Supreme Novices Hurdle
Keskonrisk 33/1 or 25/1 NRNB
A big money purchase by Claudio Grech last year, made his much anticipated debut over hurdles in November. The form of that debut doesn’t currently look up to much but his 3rd over Christmas in behind Appreciate It looks a fair effort considering Josephs weren’t running well at that time and have largely been inconsistent all season. He battled well on his debut to win and likewise kept on under pressure for his 3rd at Christmas, shows he’s got a determined attitude. There’s a few of positives I’m taking from the season so far. His likeable attitude as already explained, running well over Christmas despite Josephs bad form and also being declared a on runner due to the ground at the Dublin Racing Festival, which means you’d hope to see some improvement on better ground. A strongly run Supreme on better ground than he’s had all season would lead me to think 33/1 is a big price.
Ultima Handicap Chase
Golan Fortune 16/1 NRNB
If considering Golan Fortune as a bet here it’s important to emphasise the “non runner no bet” aspect, as he’s got a number of options at the Festival. The trainer has already illustrated the Grand National as the target, so it would be no surprise to see him end up in the National Hunt chase. However, I don’t think the trainer would want to bottom him out in a nearly 4 mile contest a few months before one of the worlds most famous horse races. This handicap would look interesting off a mark of around 142, if he doesn’t completely blow that this weekend at Newbury. One thing is for sure, he would need to improve that handicap mark of 142 if he’s to make the Grand National final field. He’s a hardened horse and has run in several handicaps over hurdles with good success at Cheltenham. His novice chase form is red hot and I’m hoping he doesn’t completely blow his handicap mark this weekend if he runs. I’ve had a nibble at 28/1 NRNB a month ago and I still think 16/1 NRNB is value!
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Rivière D’etel 20/1 NRNB
I initially fancied this mare to face her own sex on day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival, but her recent beating and therefore new handicap mark look too attractive a proposition to turn down in the Boodles. When you consider that the two favourites of the mares novice hurdle were turned over in midweek, it’s probably not beyond the realms of imagination connections may still have half an eye on that contest. However, the English handicapper has given her an opening mark of 133, which is a lovely mark to run in the boodles with. I think the form of her beating last time out, isn’t all that bad. Thedevilscoachman is a nice horse, and the second Visionarian is a good horse in his own right. Mighty Tom 21 lengths back in fourth also has some reasonable form in the book having beaten Run For Oscar and Champion Bumper 7th Julie’s Stowaway, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed this mare was turned over as a short priced favourite. She’s definitely worth a punt at 20/1 but only with non runner no bet in case she takes her chance in the mares novice hurdle.
National Hunt Chase
Coko Beach 14/1
The angle with Coko Beach comes as no surprise after landing the ultra competitive Thyestes last Thursday. Many horses that have run well in or won this race in the past have gone onto run at the top table or the most valuable staying handicap chases. It appears Coko Beach was ahead of his mark that day and he’s had a busy campaign, which would make his profile appeal to me. He looks a thorough stayer and he’s bound to have one of the better amateur jockeys on board (or professional), when you consider connections. My immediate thought after that race was that he would be a single figure price. I think 14/1 is overpriced.
Lord Royal 33/1
Normally I’d go into this race and I’d be looking for 5 jockeys. Lisa O’Neill, Patrick Mullins, Jamie Codd, Derek O’Connor and Sam Waley-Cohen. Who knows if it will be amateurs only this year but I was trying to second guess Jockey bookings and this looks nailed on Patrick Mullins’ mount for the race at this stage. I was so impressed with Lord Royal on his debut at Thurles, when he looked to be hurdling his fences and looked to be handing out a hiding to Eurobot and Choungaya before taking a crashing fall when the race was at his mercy. The latter has come out and won at Fairyhouse on the weekend. I wouldn’t lose hope with Lord Royal, he battled back well to just go down in second last time out, but it was nice to see him run his race after the horrific fall on debut, which may have given excuses for his performance on his second start where he faded badly down the field when entering the straight when attempting to make all. He finished a creditable second last time out and showed a good attitude, while qualifying for the race by finishing in the top 4. I can see him going off 8/1-10/1 if he makes it to the Festival.
Cross Country Chase
He ran out an impressive winner at Pau on the weekend, over 3m 7 furlongs having gone off a short priced favourite. I was mighty impressed with his overall performance, which never looked in doubt. There was a small moments worry in the home straight where he was 6 to 7 lengths clear when I just think he got lonely up the straight but battled on from a late finisher. I love French horses in this race as from an early age they are used to the unique task of cross country discipline and are used to jumping all kinds of fence types from a very young age. Uniketat is only 6 and has a similar profile to Easysland last year, who was a prolific winner before winning at Cheltenham during the December meeting and then going onto festival glory. Experience and the demand of the cross country circuit is everything so I had a bet at 20/1 and I wouldn’t put you off another bet at 12/1. Easyslands preparation has been far from ideal this time around and while he is the worthy favourite based on all form, Uniketat’s ticked all the boxes for me thus far and is a much bigger price.
Pertemps Network Final Handicap
Champagne Platinum 25/1
Well punted horse for the Kim Muir last season, this horse looks set for the Pertemps Final if all goes to plan. He missed a Pertemps qualifier twice this season due to course abandonment and is all set for Exeter’s qualifier on Sunday if all goes to plan. He’s as short as 14/1 NRNB due to the fact he hasn’t qualified yet, but I’m willing to take a risk at 25/1 in the hope he qualifies. I’ll probably wait to see the size of the field at Exeter and to make sure he doesn’t take up his alternative entry at Newbury on Saturday. I’m hoping for a small field on Sunday at Exeter where I’d be confident of Champagne Platinum finishing in the top 6 and I’ll probably back him at 25/1 on Thursday/Friday. JP McManus has a great record in the race and I’m fairly confident this will be the plan. When you consider JP normally has a fair few entries in this race over the years, yet none really stand out in the betting at the moment. This could all change come Sunday this week. I was impressed with his run last time out in a 2 and a half mile race at Newbury where he finished a plugging on third in amongst some good horses, who would have been suited by the sharper test. Keep an eye out for entries on Thursday/Friday for Newbury/Exeter.
School Boy Hours 33/1
This has a JP McManus Kim Muir plot written all over it, if all is well with the horse. I haven’t found any evidence to tell me that all is well with the horse, with no talk on the horse or any entries since his run in early December. This would be a big chance but one i’d be willing to risk small stakes with. If you look back at his form it wouldn’t come as a surprise that this horse could be well ahead of his mark. First run of the season saw him a 2 lengths second to Latest Exhibition with Kim Muir favourite Run Wild Fred back in fourth. Followed that up with a comprehensive beating to the hands of Asterion Forlonge and Conflated (2nd) over a trip perhaps too short. His latest outing was also one in behind Eklat De Rire who’s then won a grade 3 since then. His current mark is 135 (Irish) and will probably go up a few pounds when given a UK mark. I am hoping he’s been saved for a festival handicap and I’m dearly hoping the Kim Muir could be on the cards for this well handicapped horse. Small stakes for now worth chancing at 33/1. He’s a much shorter price of 14/1 NRNB with one firm but he’s definitely worth chancing at a much bigger price.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Does He Know 25/1 NRNB
A second season novice hurdler and two time Cheltenham course winner this season stands him in good stead. He showed his staying credentials on his second start at Cheltenham when I thought he stayed on best to beat a smart rival in Midnight River. That rival finished close in behind Make Me A Believer and Adrimel, both who I rate highly in the staying division. He’s a horse with a quirk or two having run out in a Challow hurdle, but I think if he’d run his race there he’d probably be half the price he is now. He’s entered up in a Pertemps qualifier this weekend, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t run in the Albert Bartlett if he gets to the Festival. I just think there may be a shortage of suitable races as a prep for Cheltenham over 3 miles so he’s opted for a Pertemps qualifier off what he feels may be a lenient mark. There’s the 3 mile race also at Newbury on Saturday, but the running out at the fifth at the Challow hurdle might have put his trainer off. I’ve opted for 25/1 NRNB rather than a slightly bigger 28/1 with other firms because of the slight doubt I have about the left field Pertemps qualifier entry.
Stand Up And Fight 25/1 NRNB
He was one of the leading favourites two festivals ago in the fox hunters, but was a very young unexposed horse, just turning 7 with little chase experience, let alone in big fields as the Fox Hunters usually is. He was given an educational ride out the back and never really got into the contest having gone off 13/2 drifting from near favourite before the off. He finished Sixth and will benefit greatly from that experience. He had a troubled campaign last year, but is 9 now and seems to have returned to some kind of form. He won his first Hunter chase this season beating Billaway & Last seasons festival winner, It Came To Pass over 3 miles. He then returned over 2 and a half miles and was back in fourth, but I think he shaped well for long parts and was better value than his finishing position suggested. I think it was an inadequate trip and the test of the Gold Cup trip will denfinitely suit. I think Billaway is a weak favourite so I’d say 25/1 NRNB about Stand Up And Fight is the bet at this stage, especially as he’s already beaten the current favourite this season.