Let’s make one thing absolutely crystal clear before I go into my mid-range selections for day two.
Despite the appearance of the equine messiah Tiger Roll, I would rather eat stinging nettles than invest my hard-earned cash in the Cross Country Chase, so quite simply let’s move on.
Once again it is worth noting that all my picks are of course reliant on ground conditions and even though at the time of writing the going is soft all round at Prestbury Park, you have to factor into the equation the likely change in the turf between now and day two.
Of course following my selections for the Wednesday does have a safety net with Paddy Power now offering non-runner money back, so I am banking on connections pulling their entries out if the conditions don’t suit, which can’t always be guaranteed!
Envoi Allen will be the banker of many not just for day two, but for the whole meeting. I have to say after firmly opposing Samcro over the past 18 months more often than I have made excuses to miss afternoon tea at my mother-in-law’s house, I still have a deal more regard for the six-year-old than I ever had for his stable mate.
The betting will tell you that he is the mostly likely winner and that is probably true, but is he the best value left at his stage of the betting build-up?
I was massively surprised that Philip Hobbs didn’t enter Sporting John in the Albert Bartlett as I believe he is a stayer pure and simple and a budding Gold Cup horse. He had the race run to suit at Ascot and even if he won a shade cosily, everything fell into his pocket.
The son of Getaway is rightly respected, but again the price has gone, but I would still make him the main danger to the value each-way play which to my eyes is the Willie Mullins-trained AIONE at 25/1. He too does have the alternative of the three miler, but I think this 2m5f is the perfect trip for him and if he doesn’t run here, you can still make your money work for you on day three with PP’s non runner money back offer.
Each step that he has taken along the novice hurdle ladder, the selection has progressed and what makes his profile even more enticing is that this late maturing seven-year-old has done it with at times some really slip-shod jumping. I think he is the prime example of a novice hurdler that needs a fast pace to become more fluent and that could well take him to within striking distance of the top-rated entries in his event.
It could well be one of the best renewals of this mid-distance novice event for many a year especially if Nicky Henderson is ordered by his famous owner or if he can persuade him to run Chantry House in this, emphatically, the right race for him. Add to the equation The Big Getaway, The Big Breakaway and several players on offer between 10/1 and 25/1 and we could have race to savour.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a truly wonderful spectacle and many will be licking their lips with anticipation in the hope of seeing the big three charging down the home stretch in line as they race between the final two flights.
I have the utmost regard for all three horses, but in a split second here is how I weigh them up:
- ALTIOR – flat spot, very strong, still got it
- CHACUN POUR SOI – high cruising speed, game, very hard race last time out
- DEFI DU SEUIL – improving, but flattered at Ascot, loves the track
I think given the right scenario either of the three could lift the speed crown, but I have not played ante-post and don’t think there is even a smidgeon of value in he betting now, so I will savour the day and keep my money in my pocket.
I was lucky enough the host the Paddy Power box last year and for some unknown reason the powers that be have asked me to return.
Matt Chapman actually gave a 28/1 winner in William Henry for the Coral Cup! Fair play to the lad, but he had no idea why he picked the nine-year-old – I think he just liked the colours, tbh.
This year’s race looks as competitive as ever on the Wednesday, but I have backed two each-way, the Lanzarote hero BURROWS EDGE and Gordon Elliott’s THATSY. The latter wasn’t just an eye-catcher, he gave me two detached retinas when making stealthy, late headway over the minimum trip in a £76k handicap at Leopardstown on the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month.
I think he could be a huge mover for this and the 25/1 looks a downright naughty offer a this stage with the non runner money back guarantee.
I haven’t had an interest in the Champion bumper since I mistakenly backed Monsignor at 85/1 way back in 1999 to save the bank manager from sending me an overdraft bill and I won’t be starting down that low road here.
However, the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (ex Fred Winter) does interest me and I will have two against the field in the form of the strongly fancied ARAMAX and at a much bigger price GALAHAD QUEST.
The former is miles better than he has shown so far and I think could take another huge step forward if ridden with far more restraint.
The last night named won tenaciously over the New Course last month in the Triumph Hurdle Trial and has been underrated by the odds makers.
The RSA Chase is an interesting set up this year and had he been trained by N Henderson or W Mullins, I suspect that Copperhead would be favourite for the novice staying championship.
He has achieved a whole lot more than Champ on my private ratings and is a much more reliable jumper.
But if there is any value left in this book, it has to be the mare SALSARETTA at 20/1. I have simply loved the way that she has gone about her business, albeit in mares races, and even though she does have the Marsh Novices Chase (old JLT) as an alternative, I would love to see her take on the boys in receipt of 7lbs. Now there is also the possibility that she could even run in a mares event at Limerick worth €50k and bypass Cheltenham altogether – but that’s where Paddy’s non runner money back comes into its own.
I also think Pym would be a player on good or at worst good to soft ground. I cannot understand why he was asked to run in a bog at Ascot, it simply made no sense whatsoever.
*Prices and entries are correct at publication and are part of Paddy Power’ non runner money back offer.
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