Inside today’s main piece I conclude my look at the Cheltenham Festival championship races. Today the Triumph Hurdle and the Mares Chase come under the microscope. Plus, there's my Cheltenham Festival Lucky 15 and there’s a double figure selection running at Dundalk this evening that's dropped down to a winnable mark.
Cheltenham Festival: The Final Big Calls
Its going to be a tricky few days on the weather front. There could be anywhere between 10-20mm of rain between now and the start of the Cheltenham Festival. If it turns out to be at the top end of the forecast, then we are likely to be closer to soft than good to soft on the Old Course.
Ironic but they don’t want much more rain on the Old Course but want more for the New Course.
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As for the rest of the week. There seems likely to be rain/showers on all four days of the festival but its too far out to be certain as to how much.
Given the weather forecast. My final betting decisions, in particular the handicap races, will be left as late as possible.
JCB Triumph Hurdle
The home team don’t need to turn up for this year’s renewal. I can’t remember a weaker group of British trained juvenile hurdlers.
Willie Mullins has a stranglehold on the front end of the betting training the first three in the ante post market.
Blood Destiny unbeaten on both hurdle starts has usurped Lossiemouth at the top of the betting. Partly that’s down to some very positive vibes on the festival preview circuit. That said he was very impressive when winning at Fairyhouse last time, producing an excellent speed figure in the process.
Lossiemouth looked unlucky when a 2 ½ lengths 2nd of 8 to stablemate Gala Marceau in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. That said I wouldn’t be quick to underestimate the winner. She produced a good turn of foot to win that day and given how keen she was through the race I think you can mark up her win a bit. A better run race on Friday can hopefully see her in an even better light.
Comfort Zone showed a good attitude to win the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle over C&D last time. He’s very professional, and just gets the job done and has proved his effectiveness at the track. Probably needs to improve to beat the likes of Blood Destiny, Lossiemouth and Gala Marceau but has each way claims.
Not sure what to make of the French juvenile form. Looking at Racing Post Ratings St Donats put up a smart performance when winning an Auteuil Grade 1 Hurdle in November. However, prior to that he had been beaten by Mctigue in a Grade 2.
JCB Triumph Hurdle Verdict:
Blood Destiny is the right favourite but does have to give 7lb to his stablemates Lossiemouth & GALA MARCEAU. I think the latter is being underestimated in the betting. I wouldn’t put anyone off Comfort Zone who looks the most likely to prevent a Mullins 1-2-3.
Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase
This one race that she shouldn’t be at the Cheltenham Festival. And to add insult to injury what dreadful name for a championship race. Those criticism's aside it should be a good race.
Allegorie De Vassy 2-2 over fences looks an exciting chase prospect who cold hold her own against the boys. A wotthy enough favourite given her potential.
Impervious made it 3-3 over fences when beating the boys in a Grade 3 novice chase at Punchestown last time. A smart novice chaser, you could argue her form is slightly better than the favourites, and a worthy rival to Allegorie De Vassy.
Allegorie De Vassy’s stablemate Elimay jumped well and battled well to hold off Pink Legend to win last year’s race. She’s not been at her best on two starts this season and this year’s renewal looks on paper stronger than 12 months ago. That said her course/festival form is a positive if she bounces back to form, possibly in first time headgear.
Magic Daze beat Dinoblue by the same distance that Impervious did earlier in the season and had Elimay even further back in 4th when winning a Mares Listed race at Naas last month. A good jumper of a fence, if she stays the 2m 4f trip she has each way claims at 10/1.
Mares' Chase Verdict:
Allegorie De Vassy looks a very exciting chase prospect who is unbeaten on her four starts since joining Willie Mullins. Impervious is a serious rival to the Mullins mare. Magic Daze is more exposed than the other pair and has stamina to prove but should they underperform could be the one to take advantage.
That’s my championship race previews for this year’s festival completed. I have given you an idea of the horses I will be looking to back and I don’t think I will be deviating too far away from the ones I have mentioned. Although I might add another one to my Ballymore shortlist.
I’m going to get stuck into the handicaps over the weekend and that’s where my main betting interest will lie next week.
Cheltenham Festival Yankee/Lucky 15:
As regular readers know I tend to avoid giving you too much unwanted betting advice. However, its that time of the year when every tipster/pundit seems to put up a Cheltenham Festival Yankee/Lucky 15. I wasn’t going to, then I thought. Why Not? You can take it or leave it.
For a bit of fun here’s my Cheltenham Festival Lucky 15.
Il Etait Temps (Supreme) – 6/1 @ William Hill
A Dream To Share (Champion Bumper) – 4/1 @ William Hill
Appreciate It (Turners Novices Chase) – 4/1 @ William Hill
Gala Marceau (JCB Triumph Hurdle) – 9/2 @ William Hill.
*Prices correct at the time of writing.
In the unlikely event they all win, a winning £1 each way Lucky 15 with William Hill returns £1942.76.
There are no less than six meetings across Britain & Ireland on Friday. Ayr, Leicester, and Exeter provide the jumps action. Although the snowy weather means the first two named meetings face precautionary morning inspections to see if racing can go ahead. There’s also all-weather action at Wolverhampton and evening cards at Kempton and Dundalk.
Leicester’s six race card has attracted just 30 runners and only race has more than five runners. To add insult to injury there are thirty three races on Friday and not one of them is worth more than £10,000 to the winner. Granted we’re talking about moderate fare but what does it say the health of the sport.
With Thurles off yesterday’s selection was a non-runner but hopefully some of you backed St Andrew’s Castle returned 9/1, I know 12/1 was available earlier as I got on at that price. I wondered why David Egan was waiting around for the last race at Newcastle and you can see why.
I’m off to Dundalk for another longshot this evening.
7:45 – Highland King is interesting on stable debut for Henry De Bromhead with the first time tongue tie fitted. He stays further than a mile but he’s on a workable looking mark and if ready to roll after 211-day absence could go well.
At the prices though preference is for Tyrconnell. Granted the four time course winner, two over C&D, hasn’t won since February 2021 but there was a bit of encouragement to be taken from his 2 ½ lengths 5th of 14 over C&D last month. The 9-year-old is down to a winnable mark when all the cards fall right which they might do this evening.
Tyrconnell – 11/1 @ Coral.
Good luck with your Friday bets.