Monthly Archives: March 2015
If the weather gurus have it right, it should be raining over Cheltenham as I write this and it shouldn’t stop until after the Gold Cup, by which time I expect that smashing young steeplechaser Many Clouds to have fought off all comers and won the big race.
He has a classic profile of an old fashioned Gold Cup Winner – improving strongly all season; true grit, a fine jumper and plenty of stamina. I wrote about him in a previous post and the only thing I’ve wondered about since then is how his price has held up. I thought he was a massive bet at 10s for the Gold Cup after winning last time out, and that price hasn’t changed much. But it will by tomorrow if the forecast is right and you should take the 8s available now.
Sad to see AP go tomorrow (though relieved he’ll leave the sport in one piece – touch wood), but it will gladden my heart to see another old warrior in Oliver Sherwood winning the Gold Cup.
Good luck to all
Regular readers will know how much I think of this horse. He’s proved very costly to follow, not least in ante-post bets for the Ryanair. I’ve been backing him regularly for that race at very big prices, but last week he was withdrawn and now takes his chance in the 4 o’clock tomorrow, a 24-runner handicap, which looks to me to be tougher than the Ryanair, but I’m giving him one last chance.
I’ve been convinced for a long time there’s a good race in this horse, and his form figures this season – dismal on the face of it – do not do him justice. He had a soft unseat when well supported first time out at Aintree. He raced very keenly in his next one at Ascot fighting his jockey ferociously until Sam gave in at the 6th and let him go on; he was understandably spent as they turned into the straight. He was keen again at Huntingdon next time and faded once more in the closing stages.
Last time at Kempton, they tried him in a first time hood (he is hooded again tomorrow) and he looked much more like his old self, travelling strongly and jumping well for a long way until his stamina gave out. He should be spot on for this. and I’m very hopeful he can add another festival victory to his record. He won the novices’ handicap in 2013 and was 3rd in the Ryanair last year. This will be the first time this season he gets the ground he likes, there’s been good market support and he could even go off close to favourite. Take the 12s still available with Stan James.
In the most open Champion Chase for years, jumping fluency might be the deciding factor.
Dodging Bullets has not jumped quite so well on faster ground, although it’s difficult to judge whether better jumping has been part of his general improvement.
SDG can make the odd howler and very much strikes me as a horse who relies a lot on the confidence of his jockey. If he gets one wrong early and Jamie gets nervous, I think he’ll struggle. Many thought him back to his best at Chepstow. The horse did the job well, but did not look to me to have his old sparkle. Compare his demeanour at Chepstow to that of his win at Ascot last season in similar ground, when he tanked through the race and waltzed away with obvious exuberance.
Champagne Fever is a lovely horse, but one with blemishes on his jumping record, although he can throw some fine fast jumps. I’m always concerned when connections cannot decide what a horse’s best trip is. He ran in the King George, was prominent for a long time in the ante post market for the Ryanair, and I’m just wary that he is one of those in-betweeners.
Champion Bumper winners tend to be better at distances beyond 2 miles. I know he won The Supreme, but Ruby nicked that with a wonderful ride. CF then got mugged in the Arkle by a horse 23lbs inferior on official ratings. After today, I think they’ll regret missing the Ryanair
I like Mr Mole a lot, but he often jumps low, not quite getting his hocks under him and he could pay today unless he picks his feet up.
I like Special Tiara too, and if he doesn’t burn himself out, his jumping could hold up and he could spring a surprise. I’ll be having a small bet on him and the same each way on old Sizing Europe who is at least twice the price he should be in the 66/1 offered by Stan James.
In seven previous visits to Cheltenham, Sizing has been unplaced only twice, and one of those was when he broke down in the Champion Hurdle.
Had he lost his form completely, as he’d be entitled to do at 13, I wouldn’t consider him. But he won a Grade 1 at Punchestown less than a year ago and effectively started the new season with a victory over over Road to Riches. Without wishing to jinx him, his jumping has always been sound and that might stand him in good stead today.
Anyway, let’s hope they all come back safe. Some kind of fairytale awaits in the QM, it just remains to be seen who the hero will be.