Today we have an ante-post pick for the Triumph Hurdle and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, together with a trends analysis of the Betfair Hurdle on Saturday. We finish off with a look at the prospects of Donald McCain Jr’s runners at Newcastle this afternoon.
We are building up a portfolio of ante-post selections for the Cheltenham Festival on the Members Community Forum over at the Betting School Insiders Club and I can share our latest one with you today. Gordon Elliot has an interesting runner in the Gala Retail Spring Juvenile Hurdle on Sunday and an eye catching performance could see his price contract for the two Cheltenham festival races for which he has an entry.
The horse in question is Vercingetorix and he was trained last year on the flat by none other than Andre Fabre in France. He ran four times, twice in Listed events, but failed to win. He won a maiden hurdle as easy as you like on racecourse debut and could have any amount of improvement in him.
The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is an excellent trial for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. Unaccompanied won this race in 2011 before finishing second in the Triumph Hurdle, Hisaabaat did exactly the same in 2012, Our Conor won in 2012 and won the Triumph Hurdle a month later and last year Guitar Pete won this before finishing third in the 2014 Triumph Hurdle.
Vercingetorix has entries in the Supreme Novice and the Triumph Hurdle. I think he will go to the latter but I am happy to have a speculative £1 @33/1 for the Supreme in case he ends up running there instead.
JCB Triumph Hurdle – Vercingetorix @20/1
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Vercingetorix @33/1
Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle on Saturday is a great race for trends analysis. Briefly the trends point towards a 5yo or 6yo (account for all of the last 8 winners) with a top 3 finish LTO (13 of the last 16 winners). 14 of the last 16 winners came from the top 7 in the betting market.
Horses tackling this on their seasonal reappearance are 1-20 and horses with more than 4 seasonal runs are 2-58. Horses that have raced over 2m 5f and further are 0-50 and are ones to swerve. Horses carrying 10st to 10st 9lbs have won 7 of the last 10 renewals but this year only 3 of the 24 runners are set to carry 10st 9lbs or less. Perhaps a better statistic is that all bar 2 of the last 16 winners carried 11st 2lbs or less.
All that leaves us with just the one qualifier and that is Evan Williams’ runner On Tour @16/1. Ticking plenty of boxes but outside the top 7 in the betting are Chieftan’s Choice @20/1, Violet Dancer @33/1, Ballybolley @25/1, Arzal @33/1 and Forced Family Fun @40/1. The former appeals most from an each-way perspective:
On Tour @16/1 (1/4 odds, 5 places)
Chieftan’s Choice @20/1 (1/4 odds, 5 places)
If trends are not your thing then the trainers with a good record in the race are Gary Moore, who won this back-to-back in 2007 and 2008 and Nicky Henderson who has saddled 5 winners since 1997. David Pipe runners have reached the frame in 4 of the last 5 renewals at prices of 15/2, 8/1, 10/1 and 14/1. Nicky Henderson runs Sign Of A Victory @12/1 off top-weight and I would not put anyone off backing him given his trainer’s record in the race.
Gary Moore runs Violet Dancer at a big price and David Pipe has two in the shape of Balgarry @16/1 and Swing Bowler @33/1. Balgarry must have a decent chance after a cracking run last time out on only his second start after a long absence. Swing Bowler has finished 5th (beaten just 4 lengths) and 3rd in the last two renewals and could give each-way backers a run for their money off a similar mark.
It’s a tough race to call especially given the strength of support for Paul Nicholls’ favourite Calipto who could be thrown in off 143 and Activial who looks closely matched with Nicholls’ runner. Add in the record of Nicky Henderson and the puzzle becomes even harder to crack.
All things considered, the trends have nailed us numerous winners over the course of this column so I will stick with On Tour, despite dropping back in trip. His trainer has said that he is worth a crack at this race and it will help that he will see out the trip better than most if they likely go hard up front. Chieftan’s Choice @20/1, Balgarry @16/1 and Swing Bowler @33/1 will complete my four against the field.
Donald McCain Jr’s last 11 runners at Newcastle have finished 13P31231113. The stable is in decent form and he has the following entries at the time of writing:
2.55pm Luccombe Down
3.25pm Lively Baron