JACK Watson joins us again to bring his view on today's from inside the Sport Nation hub.
The Champion Chase was shaping up to be the race of the Cheltenham Festival, but the news that Altior has been withdrawn through injury has slightly dampened the mood.
Those not too disappointed by the news that Henderson’s stable-star will attempt to win a fifth race at the Festival are those that managed to back Defi Du Seuil, now 11/10 with SportNation.bet, before his prices shortened beyond recognition.
Altior will have been by far the toughest opponent that Defi has faced, but the race now appears to be an open goal for the JP McManus-owned chaser. However, Chacun Pour Soi (11/8), the leading Irish challenger, is off to a flying start under Willie Mullins and it’s worth noting he beat Defi Du Seuil by over four lengths at Punchestown at the end of last season.
Dynatmite Dollars (14/1) had been a good price to place, although, Altior falling out has seen his price significantly fall, but he remains a strong outsider if you think he can build on his last appearance when third to Altior.
Elsewhere, Tiger Roll (8/11) returns to fences and has the chance to claim his fifth win at the Festival, but there’s a strong challenger in his way: Easysland (10/3). While yet another win in the Cotsworld is likely to be mighty high on Tiger Roll’s agenda for this season, he is yet to qualify for the Grand National and must safely make it around the course and finish to be in with a chance of matching Red Rum’s record three wins in the National. With this is mind, there is a case to steer away from the evens favourite.
Easysland won brilliantly at Cheltenham in December on the cross-country course and followed it up with another win in France. He’s been bred for these kinds of races and will pose a serious question to the dual winner of this race. Mite Bite (14/1), who was tipped to win the Gold Cup in 2018, is worth keeping an eye on purely from an interest point of view to see how he gets on in this experimental change in trip. Josie’s Orders (28/1), second last year, could offer some value, but a poor season suggests otherwise.
In the spirit of betting against the favourite, there is no better race than to avoid the shortest price entry than the RSA Chase. If Champ (7/2) was not named after AP McCoy and racing in the JP colours there is no chance he’d be the long-time ante-post favourite.
Minella Indo (10/3), Allaho (9/2) and Copperhead (9/2) are well-worth your time with the Henry De Bromhead-entry looking like the best bet. Minella Indo is a solid stayer in challenging races and a very good chaser in the making. He won the Albert Bartlett here last year and followed up with a Grade One victory over Allaho at Punchestown.
In the first race of the day, Envoi Allen (8/11), one of the biggest backed horses at the Festival, is in action after his storming win here last year. However, competition from Sporting John (7/2), The Big Breakaway (8/1) and The Big Getaway (10/1) could pose a serious issue for those backing him.
The Big Breakaway looks the pick of the bunch at a big price and is on an upward curve but has much less experience than some of his rivals, so serious interest should be limited.
In the Corral Cup, stick the racecard on a dartboard and back the horse that the dart hits. This race is chaos. Dame De Compagnie leads the market at 5/1, which tells you much of what you need to know. For those crazy enough to seek a winner, Alfa Mix (9/1) travels well and Champagne Well (12/1) could also be in with a shout. Each-way value is key here and small stakes is the order of the day.
The Boodles is a slightly more enticing race to get stuck into. Mick Pastor (8/1) could get Paul Nicholls’ Festival up and running. Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott has spoken in favour of Tranador (7/1) more than his other leading entry in this, Aramax (8/1). Blacko (6/1) has won both his races under Alan King.
Concluding the day is a very exciting Champion Bumper where very well-fancied Appreciate It (15/8) will show whether he can live up to his pre-Festival hype. Queens brook (15/2) is also one to consider after she bolted up on debut in a well-run, stamina testing race. Also, who would want to bet against Jamie Codd in the last?
Wednesday selections – prices via SportNation.bet
- 1.30 – The Big Breakaway – 8/1
- 2.10 Minella Indo – 10/3
- 2.50 – Alfa Mix – 9/1
- 3.30 – Defi Du Seuil – 11/10
- 4.10 Easysland – 10/3
- 4.50 – Mick Pastor – 8/1
- 5.30 – Queens Brook – 15/2
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