Friday 17th March



Cheltenham Festival Day 4 preview


Irish benefit year to continue on St Patrick's Day


The title of yesterdays blog was ‘the favourites strike back’ and that they did is superb style with only unowhatimeanharry letting down what would have been 4 short prices going in.  The 4 timer from Ruby and Willie was truly fantastic but it now bodes a serious question for day 4; Do we try and beat Irish or join in their party?  Worryingly Gordon Elliott thought Friday was his best chance for winners and given its St Patricks day there will surely be owners and trainers targeting victory here from months ago.  There has been a lot of smoke and mirrors from the shrewd Irish this year; Elliott claiming the novices looked a modest bunch before saddling a 33/1 winner in the supreme followed home by the Mullins hotpot (not as average as maybe he thought!).  Furthermore the two handicaps yesterday were won by Irish horses who were claimed to be “badly handicapped”.   Yet both horses won as they liked looking like they had been dropped into the race at the last fence and then winning eased down in two of the most fiercely competitive races of the season!  Today will make or break the festival for many so lets hope to find some winners and finish up on top.



Race 1 - 1.30 Triumph Hurdle


I’m happy to take on the two short priced JP horses here as they have been winning on softish ground throughout the year and whilst I accept that horses high up in the betting have a good record in this race there are certainly a couple of angles to explore.  The Irish form lines are centred around the trio of Baupaume, Landofhopeandglory and Mega Fortune.  They have all been beating each other this year and at the prices I am surprised to see the Willie Mullins / Ruby Walsh combo almost double the price of Mega Fortune.  I am of the opinion the Rich Ricci 4 year old will significantly prefer better ground and 14/1 ew about a horse who has placed in a Group 1 and won a group 2 for these connections looks very generous.  The big question now is whether to play another Irish card or hedge and pick a Brit?   Landofhopeandglory looked the standout Irish 4 year old having reverted from Father to Son after an unsuccessful tilt on the level in the German Derby.  He has all the right pedigree you would expect from a Coolmore flat horse and very much fits the same profile as the stables winner last year Ivanovich Gorbatov.  Currently available at 12/1 its the value in his price that has swayed me in his direction.  Of the home team Masterblueyes looks the pick of the value especially given his romp in the Adonis last time out.  However the value in his price has gone somewhat and at a very big price I am going to put up a little saver, just in case the Irish form doesn’t stack up.  Coeur De Lion has run some excellent races this year, none least when a length second to current short priced favourite Defi Du Seuil over course and distance.  Yet despite this narrow defeat over track and trip in a recognised trial race he is 50/1 that is definitely value.


Recommended bet : 5 points EW - Baupaume 14/1 - Placed +12.5 points

Recommended bet : 5 points EW - Landofhopenandglory 11/1 -Unplaced -10.0 points

Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW - Coeur De Lion 50/1 - Unplaced -5.0 points

Image above : Ruby Walsh on Baupaume




Race 2 - 2.10 County Hurdle


Superb Story extended the winning record of first or second-season hurdlers to 12 wins in the last 13 years last season of which the last 11 were officially rated in the 130s.  If we add to this that 5 year olds have won 10 of the last 18 runnings we are left with 4 horses all who’s odds are over 20/1.  There are a lot of talking horses in this race; North Hill Harvey is clearly very good and has a similar profile to the stables winner last year.  He won a big handicap pot earlier in the year and now they have put him away with this race in mind and protected his handicap mark - their view is he still has plenty in hand.  Inevitably Ireland do well in this race historically owing to the difficulty of assessing performances of their runners and they have won 7 of the last 10 runnings.  In particular Willie Mullins who saddles Renneti.  I have to admit I don’t want to get sucked in by the big stables and talking horses because the value has gone and the stats really support that a younger horse lower down the weights is where to look.  The 4 five year olds rated in the 130’s are; Crievehill (33/1) Dominada (40/1) Jaleo (50/1) Mohayeed (22/1).  Unfancied,  but on closer inspection some good form.  Dominada was second in the Scottish County and has been in the first 4 in his last 6 races.  Mohayeed ran in the Irish 2000 guineas on the flat only beaten 4 lengths by Gleneagles!  He won by 14 lengths in a weak event at Taunton recently but surely looks primed for a big run off bottom weight.  Its the last day and I very keen to not miss out on one of these 4 so will back them all on the exchanges at big prices with Crievehill and Mohayeed the main selections.  Given the Irish domination I am really loathed to leave out the two Gordon Elliot horses Mick Jazz and Tell us more.  Mick Jazz ran a close second to Labaik in a group 3 and we know what he did earlier in the week.  Tell us more previously trained by Willie Mullins looks to be a bit classy too.  That’s the nature of a handicap though and my big priced runners will be carrying nearly a stone less than some of their main rivals and that should help them come the finish.


Recommended bet : 5 points EW Crievehill 33/1 - Unplaced -10.0 points

Recommended bet : 5 points EW Mohayeed 22/1 - Unplaced -10.0 points





Race 3 - 2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle


This race is a real slog and for novices is a very tough gig.  Death Duty is touted as being a superstar and it is unlike Gordon Elliot to be quite so bullish about his chances.  Gigginstown excel in this race and as such he is a very worthy favourite.  For me though this isn’t a race to be getting stuck into a 2/1 shot.  Course and Distance form is very important in this race and there are two horses that tick plenty of boxes to be worthy of an investment.  Given how much guesswork is required to know how novices are going to act over this test I am happy to stick with Wholestone who has been here and owns a selection of t-shirts. 4 runs this season all at Cheltenham with 3 wins and second.  The two races over this trip he won in  decent style and this race should hold no surprises for him.  He’s very gutsy and his credentials are there for all to see and at 15/2 he is still a decent price.  If you like Wholestone as I do then Ami Debois has to come into the reckoning.  A similar scenario to Coeur de Lion but he finished a game runner up to Wholestone over this Albert Bartlett course and distance but is inexplicably 28/1.  He will do for a bit of ew value to bring home the potatoes.


Recommended bet : 5 points win Wholestone 15/2 - Placed -5.0 points

Recommended bet : 5 points EW Ami debois 28/1 - Unplaced -10.0 points



Image above : Ami debois




Race 4 - 3.30 Gold Cup


I have to admit to not being really excited by the Gold Cup this year.  I’m not sure why as I would love Cue Card to win and to be fair wouldn’t begrudge Djakadam winning either given Cheltenham’s premiere trainer over the past 5 years has never won it.  A rating of 166 seems to be the level these horses need to be coming in at and that doesn’t leave many of these with a sniff.  Bristil De Mai / Cue Card / Native River / Champagne West / Outlander and Sizing John.  I really like Sizing John.  He is a really game horse and now upped from 2 miles and avoiding his nemesis Douvan (ironically if he had run in the Champion he may well have beat him this time!) he looks to possess a bit of class.  He’s 7, a second season chaser, placed at the Festival, won a group 1 last time out.  It all points to a good run.  The main negative was Empire of Dirt’s dismal run yesterday not giving much substance to his previous win but in the opinion of trainer Gordon Elliot Empire of Dirt is a gold cup horse and I suspect Un De Sceux breakneck gallop stretched his cruising speed a little too much, he subsequently never got into a jumping rhythm and that was that.  There is a horse at a bigger price I think will run well but his jumping is to be honest pitiful.  His form wouldn’t scream Gold Cup winner either, however, he absolutely bolted up in the 4 miler at the Festival last year and there are a few reasons to think Minella Rocco could be staying on best at the end.  He would have run Many Clouds close at Aintree earlier in the season when falling at the last (well supported favourite that day.)  His only run since came when he fell at Leopardstown in the aforementioned Irish Gold Cup (well supported 7/1 that day).  I think 16/1 is skinny enough but he is still very lightly raced, trained by a staying chase master and the confident way he swotted away Native River at the festival last year means he is certainly in with a chance.  He will have to do it the Synchronised way.  Sit at the back and hunt around but he has an excellent late turn of foot and is dour stayer which could prove vital at the business end.


Recommended bet : 5 points win Sizing John 8/1 - Won +50.0 points

Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Minella Rocco 18/1 - Placed +8.75 points





Race 5 - 4.10 Foxhunters Chase


I don’t know a great deal about the point to point and fox hunter scene.  But what I lack in Barbour and Tweed hopefully I can make up with in winners.  The race hinges around On the Fringe who has taken the last two runnings.  Asktheweatherman is probably a pretty solid alternative to the favourite given he has won 9 of his 10 starts and is a young pretender in this sphere. Balnaslow doesn’t arrive here in tremendous form but he can boast a victory over Foxrock in December and that form alone makes him a serious player.  He is 50/1! and with one of the best amateurs around on board surely that is too big.   Paint the Clouds will almost certainly run his race and along with Pacha du polder could well pick up another place in this race.  Another at bigger prices to mention is Aupcharlie who won very impressively recently and his 6th in this race last year is decent form and should see him in the mix again.


Recommended bet : 5 points win Asktheweatherman 8/1 - Unplaced

Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Balnaslow 50/1 - Unplaced

Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Aupcharlie 33/1 - Unplaced


Image above : Asktheweatherman




Race 6 - 4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle



I have been sweet on Tommy Silver for this for a month or so now and I am pleased he takes his chance and is a nice price at 25/1.  Paul Nicholls still hasn’t hit the board yet and many are surprised but he doesn't have the chasing ammo he used to and more to the point he is so desperate to be champion trainer he hasn’t got the luxury of putting horses away and protecting their marks he wants to win prize money and as much as he can.  He is excellent at placing horses and as such is why he picks up valuable pots. I was taken by Tommy Silvers recent win at Taunton and think he has the tenacity to have a good crack here.  Coo Star Sivola and Runfordave are the other two to flag up and small savers will go on those.  I think Runfordave has the slightly better chance so will put him up as the second selection after reading an article where Gordon Elliot said he was desperate to win this race and honour a family so close to his heart.


Recommended bet : 5 points EW Tommy Silver  25/1 - Unplaced

Recommended bet : 5 points EW Runfordave 10/1 - Placed





Race 7 - 5.30 Grand Annual



A tricky last where annoyingly I like quite a few.  How Solar Impulse is 40/1 after winning this last year I have no idea.  He won well last year finishing like and train and horses have good records coming back to this race after running well in the past.  He is a must play ew.  Velvet Maker ran well in this last year and since has just had a cheeky run over hurdles to prepare for another tilt.  There is a stat that says horses with a prep over hurdles for this do well and since connections took a handicap on the first day too I would be very keen on his chances.  Of the rest quitebychance, despite Colin Tizzard’s poor form so far this week will get a small investment at 33/1


Recommended bet : 5pt EW Solar Impulse 40/1 

Recommended bet : 5 points EW Velvet Maker 12/1

Recommended bet : 5 points EW Quitebychance 33/1



A ot of horses today and I make no apoogies for this. Probably the best one in my opinion is Velvent Maker each way. There's some big fields today so if you can pluck an EW lucky 15 or EW trixie than best of luck. Alternatively, with these big handicap fields, back the win only on betfair and the price will be significantly better than the bookmakers. 



Recommended bet : 5 points EW - Baupaume 14/1 - Placed +12.5 points
Recommended bet : 5 points EW - Landofhopenandglory 11/1 - Unplaced
Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW - Coeur De Lion 50/1 - Unplaced
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Crievehill 33/1 - Unplaced
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Mohayeed 22/1 - Unplaced
Recommended bet : 5 points win Wholestone 15/2 - Placed
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Ami debois 28/1 - Unplaced

Recommended bet : 5 points win Sizing John 8/1 - Won +50.0 points

Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Minella Rocco 18/1 - Placed +8.75 points

Recommended bet : 5 points win Asktheweatherman 8/1
Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Balnaslow 50/1
Recommended bet : 2.5 points EW Aupcharlie 33/1
ecommended bet : 5 points EW Tommy Silver  25/1
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Runfordave 10/1
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Solar Impulse 40/1 
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Velvet Maker 12/1
Recommended bet : 5 points EW Quitebychance 33/1


Total stake : 135 points

Total returns : 86.25 points


Good luck


The Leviathan



Print | Sitemap