Cheltenham 2016: Voice of Value’s Handicap Chase Tips

MRF_VoV_CheltenhamPosts

Ultimate Business Solutions Handicap Chase

  • 2.50 p.m.
  • 3 miles and 1 furlong
  • Fences
  • Class 1 (Grade 3) Handicap – in a handicap some horses carry more weight than others based on their previous performance.
  • The handicaps are always likely to yield some sneaky winners – don’t go wild with your bets but there is lots of fun to be had with high-priced outsiders each way.

There are a few things to bear in mind with the big handicaps with plenty of runners. Firstly, some horses have entries in more than one race so make sure you are getting ‘non runner no bet’ from your bookie. Our betting partner Ladbrokes are non runner no bet on all races so you have no worries on that front.

Secondly, there are always too many horses entered than are allowed to run in the race due to the safety limit so the horses at the lower end of the handicap don’t always qualify. I aim to publish these guides once the confirmed runners are known for the following day but it is worth bearing in mind if you are looking ahead to the rest of the week.

Thirdly, they are fiercely competitive races and there are undoubtedly some crafty trainers who hold horses back for these races or at least train the horse with ‘Cheltenham in mind’. This is double-speak for saying that the horse hasn’t been at peak fitness in the earlier part of the season. This can lead to some head-scratching from those of us who study the form trying to work out where on earth that 33/1 shot came from. Tread carefully and prepare to be surprised!

There are a few in this race that we have seen plenty of in the past and a few who could be potential improvers. Morning Assembly has solid form from Ireland and from the RSA here in 2014 without getting his head in front as much as you would like.

The Young Master is one that I have liked for a while – he disappointed in the RSA last year but his previous handicap form was very good and he looked a horse going places. This might have been his target for this season and he might be one to keep onside. Sam Waley-Cohen is a decent amateur who he has replaced Barry Geraghty as the regular jokey now that Robert Waley-Cohen has bought a share in the horse. No disrespect to Sam but I’m not sure that is a like-for-like swap and Geraghty’s skill and experience would have been very helpful.

I can’t decide if Spring Heeled has lost his way a little or whether he has been campaigned with the festival in mind. If it’s the latter then his price is very decent because conditions should suit him. The other one who jumped out at me as an unexposed type is Ballykan from the Nigel Twiston Davies yard. The yard is in great form and we almost certainly haven’t seen the best of this horse yet so he could pop up at a price with the experienced Darryl Jacob on board.

My selection though is based on relatively straightforward logic. INDIAN CASTLE was 4th in this last year (good enough for an each way return in a big handicap like this) when he was beaten about 5 lengths by the Druids Nephew and might have finished a bit closer had he not been interfered with by Pendra on the run-in.

Go and have a look at the race from last year – it’s available on youtube – and you can decide for yourself. He has been campaigned sparingly since then in races where the conditions might not have suited and as a result is now rated 5lb lower than last year. I am assuming that he has been campaigned with this race in mind all season and I can see him running really well. As I type this I see a tweet from Ian Williams the trainer confirming that Leighton Aspell will ride (which is a big tick in the right box) and that the drying ground will suit. That’s good enough for me.

**UPDATE**

Indian Castle has now been declared a non-runner, so I’m switching my attention to Morning Assembly which is available at 14s with Ladbrokes and I’d recommed a 1pt each-way bet. I also like the look of Ballykan who could represent more value at 20s.

Recommendation:

  • INDIAN CASTLE – 1pt each way at 25/1 (Ladbrokes) – *Now a non-runner*
  • MORNING ASSEMBLY – 1pt each way at 14/1 (Ladbrokes)

 

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