Cheltenham Festival – Day Four Preview

For the second time this week, we return with two good priced places out of three, but still no winner.

Friday looks a good day to end the festival in style, and there is plenty of value flying around.

The Triumph Hurdle looks a typically competitive curtain raiser, and the vote in this goes to the highly rated Calipto. Paul Nicholls hasn’t been in the greatest form, but has talked very highly of his four-year-old who remains unbeaten in Britain, winning twice since coming over from Ireland.

He oozed class when winning at Newbury both times, beating the highly-rated Activial (subsequent Adonis winner), in the process. He looks a likely improver, and should take all the beating according to trainer Paul Nicholls, who seemed rather bullish when describing his geldings chances in the opener.

A nifty hurdler who travels like a dream, should appreciate the stiff finish, and the ground should hold no worries. It is a very open race, but his current price strikes value, especially when there are firms offering money back for second and third placed finishers.

Daryl Jacob was extremely emotive when finishing a nose second behind Fingal Bay on Thursday, and this looks the ideal opportunity to land a big prize to ease the pain of missed chances so far. He will have his fair share of supporters, and the current 9/2 shouldn’t last too long.

Elsewhere on the card, Fingal Bay’s team of Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson team up with the interesting Cheltenian who landed the Champion Bumper back in 2011.

He is lightly races over hurdles, having only had four runs, but he showed he still possesses plenty of ability when finishing a close fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last time out. The form of the race has worked out well with Dell’ Arca and Smashing finishing right in the mix in the Coral Cup.

The eight-year-old is running off a very generous mark of 137 and should go extremely well on his preferred better ground. The 10/1 looks a cracking each-way bet taking all things to account, and he will more than likely go off a single figure price.

Another interesting runner in the Martin Pipe is Don Poli. Willie Mullins five-year-old has improved with each run, which culminated in a smashing victory in a Grade Three at Clonmel.

The trip looks a tad on the sharp side on Friday, but his ability to maintain a solid gallop may be deadly if Fogarty decides to take him from the front.  He looks a likely improver, will be staying on best of all and the vibes from the stable have all been positive, with a big run expected.

He is currently 12/1, which looks a solid each-way bet given the form Mullins has been in so far this week.

The final selection of the day, and meeting looks to be the best of the bunch. Ned Buntline has been a talking horse from the Noel Meade stable from day one.

The six-year-old has solid form in the bag, including finishing a very close runner-up in his maiden behind none other than the Champion Hurdle hero, Jezki.

He has never finished outside of the first three, and has a bold jumping style which looks suited to the obstacles at Cheltenham. He is ridden by his perfect match in the ultra-calm Paul Carberry who has a sixth sense when it comes to producing his mounts at the perfect time.

JP McManus has had a fantastic week so far, and Ned Buntline could round it off in the perfect manner. He is on an extremely generous mark, and if he can replicate his best form, he should go extremely close. The 10/1 with Boylesports will not last long, and he is sure to be one of the biggest gambles of the day, especially if JP’s go well earlier in the day.


Triumph Hurdle: Calipto @ 9/2 (Boylesports or 4/1 with Paddy Power, money back if second or third)

Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle: Cheltenian @ 10/1(Bet365)

Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle: Don Poli @ 14/1 (32Red)

Grand Annual: Ned Buntline @ 10/1 (Boylesports)

Cheltenham Festival – Day Three Preview

It has come to the point in the week, where punters are either chasing losses, or attempting to play up their winners and make it a really good week.

The focal point of the day is undoubtedly the World Hurdle and the clash between the proven Big Buck’s who is aiming for his fifth World Hurdle, and the Irish heroine Annie Power who has swept all before her this season.

Annie Power is a worthy favourite after swerving the Champion Hurdle and potential clash with Quevega in the Mares Hurdle, to take up her entry here, but she will not have it her own way. She exudes class, and the vibes in Ireland are all extremely positive, so you can guarentee she will be a very warm favourite (potentially around the Evens mark, once the Irish support arrives), and this offers very little value.

Big Buck’s returned to the track after 420 days off, to put in a stellar performance when looking the likely winner everywhere apart from the line in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. He will come on for the run, and if he has retained his level of form from previous years, he surely has to go close and 3/1 seems very fair.

However the value lies with the JP McManus pair, who will be hoping to continue JP’s run of good fortune, after his 1-2 in the Champion Hurdle.

More of That has ran out an impressive winner on his last three starts, and with Jonjo having his bunch in great form, he should run well at 10/1. However preference is for At Fishers Cross, who Tony McCoy has opted for, after having the choice of the pair.

Rebecca Curtis trains At Fishers Cross, and she is in fantastic form, having already trained a winner at the Festival this week (O’Faolain’s Boy). The seven-year-old bounded away to land the Albert Bartlett at last year’s meeting, to announce himself as a serious staying hurdler. He confirmed the promise when landing a Grade One at Aintree in impressive fashion, on similar ground that he will encounter on Thursday.

He started the season a short-price for the race, but he has progressively drifted (8/1 now) after jumping worries and two poor performances led many to believe he wouldn’t turn up for the race. Yet, a very positive run when returning to somewhere near his best form, finishing second (ahead of Big Buck’s in third), at Cheltenham in January. The ground will be no worries, and he’s returning to a track where he has ran four times, winning three of those, and finishing second in one. All things point to a big run, and the in-form duo of Curtis and McManus could be celebrating once more.

Elsewhere, there are two other decent-priced runners that are of interest. The first is Wonderful Charm in the JLT Novices’ Chase. He has performed well all season, taking to fences like the proverbial duck to water. A strong traveling speed, bold jumping style and the fact he arrives fresh are three very big positives for Paul Nicholls’ runner.

His only defeat over fences came at the hands of Oscar Whiskey (who re-appears tomorrow), but he was giving away eight pounds to the winner, and only went down by half-a-length. He acts well around Cheltenham, and should be able to reverse the form.

His biggest challenger looks to be Felix Yonger, who was second in the Irish Arkle last time out. He looks a big danger, but is prone to throwing in a dodgy jump from time-to-time, and it may pay to stay with the stronger jumper, in Wonderful Charm, currently an 11/2 chance.

The final selection of the day comes in the lucky last, another McManus owned gelding, in the shape of Cause of Causes, who seems to thrive in big fields. He has finished second in his last two starts, and has been laid out for the Cheltenham Festival, having been entered in a whole host of races. The fact he takes this engagement, is telling and although he faces still opposition, especially in the shape of the well-fancied Indian Castle, he should be able to throw down a big challenge.

The six-year-old looks to have a big future, and has a positive jockey booking in the shape of Nina Carberry, whose experience around Cheltenham, may pay dividends. The former Ladbroke winner is extremely consistent, a solid jumper, and you are sure to be guaranteed a solid run for your money, at a very tempting 7/1.


JLT Novices’ Chase: Wonderful Charm @ 11/2

World Hurdle: At Fishers Cross @ 8/1

Kim Muir Challenge Cup: Cause of Causes @ 7/1

E.W Patent @ 467/1

Cheltenham Festival – Day Two Preview

Following the roller-coaster opening day of the festival, we can expect more of the same as we approach day two. It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for us, as we had two decent priced places, but no winner. Hopefully that will change on Wednesday.

Ligeonniere’s a Champion:

Fast and frenetic was the theme of Tuesday’s racing, and that trend looks set to continue, with the two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase headlining the card.

The race is sadly missing arguably the greatest chaser of the last decade, as last year’s winner Sprinter Sacre misses the chance to retain his crown following a heart problem, as his trainer Nicky Henderson feels the eight-year-old wasn’t 100% in the build-up to Cheltenham.

However, there is still a stellar cast, headed by the horse that just keeps on improving, Sire De Grugy. Gary Moore’s charge has had a fantastic season so far, winning four out of his five starts, including two group one’s. Yet, he is seemingly less effective going left-handed (which of course, Cheltenham is), and this is a major worry to any punters steaming in at around 2/1. He is officially the best horse in the race, but there are too many question marks to be taking such a short-price.

So, elsewhere there is plenty of value in the race, and the horse that really takes the fancy is Arvika Ligeonniere from the Willie Mullins stable, who is currently trading around the 7/1 mark.

The nine-year-old is a consistent sort, that has been plying his trade at the top level for many years, and comes into the race in good nick, having comprehensively trounced the useful Toner D’oudaries at Punchestown, in what will serve as a solid prep.

He disappointed in last year’s Arkle, when failing to show any signs of his usual form, as Ruby Walsh was forced to pull him up before two out. However, he has came back stronger than ever, and looks real each-way in a rather condensed field.

Captain Conan is going to be a real danger, but it tends to pay to stick with the Walsh and Mullins combination, so Arvika Ligeonniere looks the selection at 7/1.

Tough for Lough:

Elsewhere on the card, there is yet another strong Irish chance as a big field lines up for the RSA.

carlingford lough

Arvika Ligeonniere’s connections, are seen in force, with the warm favourite Ballycasey, however it may pay to side with Galway Plate winner, Carlingford Lough.

The eight-year-old has been on the boil all-season, and has put together a string of big performances in both handicap and graded company. He warrants his place near the head of the market on the back of a comfortable success in the Group One, Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown, and then travelling nicely before falling at the last, in a race won by Ballycasey last month.

John Kiely’s gelding looks to have a real chance with his mix of stamina and sharp jumping, in what looks to be an extremely open race. It often pays to side with consistency, and Carlingford Lough is as consistent as they come. Couple that with the added bonus of Tony McCoy in the saddle, and this makes a very attractive 10/1 shot.

Go go Golantilla:

The last selection of the day falls in the bumper, and goes the way of Golantilla. Tony Martin’s six-year-old was third in last year’s race behind the highly rated Briar Hill, and it was thought then that he would go on to have a big year.

Yet, he has only been seen once on a racecourse since, when finishing a distant second at Naas last month. He traveled beautifully through the race, but failed to see it out, staying on one pace towards the death on soft ground. He will certainly have come on for the run, and the vibes from the stable are seemingly positive, which makes the fact he was pushed out from 8/1 to 14/1 following his last run, a slight overreaction.

Tony Martin always has his horses in top nick entering the festival, and the fact that the patience has been shown to have another crack at the bumper as opposed to go over hurdles speaks volumes, and he looks a cracking each-way bet at 14/1 to end the second day.


Champion Chase: Arvika Ligeonniere @ 17/2 (BetBright)

RSA: Carlingford Lough @ 9/1 (Coral)  

Champion Bumper: Golantilla @ 14/1 (Various)

E.W patent @ 1169/1

Cheltenham Festival – Day One Preview

The home of National Hunt racing takes centre stage next week, as all eyes turn to the biggest jumps meeting in the world, the Cheltenham Festival.

Be Brave with Wicklow:

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle always acts as a very apt curtain-raiser, and this year is no different with an array of talent lining up to try and get their names on the winners board at the very first attempt.

Irving represents the best chance of a winner for the home side in the opener, as Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old heads in to the race as a warm favourite following two comfortable Grade Two victories. He looks a solid prospect for the future, but there has to be doubts over his stamina and at 2/1 he is no value at all.

The Willie Mullins pair of Vautour and Wicklow Brave are next in the market, and look the biggest dangers to Irving. Vautour landed the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out, beating The Tullow Tank, after dictating the pace from the off.

Ruby Walsh has opted to ride Vautour after feeling he will stay the best of the pair, and will be more suited by conditions. He isn’t likely to get his own way at the front like he did last time out, but Mullins has been very bullish about his chances and he is sure to have many backers at the current 3/1.

However, Wicklow Brave looks like the real deal, and although Walsh has opted to ride the stables supposed first-string, at 7/1, he looks to be tremendous value. He is a very strong traveler which is key in these types of races, and although there are doubts about his jumping (valid after a shaky round last time out), the faster the pace, the better he will jump.

He has a sensational turn of foot, and used effectively this could be the difference, as Vautour is going to be ridden prominently and keep the race at a solid tempo, settling up a late swoop for Wicklow Brave.

Patrick Mullins has been talking very highly of the horse recently, and there are plenty of trends which suggest he is the horse to get on.

The last nine Supreme Novices’ winners have gone off at 5/1 or bigger, and ten of the last eleven winners of the race have been aged five or six (Wicklow Brave is five). The last ten winners had won at least 50% of their hurdles starts (WB is 100%), and as Wicklow Brave shares the same sire as 2012 winner Cinders and Ashes, there is plenty of positivity going into the festival.

The likely firm ground at Prestbury Park should bring out the best in five-year-old, and with Paddy Power offering money back if your horse finishes second, third or fourth, Wicklow Brave surely has to be a solid bet at 7/1.

Time for Trifolium:

The Racing Post Arkle is a race of the highest quality and this year’s renewal has the potential to add another magnificent name to the illustrious list of previous winners.

Champagne Fever heads the market after winning at the festival for the previous two years (Bumper & Supreme Novices’), and he is currently trading at 3/1 to make it a third successful year.

His performance at Leopardstown in December has added an element of doubt into the minds of the backers, as the lackluster display was the first real sign of weakness from the grey.

He didn’t go one yard, and was beaten fair and square by defy logic with Trifolium (who is also Cheltenham bound), ahead of him in second.

Trifolium was the one to take out of the race, as Davy Russell traveled very strongly on the seven-year-old, and looked to be traveling best of all coming to the last where he failed to pick up Defy Logic.

Since then, he has came out and landed the Irish Arkle in tremendous fashion, showing his tremendous jumping and high cruising speed to full effect. He has the best form to offer going into the race, and the 11/2 on offer looks a lot more value than the 3/1 for Champagne Fever.

My Tent or Yours?

The Champion Hurdle is one of the most anticipated races of the entire year, and this year’s renewal is set to be a cracker. Hurricane Fly who has won two of the last three Champion Hurdle’s is back to try and retain his crown, but faces stiff opposition as the young pretenders enter the scene.

tony mccoy la

Hurricane Fly is uber consistent, and loves Cheltenham. He has had a solid build-up, and Ruby Walsh seems very keen on the ten-year-old’s chances, and he should prove very hard to beat.

However The New One is wrestling for favouritism with The Fly, with the pair inseparable at 11/4. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ six-year-old burst onto the scene when landing the Neptune at last year’s festival, in impressive style.

The manner in which he bounded up the hill suggests he will thrive once more, come Tuesday afternoon and he is sure to have a legion of supporters screaming his name over the last.

Yet, My Tent or Yours beat The New One at Kempton, albeit on a flatter track, and looks sure to come on for the run. He is a very strong traveler and looked the likely winner when failing to get past Champagne Fever in last year’s Supreme Novice’, and Tony McCoy will now know how to produce My Tent or Yours, albeit against higher opposition.

He has all the characteristics to suggest he is going to make a bold bid for the big race, and McCoy has highlighted him as his best chance of a winner for the festival. The speed horse has overcame a late injury scare, and if McCoy manages to settle him early on in the race, the late burst of speed he possesses may tip the scales in his favour, meaning the 9/2 on offer, is surely worth a dabble.


Supreme Novice’ Hurdle: Wicklow Brave @ 7/1 (Various)

Arkle: Trifolium @ 11/2 (Boylesports)

Champion Hurdle: My Tent or Yours @ 5/1 (Winner)

E.W Patent @ 263/1 (William Hill)