Thursday 15 March 2012

Cheltenham Festival 2012 16th March

Thanks for Sean Kelsey allowing HCE to publish his well-received preview 

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 4 – Friday 16th March

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Pearl Swan and Grumeti met back in January at Cheltenham. Pearl Swan finished in front that day but lost the race in the stewards room due to interference. Difficult to decide on who will got on top in a re-match - some commentators believe Ruby Walsh rode a great race out the back but I just wonder if he got outpaced and then stayed on. Either way I'm not sure I'd want him too far back in this race. The Irish challenge doesn't look too good. Ut De Sivola only won last time due a mistake by a rival at the last. Darroun beat that same rival by a length or so after that so these appear closely matched. The forgotten horse appears to be Urbain de Sivola who won good race at Newbury last year. He comprehensively beat Ranjaan who has since come out and won a handicap off 132. The third and fourth have also come out and won. At 20/1 he's an outstanding bet. The one Irish horse I like in the race is Hisaabaat. He was transformed by the blinkers last time and I expect him to run well.

1 pt ew Urbain De Sivola 20/1

2.05 Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle

Snap Tie is on a very competitive mark but has been off the track for 882 days - that's a bit long for a 14/1 shot. This is ultra-competitive and I have a shortlist of Moon Dice, Sailor's Warn, Olofi, Ifyouletmefinish, Kalann and Dee Ee Williams. I'll be waiting until the overnight declarations before looking at this.

No bet

2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

Boston Bob will be all the rage but I prefer Sea of Thunder at a bigger price on quick ground. Sea of Thunder probably would have won at Cheltenham in December had he not fallen at the last on good ground. Unsuited by heavy ground last time he can get a lot closer this time. Mount BenBulben can fill the other place.

1 pt win Sea of Thunder 7/1

3.20 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Kauto Star is back on top form this season having beat Long Run twice. Long Run should get a bit closer today but his jumping still looks suspect to me and is no value at 2/1. I'll be cheering on Kauto Star but I will be having another bet in the race. Midnight Chase loves Cheltenham and if the ground is on the quick side I'll be having a bet on him. I backed Weird Al ante-post after the Charlie Hall chase. To be honest I thought he'd run better at Haydock but in hindsight a two length beating by Long Run puts him bang there. He's definitely value at 12/1 and the track will suit. The race at Haydock may have come a bit too soon after Wetherby as he does appear best when fresh.

1 pt ew Midnight Chase 12/1
1 pt ew Weird Al 12/1

4.00 Foxhunter Chase

A hunter chase with amateur riders. I don't claim to know anything about these types of races. Generally though ex-National hunt horses who get old and are sent hunting don't do that well in this race. Chapoturgeon is only 8 years old and so doesn't quite fit that mould. There is a doubt about him staying and if you look at his sire's progeny, out of 34 attempts at this distance or beyond, none have won and only six have been placed. That's enough to put me off at 9/2. Cloudy Lane has been talked up by his trainer for the last few weeks. He was a class horse a few years ago and this is his sort of distance. and he goes on the ground. At around 7/1, despite being too old to win this according to the stats, he looks a decent bet. The one I like at a big price is Bradley. Still only 8 he goes on the ground and will stay. The time before last he was beaten by Monkerty Tunkerty but he was giving away a fair bit of weight and he got a bit buzzed up prior to the race. He can turn around that form. Since then he's won the Royal Artillery Cup at Sandown. At 33/1 he appears to have been overlooked.

1 pt win Cloudy Lane 7/1
1 pt ew Bradley 33/1

4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap

Too many runners still entered and very difficult.

No bet.

5.15 Grand Annual Chase

A two mile handicap chase that looks really tricky. However Kid Cassidy is a horse with loads of ability who is probably better than his mark.

1 pt ew Kid Cassidy 10/1

Total stake Day 4 - 12 points

Total stake for meeting -  54 points

Thanks, Sean, for your sterling write-up. I'm sure all would agree it has added to the Cheltenham experience. Much appreciated.