Cheltenham tips: Paul Jacobs’ 5 value plays for Festival week

PJ banged in an 18/1 winner on Tuesday and is back for more on Day Two.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Tuesday 13.30 (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) – JONBON

Hailed as the next big thing before he made his debut for Henderson, it always annoys me how a reputation can be pulled to bits in the space of one run. This ultra-expensive purchase has been knocked off his pedestal by many pundits and punters due to what they described as a workmanlike performance when landing the Rossington Main at Haydock Park last time out.

However, I am prepared to flip that run on its head and turn it into an advantage in this race where the leading protagonists simply haven’t had a real race, been put under pressure or, put quite simply, shown that they have the right attitude at the sharp end of a contest. JONBON not only proved and passed that case at the Merseyside track, he came out of that Grade Two event with a distinction; quickening twice down the home stretch and readily pulling clear.

That kind of experience will serve him well here and he is simply too big in the market place now compared to both Dysart Dynamo and stable mate Constitution Hill.

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Tuesday 16.10 (David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) – MARIES ROCK

The Mares Hurdle looks one of the more fascinating contests during the week and there is little doubt that Tellmesomethinggirl is the right favourite based on her unlucky never-nearer third to Royal Kahala in a Grade Three over Christmas. She was held up that day, but her two winning runs over this trip have come when she dictated affairs.

Seeing as she stays so well I can see Rachael bouncing her out. However, a fast pace will suit the selection down to the ground. She was regarded as something special by Henderson as a novice, but had numerous niggly problems and it has only been in the past couple of months that the veteran trainer has got her back to her best.

Indeed, that Warwick win could be merely the tip of the iceberg and getting a good tow into the race will benefit her enormously. I think MARIES ROCK is a very solid each-way play here.

Wednesday 16.50 (Grand Annual Chase) – THYME WHITE and POSEIDON

I really wanted to put up a play in the Coral Cup, but my two fancies, Drop The Anchor (surely laid out for this and unexposed over two and a half), and Camprond, are way too short in the betting for a race which offers the chance for glory to 26 entries. No doubt I will put both in my Placepot and back in singles on the day, but I thought that the Grand Annual was a better alternative for our next value call.

Despite top weight racing off a mark of 156, Sky Pirate is respected with his notable turn of foot off a fast pace and he is a pound lower than when he narrowly got the better of Entoucas last year, while the likes of Andy Dufresne and Before Midnight have solid claims.

The one thing we do know about this year’s renewal is that it will be run at one hell of a pace because front runner Editeur Du Gite will have to deal with no less than six other entries in the field of 20 that have made the most in their races. Around the tight Old course that all adds up to plenty of thrills and spills.

In punting terms, you need a horse that is economical at its fences and stays well. Well handicapped goes without saying. Cue the Paul Nicholls’ charge THYME WHITE, who looks nicely treated and normally takes a good hold and has a kick at the end of his races.

The one negative is that he is less experienced than most, but then you can’t have it all! There is little doubt that his price is now short enough, but that is the reason why we can have a backup at a huge price. The Danny Mullins’ mount POSEIDON fits the bill nicely. Only one from eight over fences hardly fills you with confidence, but he was a naughty eye-catcher when a distant fifth to Ciel de Neige last time out.

The drying ground is crucial to his claims and a clear round will see him in the mix at a huge price if DM can get him into a rhythm early on, which is the pivotal factor in this race. One mistake and your dance will come to an abrupt end. Yes, he is inconsistent and still a wee bit of a novice, but then the bottom line is that he has the talent to outrun his price.

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Thursday: 14.10 – IF THE CAP FITS 

Some 12 months ago, this veteran was regarded as a lively outsider for the Stayers Hurdle. You could argue that he was travelling best of all coming down the hill, but then bottomed out after turning for home, eventually finishing ninth of the 15 runners, beaten by some 30 lengths. Dropped from an official mark of 158 down to his present rating of 137, if amateur rider Ben Bromley (7lbs) is again booked, he could be a massive player here; if held up on much better ground in a fast run race.

Since then the lightly raced 10-year-old (this will only be his 24th start under rules, six wins from 16 over hurdles), put up an eye-catching run off 142 at Sandown, only getting going in the final three furlongs. If he is held up off the pace again, which I think is crucial to his chance, I can see him creeping into this off his lightweight and making the top six at the very least.

Friday: 17.30 – DECIMATION

There are any number of novices and second season hurdlers that look well handicapped for this 2m 4f finale notably Hollow Games (thought to be an Albert Bartlett horse at the beginning of the season by Gordon Elliot) and Adamantly Chosen (winner of a maiden last time out and simply crying out for this extra half mile). But the dark horse in the field has to be this son of Milan, Decimation.

Winner of his maiden hurdle on heavy ground last season, despite not liking the deep ground, his three runs since then have looked rather underwhelming, all over two and a half miles, but in moderately run races which in turn made him race way too freely from the front or as a presser. The key to his chance could well be getting a faster pace to run at and settling further back. If that can be achieved I am certain we will see a much better version of this very lightly raced seven-year-old with the added bonus that this is his only entry during the week.

Paul Jacobs’ Cheltenham tips

Tuesday: 13.30 – Jonbon
Tuesday: 16.10 – Maries Rock
Wednesday: 16.50 – Thyme White and Poseidon
Thursday: 14.10 – If The Cap Fits
Friday: 17.30 – Decimation

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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