Good morning all,
Whilst the Flat mob are enjoying their season getting into full swing, the Jumps starts to draw to a close but not before the likes of Cheltenham, Sandown and Punchestown have taken their places and we have two quality days of action to look forward to.
Looks a difficult card to me today, I'll not be going mad but I have previewed three races on the main piece and I hope there's a good priced winner in there somewhere.
If you are going feel free to grab me and say hello, I'm not massively busy over the next two days – this is much more a social for me!
2.40 Cheltenham – 2m5f Silver Trophy (Grade 2) (Class 1)
However you slice and dice this, I keep coming back to the same horse.
Pace of the race – there’s plenty of that, with Village Vic, Foxtail Hill and possibly Casino Markets all wanting to push on. It looks like it’s set up for something to travel from just off the pace and pick them up. On that score, I’d have Starchitect.
On the ground, which is likely to ride on the quick side of good, there’s three that I’d want – Un Beau Roman, Art Mauresque and Starchitect.
On the trip, there’s a few that go well at it, and over this C&D as well, but if you knock it down to Class 1 races, only Starchitect and to a lesser extent Village Vic come out at all well.
And given Starchitect was a big fancy for me at the Festival, I’m not going to desert him in what looks a very winnable contest, in truth. Many of these are out of their comfort zone, and this drop back in trip looks ideal for Starchitect after he clearly didn’t get 3m at Aintree. He must go close here.
3.15 – 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
This doesn’t make much appeal as a betting contest, with nothing standing out and the possibility of a dawdling pace as well. Finding the leader isn't simple – I thought Arctic Gold, who can race keenly, might try his luck but the bottom line with him is that he probably wants further anyway and softer ground to boot. So it may be left to It’safreebie to take on the front runners role, and he does make a bit of appeal as he’s got the class, and if he’s not had his speed blunted by a spell of chasing, he’s got definite chances.
If there is a solid pace then Divine Spear would have an obvious chance. He keeps looking like he needs a bit further and 2m5f here, rather than a speed track like Kempton last time (stayed on well) could be ideal. He handles better ground and is a worthy enough favourite.
If there’s to be an upset then it’s Political Quiz for me. He ran a cracker last time out, running the in-form Ryeollian close at Huntingdon (pair nicely clear) over a trip too short, and a track that wouldn’t really suit. Given he’s got a turn of foot, a fast pace isn’t essential and this trip might actually bring out a bit more in him.
3.50 – 3m4f Handicap Chase (Class 3)
Any Currency won this from a mark just 2lb higher, but he was in much better form then than he is now, and at the age of fourteen, I just don’t see him being able to hold these at bay in the closing stages. He’ll give it a go from the front but will probably come up short.
If it wasn’t for the slight stamina doubt, I’d be really keen on Troika Steppes here. He’s run two smashing races around here over 3m1f, including one where Ally Stirling got him into a great rhythm on the front end and he never looked like getting caught. The yard are back among the winners and they have a terrific record in handicap chases here. I only hope he’s ridden positively as that seems to bring out the best in him, rather than held up to try and get the trip. To me, he's worth a bet at the price.
Fourth Act is the other that makes a modicum of appeal – he ran well here in November but poor since, but he is 8lb lower here. He needs the return to Cheltenham to spark him back to life, but he will stay and won’t mind the ground. Risky, but not out of it.
Today's selection – Troika Steppes 3.50 Cheltenham
Good luck with all your bets today,