Wednesday 14 March 2012

Cheltenham Festival 2012: 15th March


Cheltenham Festival 2012 Preview: Day Three

I would like to thank Sean Kelsey for allowing HCE to publish his Cheltenham previews. 

Welcome to my preview. I've tried to base all my selections on the form book and  watching previous races and not get swayed by hype and public opinion. I've included some eachway selections at decent prices as the bookmakers terms for the festival are as generous as you can get. There are plenty of offers available and I recommend you shop around.

At time of publishing (12th March) you must appreciate that some horses have more than one engagement and their running plans are not fixed. All odds quoted were available at time of writing, Non Runner No Bet.

I've assumed it's going to be Good to Soft ground and will try and identify any horses that would appreciate softer or quicker going.

I’ll do an update after the meeting and let you know how my selections got on.

Day 3 – Thursday 15th March

1.30 Jewson Novices Chase

Peddlers Cross goes into this as favourite after side stepping the Arkle. It does make you wonder that the horse may not quite be 100%. No-one can argue with his hurdle form but his chase form is less impressive - he's only beaten seven horses in three races. He finished behind Sprinter Sacre at Kempton and I can put that down to it being the first time that Peddlers Cross had been right-handed and, to me, he always appeared to have his head cocked to the left which put him at a disadvantage. He also hit the first fence which didn't help. He should be staying on past the speedier types at the finish. Remember he was only beaten in last years Champion by the mighty Hurricane Fly. I really like the horse but at 3/1 I'm not a player with doubts about his fitness. Sir Des Champs is a fantastic horse and a really game battler. In last years Conditional Handicap he came from a mile back to win and is unbeaten over hurdles and fences.

1 pt win Sir Des Champs 4/1 1st

2.05 Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle)

Buena Vista is going for this for the third year running. The ground will be ideal and he's only a few pounds higher than last year. Ultra competitive but he should run his race.

1 pt ew Buena Vista 11/1

2.40 Ryanair Chase

An open looking Ryanair this year. Albertas Run will definitely have a chance if the ground is Good or quicker. He appears in better form this year than last and 14/1 looks very generous. Somersby doesn't convince me over this trip at Cheltenham, Poquelin saves his best runs for the course but might not be up to winning a Grade 1 race (0 out of 4). Noble Prince is another who might be just below Grade 1 class (0 out of 5). Rubi Light's John Durkan win gives him a shout but I'm wary of heavy ground form. Riverside Theatre hasn't been out for over a year and may be better on a flatter track. Great Endeavour doesn't look quite up to this grade.

2 pts win Albertas Run 9/1 (2nd Great run)

3.20 Ladbrokes World Hurdle

Big Bucks looks a really solid favourite again and I see no reason why any of the opposition should beat him. Oscar Whisky is a really good horse and looks like a world beater when he wins on the bridle. He's trying 3 miles for the first time and I thought it would be unusual for a horse with his speed to stay 3 miles well. I've had a quick look at his sire's stats of progeny over 3m and whilst some clearly stay they haven't got a particularly good strike rate. However if you look at his Dosage figures he does fit in with the previous winners of this race. Dynaste and Thousand Stars should fight it out for third. I've backed Big Bucks at 4/6 antepost and the 8/13 available now still looks value to me. Oscar Whisky needs to improve on the step up to 3 miles and may have to settle for second. However Big Bucks is the best three miler around and I hope he can extend his unbeaten run to 16 on the trot.

4 pts win Big Bucks 8/13 1st (superb)

4.00 Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase

Another tricky handicap. Hectors Choice ran second behind Calgary Bay over course and distance on New Years Day. Calgary Bay came out and won at Doncaster after that. Hectors Choice ran a decent race behind Nacarat at Kempton last time and is clearly in form. He's handicapped right up to his best and his best but is tough and consistent and looks to have sound claims for a place at least.

1 pt ew Hectors Choice 25/1

4.40 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase

An amateur jockeys handicap chase. A really tricky race. Helpston split According to Pete and Midnight Chase at Wetherby both of whom have come out and won since. The amateur booked has come second on him before and the horse will go on the quick ground. A solid each-way bet.

1 pt ew Helpston 16/1

Total stake Day 3 - 13 points