Good morning all,
If I felt bad at not being able to attend Cheltenham for the Showcase, you can imagine how I feel this morning! But needs must – we must all do our bit to stay as safe as possible, with the covid figures on the rise, so it'll be from the sofa I'll be viewing over the next three days.
As well as looking at a few of the big races, there will be a video each day too. That will cover off the rest of the card and hopefully give you a more rounded picture of how I intend playing each day. Hope you find it all of some use.
I won't be doing a Daily Punt on Sunday but there will be a video on my Youtube channel, which you can subscribe to (it costs nothing) and catch up on.
1.50 – Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase (2m)
Terrible, terrible race title.
Magic Saint has been put in as favourite for this, and whilst I’ll grant you he may well strip fitter for his recent outing in the Old Roan, I’m still not entirely sure where we are with him at present. He looked like a good horse when beating Bun Doran at Newbury around this time last year but his effort here on New Year’s Day was moderate, and I find it hard to blame the trip. Maybe the handicapper just has him about right, and he might need to come down another few pounds before scoring.
In any case, I’d rather be going with On The Slopes here, and I’d have him as favourite. That third to Simply The Betts and Imperial Aura in the Timeform Novices Handicap in January is one of the strongest pieces of handicap form around, in my opinion, and it was no surprise he was able to take a couple of handicaps off the back of it, the form of which have both been franked.
He was weak in the market for his reappearance here and as I said at the time, my wonder was, as he had done the season before, he would need the run to put him straight. He ran almost as I expected, running well enough to two out before getting tired and fading to fifth up the hill. With that run under his belt, I expect him to come on plenty and reverse the form with Beat The Judge. With the ground ideal, he can take this en route to better things this year.
2.25 Cheltenham – SSS Super Alloys Supports Racing Welfare Novices Chase (2m4f)
This is one of those races where I think the four competitors are in the right order, but I disagree with the prices. In my head, I’ve got this as Protektorat 5-4, Southfield Stone 5-2, Mossy Fen 4-1 and Paint The Dream 12s, so I’ll bet Mossy Fen at 13-2 and have a saver Paint The Dream at 20s. (Update – the 13-2 Mossy Fen long, long gone.)
Protektorat was so impressive when scoring first time up over fences at Carlisle last month and looks a very good prospect for the season, but I do wonder whether he might end up being best at a strongly-run 2m rather than 2m4f. I’m not saying he doesn’t stay this trip, but he was pretty much all out to beat Imperial Alcazar on New Year’s Day (lost it in the stewards, got it back on appeal) and again looked a little one-paced when third to Harry Senior on Trials Day. For me, the jury is still out as to whether the shorter or longer trip will prove best, but whatever, he might simply be too good for these and could jump them into the ground.
Southfield Stone was on-and-off the bridle when beating Coole Cody here last time out and will definitely stay, but an 8lb penalty probably demands more here. So it’s to Mossy Fen and Paint The Dream I turn for a couple of bets. The former was a game winner of the Leamington Hurdle at Warwick and then went on to finish fifth to Envoi Allen in the Ballymore, two very good efforts. He jumped better once he was sent to the front here before getting tired last time, looking in need of the run and quite possibly some softer ground. He gets that here, and I expect a better effort.
Paint The Dream is a regular in these events and a reproduction of his Dipper second would give him a squeak getting the weight. He made Happygolucky do a bit of work for his Stratford win and after a quiet October, the Fergal O’Brien yard is back among the winners. Don’t forget, you can finish in the places here and not go up in the handicap, so there’s no reason not to give it a real go.
3.35 Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m5f
Does He Know and Grand Mogul (rightly) head the market here but at the prices you can make a case for Polish as a small win bet against the front pair. He really needs to pick his feet up, given the number of mistakes he made when third to Streets Of Doyen here last time out, but to be beaten under six lengths, given those errors, was quite a remarkable performance. If he hurdles better he must surely improve a bit on that, you imagine, and I don’t think this drop back in trip is a bad thing, particularly if Thursday’s rain does get in a bit.
Today’s selection – at the prices, Paint The Dream is worth a bet. 2.25 Cheltenham
Good luck with all your bets today,
And the video….