The countdown clock tells us there’s just over a week to go until the start of the best 4 days NH punting in the world. I didn’t get to Vegas this Winter and I’ve not been doing much betting since I finished work so my bankroll is healthy and ready to go. Yesterday Gary told you what he fancies (click here http://nag-nag-nag.co.uk/garys-pre-cheltenham-tips/ if you missed it) so I thought today I’d tell you what I’m hoping will be winning next week.
This time last year everything was looking very nice for me with my strong fancies all having been well supported in the ante-post markets and I was feeling very excited about my prospects. Any one of Medermit at 14′s for the Arkle, Kempes at 66/1 for the Gold Cup or Quartz de Thaix at 20/1 for the Festival Plate would have done but as it turned out they all got turned over (at 11/4, 9s and 7/1). It’s not enough to get the value, it’s not enough to actually get them to run in the right race and turn up on the day, oh no, you then have to hope everything falls into place in the race and you get a run for your money. Ante-post betting should come with a health warning.
One year older but probably no wiser and certainly a little poorer I’m trying again with these two likeable sorts…..
Jewson Novice Chase (Thursday 15th March)
My number one hope for the week and the one horse that could decide my whole Festival is FOR NON STOP. After watching him run so well behind Al Ferof at Sandown in December I decided then that he would be able to hold his own in the highest company over fences as long as he was stepped up in trip. His next race saw him go down to Cue Card over 2m3f which I was a little disappointed with given he was receiving 7lb but he bounced back to record a stunning victory in a very competitive Grade 2 at Newbury on their re-arranged Betfair Hurdle card. He jumped superbly and after being held up in the rear made good headway down the straight to time his run to perfection and power home from Michael Flips. This run had all the hallmarks of a decent horse and with most of the big name chasing recruits looking to have options over different trips the way looks clear for a very big run in this newly formed Festival race. He is my biggest ante-post bet and I’ll be backing him again next week.
PERTEMPS FINAL (HANDICAP HURDLE)
The one I’m really keen on here is SIVOLA DE SIVOLA who looks incredibly well handicapped on 132 and set to race off just 10-01 in this race. He won the Newbury Pertemps qualifier by 5 lengths on his first start in handicap company which was hardly surprising as he was only rated 122 despite having finished 2nd to Spirit Son, 7th in the NIM Hurdle at last years Festival and running Fingal Bay to 13 lengths in a Grade 2 hurdle at Cheltenham. On his next start he returned to Cheltenham for a handicap where he finished 4th to his stablemate Module over a woefully inadequate 2m1f trip. Not surprisingly for such an out and out stayer he was doing all his best work at the business end of the race and finished very strongly up the hill. This race looks tailor made for him and I expect a very big run from him. He does have multiple entries at the Festival including a couple of the novice races but I’m pretty confident this is the race he will end up competing in.
Both are 7/1 with most firms but make sure whoever you back them with gives NR-No Bet!!
THE CORAL CUP
The next race to come under the pre-Cheltenham microscope is the Coral Cup, a fiendishly difficult handicap hurdle that takes a lot of sorting out. The first thing to do is see which trainers have a good (or bad) record in the race and then take a look at their entries to see if they’re plotting anything. In the Coral Cup Tony Martin has only had 3 runners in the race since 1999 but has managed a winner and a place. Obviously, anything he runs is worth noting as are the Phillip Hobbs runners as he has won the race twice and placed twice in the last 11 Festivals. On the other hand, Nigel Twiston-Davies has sent 9 runners for the race but all have finished out of the frame while Noel Meade has done only slightly better with just 1 place from 10 runners. Nicky Henderson has had 1 winner (Spirit River in 2010) and 1 place but at the cost of 25 runners so is another who can be taken on. Worth noting also are JP McManus owned runners as he likes nothing better than pulling off a coup in these Cheltenham Handicaps and the Coral Cup has been one of his happiest hunting grounds.
You need to forget the 8yo’s and up (only one horse aged over 7 has been able to win with just 7 similarly aged runners making the frame). You can also forget those rated 144+ and any yet to win this season. Don’t worry if your fancy hasn’t been on the track for a while as plenty of trainers now keep their horses at home to protect what they consider an attractive handicap mark ready for a big gamble in this lucrative handicap. Recent winners Skys The Limit, Naiad Du Misselot and Ninetieth Minute had all been rested for 80 days and upwards since their last run.
There are currently 148 runners declared for the race and a lot can boast decent profiles but I do like the chances of BALLY LEGEND at this stage. He’s number 60 at the moment so will need quite a few to drop out but that’s not impossible with so many of the runners holding alternative engagements. Even if he doesn’t make the cut I’ll get my money back as he’s best price at 33/1 with Bet365 who offer NR-No Bet.
His form figures on Good read 34231 and has only been out of the top 4 once when the going reads good/soft so I’m sure he’ll be getting his favoured ground. He won a Class 3 handicap at Cheltenham in December off a big weight and has since been upped in class, first in a class 2 handicap at Taunton where he finished 4th to the 4yo Ranjaan (received 18lb) with Third Intention 2nd and then in the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle where he again finished 4th with this time Third Intention the race winner. He would meet Third Intention on 15lb better terms should they both meet in this handicap. As a 7yo with a course win to his name he has a perfect trends profile and would be an interesting runner for his small stable.
Suggestions: BALLY LEGEND (33/1 BET365)
P.S. Last Saturday Inter Penarth recorded a 3-0 home win against the Dinas Ravens with Dylan setting up the first (he actually passed!) and scoring the second.
P.P.S. Why don’t you BOGOF?
That’s: Buy One Get One Free.
Quite simply, if you buy the Cheltenham Trends Guide this week I will give you the Aintree Guide for FREE!
Pay just £29.95 for the full Cheltenham Guide and get all this;
- Trends for all 26 races run at the meeting
- Selections and ratings for all 26 races
- Ante Post Guide
- 4 for the Handicaps selections
- Daily Update Sheets
- Placepot Perms
The same again for all 21 races at the Aintree Festival including our 20 page Grand National Special.