Punters bounced back with a bang yesterday – hope you all got on a few of the Mullins horses. Hopefully it’ll be another bumper day for punters as we reach the climax of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Before we get into the race analysis let’s take a look at the trends. The last 9 winners were rated higher than 138. The last 25 winners ran within the last 55 days. 16 of 17 that had run on the flat had won over 1 mile 4f. 10 of the last 12 winners were in first 4 of the betting. 18 of last 23 winners won last time out. French imports and Nicky Henderson horses have a great record.
Nicky Henderson’s French import Charli Parcs top’s the trends guide for this race with Master Blueyes in 2nd and another Henderson trained horse Soldier in Action 3rd best. J P McManus owns the first two in the betting in this race and he must have a tremendous chance of winning this. Defi Du Seuil has done nothing wrong all season and is unbeaten. He also has two course and distance wins to his name.
He’ll take plenty beating in this but there has been strong word of late that the other McManus horse is held in higher regard. Nicky Henderson who does really well in this race said that his horse that was 2nd in the Fred Winter on Wednesday was streets behind Charli Parcs on the gallops. Henderson will often tell people if he thinks the horse is special and he’s very fond of this horse.
This horse hacked up on debut over hurdles in France and he hacked up on stable debut at Kempton.
He beat today’s rival Master Blueyes that day with relative ease. On his most recent run he was being asked for a question 3 out but he fell and took a bad fall, injuring Barry Geraghty in the process. Master Blueyes went on to win that race by 11 lengths. Based on the form from the previous run between the two I think Charli Parcs would have won if he didn’t fall. He wasn’t travelling well when he fell but he was just getting warmed up.
This horse has a real engine and I think he’ll show it today.
Noel Fehily is a boost in the saddle too. Mega Fortune looks the best of the Irish horses but he would have prefered much softer ground. I think Henderson’s outsider Soldier in Action can run a big race at long odds, he’s the highest rated ex flat horse in the race. This should come down to a match between Defi Du Seuil and Charlie Parcs though and I can see CHARLI PARCS getting his head in front today.
The 2nd race on the card is the County Handicap Hurdle. This is a wide open race and very tough to find the winner of most years. 5 year olds have won 9 of the last 17 renewals of this race. 10 of the last 11 winners of this were either novices or 2nd season hurdlers. The betfair hurdle and boylesports hurdle are always good guides for this race. Irish trained horses have won 8 of the last 13 runnings. Willie Mullins has trained 3 of the last 6 winners.
Only 3 horses since 1960 have carried over 11 stone 3lb. The last 10 winners were rated in the 130’s.
Crievehill, De name escapes me, Wait For Me and Mick Jazz come out top of the trends guide for this race. Mick Jazz looks to have a great chance based on his 2nd behind Labaik and his win over Cilaos Emery. Labaik won the Supreme Novices Hurdle and Cilaos Emery finished 5th in that race.
Mick Jazz has to only carry 10-11 in this handicap, the yard are in form and this horse will love the conditions. Arctic Fire is no doubt the class horse in the race but he has not run for 2 years since he was 2nd in the Champion Hurdle to Faugheen. He also has to give away weight to the whole field which I can’t see him doing.
North Hill Harvey has got some decent pieces of form to his name. He was 9l 4th behind Limini, Petit Mouchoir and Buvuer D’air at Aintree last season. As we know that form is top class and this is another horse who is able to run off a nice weight.
He was impressive last time out beating Modus. That horse ran well earlier in the week off a big weight. Wait for Me was placed in this race last year but I think this year’s race is tougher. That one is also out of form.
I was surprised Song Light got into this race. He has been running some real good races in top handicaps. He’s 3lb better off with North Hill Harvey today based on his 3rd behind that rival. This horses 4th in the Betfair a top trial for this race is also decent form. I think he’ll outrun his odds at 25/1 but he doesn’t win too often. Crievehill who comes out top on the trends guide ran a nice race when 3rd to Neon Wolf last time out.
He was a fair bit behind the front two though. Todays ground is an unknown for him, he would have preferred it to be soft but has a chance nonetheless.
De Name Escapes Me was a decent bumper and novice hurdler but he hasn’t shown anything on his last two runs which is quite off putting. He comes out well in the trends so might be worth watching the market for this one. His stablemate Joey Sasa is one of interest though.
This horse has been a really good yardstick for most of the novice hurdlers in Ireland this season. This horse loves his racing and he’s run into a few top class novices along his way. His 3rd to Let’s Dance in a graded race looks good form now based on the win of Let’s Dance yesterday.
This horse is way too big of a price. I thought he would be one of the favourites but 28/1 is great value. This horse’s trainer had a winner at the track yesterday too which reads good for this one.
No doubt North Hill Harvey and Mick Jazz have the best form in this race. I think they’ll battle it out up the hill but I think Mick Jazz is on a much better mark and has a lot more to give. MICK JAZZ is the one for me and also JOEY SASA each way.
The 3rd race on the card is the Albert Bartlett Novices hurdle due to be run over 3 miles. The Irish horses look to hold a strong chance in this race. Death Duty is unbeaten in four starts over hurdles. He beat Monalee two runs back by 3l over 2 miles and 4f. Last time out he had Augusta Kate upsides at the last but she fell. I don’t think he would have won. Death Duty still had a lot left in the tank. Death Duty’s form is rock solid.
The only doubt surrounding this horse is that he has not won over this trip of 3 mile. His trainer thinks that he will stay no doubt the best of the Irish horses. Monalee hacked up on its next start at Clonmel over 3 miles which boosted the form. Monalee himself has a decent chance in this race. He’s got the proven stamina but good ground is a big doubt for this one. It’s done most of its winning on heavy ground.
He has to improve to beat Death Duty too. Uncertainties about Augusta Kate seeing out this trip. She may well have run Death Duty close if she stood up last time out but she didn’t seem to get up the hill here too well last season in the Champion Bumper. I think Death Duty is the best of the Irish horses and if he stays he wins. Wholestone and The World’s End look the best of the British trained horses. Wholestone is tough and stays really well.
He’ll be bang there at the last. I just question if he’s as good as a few of these though. The World’s End has the beating of Wholestone on a line through a horse called No Hassel Hoff. The World’s End is unexposed and could well have more to give.
I think he could well be the one to put it up to Death Duty but for me DEATH DUTY is the only winner of this race.
The feature race of the whole week is at 3:30 and it is the Grade 1 Gold Cup a race which is steeped in great history.
This years race is not the best of renewals but it should be a great spectacle as always. I would have loved to seen Thistlecrack and the late pair of Vautour and Many Clouds run in this. Djackadam has been placed in this for the last two years. He’s run into Coneygree and Don Cossack.
Both of whom are also missing from this years race. This will be Djackadam’s best chance of winning this race which would be a 1st for Willie Mullins. It’s one of very few races that has eluded him. The yard are back in flying form and I think Djackadam will be bang there again today jumping the last.
I do think though he’ll run into another improver today in the shape of Native River. This horse won the Hennessy earlier in the season off a big weight and then followed up in the Welsh National off the same mark. It was a great feat to land the double. He made all the running in both races and fought gamely to the line. He reminds me of Synchronized who on the Welsh National and then the Gold Cup. Native River is a much more flashy sort though and has bags of pace.
Cue Card is undoubtedly the class horse in the race.
He was in top form last season and he was swinging off the bridle when he fell in this race last year. Who knows what would have happened if he stood up. He must have a great chance in this again but I think last year was his best chance to win this.
He’s 11 years old now and according to speed figures he has slowed down a bit this season. Native River his stablemate on the other hand is on the rise.
Sizing John won nicely last time out in the Irish Gold Cup but that race is never a great trial for this race. The horse he beat Empire of Dirt did not boost the form here yesterday, he ran very disappointing. I’m not so sure about this further step up in trip for this horse either.
Outlander who beat Djackadam in the Lexus has to come into calculations for this race too. He really impressed me that day and he was doing his best work late on. I think he’ll see out this trip really well but the course is a doubt for him. He ran stick last year in the JLT at this course.
He lost all interest early on and then hit a few fences. I think Djackadam can reverse the form with this one.
I can’t give the rest of the field much of a chance in this. More of That was good when winning the Stayer Hurdle few seasons back but he’s done nothing since. Minella Rocco beat Native River in the 4 miler last year at the festival but that horse has also shown nothing this season. His also has jumping issues.
Henry De Bromhead fancies his horse Champagne West for this race but the horse lacks the class to win this race. He is another who has had jumping problems.
For me this race comes down to a match between Djackadam and Native River. I think Richard Johnson will make this race a real test for the others. This horse could take a few lengths out of the field between the 2nd last and the last and Johnson will be be kicking on off that final bend in front.
It could prove crucial as this horse is a proven stayer and it will take a good one to pass him.
Ruby will have to ride Djackadam close up in the final part of the race of Native River may steal this. It should be a great race to watch and have a bet on. I think NATIVE RIVER has everything in his favour and he can give the Tizzards and connections a well deserved Gold Cup win.
The Foxhunters Chase at 4:10 is always a great race to watch. On The Fringe has won this race for the last two year and I think he’ll make it three wins in a row in this race today for Jamie Codd. Codd said at a preview night that the horse is in really good form this season even at the age of 12.
He said Marito looked his biggest danger but that horse is not running. That should make it much easier today. Wonderful Charm was a really good horse in his day under rules but I can’t have this horse at all. He has had terrible problems with his breathing and I don’t think this stamina test will suit him. A lot of people are saying Ask the Weatherman can beat On the Fringe but I don’t see it happening. This horse is a prolific point to point winner.
That form is well below rules form though. The horse Ask the Weatherman beat to get qualified for this race was beaten 60l on its next start which doesn’t’ read well. On the Fringe’s biggest threat will come from Paint the Clouds who was 3rd in this race for the past two years.
He will like this ground and should run his race yet again but I can’t see him reversing form with ON THE FRINGE who is my selection for this race.
The Martin Pipe handicap hurdle at 4:50 is a race in which the trends have proved very profitable to follow.
Trainers that had done well are Gordon Elliott, Philip Hobbs, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson. Conditional jockeys that claim weight have a tremendous record in this race. 5 of last 7 winners were rated between 133 and 139. 20 of 28 placed horses started at double-figure odds. 5 & 6 year olds dominated, accounting for all 8 wins and 14 places. 7 of the last 8 winners rated within 7lb of top rated horse.
The Nicky Henderson trained Protek Des Flos came out on top of the trends guide with 10 from 11 boxes ticked. Tommy Silver, Rather Be, Runfordave and Castello Sforza weren’t far behind. This race can be a very good trial for the future races such as the RSA and the Gold Cup.
The likes of Sir Des Champs, Don Poli and Killultagh Vic all won this for Willie Mullins. He’s got two live chances again in Castello Sforza and Battleford. Both placed in the Champion Bumper last season behind Ballyandy. Battleford only went down by a nose in a very close finish.
He had Bacardy’s back in 3rd and Castello Sforza 3l away in 4th. Battleford reversed the placings with Ballyandy in the Aintree bumper but only lost out to Bacardy’s. Battleford has taken well to hurdles this season. I can’t say the same for Castello Sforza who has been disappointing in three runs.
Battleford’s 2nd to Monalee over 3 mile last time out on heavy ground is top form. He won’t know himself on the better ground today. This race may be run over 2 mile 4 furlong but you need a really good stayer in this with a touch of class. I think Battleford is that very horse. He could well be a RSA contender next season.
Thomas Campbell and Protek Des Flos are interesting runners for Nicky Henderson as is Runfordave for Gordon Elliott. They all have a bright future and look like good stayers. Protek Des Flos came out very good in the trends for this race and his last run was very eye catching over a shorter trip.
The key thing with Battleford and Protek Des Flos is that they both have 5lb claimers on them and they both have a low weight. They’ll have a big advantage on the field.
BATTLEFORD is a really good bet for this race and I think at odds of 25/1 PROTEK DES FLOS has to be backed each way also.
The Grand Annual brings the curtain down on another Cheltenham festival at 5:30.
Like the Martin Pipe this race can prove profitable to follow the trends. 6 of the last ten winners carried between 10-10 and 11-5. 9 of the last 10 winners only ran in 4 to 12 chases and run in fewer than 4 handicap chases.
Basically you’re looking for a young unexposed horse in handicaps. Novices have a great record in this race. Horses with proven graded form and that come into the race in top form also need to be followed. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have a excellent record in this race and horses with course form are a must.
Le Prezien who is trained by Paul Nicholls came out clear at the top of the trends guide from Solita and Bright New Dawn. Paul Nicholls has the old boy Dodging Bullets in this, he won the Champion Chase two years ago but has been a shadow of his former self since. He has come down the weights a lot though.
If he showed any of his old sparklet he’d run well but I think Nicholls has it in the race to keep the racing weight low for his other horse Le Prezien who as I mentioned comes out top of the trends. This horse is 2 from 4 over fences and was 3rd in a Grade 1 behind Top Notch last time out. That horse boosted the form here yesterday.
This is Le Prezien’s handicap debut and I think he has a right chance of winning this. He could well be a Champion Chase contender next season if he keeps on improving.
Nicholls was tempted to go for the Arkle with this one but came here instead for the easier option. Rock the World was placed in this last year and should go well again as should Dandridge who was 2nd in it.
Some say he was unlucky not to win last year under Davy Russel who is in the plate again today. Solita and Thienval are outsiders not without a chance too but LE PREZIEN is the one for me in this.
1:30 Charli Parcs 4/1
2:10 Mick Jazz 10/1 Each Way & Joey Sasa 28/1 Each Way
2:50 Death Duty 5/2
3:30 Native River 5/1
4:10 On The Fringe 15/8 (NAP)
4:50 Battleford 9/1 Each Way & Protek Des Flos 25/1 Each Way
5:30 Le Prezien 7/1 Each Way