Cheltenham Festival 2014 – Friday

Technical issues so brief

  • 1.30 Royal Irish Hussar has his ideal conditions
  • 2.05 Never Enough Time looks an each way steal
  • 2.40 Kings Palace is ideal – a front runner with stamina and a turn of foot
  • 3.20 Bobs Worth is the best horse. Throw in his awesome record at the course and he’s a clear favourite
  • 4.00 Harbour Court is one of the few who could improve to take a good handicap outside this company
  • 4.40 Full Shift appears to have been campaigned for a festival handicap all season long
  • 5.15 Changing The Guard is an each way selection but it’s a trappy contest.

Good luck !

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Cheltenham Festival 2014 – Thursday

  • 1.30 – Felix Yonger should give the irrepressible Mullins and Walsh team another win
  • 2.05 – If In Doubt looks sure to at least place but this is a tricky handicap
  • 2.40 – Al Ferof could give Paul Nicholls his first win at the festival.
  • 3.20 – More Of That is the each way bet and whilst Annie Power is a brilliant horse, she has yet to prove her stamina.
  • 4.00 – Ballynagour should run well at 16-1.
  • 4.40 – Both Twirling Magnet and Balnaslow should run big races. The latter will love conditions and is an improver
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Cheltenham Festival 2014 – Wednesday

So on to day two and it’s Ladies Day !

  • 1.30 Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle

Just like yesterday, the first race sees a Willie Mullins trained, Ruby Walsh ridden favourite and this one is an even shorter price. Faugheen ( touted during the preview circuit as  ‘ a Faugheen Good Horse ‘ ) should start the race shorter than 2-1, in part due to his talents but also because of the withdrawal of Royal Boy early this morning. Some have criticised Faugheen’s jumping but i think it’s been overstated. He smashed yesterdays Supreme Novice runner up Josses Hill by 22 lengths almost a year ago on decent ground and has such an engine that one or two minor mistakes won’t be enough to stop him. Cup Final is a beautifully bred horse and will improve here, and Red Sherlock is unbeaten.

14 of the last 16 winners had contested pattern races over hurdles. 26 of 28 winners started in the first six in the betting whilst 29 from 30 had finished in the first two last time out.

  • 2.05 RSA Chase

The Gold Cup for novices and there’s some good each way value here. The last 14 winners had run at least three times over fences so favourite Ballycasey will have to jump against the stats to win. He’s probably short enough at 6-1. Barry Geraghty has won this race before and thinks highly of O’Faolain’s Boy. The horse won well last time and although that was on soft winter ground, he should be equally at home on this quicker surface. The same applies to Paul Nicholl’s charge Just A Par. Highly regarded, he was expected to be amongst the favourites for this race earlier in the season but after winning comfortably at Newbury, he flopped badly in the Feltham at Kempton. Never begrudge a horse one bad run, especially a novice, and he has also undergone a breathing operation. The former champion trainers horses are always to be feared after being treated for such problems and this smart horse is available at around 28-1 today. Far too big and could run a place at least.

  • 2.40 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.

A hot handicap and here are some stats : 7 of the last 9 winners were second season hurdlers. 11 of the last 13 winners had won no more than one handicap. 7 of the last 11 winners won last time out and 11 of the last 13 winners carried no more than 11-2. It’s possible to back a few in this as plenty of horses come into the race in good form but one who surely has to be considered is a baguette, the French bred Smashing, trained by Willie Mullins. His first start in Ireland showed that this is a smart horse, twice denied a run before quickening up to win easily. Won his next race before competing in one of the most competitive races of the season in the Betfair hurdle, never really put into the race and staying on to finish within eleven lengths of the winner. Should be much better today and will like this ground. Calculated Risk is another at big odds who should be coming to hand at just the right time.

  • 3.20 Queen Mother Champion Chase

The obvious starting point with this race is that the best horse in training will not have the chance to defend his crown. Sprinter Sacre is recuperating at Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable and should be back racing soon. This leaves Sire De Grugy as favourite and the highest rated horse in the race. Two runs at Cheltenham have been met with defeat and it’s no secret this horse is better running right-handed. The same applies to Arvika Ligeonniere and most of the other horses are stepping up in class or have something to find. So maybe it is advisable to return to the Henderson stable and rely upon Captain Conan. Talented, a good jumper and having his first run since being treated for a minor ailment which affected his performance last time when finishing third behind Sire De Grugy in the Tingle Creek. At 9-2 he’s also very backable each way.

  • 4.00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase

It usually pays to choose something with course experience as 25 of the last 26 winners had contested one of these events before. The two to concentrate on are probably Balthazar King and Big Shu. The latter has looked impressive at around 4 miles so ran well enough when finishing second over 3 miles at Punchestown over a month ago. That should have put him spot on for this. He is unbeaten when racing beyond 3 1/2 miles and is also a year younger than his main rival. He should run a big race.

  • 4.40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Previous runnings suggest we should be looking for an improving, well-bred horse who might not have appeared a superstar at first as 7 of the 9 winners were beaten on their first 2 starts over hurdles and 6 of the last 7 winners were sired by a Group 1 winner on the flat. Dawalan has been well touted for this and trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race before so knows what it takes. Astre De La Cour won well last time and should run well but the selection here is Katgary. This will be his first run on an English racecourse but if his latest winning performance in France is anything to go on, he’s a smart horse. Trained by former champion trainer Paul Nicholls with this race in mind, he should be well handicapped having lost his first two runs over obstacles before winning his next two. The switch to English racing should be a successful one.

  • 5.15 Champion Bumper

No obstacles here, other than trying to find the winner ! 19 of the 21 winners won last time out and 16 of the 21 winners had won a bumper with at least 14 runners. Willie Mullins has trained a record 8 winners of the race and has three very smart horses lining up today. However, opinions on the best of those seems to differ and change almost by the hour and Willie seems to prefer Killultagh Vic whilst son Paddy, who rides most of these bumper horses, prefers Black Hercules for today’s test. However, i’m taking them on with the Dermot Weld trained Vigil. The trainer Dermot Weld doesn’t have the greatest of records at the course but this is a very smart horse. The win last time at Leopardstown is also encouraging as the stiff finish there will stand him in good stead for the Cheltenham hill. Barely came off the bit during that win and there’s plenty more to come. Available at around 7-1, he should be backed each way as this is competitive.

cheltstand

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Cheltenham Festival 2014 – Tuesday

So it’s finally here and we’re straight into a fascinating contest

  • 1.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle

15 of the last 17 winners won last time out and 16 of 19 had run in the last 45 days. Irving and Vautour tick both boxes and hail from yards who know how to win this race. Both have been impressive but their prices reflect this and it might pay to look for an improver. Vaniteux fits this bill. A quick, slick jumper who stays further than the 2 miles raced today, something which is vital due to the pace of the race, the stiff finish and the occasion – many horses appear to be unable to handle the preliminaries and the roar of 50,000 people as they race up the final straight.  Vaniteux is 11-1 and could run into a place at least.

  • 2.05 Racing Post Arkle Chase

The second race on the card is probably hotter and met with greater anticipation than the first. 25 of the last 27 winners won last time out, 10 of 11 had finished in the first two on all completed starts and 9 of those 11 had three or more runs over fences. That doesn’t bode well for favourite Champagne Fever but he does bring first class course form to the race, having won at the previous two festivals. A front runner, he may well set the race up for something better prepared, more experienced and that horse is Trifolium. Third in the 2012 Supreme Novice Hurdle, he has took to the bigger obstacles well and will like the conditions. Top jockey Bryan Cooper can steer him home.

  • 2.40 Bayliss & Harding ” Festival ” Handicap Chase

Twenty four runners, all likely to have been trained for this race, and an each way bet is the only way here. Standing Ovation notched a four time on Good ground in the Autumn and can be forgiven his last two defeats as the penultimate run came too quickly whilst the last run was on unsuitable soft ground. Has his conditions and the Pipe team are in good form. Wrong Turn is another who could run well.

  • 3.20 Stan James Champion Hurdle

The main race of the first day and possibly the whole festival as none has been more eagerly awaited or debated over. Hurricane Fly bids to win the race for the third time but at the age of 10 he may have to move aside for a younger horse. He’s also unlikely to be as comfortable with the quick pace and conditions as My Tent Or Yours and The New One and i think it’s these two who are likely to fight out the finish. Jezki wears headgear for the first time and is also unbeaten when Barry Geraghty rides him.

  • 4.00 OLBG Mares Hurdle

Little stands in the way of Que Vega securing her sixth straight win at the festival – which would be a new record and a remarkable achievement. Highland Retreat is backable each way though at around 12-1.

  • 4.40 Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase

A 4 mile chase for amateur riders and you need a horse who stays and jumps. Midnight Prayer is such a horse and won well last time out over 3 miles 2 furlongs. The extra distance here should be no problem, nor should the drying ground and it’s likely some of these horses who have been slogging it out through the Winter mud will not like the milder temperatures or quicker ground today.

  • Rewards4Racing Novices Handicap Chase

A hotly contested event with many young horses in form and still improving.  Two to keep an eye on here are Present View and Festive Affair, with slight preference for the former. Has been winning well and the better conditions are likely to see even more improvement. 8 of the last 9 winners had won last time out.

Good luck !

 

 

 

 

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Cheltenham Festival 2014…it’s almost here

The Cheltenham Festival is only days away. Hours. Minutes. That one week of the year, when people from across the UK, Ireland and beyond travel en masse to Prestbury Park for their annual knees up, is finally within reach. The best horses, the best crowd together in a wonderful amphitheatre which even raises the spirits of those who only have a fleeting interest in the sport. Muggles.

horsestraight

They’re almost off…

The final declarations are not yet in but keep it right here for daily news updates, stats and analysis on the day before each race and the best tips in the business. Here are some nibbles to whet the appetite :

  • Tuesday – Champagne Fever returns to try and emulate Bobs Worth in winning three different races at successive festivals. However, in only finishing third last time he ran December, he’ll be jumping off against some strong trends if he’s to win the Arkle : 25 of the last 27 winners had finished in the first two last time they ran and only 3 winners since 1976 had not had a prep run within two months of the race.
  • Wednesday – The RSA Chase, the Gold Cup for novices, and the favourite is the Willie Mullins trained Ballycasey. However, winners of this tend to have more experience over fences. Sam Winner is more than twice the price and should run a big race, with course form already in the bag.
  • Thursday – The Pertemps Final is usually a good betting heat for each way punters so look out for the improving Upswing. 20-1 won’t last.
  • Friday – Gold Cup day and whilst Bobs Worth will be attempting to retain his crown as the Champion Stayer, the Conditional Jockeys also have their chance to shine in their own race. Never Enough Time could be the one to watch

Keep up to date with all the Festival news and tips with The Market Man on Twitter @markthecard

Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday weekThe course is ready – are you ?

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Aintree Festival 2013 – Friday

Technical difficulties so very brief

14:00 My Tent Or Yours
14:30 Rocky Creek
15:05 Sprinter Sacre
15:40 Bennys Mist
16:15 At Fishers Cross
16:50 Broadway Buffalo NAP, General Miller
17:25 Abigail Lynch

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Aintree Grand National meeting – Thursday

Well it’s the time of year when the whole nation turns it’s head towards the racing world, if only for a day, as we gear up for the greatest race of them all on Saturday.

Before that, though, we have two great days of racing :

2.00 Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle Grade 1

Basically the Aintree Triumph Hurdle and most of the principles from that race line up here, although champion Our Conor has stayed in Ireland. Rolling Star was a disappointing favourite that day but looked edgy beforehand and can improve on that 6th place by winning here and getting the meetinf off to a flying start for Seven Barrows pair Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson. A small reverse forecast or exacta with Irish Saint could be the bet.

Triumph_378226c

Irish Saint ( left ) and Rolling Star should be fighting out the finish in the first

2.00 Betfred Bowl Chase Grade 1

A race that really should be going to Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat star Silviniaco Conti, who has ideal conditions with goodish ground on a flat left handed track. First Lieutenant should follow him home.

3.05 John Smith´s Aintree Hurdle Grade 1

A fascinating race, with some Champion Hurdle participants taking on improving novices. Countrywide Flame should set a decent pace but there are several strong travellers who will benefit from that. Two time winner Oscar Whisky is one of them but there’s a chance the race in bottomless going in January has taken too much out of him. It should be down to The New One, Zarkandar and Grandouet and all of them have the form to win, although TNO has to have improved since Cheltenham to trouble the other two. It could be another duel between Ditcheat and Seven Barrows. Should be a cracking race.

3.40 John Smith´s Fox Hunters´ Chase

Aintree-foxhunter-chase

The Foxhunters takes place over the National fences

Twenty four hunter chasers ridden by amateur riders over the National fences – it is their big day. The form horses are Bold Addition, Gwanako, Rebel Du Maquis and Warne. Of these, Bold Addition and Rebel Du Maquis are the youngest and could be improving, although recent winners have tended to be longer in the tooth and more experienced, which implies Gwanako should have the edge. Rebel Du Maquis is a good each way run for your money at 10-1.

4.15 Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase Grade 3

A tricky handicap, with some horses weighted to their best or out of form. Each way money then for Donnas Palm, who at 20-1 could get into the first four on his first run for Tim Vaughan. Was weighted nearly two stone higher over hurdles so there should be improvement from this mark of 133 over fences.

4.50 Betfred Manifesto Novices´ Chase Grade 1

A race which really should be going the way of Captain Conan. Slightly disappointing at Cheltenham, track and trip today should suit, as will the better ground. Tap Night could run into a place at bigger odds.

5.25 Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle Grade 3

We complete the first day with a tricky handicap hurdle but two horses at big prices appeal to me.  Wilton Milan has run only three times underf rules and although stable jockey Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride a different horse, the 20-1 could be too big for a talented, unexposed novice in this company.

At the bottom of the weights, Connectivity recently returned from a lay off and ran well to suggest he has retained much of his ability. He’s 16-1 and could be much better than this rating. Shrewd trainer does well with these types.

Racegoers on Ladies Day during day two of the 2012 John Smith's Grand National meeting at Aintree Racecourse-794042

It’s all go for the Aintree Festival

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