4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
Thursday 12 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £110,000
The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Festival Plate is a Grade 3 handicap run over two miles and five furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham.
A REALLY competitive handicap this one where you can make a case for quite a few of them.
The standout though is the favourite Simply The Betts who had his form franked big time on Tuesday by Imperial Aura.
I was slow on the uptake with that one and once again here I might regret not having someone on Simply The Betts at bigger odds antepost but I’m not getting involved now at 4/1 and 7/2 in a 24 runner handicap.
If you are keen and want to back him or stick in your multiples then don’t let me put you off.
The selection for me is CLONDAW CASTLE who I persisted with a few times this season and then let him go unbacked when he won at Warwick last time out.
He has gone up 6lb for that which obviously isn’t ideal but we are being compensated here with the big price and I’m confident he can go well again.
BEN DUNDEE (4.10) represents the powerful Elliott/Russell axis and has a big shout in the 2m 4f handicap chase.
He produced a corking run last year when third to A Plus Tard and kicked off this season’s campaign with an encouraging second at Navan in early December.
His preparation for today’s test was completed by a spin over hurdles at Leopardstown during the festive period and Ben Dundee seems sure to be in the shake-up.
Simply The Betts has won three of his last four starts and his course and distance victory over Imperial Aura is looking very solid following the runner-up’s resounding success here on Tuesday.
The assessor has whacked another 9lb on to his rating but Simply The Betts will be popular with favourite backers.
Spiritofthegames ran fifth in the 2018 County Hurdle and third in this contest 12 months ago.
He has also gone close over today’s course and distance but stable jockey Harry Skelton has opted to ride hat-trick seeker Oldgrangewood, a game winner over course and distance on New Year’s Day.
I like two in this race, the first is the market favourite SIMPLY THE BETTS.
Though he’s much shorter than I’d like for this type of race, his chance of winning is extremely high if he reproduces his form of last time out.
His win over C&D sets him up nicely for this race, and the form has worked out beautifully this week, with Imperial Aura winning nicely at Cheltenham yesterday in the Northern Trust Handicap.
The ground on the new course is slightly quicker than the old, and is said to be Soft, good-to-soft in places which probably isn’t his ideal conditions, as he’s relished heavy ground, but it’s the end of the world as he has won on good before.
I try and find a horse who is better than a handicapper, and I definitely think this horse is, and he will probably be a 160 rated horse next year.
I also like the look of the Willie Mullins trained, ROBIN DES FORET, who has run consistently all year round, without getting a 1 next to his form.
He’s one of the annoying types of horses who travels through the race like the best horse, but finds zero off the bridle.
The recent wind surgery could work miracles for this as he does seem to empty very quickly in the closing stages. 2m 4f on this type of ground around this track seems ideal, and he runs off a 1lb higher mark than when he finished third in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in November.
He’s definitely a nice EW play in a race with five places on offer.
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