Inside today’s main piece there are couple of future winners. Plus, I continue my preview of the Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 races. Today I look at a couple of Wednesday’s races.
I was finally back in the winning groove this weekend. Its been a tough month, indeed a tough start to 2023, on the punting front. It was to be expected I suppose.
I tweaked my modus operandi at the start of the year, and it can take time for it to bear fruit. The aim was always to peak for the Cheltenham Festival, and I think I’m heading into a good place.
Get All of John's Selections
When you Trial his Victor Value service
Just £7 for 14 Days
Click Here for Immediate Access
In addition to Nemean Lion on Saturday, I advised The Big Bite (18/1) at Newbury and trumped that with Lieutenant Command (25/1) at Leopardstown on Sunday. To those who recently joined the Victor Value service the latter two winners mean they have plenty of Cheltenham pocket-money. To play with.
I gave Victor Value subscribers two selections on Monday. Silver In Disguise who was disappointing. He was the first beaten and pulled up before they got into the straight at Wetherby. Fortunately I also gave them the Billy Loughnane ridden Prydwen (17/2) although I missed the 12/1 that had been available.
Cheltenham Festival: The Big Calls – Part 2
You would have got long odds at the start of the season that an English trained runner would be heading the betting for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. However, at the time of writing Hermes Allen, trained by Paul Nicholls is the ante post favourite. Its an intriguing race with question marks over several of the leading fancies.
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
Three from three over hurdles Hermes Allen ran out an impressive winner of Newbury’s Grade 1 Challow Hurdle last time. It was very soft ground when he won last time. Now he goes on good ground, but I wonder if he might find one or two a bit to speedier at the business end of the race.
As ever a lot depends on who Willie Mullins runs. He has the next in the betting in Impaire Et Passe. The 6-year-old was an impressive winner of a Grade 2 at Punchestown last time. He looked a high class prospect that day and showed a good turn of foot to win.
Willie also has Gaelic Warrior and Champ Kiely prominent in the betting. The first named also holds an entry in the Supreme and seems likely to go for that race. In truth I haven’t really warmed to him and his tendency to jump right means he may be a Punchestown horse.
Champ Kiely bounced back to winning ways when successful in a Grade 1 at Naas in January. That race has been won by Envoi Allen (2020) and Bob Olinger (2021) before they went onto success in the Ballymore. Granted he got to the dictate the pace and two hurdles we’re omitted that day. However, he should go well if he runs here.
Good Land won the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle (2m 6f) at the Dublin Racing Festival. The race is normally won by a staying type. However, I was taken by the performance by the winner. He jumped neatly and travelled well through the race. The drop back to 2m 5f shouldn’t inconvenience him as he doesn’t lack pace.
I can see why Impaire Et Passe is at the head of the betting and he’s the most likely winner but my pick at this stage is GOOD LAND.
Weatherbys Champion Bumper
The Champion Bumper isn’t a race I normally get involved in but there is one I really like in this year’s renewal.
Willie Mullins has saddled the last three winner of the Champion Bumper and four of the last five. So, it’s not surprising that he has four of the first five in the ante post betting.
Taking the market as a guide the Mullins number one looks to be It's For Me who cruised to victory on his bumper debut at Naas in January.
If history is a guide, then Mullins won’t be relying on just one runner. Indeed since 2008 his winners haven’t always been the stable first string with winners coming in at 12/1, 16/1, 25/1 x 2 & 11/1. Although his last two winners Sir Gerhard (85/40) and Facile Vega (15/8 fav) were both well fancied.
Given it can often pay to go with a Mullins outsider. Two worth considering are Westport Cove and Western Diego.
I liked the look of Westport Cove’s bumper debut win at Fairyhouse in January. He looked an exciting prospect with plenty more improvement to come that day and would be of some interest if coming over.
Western Diego won a Naas bumper on his rules debut. He looks a staying chaser in the making and a track like Cheltenham and a decent pace should suit the 6-year-old well. Like Westport Cove he’s another excellent long term prospect.
A Willie Mullins runner isn’t my main race fancy though it’s A Dream To Share. The 5-yesr-old completed a bumper hat trick when winning a Grade 2 at last months Dublin Racing Festival. That’s the best form on offer and after his win at Leopardstown he was purchased by J P McManus.
Champion Bumper Verdict:
Not a race I normally look at in any depth, but I did have Silver Concorde, the 2014 winner at 16/1. I tend to focus on the day on a Mullins outsider or two which hasn’t bared fruit in the past two seasons.
I do have a strong fancy for this year’s renewal though and it’s A DREAM TO SHARE. He’s generally available 4/1 (William Hill a best priced 9/2) and I think he should be favourite ahead of It's For Me.
At this stage of the jumps season I tend to focus on horses who have a big spring target in mind. Today’s first horse for the tracker certainly meets that criterion.
Undersupervision – Nigel Twiston- Davies
Last year’s Grimthorpe Handicap Chase winner was bidding for back to back successes in the race and he got within a neck of victory on Saturday.
This was a back to form effort by the 7-year-old. Granted he’s not the most reliable but you couldn’t fault his attitude at the finish of Saturday’s 3m 2f race. He isn’t the most reliable, but he’s ground versatile and stamina looks his strong suit.
After the race the trainer said that he would be aimed at the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. That sort of test should be ideal for him.
The yard won the race in 2009 and has eight other place including two who finished second. If you had backed all his nineteen runners in the race each way since 2009 you would be +£40.25 to a £1 stake.
Today’s second horse for the tracker, is a horse who ran at Wexford on Sunday. This one doesn’t have any big Spring targets but is one of my ‘improvers on time’ horses that I’m trialling.
Tennessee Titan – Seamus Neville
Tennessee Titan put in much improved performance when a 5 length 2nd of 12 in Wexford maiden hurdle (2m) on Sunday The 7-year-old got a bit outpaced two out but stayed on resolutely all the way to the line.
Granted the race wasn’t a strong one, but he was giving 10lb to the winner Secret Rock who should also win more race when switched to handicaps. The way Tennessee Titan finished his race suggests he can better over further than two mile in handicap company.
Sandown where its Grand Military Gold Cup Day and Newcastle provide day’s jumps action. There is also an all-weather card at Lingfield this afternoon and one at Southwell this evening.
4:10 – Howlingmadmurdock is open to further progress and is interesting on handicap debut. However, his best form has come on soft ground, so today’s surface is a bit of an unknown. No going concerns for The Plimsoll Line who won a good ground maiden hurdle at Warwick last month. He’s having his first start for 132-days but has gone well fresh in the past. On account of the likely going for The Plimsoll Line is the pick.
The Plimsoll Line – 8/1 @ Bet365.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.