Good morning all,
Sadly Troika Steppes ran a poor one yesterday and couldn't follow up on Jester Jet's win the day before, but I'm hopeful we can get back to winning ways today.
It's “Ladies” Day at Cheltenham today as the Mares take centre stage. That means proceeding with a bit of caution but there's still some value to be had on a tricky day's punting.
2.05 – 2m4f Mares Listed Novice Hurdle (Class 1) (Listed)
The ratings give plenty of these a chance – there’s only a few pounds between the leading contenders but of those towards the head of the market, Dusky Legend makes the most appeal. She looks like she’s crying out for this step up in trip based on her efforts this season and there was nothing wrong with her third to Let’s Dance in the Mares Novice at the Festival here in March. Decent ground suits her fine and she looks the one to beat, assuming she gets the trip, although the form of the yard could be better.
Casablanca Mix is going to have to cope with very different ground than that she won on in France (heavy on both occasions she won) and it’s surely worrying that she’s only just making her seasonal appearance. Coilte Lass has shown she gets this trip, albeit in moderate company, and although she’s beaten Dusky Legend this season already, she finds herself 5lb worse off today and I expect this trip to bring a bit more out of Dusky Legend too.
Verdana Blue looks the more likely of the Henderson duo and she finished just behind Dusky Legend last time, but to my eyes she appeared to find the final hill a bit much. At the prices Naranja makes more appeal – she was placed in a Listed bumper here last November so shouldn’t have a problem with the class she’s in, and 2½m on good ground might prove ideal. She’s also got the tongue tie on and although she’s been a bit disappointing this season, there are legitimate excuses for her poor efforts. (update – I can tell you she’s had a small wind op since her last effort, which could help the situation). Worth a look e/w if the dead eight line up.
2.40 – 2m5f Mares Ltd Handicap Chase (Class 1) (Listed)
Winners of this in the last three years have started 8-1, 9-1 and 9-1, and two of them started from out of the handicap, so don’t be afraid to have a look at something relatively leftfield.
Antartica De Thaix carries top weight and deservedly so after her win over Desert Queen at Huntingdon in early March but that was on soft ground and the handicapper had his say after that. I think she’s got plenty on under these conditions and I’m looking elsewhere for the winner, particularly at the price she is.
Magic Money is in good form and takes her chance under a penalty after her win at Haydock at the weekend, but she only got home by a neck there so has plenty more to do with another 6lb on her back.
I like Briery Belle, who is a lovely jumper of a fence and will find herself in calmer waters here after trying her luck in the RSA last time. Back against her own sex here, and conditions to suit, she should go close. Bagging Turf won’t have any issue with trip or ground but she needs to prove she’s as happy left-handed as right-handed, and maybe if there’s to be a big-priced upset then Storming Strumpet, fifth in this last year when produced too soon (needs holding up as late as possible) might provide it. She can’t have it quick enough and if Adrian Heskin can hold on to her for as long as he dare, she might have a squeak. Looks the back-to-lay opportunity in the race for those wanting for something to have a go at in-running.
3.50 – 3m2f Handicap Chase (Class 2)
Quite an interesting little race, this. Not many of these have any course form to speak of. In fact, only the two – Coologue, who won here in October and is only 1lb higher than that win, and Lamb Or Cod, who likes it here and has twice won at this meeting. Coologue’s yard (Charlie Longsden) are still struggling for winners, which is a concern, but Lamb Or Cod makes some appeal. He ran poorly at Aintree but that shouldn’t put you off as he often runs a bad one, only to bounce back next time out. There’s not much pace on the front end and it could be that Richard Johnson bounces him out to try and make all. The fact he won in December showed you he’s still capable at this level and he’d be the selection at this stage, with no trip or ground worries.
Federici is the other that may try and take him on up front, and this tends to be the time of year he comes good. He didn’t run at all badly in the Ulster National last time out and is well enough handicapped to think he could go close if on a going day.
Many of the others arguably want softer ground conditions than they are likely to get here, so the more I look at Lamb Or Cod, the more I like him. Just needs to avoid the errors that can occasionally spoil his chance.
Today's selection – Lamb Or Cod 3.50 Cheltenham
Good luck with all your bets today,