Thursday, 17 March 2016

Cheltenham Day Four

The final day of the festival and I hope you are all enjoying it without there being too much pain. I will be taking a few weeks off from the blog after tomorrow as I get ready for the start of the turf flat season at the beginning of April.

Looking back at Day Three
The day started with the JLT Novices Chase over 2m 4f and was won by Black Hercules. The Pertemps followed and the Irish won this too with Mall Dini from the small operation of Patrick Kelly. Vautour destroyed the Ryanair field and some would say it was a Gold Cup winning performance and that he should have gone for that but it just makes me think they've got the Gold Cup sewn up to. Thistlecrack put up an equally good performance in winning the World Hurdle and what does he do now ? Empire Of Dirt was another Irish winner in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate in what was a rough race. The Mares event went to the well touted Limini from the all conquering Mullins stable - maybe in 10 years time we will find out he was giving them all some sort of secret potion!!!!

The Blog Bets
Stilletto - Fell
Saphir Du Rheu - 0
Vibrato Valtat - Fell when going well.
Sam Twiston Davies changed his riding style earlier in the season to stop him falling off and perhaps he needs to go back to the drawing board.

Paul Nicholls didnt have a great day but Arpege D'Alene ran a great second in the Pertemps off a rating of 146h under Sean Bowen and Aux Ptits Soins ran a race full of promise in the World Hurdle and lives to fight another day and no doubt he will be sent chasing in the near future. Vibrato Valtat and Stilletto both fell which must have been disappointing for the stable.

Dan Skelton probably had his worst day of the meeting so far.

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Paul Nicholls throws the kitchen sink at this one and has one third of the field with Clan Des Obeaux, Connetable, Frodon, Tommy Silver, Zubayr. I think the best three are Connetable, Zubayr and Clan Des Obeaux and I expect the stable to get the winner of this race. Nicholls has an excellent set of 4yo's and he's made no secret of it and he has already won the Fred Winter this week and also had the second. Clan Des Obeaux gets a first time hood applied whilst Connetable has first time cheek pieces.
Zubayr an expensive purchase from France made an instant impression in the Adonis and that profile is similar to the yard’s Zarkandar who won this race in 2011 but I don't think Clan Des Obeaux is that far behind him and is a much bigger price at 16/1. Footpad and Sceau Royal are the main dangers from other stables.

2.10 Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle
All Yours won the Grade 1 4yo hurdle at Aintree. Half brother to the stables Lac Fontana he matured over the summer. Nicholls has had this race in mind for him for a while and he could be a very good horse on this better ground.
Some Plan is a big chasing type but was 10th of 12 in the Supreme novices hurdle at the festival last season.he ran well at Ascot In December and has since been saved for this and Harry Cobden takes off a useful 5lbs.
Modus finished 2nd in the Champion bumper behind Moon Racer. He changed hands for 190,000GBP and he comes here as the lowest rated of Paul Nicholls three but this is a race he should excel in and he could be on a favourable mark and Cheltenham obviously suits his running style.
Dan Skelton's Superb Story is an improving sort and he has gone up 18lbs in two runs for the stable and his second here last time to Old Guard in the Greatwood Hurdle was a fantastic effort and there is every chance his improvement hasn't stopped and having been off since will have been tuned to the minute to go well here.
John Constable has quickly established himself as a useful hurdler, finding only subsequent Ladbroke winner Sternrubin too good on his only start this season, and is of definite interest, as is Cardinal Walter, who shaped well on his reappearance in the Scottish County Hurdle and looks capable of making his mark here, particularly with further progress on the cards. The relatively unexposed Blue Hell, who benefited from the fitting of a tongue strap when showing improved form to beat Coral Cup winner Diamond King on his only start this season in November, is also capable of further improvement. Barry Geraghty has chosen the lightly raced Great Field for Willie Mullins. Dicosimo, Ruby Walsh, and Wait For Me, Richard Johnson both wear a hood for the first time.

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
No runners from the two stables that we follow and Barters Hill looks the most likely winner. Mullins has seven entered and ruby Walsh rides the top rated and 7 wins from 8 starts Long Dog and he could be another that we will be seeing at Cheltenham on a regular basis for the next few years.

3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

A vintage Gold Cup even though Vautour defected and won the Ryanair. One thing is for sure they must be rubbing their hands with glee in Ireland and it's a race to savour and watch for me.

4.10 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
Ireland are bidding to win this race for a sixth successive year and have a strong squad including last years winner On The Fringe - but this is another race where you have to look at the jockeys more than the horses.

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
Qualando won the Fred Winter Hurdle last season and is said to be a chaser in the making and Nicholls has been pretty bullish about his chances in this although I couldn't see it myself last time he ran but maybe they left a bit to work on.
Ibis Du Rheu is a half brother to Saphir Du Rheu but hasn't really shown that much at the track so far in his limited runs for the stable.
Mr Mix should appreciate the stiffer track and distance and has a very talented jockey on board.
Dan Skelton's Work In Progress
Paul Nicholls holds a decent hand as he goes in search of a second win in the contest, Gordon Elliott’s Squouateur is a lightly-raced five-year-old that is progressing well as is Montdragon, who won at Haydock in December.

5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Gold Cup

Solar Impulse is open to further improvement and Nicholls was saying prior to his seasonal debut that he was "a bit behind the others". He makes jumping errors so he comes with risks attached but he wears blinkers for the first time so hopefully they will concentrate his mind on the jumping but I'm not sure he is a bet for me.
Savello won this race in 2014 beating Ned Buntline. He’s shaped as if retaining plenty of ability amidst some stiff tasks this season, but probably has something to find off a mark of 150 and Brigdet Andrews is employed to take off 5lb.
Workbench is the stables other runner and Harry Skelton rides him and he seems to go well here and could outrun his price.
Arthur’s Oak is in the winning groove at present and his straightforward style of racing and slick jumping are sure to stand him in good stead in a race that is often run at a furious gallop. Bold Henry and Chris Pea Green have disappointed of late, but would have claims on the pick of their efforts. Alan Fleming's Velvet Maker appeals as the type to be suited by this sort of test and may still have more to offer after just three runs over fences.

Clan Des Obeaux - 0.50 points ew @ 16/1
All Yours - 0.50 points ew at 14/1
Qualando - 0.50 points ew @ 8/1

Good Luck

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