AS promised, the newest member of the MrFixitsTips team, Ross Clark from Winning Insights, bring us his ‘insights' to some of the biggest races at this year's Cheltenham Festival. It all kicks off on Tuesday and Ross is casting his eye over the Arkle and the Supreme Novice's Hurdle.
Very competitive 2 mile chase, with Sprinter Sacre currently around evens favourite. However, note this race isn’t usually won by the favourite, but is won by a runner in single figure odds, typically between 7-2 and 9-1. The track record of winners shows that all must be top-grade chasers, in form, and usually have won or been second in their last 2-3 races. They are relatively lightly raced over fences but have an RPR of at least 151 pre-race. They are also likely to be within 12 lbs or so of the top-rated RPR in the race, in this case Sprinter Sacre on an RPR of 179. Previously top-rated hurdlers do well and winners are often previous Festival winners.
Having reviewed the stats and data, and with Peddlers Cross and Bog Warrior out, for me there are four contenders: Sprinter Sacre, Al Ferof, Cue Card and Menorah. These also represent the top four in the current betting.
Much has been made of whether the favourite will make it up the finishing Cheltenham hill. I suspect this will not be as big an issue as some think – I think a more serious challenge is from a couple of the other runners.
The records opposing the favourite strengthen this for me. I chose Al Ferof in my preview when each-way odds were more attractive than they are now and the each-way value has more or less disappeared. Al Ferof’s odds have shrunk to nearer 9-4, which leaves a look at Cue Card and Menorah as each way alternatives.
Of the two I’d probably favour Menorah. A high-class hurdler, I think he probably has the beating of Cue Card though I am happy to acknowledge his jumping gives some cause for concern when trying to win an Arkle. He may not win it but he does present some each-way value and a decent midway chance at around 9-1.
Ross Clark's Tip
- Menorah 0.5pt each way.
William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Another open, competitive race, with Simonsig and Darlan currently leading the No Runner No Bet betting at around 5-1 both.
Favourites have a bit better track record in this race compared with the Arkle but again we are looking at a range of historical trends over the last 10-15 years to try and guide our selection(s). Five-six-year-olds hold the sway in this race but that accounts for most of the runners anyway.
It’s suggested French-bred four year olds should also not be dismissed per se but there may be other factors which rule them out.
I have focused on a few key indicators. Looking at the pre-race RPR, we’re looking for runners within around 12 RPR points of the top RPR.
The top RPR is with Sous Les Cieux. We are then looking at runners who have won at least 50 per cent of their hurdle races and ideally won last time out.
This process of elimination, with some forgiveness, brings us to a short list, of: Darlan, Galileo’s Choice, Mountbazon, Tetlami, Steps to Freedom and Trifolium.
It concerns me slightly that Darlan fell last time out, which may be a concern, and while it has won at Cheltenham, this was in a Class 3 race and did not over impress.
Galileo’s Choice is another Cheltenham novice.
Mountbazon was third on course in a class 1 bumper and should have come on for that run fitness wise.
Steps to Freedom has an impressive track record but is on the margin with his RPR rating statistic and has not raced since November which is a concern for me since most winners of this race have had more recent run-outs than that.
Nicky Henderson trained Tetlami is a course winner and for me has no negatives.
Trifolium is a longer odds option potentially but falls down on one or two guidelines.
The current betting as mentioned puts Darlan, along with Steps to Freedom at the head of the market around 5-1, Galileo’s Choice around 7s, Mountbazon at 9s and and Tetlami at 14-1.
Taking these prices into account alongside the analysis, I have to take Tetlami as my selection, each way.
Steps to Freedom was my preview selection, and I’m happy enough to have something on him, but at this stage, and with further analysis, I’m looking to have a stronger value selection that can definitely win this race.
Ross Clark's Tip
- Tetlami 1pt each way
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