped up enough. Firstly, he was racing over a trip short of his best. Secondly, he was one of the least experienced in the line-up and thirdly, he was short of room down the home straight, losing vital momentum in the process.
This more severe test of stamina looks sure to be right up his street and the 11/1 on offer is simply a no brainer.
Thursday: Stayers Hurdle – 15:30
This year’s renewal has more strength in depth than last year, but there is no one outstanding contender and Bacardys strikes me as the dark horse in this lung-bursting event.
There are several entries at the top of the betting list that simply won’t stay in a true race on soft ground and that is exactly the scenario we are sure to get with Sam Spinner at the head of affairs from tape release.
The selection hasn’t really taken to fences this year.
But on his Punchestown defeat of Finian’s Oscar last season he has an outstanding chance of a successful return to timber.
The cream on the cake is that he remains thoroughly unexposed over a real trip of ground and 12/1 has enticed me in for one of my biggest bets of the meeting.
Friday: Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – 16:50
This race goes from strength to strength and with so many progressive unexposed hurdlers in the line-up this could be quite a renewal.
The first five home in the Lanzarote Hurdle lock horns again and they each have very solid each-way claims here, but I fancy a large slice of the 10/1 on offer about the Gordon Elliot trained Sire Du Berlais.
While I think the handicapper over here has been harsh in allocating him a mark of 144, with only five runs under his belt I am sure he will end up leaving that rating behind.
He was particularly eye-catching when coming home with great zest to run Out of the Loop to five lengths at Leopardstown last time out and a stronger gallop in a bigger field should see him step up again. I know that Gordon Elliot likes him as an individual I expect a massive run from the son of Poliglote.
All prices correct at time of posting