Cheltenham Festival 2013 Friday 15 March.
1-30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Juvenile Grade 1) (4-yo) 2013
· Last time out winners are 11 from 15,
· Prominent runners have won 9 of the last 15
· 11 of the 15 had a run in the last 42 days
· 10 of the 15 could be found in the first four in the betting.
· 7 of the 15 raced in a Class 1 race last time out from just 93 runners
· CAUTION: Horses returning after a break of more than 42 days have only won 2 of the last 15 renewals from 89
· Held up runners have won 3 from 15 from 163 runners
I did read one preview saying that four year olds had a 100% record in this race! This is a very good renewal of the Triumph. I have a short list of TWO exceptional contenders; ROLLING STAR and OUR CONNOR. Bristish v Irish. There is very little between them according to my ratings with the marginal preference being for the Nicky Henderson trained ROLLING STAR. We last saw him at Cheltenham beating Irish Saint and he looked mightily impressive. He went down as the Triumph Hurdle horse and I still think he is the best. Our Connor is respected and the smart bet is to Dutch them both. But preference is for Rolling Star at 4/1.
2-05 Vincent O Brien County Handicap Hurdle
This is a minefield of a handicap, with 28 runners and if you find the winner of this you will be richly rewarded. Sounds easy, it is nothing of the sort! My tentative bet here is an each way (small stakes only) on RANJAAN for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh who have had a contrasting Festivals so far. This is somewhat speculative as I think the horse will appreciate the better ground. We have had heavy going most of the season and the better ground combined with a favourable mark could give us a decent run.
2-40 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Only eight running’s of this race to day so little can be learned from the statistical trends;
· All 8 winners raced in a Class 1 race last time out, that’s from just 60 runners
· The top 5 in the betting have won 7 of the 8 renewals.
· 7 of the 8 winners were 1st or 2nd last time out.
That’s not really of much help! I have three in the ratings that are on the short list;
· AT FISHERS CROSS- 100
· BALLYCASSEY- 96
· AFRICAN GOLD 92
The form of AT FISHERS CROSS could hardly look any better. Beating The New One last time out and he is my firm bet here. FRICAN GOLD also has had his form franked at Sandown on Saturday and at 13/2 is a great bet each way.
3-20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
This is the blue riband of National Hunt Racing. The Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. It has been won by some greats down the years and in recent times they include DENMAN and KAUTO STAR. Imperial Commander is now out and the sad demise of Synchronised, last year’s winner, means the only previous winner in this field is Long Run. This is the most wide open Gold Cup seen for sometime.
· 13 of the winners in the last 15 renewals had a previous run at a past Festival, which is 9% better than expected and 10 winners had either won or placed in a past Festival race from 103 runners, that’s 7% better than expected. Neither of those are massively strong statistics since past festival form horses are over bet, but it can’t be ignored when narrowing the field.
· 8 of the last 15 ran in a Grade 1 race last time out from just 51 runners, which is 49% better than expected.
· Irish Breds have won 12 of the 15, 34% better than expected.
· If we add in Grade 2 last time out then 13 of the 15 ran in a Grade 1 or 2 last time out, 30% more than expected.
· 12 of the last 15 were in the top 3 in the betting.
· 10 of the last 15 ran at exactly 3 miles last time out
· Horses winning last time out won 8 of the last 15 renewals.
A field of 11 horses contest the 2013 Gold Cup, competitive but there is no one stand out horse, all have questions to answer. These are the horses I see as the main players.
BOBS WORTH, cky Henderson thinks a huge amount about Bob’s Worth. Bred by his jockey Barry Geraghty it would be an extra special win for him. He comes here with just one run under his belt this season although that was a 3 ¼ length beating of Tidal Nay in the Hennessy Gold Cup, his Cheltenham record reads 1-1-1-1. Henderson’s record with horses at Cheltenham is second to none. Off a long rest is not no good. Bobs Worth is the favourite and rightly so!
SIR DES CHAMPS, also has an unbeaten Cheltenham and Festival but his form this year is not good enough to land this. Would need to improve on what we have seen.
SILVINIACO CONTI is the big hope and the up and coming chaser to fill the boots of Denman and Kauto Star. Nicholls is bullish and what he has done this season puts him in the mix. Could give Bobs Worth a race.
LONG RUN bids to regain his crown but vibes are not good. Cheek Pieces will be worn and he doesn’t look the horse of old. Won the King George, yes, but just, and should be not match for Bobs Worth or Conti.
Of the outsiders the each way play in the race is THE GIANT BOLSTER 14/1. David Bridgewater is a hard worker and he has trained this horse to get 100% out of it. If you put 100% in you reap what you sew. Placed in a Gold Cup already he has a real chance at value odds.
For me the outstanding two horses are BOBS WORTH and SILVINIACO CONTI. A pro bet would be to Dutch the two. Put a gun to my head and I will go for Bobs Worth
For me the festival is more or less over after the Gold Cup. The last three races are an amateur riders race and the Pipe and Henderson races where they throw plenty at them. These are the picks for the last three races;
4.00 CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
He may be a veteran but Chapoturgeon is a festival favourite. He looked to have retained plenty of his old ability when last seen winning at Newbury. Still part owned by former trainer Paul Nicholls and he could yet provide Nicholls with some festival glory. 9/2 is not the best price but he has the credentials to win this.
4-40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This is the Martin Pipe race and it is quite obvious that son David Pipe would love to win it. Usually he would fire many bullets at this race, but today he fires one, the four timer seeking GEVREY CHAMBERTIN. There is no doubting his credentials and the only worry is the rise in the weights. However the fact that Pipe fires only one at this prize he really wants to win is a big tip in itself!
5-15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup
Like the Pipe race Nicky Henderson would love to win the race named after his father. Unlike David Pipe, Nicky Henderson fires six bullets at this target! I think it is a strong possibility he will hit the target and the horses I like are the classy Petit Robin and French Opera. Both have been high class horses in their time and if they recapture just a small amount of their past form then they will play a massive role in this. 20/1 each way each of two is not a bad bet!