An early morning optician’s appointment for yours truly means a shorter main piece today. In today’s main piece there is another ante post selection in my “Path to Cheltenham” series. Plus, a selection from Wincanton’s Somerset National.
Path to Cheltenham
Ante post betting isn’t for everyone. For those of you like to play. You are taking some big chances. Some don’t end up running in the race and you lose your money and most of the time you end up being wrong.
Then there are others who don’t mind having an ante post bet but question the wisdom of having a bet in a handicap race when you don’t know what weights will be. I can understand that thought. However, on the plus side it means your likely to get even more value on your selection.
I mentioned last Thursday there was a horse that I like for one of the Cheltenham handicaps but he hadn’t been priced up for the bookies. Well now he has.
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
First run in 2009. The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle is the last race of the festival. It’s named after legendary trainer Matin Pipe who trained 34 Festival winners, as well as being champion trainer 15 times.
Eight of the 13 renewals of the race have been won by Willie Mullins (4), Gordon Elliott (2) and Paul Nicholls (2). The first named trainer won it last year with Galopin Des Champs.
It’s a race that Gordon Elliott likes to win and since 2009 his two winners and eight places have come from 21 runners. He had the winner in 2017 & 2018 and would probably have had the winner in 2020 but for Column Of Fire coming down at the last.
The Martin Pipe is one of those big field handicaps where I will have two or three running for me. However, for now I really like the claims of the Gordon Elliott trained Mr Fred Rogers. The 6-year-old has yet to run in a handicap but looks an ideal type for the race. He made it 2-4 over hurdles when winning at Thurles in December. He won that day despite plenty going wrong in the race. It was a slowly run race and his hurdling wasn’t particularly fluent either. That said he showed a good attitude to prevail last time.
He stays 3m so there are no doubts on the stamina front for him and he looks the type who is open to plenty more improvement when he gets a strongly run race which he should get in a race like the Martin Pipe. A best priced 16/1 with Bet365 but generally available at 14/1. If gets to Cheltenham fit and well, I can see him going off single figure odds.
Selection: Mr Fred Rogers – 16/1 @ Bet365 (paying 4 places).
On the eve of the inaugural Winter Million Festival. The racing today is decent enough for a Thursday in January. There are jumps cards this afternoon at Ludlow and Wincanton. Plus, a teatime all-weather fixture at Newcastle.
The feature of a seven-race card at Wincanton is the Somerset National (3.50). For which eight handicap chasers have been declared and it’s the race that provides today’s selection.
3:50 – Destinee Royale was in the process of running a big race on her return from a 9-month absence. Out in front and in a good jumping rhythm. The mare looked like she would be tough pass when stumbling and falling five out at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Unexposed over 3m 2f+ she was travelling like she’s on a winnable mark and if none the worse for her fall she will hard to beat.
Her biggest rival could be the progressive Favori De Sivola who bids for the hat trick after wins at Exeter and here. His last success here came over 1 ½ f shorter but he looks like a stayer and he can improve for the step up to 3m 2 ½ f. Up 6lb for his latest win but he’s open to further improvement and will do for me.
Selection: Favori De Sivola.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.