Good morning all,
My first look at the ante-post Cheltenham markets has thrown up a couple of bets, one of which probably won’t come as any surprise given this years post-Cheltenham comments, and one that has grown on me a bit after last week.
Both are, of course big prices, but the case for them both is fair enough, and it is on today’s main piece.
In the mop-up after the Festival last year, I pointed out what a Herculaean effort Vinndication had put up under top weight in the Ultima, giving lumps of weight away to the three that finished in front of him, including a Grade 3 winner in Kildisart, that effort coming off the back of a 235-day break after hosing up first time last season at Ascot in a red- hot handicap that has gone on to prove a very solid piece of form.
Indeed, I made the point that, on the figures, it was a run that wasn’t that far behind what the placed horses in the Gold Cup achieved later in the week, and although you’re not strictly comparing apples with apples, the point remains what a superb effort it was.
So much so that he was made favourite to beat the highest-rated chaser in Britain off level weights at Wetherby on his reappearance this year in the Charlie Hall. An early slip there cost him ground and momentum but he worked his way back into it, and at the finish, was starting to stay on very well to be beaten just two lengths. An extra 2½f at Cheltenham will give him every chance of reversing that form, I feel, especially if he jumps better.
As much as those that believe he’s better right-handed, the figures and visual impression I have of him tell you he’s just as happy left-handed, and his best two efforts on the book have now come going that way around. With an uninterrupted build up this year, I feel he has the potential to do better again, and at this stage, the 40-1 available makes plenty of appeal.
I wasn’t really looking for a bet in the Champion Chase at this stage, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that this is a year where something can come from leftfield to challenge for top honours, with so many of the bigger names either blotting their copybooks, or are ground dependant, or whether we’ll even see them at all….other than in a racecourse gallop, of course….
At 20-1 Greanateen makes some appeal, but at a whopping 66-1 with Bet365 Fanion D’Estruval makes even more, and I’ve had a small each-way bet at the price.
Four times a winner in France, he panned Sully Doc and company on his first start on these shores at Newbury around this time last year and connections could barely disguise their glee afterwards. They fully expected him to win that 0-140 handicap on the bridle and that’s exactly what he did. Cruising up to the leaders four out, he simply ran away from them with the minimum of fuss, and off the back of that, was made favourite for the Wayward Lad at Kempton over Christmas.
He wasn’t the same horse that day, and whether it was the track, or just an off day, he didn’t travel as well and finished well beaten in fifth, although he wasn’t beaten far in any case. But he showed that all wrong when finishing second at Cheltenham last weekend, finding only Magic Saint back to something near his best, and taking winning rider Bryan Carver’s claim into account, was giving the winner 3lb.
It’s a fair way from there to winning a Champion Chase, but having only had three starts for Venetia, he’s open to more improvement, and he’s now shown that he acts around Cheltenham fine. Given the way the yard works, I think he might just have one or at most two more starts before the Festival, and to my eyes, can only either shorten up in the market, or not take part. I don’t mind that as a risk, given the pay-off, and at 66s is worth adding to your portfolio.
Tough to find something I like today, but Silver Nickel, who is crying out for a stamina test, gets that in Ascot's finale at 3.45 today. He came from a different county to be beaten just eight lengths here over half a mile shorter last time, and won't have any problem staying the extra 4f. I think that race could work out well, and Silver Nickel looks the bet.
Good luck with all your bets today,