Run on Cheltenham Gold Cup day, this race named in honour of a legendary figure, is a real exciting betting heat to be a part of….
Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls’ only winner of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival came courtesy of Salubrious in this competitive handicap hurdle.
The inexperienced six-year-old, ridden by Harry Derham, turned what was supposed to be an ultra-tight event on paper into a precession.
Having chased home earlier Grade One winner At Fishers Cross at Newbury in December, he had some good form in the book and had won for Derham last time.
Held up at the back early, he cruised up to the leaders rounding the home turn and found more than enough when asked on ground that probably wasn’t too his liking. Despite being beaten at Aintree next time out, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him compete once again in the top two mile five furlong handicaps this season.
Nagpur followed the winner home, seven lengths inferior, whilst Double Ross put on a game showing from the front to grab his connections some place money. There’s races for him to win at Cheltenham on similar ground if staying on the same mark.
Improving novice Gevrey Chambertin, who was well backed at the top of the market to become David Pipe’s first victory in the race named after his father was being niggled at from an early stage and he was beat a long way out. It was an all too familiar run from a horse from the same family as Grands Crus, who also ran poorly at the Festival.
2014 Major Players
Like all Festival handicaps, it almost impossible to have a confident prediction about who will line up on the day. Please feel free to return here nearer the race for a lowdown on all the big challengers.
Betting advice: strong race trends
With only five runnings of this intriguing handicap to work with, strong trends are to find, however, one stat is pretty damming in that all five winners have been second season hurdlers. Last season’s novices have achieved this strike rate from a less than 30% representation too.
A reason for this very encouraging punting angle probably lies in the fact that these novices have been primed for this event over a unique distance that brings the best out of a horse that may be ahead of the handicapper.
As with many races at the Festival, paying close attention to previous course form when analysing the race will bring more profit than loss in the long run. Andytown won at 25/1 in 2009 after winning a similar race at the track earlier in the season and 2012 victor Pause And Clause ran a belting race to finish third in the Coral Cup the previous season.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a record in this race that Pipe could only dream of (although it’s only a matter of time before Pipe finally strikes in this race). Henderson has only won the Martin Pipe Conditional once but his place record is pretty extraordinary, having saddled six top-five finishers, including two third place hauls.
Bookmakers have yet to price up this market as there is little point in doing so as its nigh-on impossible to plan which horses will undertake this challenge.
February will be the time to start plotting a punting angle on this race.
This may be the season for Pipe to finally get a winner on the board though. He targets this event with a very high class horse as exampled by Grands Crus and Dynaste being entered for this but getting balloted out at the declaration stage.