we had 7 selections today over 5 races and it turned out to be a blank day leaving us nursing a 10 point loss on the day wiping out yesterdays good start.
The day didn't start well with The Big Breakaway in the Ballymore finishing just out of the places in 4th. Envoi Allen proved a worthy odds on favourite winning by over 4 lengths.
It was the same story with Battleoverdoyen in the RSA who finished a very tired horse trailing in a distant 4th. This was probably the finish of the meeting so far with Champ growing wings after the last and mugging Minella Indo in the last 50 yards.
We put two up against the field in the Coral Cup. Franco De Port was disappointing and was shuffling back through the pack from a long way out and was pulled up. Coko Beach ran OK and was just out of the places in 8th. I did say in the post that I wouldn't put you off backing the winner but thought his price was too short at 17/2. He actually went off at 5/1 and proved a worthy winner ( would the two pounds reduction after the appeal by connections have made any difference - I don't think so)
Well, what can you say about Defi Du Seuils performance in the Champion Chase? He looked a shadow of his former self and Barry Geraghty said he fell in a heap after jumping 3 out and was never travelling well at all. Take nothing away from Politilogue who I have always liked. The tactics were spot on and he galloped them into the ground and won well.
Finally, we had two against the field in the Juvenile Hurdle in Fraser Island and Thyme White. Fraser Island was being scrubbed along after 3 out and was tailed off. Thyme White was still in contention 2 out but faded to finish well down the field. Yet another winner for JP McManus!
So we go into day 3 slightly behind but we have been here before and have no concerns about getting our head back in front.
The team at Cleeve
Cheltenham day 2 results
|The Ballymore||The Big Breakaway||1 pt ew @ 10/1||4th||-2|
|The RSA||Battleoverdoyen||1 pt ew @ 14/1||4th||-2|
|The Coral Cup||Franco De Port||0.5pt ew @ 10/1||PU||-1|
|The Coral Cup||Coko Beach||0.5pt ew @ 40/1||8th||-1|
|Champion Chase||Defi Du Seuil||2 pts win @ 9/4||4th||-2|
|Juvenile Hurdle||Thyme White||0.5pts ew @ 14/1||15th||-1|
|Juvenile Hurdle||Fraser Island||0.5pts ew @ 28/1||18th||-1|
1.30 Cheltenham 2m4f (2m3f168y) (New) Marsh Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Faugheen – 110
2) Samcro – 105
3) Mister Fisher – 101
4) Itchy Feet – 99
Faugheen will bring the house down if he wins, but at the age of 12 that is very unlikely statistically. Not sure how many novice chasers have been 12 years old, but I imagine the number is tiny. If he can get into a rhythm and get an easy lead, he could be hard to catch. He has already won two Grade 1’s back to back including beating Samcro easily.
Samcro was talked about as being a potential superstar but that has not quite worked out for him. I do think he could turn the tables on Faugheen, but do not see him winning. Samcro would need to sort out his jumping though.
Itchy Feet has been very well backed over the last couple of months and is now the market leader. This race has gone to a horse with graded hurdle form, but Itchy Feet only managed to place (3rd in the Supreme here last year). I do think he is the biggest threat to our selection, but his price offers no value.
Mister Fisher finished behind Itchy Feet in the Supreme but did manage to win a Grade 2 at Haydock over hurdles and has a course and distance win to his name over fences. It is that course form that convinced me to go for him and the fact he goes on soft and on good to soft. If the ground dries out a bit by Thursday, I will feel even stronger about his chances in this. I have liked his jumping in his last two races, and he has the ability to quicken, which could make all the difference coming to the last.
2.10 Cheltenham 3m (2m7f213y) (New) Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Skandiburg – 239
2) Unowhatimeanharry – 232
3) Third Wind – 215
4) Kilbricken Storm – 205
Unowhatimeanharry is likely to have too much weight and too many miles in the clock, but to be fair to the horse he will always give 100%.
Kilbricken Storm could be very dangerous in this if he was to get back to his Graded form of last year, unfortunately, he has not shown anything like that form since having a wind operation. As a result, he has dropped ten pounds and that may well put him in the mix for the places here.
Skandiburg was the final one I ruled out here and that was because I think he is pretty exposed now having had back to back wins here and at Aintree. He certainly likes the course but has gone up in the weights by 15 pounds and that will make winning difficult.
Threats include The Storyteller, Dream Berry and Stoney Mountain.
Jatiluwih has the amateur David Maxwell up and although that is a slight negative, he is a very good rider and his three pounds claim will help the horse’s chances here. I think his race at Wincanton where he was pipped by our other selection is key and both can make their mark in this race. Philip Hobbs won this 2014 with Fingal Bay and this one looks to be a similar type.
I am very keen on Third Wind’s chances for Hughie Morrison, who has done well with his small string of jumpers. Third Wind has an ideal profile and already has a Grade 3 hurdle to his name as a novice. He got six pounds from Jatiluwih last time when beating him and now gets seven pounds before the 3 pounds allowance is taken off. I expect both to finish close to each other, hence splitting our stakes.
2.50 Cheltenham 2m4½f (2m4f127y) (New) Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Min – 78
2) Frodon – 70
3) A Plus Tard – 67
Riders Onthe Storm is still available at best price 9/1 so if you haven’t already backed him the advice is 1 pt EW at 9/1
Original ante-post Race analysis:
Chacun Pour Soi and Politologue are likely to run elsewhere at the Festival and that then brings Riders Onthe Storm and A Plus Tard into the picture here.
A Plus Tard won the Close Brothers Novice Handicap at last year’s Festival and looked very impressive when winning Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown last time. His price is now very tight and although I do think he is on form the most likely winner, but any value has gone.
Frodon was one of the most welcomed winners last season in this race and he and Bryony Frost would bring the house down if repeating that win. My concern for Frodon is the ground not drying out sufficiently for him to be able to accelerate up the hill.
Min will be many peoples’ idea of the winner here and poor Min will be glad to see the back of Altior, as he has finished second (twice) and fifth behind him in the previous three Festivals. Min is a proven Grade 1 performer but does tend to find one too good when put under pressure.
Riders Onthe Storm is still improving but won the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, which is a key race for this, winning by 14 lengths on his second attempt at this level. I think he can improve again and if he gets into an early rhythm, I am sure he will be involved in the final stages going up the hill. He is unbeaten over fences since switching to Nigel Twiston Davies and can hopefully extend that sequence here.
3.30 Cheltenham 3m (2m7f213y) (New) Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Paisley Park – 146
2) Apple’s Jade – 137
3) Barcadys – 117
4) Penhill – 115
I was going to skip this race as it is hard to see past the favourite Paisley Park who has not put a hoof wrong this season and won this last season.
Bacardys and Penhill from the Mullins stable have probably had their chances and Penhill won two years ago after a long layoff. I think both could challenge for places but are likely to miss out to younger legs.
Apple’s Jade probably missed her chance of winning this by running in the mares and in the Champion Hurdle. Even with her seven pounds mares’ allowance it is hard to see her winning on her present form.
Paisley Park as mentioned is the most likely winner and has looked imperious this season following on from his triumph in this last season. It is not unusual for horses to win this more than once, so it would be no surprise to see him win again.
Other challengers are likely to be fifth and sixth rated Summerville Boy and Emitom, both of which have place claims.
City Island has won over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and won the Grade 1 Ballymore Hurdles here as a novice last season and although this is his first try over further, I do think he will stay. City Island has a high cruising speed and if he can stay within a couple of lengths of the leaders entering the final couple of furlongs, he can win this.
4.10 Cheltenham 2m4½f (2m4f127y) (New) Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Simply The Betts – 211
2) La Bague Au Roi – 193
3) Clondaw Castle – 183
4) Not Another Muddle – 175
Not Another Muddle was fifth in the Grand Annual here last season but has only run once since which is a concern as most winners of this have run in February or March. He is a horse I am keeping an eye on as I do think there is further improvement to come, but the long break is likely to test his stamina on the likely ground.
La Bague Au Roi won back to back graded races including a Grade 2 and two Grade 1’s last season but has lost her way in open company this season. If she were to bounce back to form, she definitely has place claims at least, but not one to trust on this seasons form.
Simply The Betts is the 9/2 favourite in a 24 runner race and that is based on his super form this season including winning his last two races here. My concern about him is not his ability, but the tight price plus a rise in the weights of nine pounds. I am not sure that he has another nine pounds of improvement in him but would not be surprised to see him make all here.
With 24 runners there will always be multiple threats and those include Springtown Lake, Blazer, Spiritofthegames and Death Duty.
Clondaw Castle won very comfortably last time in a decent race at Warwick and ran well enough in the Arkle here last season finishing fourth. He handles all kinds of ground from soft through to good to firm, but as the ground dries the more, I will be confident about his chances. I am hoping that he will be ridden prominently rather than being held up, as I think he is at his best when getting a clear sight of the fences.
4.50 Cheltenham 2m1f (2m179y) (New) Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Minella Melody – 202
2) Floressa – 190
3) Timetochill – 184
4) Colreevy – 168
I do think we have the winner within our top four rated and was tempted by our clear top rated Minella Melody, but not at 5/2. This is a good race to watch for next season, but not a betting opportunity for us. No Bet.
5.30 Cheltenham 3m2f (New) Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-145)
Cleeve Top 4 Rated:
1) Just A Sting – 198
2) Le Breuil – 185
3) Flying Angel – 178
4) The Young Master – 174
The Young Master was pulled up on his only start this season and is now getting to be a bit hard to win with. He also has the tendency to be pulled up (not sure of the reason) and has been pulled up twice in his last five and not won since November 2018.
Just A Sting was a faller last time following a win at Kempton in a Class 2 and despite now being eight years old has very few miles on the clock. I always thought he would turn out to be a top chaser, but has not really lived up to early promise, as a novice chaser.
Flying Angel was fifth in the Ultima last season before running in the Topham finishing sixth. He has a lot more miles on the clock and is more exposed than several of these; however, I do think he has place claims and I was tempted by his price.
There are multiple challengers and the one I fear most is Fitzhenry as JP McManus has a fantastic record in this race with horses high in the weights and in the top few in the market. He also has Patrick Mullins up and it is important to have a top amateur on board. Other challengers include Deise Aba, Plan Of Attack and Champagne Platinum, any of which could win it.
Le Breuil won the National Hunt Challenge Cup over further last season and has only run three times since. He looks to have had an ideal preparation for this race with only three runs without being overly pushed out. Jamie Codd has a superb record in this race and can win it for the fifth time in the last eleven seasons. Ben Pauling is one of the younger trainers coming through that I think has a huge talent given decent horses. This horse warrants a very strong bet for us.