Early Cheltenham Value

With just over a week to go before the festival starts our guest blogger, Sean Kelsey,  has been searching for Early Cheltenham Value. He said: ''I like to really take an interest in the markets and look for value as the bookmakers go non runner no bet. At the time of writing there are three bookmakers doing this on all the races, with a number of others offering the concession on the Championship races. Bet365 also go Best Odds Guaranteed which can really pay dividends. The on course market is so strong and on course bookmakers generally have no liabilities going into the races, meaning they can push out prices on the day. I picked a few selections below that I believe offer some good value now. ''

Tuesday 12th March 2.40 – JLT Specialty Steeple Chase

My first selection is somewhat weather dependent. I hoping for a dry run up to the festival so that we get genuinely Good to Soft ground for Midnight Chase. This race is a Grade 3 handicap and Midnight Chase gets a somewhat lenient mark of 152. His last 5 races have been in Grade 1's or 2's and to be honest, he's not quite up to that class. Ignore his last two races on soft or heavy ground and his form stacks up. Although he was first to come off the bridle in the Charlie Hall and was beaten out of sight by Silvinaco Conti, he plugged on well into third and did give weight to that horse (5lbs) and Wayward Prince (10lbs), who came out and won next time. His Argento win last year is good form and if he reproduces anything like that he'll be bang there. Watching his races, he seems to jump more fluently on better ground. His record of 5 wins from 10 visits to Cheltenham, 4 from 7 on Good - Soft ground, and a first and a third in his two Grade 3 runs are enough to interest me. His last handicap run was off 161, where he came third in the Rowland Meyrick in soft ground. Currently a best priced 20/1 NRNB with Bet Victor. If it is genuinely Good to Soft ground on the day expect him to go off around 10/1.

Midnight Chase 1 point ew 20/1 Bet Victor

3.20 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Ok, my next selection is based around the fact that Paddy Power are giving you your money back if Hurricane Fly wins. It's quite easy to make a case for any of the next four in the betting but Paddy aren't giving too much away with their prices with them at this stage. Countrywide Flame has disappointed the last two times he's raced. The race at Kempton, won by Darlan, turned into a sprint finish after a slow early pace; Countrywide Flame was well in contention at the second last but didn't have the speed from thereon in. On his last run at Doncaster, he was only beaten 3 lengths by Rock On Ruby, after initially being outpaced and further behind. Cheltenham is a different test and the stiff uphill climb will suit Countrywide Flame, as will a faster pace. At 16/1 he's the value in a competitive race.

Countrywide Flame 1 point ew 16/1 Paddy Power

Wednesday 13th March 1.30 National Hunt Chase

Even more speculative this one. Rose of the Moon might prefer soft ground and could go for the Kim Muir instead. He needs a decent trip and I think this is more his race but would consider backing him in that as well. (He's currently only 25/1 with the NRNB bookies for that though). Ignore his last run which came too quick for him - his record when returning to the race track within 30 days is no wins from 6 attempts. He won a couple of small novice chases in good style prior to that. Look back through his early hurdles form and you'll see he was quite highly tried and ran in a couple of Grade 2 hurdles competing with the likes of Bobs Worth and Rock On Ruby. Clearly he's not that good but I think he's definitely capable of being competitive in this. At 40/1 with Bet Victor NRNB he's too big a price too ignore.

Rose of the Moon 1/2 point ew 40/1 Bet Victor

Great work from Sean. Remember to read all his posts over the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. 

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