Post race update: Elgin was the big disappointment for me, finishing 5th when we needed him to be 4th at worst. The little mare Midnight Tour at 33/1 almost put us well in front, caught close home by the Mullins horse. Again, had we been beaten by the long odds on fav, we’d have been paid at 33/1
Never mind. Tomorrow is another day. Counting the free bet offers, we had total stakes of £7 and a return of £7.60 so we carry forward to tomorrow a deficit of £14.42
Another festival has finally rolled around and this will be a meeting where we will see more than one shock result. The going will be the most testing it has been in 23 years, the situation worsened perhaps by the prospect of what Henderson and King described as ‘puddingy’ ground in places. If that ‘puddingy’ effect is in enough places, we will see more than the usual number of horses pulled up, with plenty finishing very tired.
Proper heavy wet ground is almost always preferable to the sticky stuff as horses can get their feet out of it relatively easily, whereas the gluey surface just sucks them down.
But there’s nothing we can do about it. Jockeys will have much more serious problems than punters, as pace judgement will be everything. If you are inclined toward in-running bets, a few good horses could be looking under strong pressure or sitting a long way back mid race resulting in massive price drifts on Betfair. I’d be surprised if two or three such sloggers don’t catch the others up the hill.
Anyway, onto the tips. We start the meeting with a deficit on the TV Tips of £15.02 and I’m hopeful more than confident that this can be turned into a profit by the end of the week. Good luck, and let’s hope that all participants come home safe.
1.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
Regular readers will know I always try to find the value bet at a working man’s price, but I cannot get away from Getabird in The Supreme. He’s unbeaten and, more importantly, seems to be improving at a rate of knots. He won a Grade 2 last time in the manner of a horse who could be anything, his jumping – good enough from the start – getting increasingly slicker as he went on. They’d gone a good pace throughout yet he still drew clear in the straight in the most taking fashion.
I’d like to see what price he is for the 2019 Champion Hurdle. If I can find something on that before the off of this race I’ll update this section.
Ruby’s tactics here will be fascinating. The Betfair showed that Kalashnikov wants a rattling pace that maximises stamina requirements and I think Ruby will go quick-slow-quick here although there’s a chance David Bass on First Flow won’t stand for that and will want to go on. Bass is very good and highly experienced but whether he’ll have the confidence to effectively question Ruby’s pace judgement at a meeting where Walsh is a giant, well, that’s another matter. Judgement will be complicated further by the unusually testing ground. All the jocks have their own ‘festival pace’ built in – normally a stride faster than they go anywhere else. But the ground will see them all guessing, even Ruby. But I’d trust his guess much more than any other rider (although Geraghty is good on pace and I like Daryl Jacob too as a pace judge).
I suspect that this week, good jockeys might well matter more than good horses.
If you bet online I suggest you back Getabird with Skybet who offer money back as a free bet up to £20 if your selection loses. NB Free bet must be used within 3 days and it’s worth reading the other terms and conditions.
Getabird – Skybet 13/8
2.05 Arkle Chase
Footpad and Saint Calvados have been a joy to watch this season. Footpad’s jumping accuracy has been astonishing for a novice. Saint Calvados has earned many plaudits too for his fencing, but he’s much less economical than Footpad; exuberance rather than fluency is his trademark. But to my eye, he’s just a touch stiff backed and doesn’t flex enough to get his rear end consistently into a safe position. He kind of hurdles his fences, and when it comes off it looks fantastic, but he leaves his hind legs quite low too often for my liking. His natural front-running exuberance is wonderful to see (he reminds me of a horse from the 1970s called Even Keel), but it also means that he gives himself a hard race. Altough he won impressively at Warwick last time, I thought he looked as though he’d taken a lot out of himself. I’d love to be proved wrong as it would be fantastic to see the small yard of Harry Whittington win this.
Impressive as Footpad has been, Petit Mouchoir was his better over hurdles and I think he’ll prove here that this will apply over fences too. He’s a high class horse who was third in last year’s Champion Hurdle, and he won the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Petit Mouchoir’s fencing debut was almost as impressive as Footpad’s, bar a slight mistake at the last. He then picked up an injury and was off for 108 days before turning out in the Irish Arkle Chase against Footpad. Petit Mouchoir was very sloppy at his early fences, making one particularly bad blunder that turned him sideways. That has to be a slight concern but I’m sure trainer De Bromhead will have done plenty of schooling to sharpen to the edge he showed on his debut.
Petit Mouchoir 3/1
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase
Cogry is too big a price here and looks best value in a typically tricky Cheltenham handicap. He’s had a relatively quiet season for him with just 5 runs so far. When he completes a race he is most consistent, but he’s had his share of ill luck at fences, hampered/baulked when unseating or falling a couple of times, and twice he has pulled up, simply not running his race for some reason.
But he goes well at Cheltenham and has won here twice. Jockey Jamie Bargary knows him well and takes a valuable 3lbs off. Bargary’s confidence should be high too having ridden a big winner at Sandown on Saturday. I’m hopeful Cogry will outstay them up the hill and I’m confident that his price is 8 or 9 points too big.
3.30 Champion Hurdle
Hopefully you took my advice in the blog piece I posted after Elgin won at Wincanton and backed him each way for this at 16/1 in the without Buveur D’Air market. Call Me Lord gave a massive boost to that form on Saturday and I think Elgin can put in a big run in the Champion.
He’s down to 8/1 with Hills now (the only bookie at the time of writing I can see on Oddschecker that’s offering betting without Buveur D’Air). That’s about the price he should have been after Wincanton and for those who’ve not yet had a bet, he’s my EW selection here.
Buveur D’Air will be very hard to beat, but it’s far from impossible that Elgin will finish second to him, in which case you get paid at 8/1 for the win part. Assuming Elgin and Buveur D’Air finish in the first four, you’ll be paid the EW part, giving you a profit.
Elgin EW at 8/1 in ‘without Buveur D’Air’ market
4.10 Mares Hurdle
The wondermare Apple’s Jade is a very short price here and the best bet, once again, lies in the without the fav market. The one I’m going for each way is the mare who finished 6th of 17 in this last year when it was a hotter race. She was beaten a shade under ten lengths by Apple’s Jade that day and I very much doubt she’ll turn that around. But she has every chance of being in the first four and might just finish second to land the ‘win’ price of 33/1.
Her name is Midnight Tour, trained by Alan King. Davy Russell rides her for only the second time after winning on her at Cheltenham last April. He rides Cheltenham superbly and it’s interesting that King’s stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson misses out on this ride. She’s not been in great form recently but has had her fair share of bad luck in her last three races. She’s better than she has shown so far this season and is overpriced at 33/1 in the without fav market.
Midnight Tour EW at 33/1 (Bet365 & Hills) in ‘without Apple’s Jade’ market.
Enjoy the racing and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.