Good morning all,
Stuffed to the gills with content this morning, as I look at Cheltenham again, plus a video preview of today's Kempton (and Eider) action.
Have a good weekend!
Marsh Novices Chase
No bets as yet.
This could a) cut up quite badly and b) Envoi Allen aside, look quite a moderate event if those with the best form claims go elsewhere, which looks more than likely.
I suppose it might not be the biggest shock in the world if Energumene goes here rather than the Arkle, as he does look more of a staying type and Mullins might decide that what Envoi Allen has achieved this season doesn’t come up to what Shiskin has. Technically speaking, on the figures, he hasn’t, but that’s to completely ignore his Ballymore win of last season. We know he has the class, so even if the form this year doesn’t add up to that much, that Ballymore does.
The British challenge doesn’t look up to a lot, I have to say. Sporting John is probably just about the best of them after his Scilly Isles win at Sandown earlier in the month, but he was all at sea for the first half of that contest and if he’s as slow to warm up here, he’ll be detached with no way back.
Shan Blue, second there, would surely reverse that form on better ground and it is worth remembering how impressive he was in the Kauto Star at Christmas. He was just about coming to the limit of his stamina there, so I think this drop back to 20f on a stiff track should be ideal.I’d have him top of the list as far as the British runners go.
However, Chatham House Lad has turned in a big performance at Cheltenham this year when scoring by a long, long way in the Caspain Caviar, a performance that marked him out as Graded company. The way he finished off up the hill was striking, he seemed to want every yard of the trip, so although on the face of it he was a bit disappointing Fairyhouse on his only other start since, I don’t think the drop to 17 was in his favour.
Michael Winters has stated he might not go for this race as he doesn’t want to face Envoi Allen, but his other Festival targets all have standout performers as well. I’d argue this is his best chance and he makes some each-way appeal.
No bets as yet.
I was all for going with Min for this until a dreadful effort at Leopardstown where some poor jumping cost him any chance and he was pulled up mid-race. That was his first ever pulled-up effort so how he will bounce back from that is a question. His Festival record reads well, having seen the back of Altior three times when he was at his peak before winning this last year.
Allaho was third in the RSA last year and the way he came up the hill suggested this drop back in trip might be on the cards this year. He was well behind Min in the John Durkan (probably needed the run) but was more impressive when making all at Thurles in January, despite the odd mistake. That form is good, but it isn't unbeatable by any means.
Imperial Aura’s early unseat at Kempton is hardly what you want coming into this, but his Cheltenham record is very good and he was impressive when taking the novices handicap chase at the Festival last year with something to spare. If you’re happy to forgive Kempton as a one-off then his profile looks one of a progressive horse.
Melon has a few entries and his Leopardstown effort, where he was held up and didn’t appreciate it, is easy to forgive. Real Steel might be interesting of those at bigger prices, as he didn’t get the Gold Cup trip last year after looming large two out and he was trying to give a race-fit Imperial Aura 2lb when beaten 7½l by him in the Pharma at Ascot. He hated Kempton so his King George effort is easy to forgive, and the best of his Irish form for Willie Mullins puts him in the firing line. Worse bets than him at 25-1, I feel.
Backed Lisnagar Oscar e/w at 20-1
If you can guarantee me that Paisley Park won’t suffer the heart issue he had in the race last year then I think he’d be one of the bankers of the week, but nobody can guarantee that and that makes him slightly vulnerable once again. Make no mistake, his Long Walk win this year was impressive given the massive hole Aiden Coleman dug for him to get out of and to me showed he was back to his best. He’s every chance of reclaiming his crown.
Thyme Hill ran him very close, of course, and part of me thinks he was idling a bit in front, having been in front plenty long enough, but I do think he should have won and he didn’t, which makes me think he won’t beat Paisley Park in a clean-run race. He came up the hill fine in the Albert Bartlett last year, but at the prices, he’s not for me.
You can argue a case for Sire Du Berlais on his Festival form alone, but he was a bit disappointing behind Flooring Porter at Christmas and he does need to step it up a bit.
I have, this week, backed Lisnagar Oscar after his excellent run at Haydock last week. For those that missed the Haydock notes yesterday, I think he’ll come on a bundle for that and with proven Festival form, he looks a big price now.
Come the day and I can see me backing my old friend Honest Vic with the extra places, if he goes here and not the Pertemps. His Cheltenham record is not to be sniffed at and he wasn’t that far behind Thyme Hill and Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. Not hard to see him being bang in the firing line turning in and then it’s a case of what he’s got left for the hill. Given how modest the overall Irish form is for this, if he gets beat ten lengths that’ll could be good enough for fourth or fifth.
Mares Novice Hurdle
I have already done my money in here, having backed Mrs Hyde at 40-1 a few weeks ago but she’s not among the entries.
That means, at the moment, this is a race I have little interest in at present and isn’t one I’ll be particularly looking at until after declarations.
Today's selection – Fingerontheswitch e/w 3.35 Kempton
Good luck with all your bets today,