Good morning all,
The fallout from the Gordon Elliott saga rolls on. Cheveley Park have moved their horses with Elliott to Willie Mullins and Henry De Bromhead respectively.
I’m really pleased that Henry De Bromhead has been sent Envoi Allen as he’s a top-class trainer of chasers. It also looks like Jack Kennedy will keep the ride on Envoi Allen which is good news for the horse. Given Cheltenham is now less than two weeks away some sort of continuity is essential.
The Cheveley Park Champion Bumper horse Sir Gerhard has been sent to Willie Mullins. That means Mullins now has the two leading fancies for the race.
In other news but not totally unrelated. Gigginstown announced that Tiger Roll will not seek to make history on the Grand National as he’s been withdrawn due to an “unfair weight”. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the BHA banned the Elliott runners from Cheltenham and Aintree. In the current situation I think it might be for the best.
Cheltenham Festival Day 1 – Part 1
Before I look at two races from Day 1. Here are some interesting stats pertaining to clear favourites in Grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival since 2008.
Irish trained runners are favourite for twelve of the fourteen Grade 1 races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The only home trained favourites are Shishkin (Arkle Novices Chase) and Paisley Park (Stayers Hurdle).
Since 2008, clear favourites in Grade 1 races at the festival have produced the following set of results:
54 winners from 160 bets 34% -9.91 101 placed 63% – with such runners performing 9% below market expectations.
In 2015 and 2016 clear favourites won 50% & 54% of Grade 1 races. However, last year clear favourites produced:
3 winners from 14 bets 21% -5.1 8 placed 57% – with the qualifying runners performing 45% below market expectations.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they fare this year. However, those stats suggest we should be looking to take on those market leaders.
Inside today’s main piece I have had a look at a couple of races from Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival. Plus, I have selection from Kempton.
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Appreciate It trained by Willie Mullins looks set to go off favourite here. He’s unbeaten on his three starts over hurdles and won a Grade 1 at Dublin Racing Festival on his last start.
Willie Mullins dominated the race between 2013 to 2015 winning it the with the likes of Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan. He also won the race with Klassical Dream in 2019 (6/1) but is 1 winner from 14 runners -7 3 placed since 2016.
Appreciate It is a worthy market leader for sure but I still think he’s one of those favourites that’s worth taking on. And there are several who could beat him especially if it's not deep winter ground.
Metier, trained by Harry Fry also comes into the race unbeaten on his three starts over hurdles. He won the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on his last start. Tolworth runners haven’t fared well in the Supreme but Summerville Boy won that race prior to winning this in 2018. He needs genuinely soft ground and if he gets it has a good chance on ratings.
Ballyadam finished runner-up to Appreciate It last time and I said after that race that I think he can reverse placings with the winner the next time they meet. Formerly with Gordon Elliott, he will now be trained by Henry De Bromhead.
The likes of Bob Olinger and Blue Lord are likely to go to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Personally I would love to see Bob Olinger come here rather than wait for the Ballymore as he's the best novice hurdler either side of the Irish Sea. He's 12/1 with Paddy Power (non runner no bet). If he was to run in this he would be much shorter than 12/1.
Each way contenders:
That leaves recent Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory. Both Kalashnikov and My Tent Or Yours won the Betfair Hurdle and went onto finish runner-up in the Supreme. Despite the overall poor record of last time out handicap runners in the race. I think Soaring Glory has place claims at the 10/1 available with William Hill.
Has the Dreal Deal become the forgotten horse? The 6-year-old is unbeaten on his last six starts over hurdles and on the flat. He won a Navan handicap hurdle (good) in September off a mark of 84 and has improved beyond recognition since. Last time out he put in a career best effort in winning a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January. A strongly run race would bring him right into the mix and he’s another with a fair each way chance at the 20/1 available with Coral and Ladbrokes.
Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The Irish don’t have the best of records in the 3m 1f Ultima Handicap chase but they do have the ante post favorite for this year’s race in the Gordon Elliott trained Escaria Ten. The 7-year-old won a Thurles Beginners Chase over 3m 1f on his second start over fences and then ran Eklat De Rire to 1 ¾ lengths in a Grade 3 at Naas. It will be interesting to see what weight he gets here. If he gets a decent weight from the British handicapper, he’s got good chance of giving the Irish a winner.
Given events over the last few days. It will be interesting to see where the owners the McNeill family send Escaria Ten? He’s as big as 14/1 with Sky Bet for the race and as short as 6/1 with Ladbrokes
Of the home team Lieutenant Rocco relished the step up to 3m when winning Ffos Las novice chase last month. He’s been raised 7lb for that success but is going the right way and remains progressive. However, he also holds an entry in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase which shows how highly regarded he is.
Happy Go Lucky is on the same handicap mark as Lieutenant Rocco. The 7-year-old finished an excellent 4th of 23 in last seasons Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. He’s won two of his three starts over fences this season and last time we saw him in action he jumped well when winning a 3m 1 ½ f novice chase at the track. He’s another with a Brown Advisory Novices' Chase as well as National Hunt Chase entry but hopefully he comes here. The 14/1 available with Bet365 on Sunday has gone and now he’s a best priced 8/1 with Coral and Ladbrokes.
Others to note:
There's a couple of others I like.
Aye Right runner-up in the Ladbroke Trophy and more recently in the Sky Bet Chase must be in the mix, despite being nudged up 3lb after his run at Doncaster. Given his good jumping he deserves to win a nice handicap pot and there would be few more popular winners than the 8-year-old. He’s a best priced 25/1 with Sky Bet and Betfair Sportsbook.
One For The Team came in for good support in the Sky Bet Chase. He could only finish 5th that day but probably found the ground too testing and appeals if he gets a sounder surface to race on. The 7-year-old is on a competitive mark if he gets his conditions. He’s now a best priced 16/1 with Sky Bet. Trainer Nick Williams saddled Coo Star Sivola to win this in 2018.
Tuesday's selection Mono Lino finished third so hopefully you were on each way.
4:45 – I tipped up Al Muffrih when he ran at Wolverhampton 16-days ago. He didn’t run too badly when 4th of 8, beaten 1 ¾ length. He was a shade keen on the outside and did well to finish as close as he did. He’s improved with each of his three starts since joining Stuart Williams, Up ½ furlong in distance will suit, both his career wins have come at 1m 2f, when trained by William Haggas. Even more importantly a strong gallop will be in his favour.
Al Muffrih – 9/2 @ Bet365
Good luck with your Wednesday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk