Race 1 – Bentelimar 1/2 point EW 25/1 (WH/SkyBet ONLY)
Race 2 – NO BET
Race 3 – Ned Stark 1.5 point win, 8/1; Theatre Guide 1/2 point EW, 20/1
Race 4 – NO BET
Race 5 – NO BET
Race 6 – Sego Success 1 point win 6/1; Perfect Gentleman 1/2 point EW 20/1 (advised a few days ago)
Race 7 Generous Ransom 1.5 point win 8/1 ; Horizontal Speed 1 point win 16/1
System/Profile Bets (consult Master Copy Article for more info)
MICRO 3 : 2.40 Cape Tribulation (age not on his side,and form,i couldnt back him)
MICRO 4: 2.40
According To Trev ; Azure Fly (trainer 1/96 at track); Dursey Sound (not normal profile of winner of this race,but trained by THAT man); Grand Jesture (Irish unknown to an extent,poor lto but not without some chance); The Druids Nephew (falls down on fact he ran in Hennessy this season,no runner in that for 25 years has won this), Theatre Guide ( a selection of mine before seeing system selections,which is a positive. couple of weight/rating stats against him but should run decent race)
MICRO 5 2.05
These are profiles remember, more so than a system..
Dunraven Storm, Gods Own, Sgt Reckless, Three Kingdoms, Vibrato Valtat. – UDS should win this if he stays on his feet, the latter two could run ok in my opinion. I have had a ‘fun’ bet on something else to place as you can see below.
Detailed reasoning below…
We arrive at Day 1 and perhaps the biggest question of the week for me personally is when will Mullins and Nicholls break their Grade 1 Chase hoodoo. 66 losers and counting between them in Grade 1 Chases at Cheltenham stretching back quite a few years. (Nicholls hasn’t had a chase winner of any sorts for ages and is 1/50 with chasers since 2008 I believe) With that thought in mind let’s get cracking…
Race 1 – 1.30
Bentelimar 1/2 point EW 25/1 William Hill or Skybet ONLY *
*bet placed 07/03/15
Being the first race of the Festival the bookies are falling over themselves for our business. That means we can have a risk free bet in this race with William Hill. They are Non Runner No Bet so no problems if the selection doesnt turn up. Secondly WH are returning stakes up to £25 as a free bet if your selection doesn’t win or place (for EW bets). This bet must be used within 7 days and the free bet stake does not get returned as part of any subsequent winning bet.
There are some strong trends, albeit we are still dealing with ‘could be anything’ types that are open to bags of improvement. 16/18 won last time out (12 won last two starts); 17/20 ran in the previous 45 days; just 1 horse to have raced on the flat has filled any of the 21 win/place positions in last 7 years. I believe that leaves a shortlist of Bentilimar (33/1 Ladbrookes, 25s next best and with WH); Outlander (25/1); Some Plan (50/1); Velvet Marker (100/1). The last two dont look good enough.
The top two in the market are clearly well fancied but they are coming here of a longer than ideal break. They could be too fresh and pull their chance away, or they could be in a different league as the market suggests. Some have said that Douvan is a big strapping type (Mullins describes him as a typical French Chaser) and it will be interesting how he handles this faster ground. He has been impressive so far and could just be too good. But at the odds, and with the concessions, it would be foolish not to take him on.
Bentelimar ticks the main two trends and hasnt really done much wrong. He will appreciate this fast run race and the better ground. He will need to jump better and that could find him out but I thought he was worth a punt at 25s. If he was trained by a bigger name, and had a more familiar owner, I think he would be half that price on what he has done on the track. If he can grab a place that will be a nice start to the day with 2.625 points profit. You never know, he could even cause a shock 🙂 If he finishes out of the places I get a free bet, so not too much damage done.
Whatever you fancy I would bet with one of the bookies that has an offer. Skybet also have the same offer as William Hill and Paddy Power will give you free bet if Douvan wins and you have backed something else.
Race 2 – 2.05
There are a multitude of reasons to be taking on the top 2 in the market. However, surely one of them is going to get Mullins and Nicholls off the Grade 1 Cheltenham Chase cold list…now at 0/66 and counting. UDS should lead them a merry dance. The only hope for the others is that he falls or makes too many errors. The atmosphere may get to him and we dont know how he will handle the track. Having looked through the others I cant really make a case for anything else. As one TV Pundit said of Jossess Hill – he jumps like a snooker table – that made me smile. He is a decent enough trends fit but needs to jump better. The stronger pace may help with that but I dont think I can back him.
The interesting ‘fun’ bet in the race looks like Sail By The Sea to place. He is in the ‘could be anything’ category…clearly he isnt going to win. Nor finish second. But, at what could be 12.5/1 in the betfair place market he might sneak 3rd. He is as likely to be tailed off on what he has done to date but he is open to more improvement than most of these. That may be the play for small change, if there is one at all. More a race to watch and enjoy – and to hear the collective gasp when UDS makes his first mistake.
I have had an ‘interest’ bet on Sail By The Sea to place at 11.5/1 on Betfair Exchange. It is just for fun so that I have an interest in the race. I dont feel I could ‘recommend’ it as a bet though!
Race 3 – 2.40
Ned Stark – 1.5 point win 9/1 (PP, StanJames, 888) (as of 08/03/15) 8s still around in places
Theatre Guide – 1/2 point EW 20/1 (5 places with B365 at 18s)
Theatrical Start – 1/2 point EW 25/1 (general) NON RUNNER
Let’s start with some trends/profile pointers
- 14/15 rated no higher than 143 (Hollywell was the outlier last year)
- 13/17 carried less than 11 st. (3/113 runners 11st+)
- 15/17 Top 6 last time out
- 12/17 Top 3 last time out
- 7 of last 12 won last time out
- 16/17 aged 7-10
- 11+ are 1/52 runners, 3 places
- 16/17 had 0-2 handicap chase wins to their name ONLY (this would include novice handicaps)
- 3 or more handicap chase wins 1/64 runners, 5 places
- 17/17 had 1-5 chase wins ONLY (all chase wins, novice, handicaps etc,but no more than 2 were in handicaps as above) 1-3 chase wins is best, and covers all of the previous 5 winners. However those with 4 or 5 chase wins have won (2/74 runners, 10 places) over the last 17 years and should be considered.
- 17/17 had won over at least 21f in career to date. (0/31 5 places from those not to have done this)
- French Breds are only 1/67 runners
- 0/73 , 10 places, horses to have placed 3 or more times at a higher distance
- 0/17 those that raced 15 days ago or less (0/31 runners, 2 places)
- 0/17, 0/39 runners, 9 places, that had 0 or 1 run during the season only.
- From previous analysis, the last 5 winners were all moving up in distance from their last run, 0.5f to 4f
- Of note, no horse to have competed in The Hennessy Gold Cup (am not sure if just this season, or at any point in their career) has won this in over 25 years. (not sure how many have tried mind – but that counts against Annacoty, Druids Nephew and What A Warrior)
- 10/14 were top 4 in the betting
- Horses with only 1 run in last 90 days 1/73 horses, 13 places
Rather frustratingly Theatrical Star, who I fancied to go well, doesn’t line up. That is the way it goes and no damage done with money returned to use again as I please.
All of these stats are very strong in my opinion and there is sound logic for every single one. Theatrical Star was a perfect fit for all of them but never mind!
Based on the first set of stats above (but ignoring 11st trends for now) would leave a shortlist of…
Ned Stark; Pendra; Indian Castle; Barrakilla; Smart Freddy; Gallant Oscar; Azure Fly; plus Gevrey Chambertain (French bred). I will also throw in Mendip Express and Theatre Guide (but fall down on rating/weight)
Just to explain the 11st rule. I think you have to look at rating or weight as a marker, not both. Given the rating of all the declared runners affects the weight that is the best place to start. The 143 ceiling looks to be a solid stat to me, although as you will have seen I have taken a punt on one above this. At the end of the day if you think the horse is rated to go well, and has put up weight carrying performances in the past you have to consider them, especially when they are 20/1 shots.
Anyway, to those I have discarded.
Pendra has yet to win over 21f and has massive stamina questions to answer. He’s also had just the one run this season. I just cant understand why he is so short in the market, and current favourite. (favs have a poor record in this, but that has always been a stat which isnt logical in my opinion!) His trainer, Charlie Longsdon, is only 1/96 at the track in his career to date! That also counts against Azure Fly from the same yard, and he doesn’t look good enough. Barrakilla also hasn’t won over 21f and I am guessing as to whether he will stay this trip in a fast run race. Not for me this time. Smart Freddy doesn’t really look good enough on what he has done so far although he is lightly raced although still has stamina questions for me. Out of the unexposed chasers Ned Stark has a much better level of form than him.
So, that would leave Ned Stark, Indian Castle, Gallant Oscar, and to a lesser extent Gevrey Chambertain.
Let’s start with the latter two.
Gevrey Chambertain has caused me to ponder for far too long. There are positives and negatives in equal measure and I reluctantly left him alone. A big run would not surprise me.
The positives are that he fits the mould of a Pipe festival winner. Indeed since 2007, with Irish/French Breds, aged 6-10, Handicap Chase, Chase, or handicap Hurdle, running 31-120 days ago in Graded or Listed races, he is: 36 bets / 9 wins / 25%SR/ +90.5 isp / 13 wins or places.
He is lightly raced, has a touch of class and returned to form last time out. He has a decent profile now and if running his race again must go close as he is still open to improvement over fences. I expect Tom Scu will try and be up there from the off and if he keeps on galloping like last time he may take some stopping. The blinkers clearly worked last time and a line through the form with the horse he beat would tie him closer to Ned Stark (albeit he is rapidly improving). I sound like I am talking myself into a bet here but…
Having said all that he is French Bred which is a negative in the context of this race. 1/67 is poor although 12 have placed, which is similar to GB breds from nearly the same number of runners. He has only had 1 run in the last 90 days which is also a negative (although not as much due to the stable he is from). Those that raced at Newbury lto are 0/28 (3 places) in this race. And those that Pulled Up in 1 of their last 2 starts are just 1/54. His Cheltenham form reads… PU, 9 (43L in G1 though), PU. I do wonder whether he prefers flatter tracks (wins at Aintree, Haydock and Newbury) and there to be more mud flying.
It was a tough one, but I just about left him alone. We shall see if I regret that. Hopefully he throws in the towel again and is tailed off 🙂 On the plus side Pipe is 7/13 in chases with horses that wore 1st time blinkers lto when winning and are wearing them again on their next start.
Mendip Express is interesting and he no doubt has a big race in him at some point. He looks like a real galloper and I would be concerned that he could get too far back here, being a hold up type so far in the big chases. They could change how the ride him mind. His win at the track was on the New Course which is much more galloping than the Old Course and has a very long straight in which to gallop. He is a bit above the ideal rating and weight band here, but not by too much. He is another to have had only 1 run in the last 90 days which would be a slight concern. However, he hasn’t done much wrong in his career yet and a run over hurdles last time catches the eye. He will be staying on when others are folding and he jumps well. He could well fill the places but for me just a couple of niggles. His inexperienced jockey, albeit a very good one, would be a slight concern as well in a race such as this. Some would argue he should have won at Aintree but was held up too far back. It could be argued that his form to date hasn’t been that strong, even though he has ran well in what look like decent races on paper. (beating Alfie Spinner twice by 5 lengths or so, and the 14yo Oscar Time, is ok form but not standout – especially given the unique test that was the Becher Chase) He has also won a chase here, which leads me onto Indian Castle…
Indian Castle just looks out of sorts to me and the form of the race last time isn’t overly strong. It is an illogical stat, that I have mentioned on my other posts looking at handicap chases etc but horses that have won 1 or more chases at the track are only 1/88 in this race. I still can’t work out the logic here but it is interesting! I also want to see that he truly stays this trip in a competitively run chase. He is another with only 1 run in the last 90 days. Not for me. He hasn’t done enough for this stable since leaving McCain and although they are in great form, I couldn’t have him here. He also looks more of a mud lover.
Gallant Oscar is interesting and I am always weary of an Irish Challenger from this yard. In 2003 the Irish ended a 38 year drought in this race, and Dun Doire won it for Martin in 2006. He is a hold up horse, he was a distant 4th last time when fancied, and has no track experience. He has raced in knee deep slop so far and it will be interesting how he handles this ground. It may bring about improvement but I can’t have him. It was a tight one and I expect him to run ok given connections. That run last time was just a bit too poor (maybe it was too deep for him) and I am happy to leave him, just. The form of the selections looks stronger.
There are three negatives…1 – he carries 11st, but is rated 143 which is fine. 2 – He is inexperienced. From previous research the last 5 winners of this race had at least 12 career starts. However, the stats over a 17 year period show that lightly raced horses have done ok in this race. 3. – his jockey hasn’t the best record here since 2009, only 2/98…but, this could be more due to the fact that he doesn’t ride good horses regularly anymore, and hasn’t done for some time. The rest are all positives. He is in form, improving and comes from a yard that knows how to win this race- two winners and a close up 3rd since 2003. Bensalem also looked the likely winner before falling 5 years ago. His two winners were first season Novices – just like Ned Start. We have yet to see the best of this horse and he could be very well handicapped. He will be in the first 4 in the betting which is a positive and his profile for this race looks bombproof. I have re watched his most recent races and he is a good jumper. He has experience of the track, albeit on the New Course, and looks set to run a massive race. I just hope Denis O’Regan doesn’t hold him up and leave his challenge too late. All he needs to do is track the pace and pounce. A must bet for me at what was 10/1 a few days ago, then 9/1 and now generally 7s. He could go to 8s in the morning.
With Theatrical Star a non-runner I wondered whether to just leave it with one bet, but I like to have two on my side here.
The negatives for Theatre Guide are the weight and rating. Historically he has a bit too much on his back and is a couple pounds too high. However, this trend was broken emphatically last year and it could happen again. I believe he just about has a handicap in him from this mark given he is still open to a bit of improvement and the actual weight on his back isn’t a problem as he can carry it. It is just whether a better handicapped horse runs their race and beats him. The rest are positives. If you ignore the weight/ratings issue he is a perfect fit on the rest of the stats. He has had 2 runs in the last 90 days and has 3 chase wins to his name. No runner in the Hennessy has won this for 25 years. Now, I have contacted Paul Jones on twitter (suspect he may be busy a day before haha), author of Wetherby’s Cheltenham Guide which I am using along with my own HRB analysis to ask whether this stat refers to runs in the same season – and yes it does. Previous seasons runs in Hennessy not a problem. Theatre Guide ran in last year’s Hennessy and came a credible 3rd, only beaten 4.5 lengths. He has also run Monbeg Dude close at the track and looks like he wants better ground. I wonder whether this has been the target which would explain running him in a couple of very hot races for his last two runs, on ground far from ideal. He should race handily enough and I would expect him to be there or thereabouts with a clean round. He is also by Kings Theatre who has a 27% win strike rate in handicap chases here since 2007. He will stay, he has a touch of class, has raced at the track and off 147 should be able to compete.
So, a very competitive handicap as you would expect. I would be disappointed if we didn’t get a decent run for our money however. Mendip Express should run well. Indian Castle has a big run in him if the trainer can get him back to his best. Gevrey Chambertain is entitled to be thereabouts if following up his last run and Tony Martin sneaks in one near the bottom that should be feared. Of course, I may not have touched on the winner!
Race 4 – 3.20
Personally I will be having a 1/2 Point Forecast: 3 to beat 7 , 3.95/1 (11/10 and 7/2)
Another to watch and enjoy.
I think Faugheen to beat The New One is the most likely outcome and I will place this bet to have another interest in a Championship race. I should probably be more disciplined and let them go but I just can’t!
I want The New One to win. My heart wants him to win. My head says he may not be able to lay up with the fav and therefore may need to use his turn of foot to get close to him, by which point he may not have anything left for the climb after the last. Also his odds have gone given he was 6s around Christmas time. I wont back the fav at the odds even though he looks bombproof. Jezki could upset the party as well although I fancy The New One to beat him.
I hope The New One wins and I get no return but my head says that the forecast is the most likely outcome.
Race 5 – 4.00
No trends to go on, no way in for me and a race I am happy to leave alone. No doubt the fav will provide Mullins with another winner. I will use the time leading up to this race to count my losses, to kick myself for having too many ‘fun’ and ‘interest’ bets which all add up to a figure I would rather ignore, and to make a cup of tea. I will then start to get nervous for what I am calling ‘the business end’ to day 1….
Race 6 – 4.40
Sego Success – 1 point win 6/1
Perfect Gentleman – 1/2 point EW 20/1
I have written an in-depth preview to this in a previous post. Don Poli and Very Wood both now go to the RSA which is a bit surprising. Don Poli was slightly expected but I didn’t think they would both go. UPDATE…having said he would go to the RSA Very Wood now runs here. No matter as I analysed the race with him in mind. He makes the market and will have to be special to win this race aged 6.
Race 7 – 5.15
Generous Ransom 9/1* – 1.5 point win (William Hill, slight risk as they are not NRNB, but all being well he will start)
Horizontal Speed 16/1 – 1 point win (various – mine with SkyBet NRNB)
*prices as of 06/03/15
Some rather strong trends to aim at…
- 9/10 1st or 2nd LTO
- 9/10 Aged 5,6,7
- 8 yo 1/43, 9yo 0/21
- 6/7 yo 6/10
- 8/10 Top 5 in betting
- 0/71 horses priced 22/1 or bigger
- 10/10 ran 16-60 days ago
- 0/48, 7 places, outside of this rest pattern
- 8/10 won 1 of last 2 starts
- 8/10 were beaten on their first two chase starts (ie now improving at just the right time)
I believe once you go through all of those you are left with just two horses: Generous Ransom and Horizontal Speed!
Using the stats above there are reasons to oppose every other runner and in a race like this, where trying to read the form of fast improving horses, that may have been aimed at this race, is rather tricky (near impossible?) I think I will just stick with the two perfect trends horses.
Generous Ransom ticks a lot of boxes and comes here at the top of his game. I have talked about horses that have won chases here having a poor record in handicaps. I can’t think of the logic and I am not letting his win here last time out me off. To oppose him for winning at the track last time seems a bit warped in my mind. Only 10 previous Cheltenham Chase winners have competed in this race over the last ten years, with no winners and one place. Nick Gifford has sent 3 horses to this race before and 2 of them have placed. His horse is running well and beat Irish Cavalier and Stellar Notion here last time out. His trainer says he will improve for better ground and I would be shocked if he wasn’t in there fighting at the death (all being well with a clear round). A lot of these horses may not have shown their true form just yet but Generous Ransom has the best recent form on paper in my opinion.
Phillip Hobbs has had 11 runners in this race in recent years with 1 winner and 2 places. Horizontal Speed is a perfect fit and in fact all of Richard Johnson’s Festival winners have come from horses in the top 6 in the betting – it is a very good record. Also since 2007 on Hobbs horses, aged between 5-8 that were first 3 last time out his record is 7/36 +45 isp, 13 win or places. The horse is more of a ‘could be anything’ type than Generous Ransom and is making his handicap debut. He clearly has yet to show his true colours to the handicapper. He has been consistent and should go well at generous odds. The slight niggle is that he can jump out to his right, and I am not sure what his form amounts to (pointless to think about in a way if this has been the target, as his form will mean nothing, within reason) but 16s allows me to overlook those concerns. His profile against that of previous winners and the trainer’s record makes him a bet.
Thomas Crapper should run a good race but wasn’t in the top 2 last time out and hasn’t won either of his last two. You get the feeling he has been aimed at this (probably like most of them) and he has decent course form. I expect he will give the selections the most trouble. Little Jon promises to be a decent galloper of the future but has yet to impress with his jumping. Henderson’s runners are to be feared in this race but his horses last two runs have been too disappointing for me. I am sure you may be able to make a case for some others.
It promises to be a great day and hopefully i can get off to a winning start. I have looked at the races in as much depth as I can, with the usual approach that has been successful for me over the last couple of years. This is a tough place to find winners. I was lucky to come out of last year’s Festival with +45 points profit (all posted on this blog, but when not many people were reading it!) but, and it is a big but…I had two blank days, including day 1. I know I didnt look at the above races in as much detail as I have done this year and hopefully it pays off.
Future blog posts for the other days will not be as long as this but the reasoning and my approach will be exactly the same.
Good luck with whatever you fancy. As ever I enjoy hearing what you fancy and your best bets.
+ 1 point on race 1, money back as free bet if it loses.
+ 1 point of ‘fun money’ spread across the Arkle and Champion Hurdle. Results of these two bets wont be included the blog’s total for the week.