I ATTENDED an excellent Cheltenham Festival preview night on Wednesday where there was plenty of informed debate.
I thought some of you might be interested, with lots of tips flying around. I'll share the my notes over four posts, each covering a different day at next week's Festival. Here's day one…
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Tuesday 1.30pm
Bookmaker Julie Williams said she would be happy to lay Getabird (11-8 BetBright) for 25% of the book at 6-4 to 2-1 and then 15% at 2-1 to 5-2 on the basis he’s bred to go further and has no course experience. Also a light concern about Ruby Walsh’s fitness.
Iain Turner, form guru for owner Max McNeill, flagged up Paloma Blue (14-1 BetBright)as a very rare Henry De Bromhead bumper winner and the Davy Russell decision to head back to Ireland to ride him when Whisper was in the King George was highlighted. Also gave a chance each-way to Mengli Khan.
Craig Swan, Daily Record journalist and Joe Punter of the Sunday Mail, felt Slate House (25-1 BetBright) was the forgotten horse of the race and revealed top bloodstock agent Tom Malone would be flagging him up in the forthcoming Six To Follow in the Sunday Mail. Two defeats were when Tizzard’s horses were badly out of form.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase – Tuesday 2.10pm
Professional punter Alan ‘Beefy’ Currie, said Footpad (11-8 BetBright) was the most likely winner and I tend to agree.
Turner felt Saint Calvados is underrated because of his unfashionable connections and is capable of getting Footpad out of his comfort zone.
Agreement was that Footpad was worthy favourite but faces a major danger in Petit Mouchoir (9-4 BetBright), who looked very impressive before getting a small injury. Wasn’t fully revved up on his comeback and will improve.
Stats man Peter Brown cited the fact Footpad had had 15 runs over hurdles, which is more than the last 15 Arkle winners.
The Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase – Tuesday 2.50pm
Beefy was very sweet on Coo Star Sivola (11-8 BetBright). Was given a bad ride when in behind Frodon in January, had to win at Exeter to get into this race and duly bolted up. Looks to have plenty in hand still off a mark of 142. 8 of his 13 races have come at Cheltenham so bags of course experience and was 3rd in the Fred Winter in the past, which tends to be a great guide of future handicap form at the Festival.
Joe Punter – Four of last year’s handicaps were won by horses who were placed in the Fred Winter in the past. Take particular note of this race.
Turner – Singlefarmpayment (8-1 BetBright) has been sent to jumping guru Yogi Breisner to work on his technique so hopefully that will bring out the required improvement. Agreed with Beefy on Coo Star Sivola.
Veteran gambler ‘Glenno’ cautioned against Irish horses in this race, they are 2/50 so a poor return.
The Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy – Tuesday 3.30pm
Beefy – Wicklow Brave (12-1 BetBright) w/o the fav, ex-Festival winner in the County Hurdle and won a Punchestown Champion Hurdle. A race that lacks any depth.
Turner – Advocated backing Min (12-1 BetBright) each-way NRNB on the basis he beat Buveur D’Air in the Supreme two years ago and if Douvan is sparking like they say, there is a chance he could revert to hurdles.
Glenno – Alan King is very sweet on Elgin (16-1 BetBright) since the Kingwell, the horse has improved massively this season and is a ‘knocking each-way bet’ in this.
Julie Williams – No value in the favourite, the bookies are going to get a doing in this race as the average price is 4/1. Pointed out the poor record of Christmas Hurdle winners in the race and agreed that Wicklow Brave is probably the bet w/o.
Melon (14-1 BetBright) mentioned as one of the few potential improvers in the race.
The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race – Tuesday 4.10pm
Beefy – Apple’s Jade (4-7 BetBright) should be running in the stayers or the CH. Benie Des Deaux (4-1 BetBright) is 2nd fav and has never jumped a hurdle in public, so sums up this nonsense event. Le Bague Au Roi (10-1 BetBright) the one each-way or without at the prices.
Turner – 80% sure Max McNeill’s Le Bague Au Roi will head to this race and is the value bet.
The JT McNamara National Hunt Chase – Tuesday 4.50pm
Joe Punter – Fagan (10-1 BetBright) fits the Gordon Elliott modus operandi of the past, having won the race with horses unraced in the calendar year. Has been given the same prep as Tiger Roll was last season.
I put up Jury Duty as the one to be with, especially given the jockey booking, and he’s right up to scratch for this event on official ratings.
Turner – Max McNeill’s Keeper Hill (12-1 BetBright) will run in this with Irish amateur Ritchie Deegan booked. The jockey works for Willie Mullins and is the man Charles Byrnes has turned to for the bumper horses he’s had gambles on. They have been assured he is very good.
The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase – Tuesday 5.30pm
Turner – Divine Spear (14-1 BetBright) was a blatant non-trier at Musselburgh and will be much more interesting this time round. Nico De Boinville said on another preview night this was one of the horses he’s most looking forward to riding.
Joe Punter – Consider Kalondra (12-1 BetBright).
Click here for Day Two's notes.