Cheltenham Chat: Who do you fancy?

Your Festival Fancies…

The Cheltenham Festival 2021

First up, if you’re not on my free email list and haven’t received my free Festival Report, you can grab it HERE>>>

Secondly… as with every year, this page is for you to share any thoughts you may have in the comments… ante-post wagers, what you’re looking forward to, or horses high up on your shortlists. Whatever really, post away! The more the merrier and with any luck your thoughts will be as interesting to read as in previous years… don’t be shy now 🙂

And finally… long term member & friend of blog, Martin Colwell, has been busy recording a few ante-post videos, and general Festival chat. I’m sure he may summarise below at some point also, but you can find those on his Youtube Channel HERE>>>


p.s Really Super, who I have a small share in, (seven times winning machine!) has been entered for the new Mares Chase, and all being well, and provided the ground isn’t proper soft come the Friday (looking like some ‘good’ in the going) she will be running. Very exciting.


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Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

28 responses

  1. On a general note re Cheltenham and the Elliott runners which will switch yards…..Nicholls says that a switch of yards so close to the meeting will have a negative impact as the routine and familiar surroundings will be upsetting for the horses and there is not enough time for them to re-adjust….will this have an impact on the form of these horses and should this be a factor in determining their chances, given the current situation….I have no idea if this is true or can be verified but it was a thought that crossed my mind when reading what Nicholls had to say….any thoughts???

    1. yep – hard to know, well impossible to know until they run. I’d have thought Mullins and HDB will try desperately hard to keep their routines, including food if possible, as close to Gordon’s, at least until the Festival has passed. But, if you were minded to take on some of those Elliott Cheveley horses, I’d say you’d have more reason to now, for sure. The horses may genuinely be a bit sad/miss their lad/lass/groom also, who they’ll have seen every day for a few years etc. All very sad.
      Gigginstown are staying put, and possibly The Morans (for all that as a business they’ve stopped sponsoring the yard, but as yet haven’t moved their horses) and the former would usually be responsible for the bulk of his handicap runners I think. That side hinges on what the IRHB decide on Friday and then how the BHA react. I just can’t see him having runners from the yard – he may well be banned, the debate is can the assistant take over, on the paper work etc, and horses from the yard still run etc. All rather complex and upsetting on many fronts. But, in the hands of the IRHB for now

    2. I suspect Nicholls is rationalising the poor performance of the Jared Sullivan string which moved from Mullins. I often look at a change of stable as a positive, whether it be the ex David Dennis runners this year who went to Tom Lacey or anything which changes stable to go to Dr Newland as examples. That said these changes maybe a ‘step up’ whereas I suspect that anything going from a top stable like Mullins/Elliot is more difficult to improve.

  2. I would agree with the thoughts that a move this close to the festival could be negative to a horse. Although a change of scenery sometimes does the trick for those who have lost their form.

    In my You Tube videos I go through the ante post bets I have placed and also do a weekly update on where the markets and certain horses are. Today’s video picks up on some micros for the festival, a few of which been put up by Josh. All a bit amateurish in terms of video quality but they have got better re content as time has gone on. Just me putting out my thoughts really but they have been received reasonably well on the channel.

    1. Interesting about a switch of stables improving a horse if they have lost their form, Martin……just another factor to add into the mix having a positive, rather than a negative impact on a horse’s performance….who knows, eh???……….thanks, I think!! Ha, ha.!!!

  3. Cheers Josh, personally, I do think it is a factor so will note any horses switching stables…..just another imponderable to add to the many factors that affect a horses performance and, like you say, we will not know until they run and even then, given that each one is an individual, with their own personality and their own characteristics, unless you know each individual horse that will be affected it is difficult to know how each will react but overall, do think it is a negative and will adversely affect performance………..we shall see…..all very sad, indeed.

  4. Switching stables – obviously a factor but don’t think there’s one size fits all good or bad to take from this!

    I’ve set myself a target of analysing 2 races per day for the next fortnight. So for a bit of fun, the 4 I’ve done so far:

    Supreme – I can’t have Appreciate It at that price. For better or worse, I’m probably too influenced by trends versus what I see on the track so I can’t have a 7 year old at that price. Thedevilscoachman impressed me at Navan (and I like Naas and Navan form as a prep for Cheltenham) so I’m leaning towards taking the 16/1 e/w here.

    Queen Mum – Chacun Pour So is another that’s too short for me at odds on ante-post given his historical fragility. My first approach to this race is always last season’s Arkle and I think Put The Kettle On might well be under-rated for this and she’d be my e/w fancy at this stage.

    Albert Bartlett – Trends again and this is a race I always start with 7 year olds (or older) and work backwards. Alaphilippe looks the best of the home contingent to my eyes and (apologies if this sounds callous) I like the shape of the ante post market here given the doubts about the participation of the Elliot trained runners ahead of him in the betting (plus he’s arguably got a poor-ish recording this anyway). Might even put him in a double with his cycling namesake for Strade Biachi this weekend!

    Gold Cup – A Plus Tard.

  5. Has anybody found ONE that sticks out for the handicaps since weights are out with the nrmb an absolute cracking chance to have a go at something that could hold multi entries I hope it’s okay to point to Matt bisognio excellent vlog/post this morning suggesting selections can be profitable when these markets are brought to bear

    1. In response to your plea Aaron, see what you think about this one for the Martin Pipe. I know it’s a cliche that David has a plot horse every year for it and it never comes off but now it’s NRNB I’ve had a little on Night Edition. The rationale behind it being he was not put in the race on his comeback run in the Betfair hurdle, obviously I don’t know whether it was just to give him a run out, it would seem to be a bit of a high profile race to be doing that however, I bet that they weren’t expecting him to get dropped 4lbs for it. So, they had to get another run in into him ASAP, preferably a winning one to get a high enough rating to get him in. It didn’t quite work as, he ran second to the shunter in the morebattle on Saturday. He went stride for stride with him most of the way round and was coming back at the finish. With whatever weight revision the pair may get, if they were to meet again particularly over the longer trip of the MP, I think the 33s that you can get is worth chancing. The obvious issue being he may not get in the race at all now. Just my thoughts from the weekend. He is also in the County but that would ruin the family plot theory.

      1. Believe it or not andrew I have him backed also and I backed him to win on Saturday and to win the M.P at 200/1 they chose that race for the million bonus because the imperial cup wasn’t ran I speculate

  6. My latest thoughts on fancies are picked up in my videos as mentioned above.

    My ante post bets, all win only, to date are:

    Note the ante post betting started April 2020 and have been added to as and when, hence some are wide of the mark.


    The Supreme – Ballyadam 1800/200 and Appreciate It 520/200. OK at present.

    The Champion Hurdle – Sporting John 3700/50 and Saint Roi 720/100 !!

    Mares Hurdle – Honeysuckle 742/220. Looks like she is going to run in the Champion Hurdle!

    National Hunt Chase – Galvin 950/240. Looking OK.


    Ballymore – Ballyadam 2000/100 and Sir Gerhard 2600/100. Oh dear.

    Champion Chase – Put The Kettle On 1000/50. Still just about alive?

    RSA Chase (or what it is called now) – Lord Royal 2620/110. !!

    Thursday (looking much better than Wednesday):

    March Novices Chase – Sporting John 2450/50. Still alive maybe?

    Ryanair – Mister Fisher 1950/100. Looks good re value.

    Stayers Hurdle – Paisley Park 800/100; Thyma Hill 1600/100; Sire De Berlais 318/46.


    Gold Cup – Champ 1300/100. Value at this stage.

    No NRNB stuff above. I am still looking for a bit of value to have further bets.

    This is my third year doing ante post and I have made a profit the past two years, but not big time.

    Good luck Martin

  7. I’ve got a mix of ante post bets. Some looking great (Honeysuckle at 16s for the Champion) but matched with others who have already been scratched.

    One i like at a big price is The Mighty Don, who I’ve backed NRNB for both the National Hunt chase (50’s) and Kim Muir (33’s). He’s shown good form at Chepstow (lost on the nod to Enrilo) and was a staying on 2nd to Happygolucky (who’s about favourite for the Ultima) at Cheltenham. Risk is that he was pulled up over a longer trip at Taunton but if there any sign of good in the ground come Cheltenham I think he could be a major each way player over either longer trip at Cheltenham where he has good course form.

    Otherwise, again for bigger price each way bets I like Zanza in the Grand Annual and Spiritofthegames assuming he stays over 2.5 miles for one of the hurdle races. Not so keen over an unproven 3 miles at Cheltenham.

  8. The best antepost bet i have had this year is 2.50 ew on A Plus Tard at 66s for the Gold Cup. I have also had plenty on our Super at 33s and 40s. I have a feeling (hopefully not too biased) that the race might cut up a bit but can you all please do a dry dance (not a rain one) for the next couple of weeks? Exciting!

  9. I currently have 4 ante post bests. Next Destination for the RSA is my only bet without NRNB so that one is in the balance but happy with the other 3:

    Put the Kettle On 1pt e/w Champion Chase-3/3 at the track on a variety of weather and outside the favorite the rest have more holes than Swiss cheese

    Mrs Milner 1pt e/w Pertempts-Looks to have been lined up for this. Just failed to nail On the Blind Side back in November over course and distance so no doubt she stays and after that was ridden in a manner where she was seen to lesser effect just qualifying before being sent out on a far too short a trip. Obviously the fall not ideal but you’re getting 33s to compensate for that.

    Midnight Shadow 1pt e/w Plate-The Caspian Caviar was one of the strongest 20f handicap chases ran in the UK this season and if you take the winner out he beat the rest easily. Hasn’t really ran a bad race at this sort of trip at the track. I am not concerned about the weird hurdle prep run last time out and am convinced he will go close.

  10. Re The Skelton micro – 3/9 County Handicap Hurdle.

    If you go back to when Dan was an assistant trainer with Paul Nicholls, the performance of that trainers horses in the race was a fair bit better in comparison to after Dan left him to go on his own.

    So Skelton clearly has had a good eye for the right horse set up for this race.

    Good luck Martin

    1. Just almost adding to the post below all 3 of Skelton’s County winners had their last run in the previous calendar year so he clearly saves his good ones.

  11. Re the stats pack – I see for the National Hunt Chase that ran at Leopardstown LTO was 3/7 and so good.

    In my mind there was something previously re runners at the festival to avoid when they ran at certain tracks LTO? I cannot remember whether it was here or somewhere else?

    Another angle I think is negative is where the horse has not run in the calendar year. I know that it only takes one big priced winner to throw a loss into a profit.

    Good luck Martin

    1. I seem to remember Huntingdon being the main track that LTO hadn’t produced a winner (in over 120 runs) but one of the top horses busted that stat last year.

        1. Yup… ‘he can’t possibly win having run at Huntingdon’ – ah. 🙂 There’s a few stats like that – i’m more wary of ‘track LTO’ especially this season – the last two Cheltenham meetings called off, the frozen weather we had, more jumpers bumpers etc.

    2. I thinks its almost the other way round as far as runners off a big break. I haven’t broken it down but each of the last three years you could back runners with 76-730 days since last run and make a profit each year. Will do some digging later tonight. But effectively around +120 to SP from 280 or so runners according to HRB. Wasn’t in the past so this could be an outlier or trainers changing habits.

  12. I’ve been using free bets to build up a bit of an ante-post portfolio, far too long to list everyone.
    The only 2 comments I would make are the following, especially after looking at results last weekend:

    1) horses have been running in festivals on deep soft/heavy ground, and now the ground is becoming good/good to soft ground, will form stack up?
    2) I noted last year to concentrate, in the handicaps, on unexposed types with low mileage on the clock, particularly those having something applied for the first time, you need to have 5-10lbs in hand/improvement to win a handicap I believe.

    1. yup, I’d say it’s been that way for a few seasons now Paul… horse’s who’ve been pottering around in soft/heavy, esp small fields, and G1/2 races sometimes, suddenly transformed for better ground, bigger fields, stronger pace, more emphasis on stamina etc. Some of the form will stack up, and of course some horses will improve on already good efforts in the winter etc. It makes the puzzle that more complicated but that’s part of the fun!
      Yep, i’d say you need at least 10lb in hand, but certainly in the handicap chases, being in good form, able to travel/hold a position and being a very good jumper, counts for plenty also. Trying to find those horses running in handicaps, who’ve run well in graded races / behind horses fancied for G1s etc – they’re always worth some attention.
      I’ve started flicking through in more depth now – but for example, Irascible of Henry De Bromheads – two starts back he chased home Appreciate It (fav for Supreme), LTO he was further behind him but went hard on the front end for a time, maybe deliberate. I think he’s in The County hurdle, but a more patient ride, stronger pace etc – he could have a handicap in him, here or another Festival to come. But, he could be too inexperience, and has no Cheltenham form /never left Ireland – but that’s just an example. Certainly in handicap hurdles, that type with Graded novice form and/or form in big field maiden hurdles, that have worked out well, can be worth something

  13. Absaloute wealth of selections and the reasoning behind them is second to none
    I’m actually on a couple of the mentions (throwback to sp2)
    Can I just ask for members feedback in regards to what is the general rule of thumb as regards the ideal positive or negative stat that instantly gives you some chance or no chance i.e previous course run or lack of said, horse running style, jockey/trainer past record
    I very much appreciate anybody’s views
    Thank you

    1. Hi Aaron…

      Never be put off a bet due to one stat!! … well, that would be my starting point – everything has a price – now, you could use a stat to pick holes in a 6/4 shot say/find reasons to oppose.

      I’m very wary of ‘prep tracks’ or ‘horse ran at X track LTO, so ignore’ – maybe last year burnt me a bit, well, I thought for ‘fun’ Shishkin was worth opposing due to a prep at Huntingdon, which was 0/90 odd in 10 years before he then won, all races at Festival etc – in reality, such stats only a guide – and whether they have any Cheltenham experience, and/or trainer’s record, is far more important.

      And of course this season has been odd – we had two cancelled Cheltenham meetings – meetings where many potential winners would have had their last run and we had the big freeze/more jumpers bumpers etc. I wouldn’t have any rules on such – most of the Grade A tracks have produced Festival winners NTO, and even the likes of Hunt, Plumpton, Fontwell etc can throw up odd one etc.

      With course form – there is a distinction between ‘horse has never run at Cheltenham’ vs ‘horse has ran at Cheltenham and proved they don’t handle it/they have a question over said form’ – there’s a few fancied chasers never to have ran at the track/or the chase track – Chacun and Royal P for example.

      Jockeys is tricky – Barry G, Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell – well they used to farm plenty. We shall see who comes to the fore this year but will very much be trainers links also – Rachel B, Paul T, Jack K, Nico, Harry C, Harry S – if Henry DB, Willie, ‘Gordon’, Paul N and Dan S have good week’s, obv said jockeys will also. Those 6 TJCs/jockeys may be no bad starting point!

      The Old Course – Days 1/2 is generally more speedy, it’s tighter, shorter run in etc – generally you don’t want to be too far back, but again can depend on pace – but if you’re far back you need to be a very good jumper, have gears and have a good pilot on top.

      Previous Festival runs always worth another glance, any form in Grade1/2s can be worth some attention, especially any handicappers etc. And for handicaps you generally need 10lb+ in hand. You need to be able to travel, hold a position and can rarely get away with shoddy jumping.

      Anyway, some thoughts off the top of my head!

    2. Hi Aaron, won Last time out and form at Cheltenham
      or won Last time out, and less than 10 overall starts will whittle quite a bit of the list down. Thats a starting point I suppose

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