Cheltenham Festival Day 4, Saturday 19TH March 2016: Racing Consultants Value Selections

Cheltenham Day 1

Betting Strategy: 7 Backs, 2 Lays & 1 Trade

Weather: Dry and sunny with no rain anticipated. Max temperature 14C.

Advance Going: Good

The going has been quicker than advertised all week, and the warmest day of the year (if it materialises) may well see the track riding good to firm, which could be a significant problem for the established “mudders”.

The Gold Cup is the most anticipated race of the meeting, and even with the defection of Vautour, it looks a high quality renewal. Aside from the big race, most press attention will be focused on the Fox Hunter in which Olympic Gold medallist Victoria Pendleton attempts to bring a successful climax to her “Switching Saddles” venture, supported by Betfair.

 

*All times AEDT

12:30 am: R1 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (2m 179y)

Race Analysis & Key Trial Races

Betting has been dominated by Ivanovich Gorbatov, although Joseph O’Brien’s charge was well beaten in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown, won by Footpad. Two losers in that race in recent years have gone on to win this, however. Zubayr won the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton on his hurdles bow, as did Zarkandar for the same yard before winning this in 2011. Protek des Flos beat Clan des Obeaux in the Finesse here in January, that being the other influential trial.

 

Major Players

2. Clan des Obeaux: Should be unbeaten in three starts, but jockey guilty of kicking on too soon in C&D Grade 1 in January, and was worn down late by Protek des Flos. Expected to reverse that form under more patient tactics, and arguably the best prospect among his powerful stable’s 4-y-o team. Generally thought to be down the yard’s pecking order by most pundits, and priced accordingly, but can prove them wrong with a big run. Tough race, but he should be a single-figure price in our book.

8. Ivanovich Gorbatov: Shot to the head of this market when scoring at Leopardstown in December, although that win came in maiden company. He disappointed going up to  Grade 1 at the same track in February and should do much better away from heavy ground. His price is much too short based on what he’s done, as he’s expected to take a walk in the market. Could represent a viable Lay-To-Back vehicle as a result.

10. Sceau Royal: Beat a subsequent Grade 1 winner over this course and distance in December and could easily be unbeaten in five starts over hurdles. More exposed than most, but this is a race in which experience counts for plenty and has a similar profile to stable’s 2007 winner Katchit. Not the classiest in the race, perhaps, but more likely to give his running than most.

13. Zubayr: Beaten on both flat starts, so remarkable that connections had to pay €380,000 for him at the sales. Reportedly been hard to train, hence belated debut last month, but impressed in winning Grade 2 at Kempton at first attempt. Yard took the Triumph with Zarkandar in 2011 after similar preparation, but always a worry that this race is too much of a roughhouse for a horse so light on experience.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Clan des Obeaux > 14.0 for 1 units

Back on Betfair BACK (Place) Clan des Obeaux > 4.0 for 3 units

 

1:10 am: Race 2 Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (Grade 3) (2m 179y)

Race Analysis & Key Trial Races

Every year, the race with the strongest influence on the County result is the Coral.ie Hurdle at Leopardstown (formerly the Ladbroke in days of yore) in January, won by Henry Higgins this year. Other races to bear in mind are Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle, the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, and the Imperial Cup, run at Sandown last weekend, although the latter may be less influential now that no bonus is offered for a horse which can win that and go on to score at Cheltenham.

 

Major Players

8. Blue Hell: Useful in France, but failed to win for Tony Mullins last term, often finding less than expected off the bridle. Tongue tied when scoring for new yard at Fairyhouse in November, and that form is rock-solid, with runner-up winning here on Wednesday. Well touted for this, but must be a minor worry that he’s missed engagements since, and ability to get up the hill is not guaranteed. A place Lay at 3.0 or shorter given the fine margins involved at the finish.

6. Great Field: Dual winner in France for Emmanuel Clayeux in France as a four year old, and never off the bridle to make winning debut for Willie Mullins a couple of weeks ago. Handicapper in a tizzy, and could be a monster gamble from lenient-looking mark. Back-To-Lay material at around 9.0.

23. Wait For Me: One of last seasons leading bumper performers, and although eligible for novice events, it’s potentially significant telling that his only Festival entry was in this race. Only defeat over hurdles at the hands of Supreme third Buveur D’Air, and big chance provided he can improve a rather sloppy hurdling technique.

3. Dicosimo: Only eighth in last year’s Triumph, but travelled like the winner coming down the hill, and has the scope to improve more than most of last season’s juveniles. Represents the connections of last year’s winner, who had a remarkably similar profile.  A faller in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month, which is not an ideal preparation, but not taken lightly given trainer’s excellent record in the race. Looks massively overpriced at 28.0.

 

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Dicosimo > 20.0 for 2 units

Laying on Betfair LAY (Place) Blue Hell < 3.0 for 4 units

Back on BetfairLaying on Betfair BACK-TO-LAY (Win) Great Field. Back > 9.0 for 3 units & Lay < 4.0 for 3 units.

 

1:50 am: R3 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 3) (2m 5f 26y)

Race Analysis & Key Trial Races

Barters Hill is unbeaten and heads the market having already won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. The other traditional trials for this race have seen Shantou Village win here in October, and finish second to Yanworth in the Classic Hurdle here in January. While the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle was won by Unowhatimeanharry with West Approach in third. None of the main players in Ireland’s traditional trial (won by A Toi Phil) are engaged here.

 

Major Players

6. Barters Hill: Unbeaten throughout his career, including when trouncing Supreme Hurdle winner and third in bumper at Newbury, and Grade 1 winner over hurdles this term. Tends to look slow/lazy to the naked eye, but results belie that impression, and finds an extraordinary amount for pressure. Unlikely that many of these can lay a glove on him if he runs his race, and front-running style means he’ll keep out of trouble.

16. Shantou Village: Has twice run well at this venue, winning in November and chasing home Yanworth in January, where he found the heavy ground against him. Appears to be crying out for good ground and three miles, and looks the obvious each-way play against the market leader.

11. Gangster: Well talked up, and improved when winning Grade 3 at Fairyhouse in December. Absence since is a definite concern, though, as is the fact that he has disappointed on good ground in the past. Percentage call looks to oppose him on form, and jockey having a moderate week so far. Badly under priced, and a 16.0 shot on our tissue. Place Lay.

14. Long Dog: Been on the go since last summer, which has caused a few to overlook him, but keeps winning including a pair of Grade 1 contests. Handles all kinds of ground, so can’t be dismissed out of hand. Big chance if seeing longer trip out,but worry with him is that he’s fully effective at two miles, and while his trainer thinks he’ll stay, his pedigree suggests that’s not a given.

 

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Barters Hill > 4.5 for 4 units

Laying on Betfair LAY (Place) Gangster < 3.5 for 5 units

2:30 am: R4 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) (3m 2f 70y)

Race Analysis & Key Trial Races

Coneygree beat Djakadam and Road To Riches in last year’s race, although the winner is missing through injury now, while The King George at Kempton saw Cue Card beat Vautour with Don Cossack looking sure to play a big part before falling at the second last. Don Poli won the Grade 1 Lexus at Leopardstown in December, while Carlingford Lough took a substandard Irish Gold Cup there last month, for the second year running. Cue Card also won Haydock’s Betfair Chase to set up the possibility of a £1million bonus if he can score here.

 

Major Players

2. Cue Card: Has been around forever, winning the Champion Bumper here as a 4-y-o and adding the Ryanair Chase in 2013. Ought to be on the downgrade, but new lease of life since a wind operation last March has seen him belatedly establish himself as the best staying chaser in the UK. Too old to win according to the stats, but has been beating the stats all his life. Good ground suits ideally, and ought to stay longest trip he’s tackled.

4. Don Cossack: Top-rated chaser on official figures. Beat Cue Card last spring and upsides that rival when falling in the King George at Christmas. Has had a confidence-boosting win since, and been chosen by Bryan Cooper over Don Poli. Ground absolutely perfect, although some debate as to whether he and his big race rider are in perfect harmony, and not impressed everyone with his style this season.

5. Don Poli: Last year’s RSA winner and has taken both starts this term by narrow margins. Lags in the ratings as a result of his indolent style, but appears thoroughly genuine, and unfairly pigeonholed as a mud-lover by those who forget he won a 2½m handicap hurdle here on quick ground two years ago. Deceptive in his style, he will be opposed in the betting by many, but looks fair value at a current price of 6.0 – worth backing if he drifts a point or more from that mark.

3. Djakadam: Would be the leading contender based on his second a year ago, and very impressive when winning John Durkan at Punchestown on reappearance. Expected to win BetBright Trial here in January, but fell and sustained a serious cut to his chest. Reportedly recovered, but big negative to come here on the back of a fall, even though we’re reminded that Dawn Run unseated in that same race before her historic 1986 win. Not relevant here, sadly.

 

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Cue Card > 5.5 for 2 units

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Don Poli > 7.0 for 3 units

4:30 am: R7 Jonny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup (Grade 3 Handicap Chase) (2m 62y)

Race Analysis & Key Trial Races

This is a good race for horses who have had previous Festival form, either over hurdles or fences, but one of the worst of the week for recent form, with plenty of the winners either novices, or winless during the season. Next Sensation is a previous winner of the race who has run poorly in unsuitable conditions all season, dominating the ante-post market/preview chat, but this is in essence a very open contest in betting terms.

 

Major Players

11. Next Sensation: Arguably should have won this in 2014, and made amends last year, making all. Has caught the eye on a couple of occasions this term when running either over too far or on ground which has been too soft. Likely to bounce back now, although his chance is hardly a secret, and he has been widely tipped on the preview circuit. Likely to attract support.

8. Rock The World: Winner of a Grade 3 novice at Galway in September, he had a look round this track when scoring in October, and a novice with plenty of experience, has an ideal profile for this contest. Un-raced since that course success, but reliant on good ground, and conditions have come in his favour. Would be favourite in our book at around 8.0.

7. Velvet Maker: Another novice, and been keeping top company since winning at Naas on chase debut, chasing home Douvan at Leopardstown in January. Should improve further, and acts well on good ground, but relative lack of experience a concern in what can be a rough race. Ran poorly on previous Festival visit.

21. Lough Kent: This race is named in honour of Nicky Henderson’s father, and he tends to be well represented, winning in 2006 & 2012. Many will assume that Lough Kent must be a strong contender since he’s the stable’s sole representative in this year’s race, but that is more a reflection on the lack of options Henderson currently has in the division, and he’s best left alone.

 

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK (Win) Rock The World > 9.0 for 2 units