The best value bet for me on day one is EW Slate House in the Arkle (2.10). On the form of his three steeplechases so far you cannot give him a realistic chance, but I’m in no doubt whatever that he is yet to show his true potential.
A £260,000 purchase by trainer Tizzard in 2017, he came to the track in October of that year with a high home reputation and duly won his novice hurdle at Cheltenham comfortably. Three weeks later he appeared again on the same track in a Grade 2 and beat Summerville Boy (2018 Supreme winner) into second.
He turned out next in another Grade 2 at Ascot to finish an 8 length fourth to Claimintakinforgan, then, a month later, 5th to Santini. He was keeping good company, but a feature of those two defeats compared with his victories was the way he weakened and found little when the pressure was applied, sometimes the sign of a horse with breathing problems.
Sure enough he was fitted with a tongue tie (almost always used as a breathing aid) for his next run, The Supreme last year, where he was in the process of running the best race of his career when falling heavily at the last. He had travelled sweetly through that race and was keeping on (rather than folding, as he’d done before) although he would not have won.
A month later he ran at Aintree where he raced keenly and faded disappointingly. That doesn’t bother me too much; many festival participants fail to produce anything like their form at Aintree.
After a nine-month break he made his fencing debut in January behind the French hotpot Master Dino at Plumpton and he ran well for a long way, entitled to come on for the race. But he disappointed next time at Haydock and had wind surgery in early February. His 3rd fencing run came a month later and was the best of his chasing career finishing 2nd to Huntsman Son over 2m4f at Newbury. Slate House is a fine stamp of a horse and his breeding suggests staying chases might be his forte, but his racing style indicates otherwise to me and I think trips of around 2 miles could be his optimum.
They race on the old course for The Arkle, and over hurdles Slate House is 2 from 3 on this track (fell in The Supreme on his other run). Tizzard does much better with chasers than hurdlers and I doubt he is running this just for a day out (though it must be said the yard has not been in great form lately). Finally, Cobden rides, an excellent young jockey brimming with confidence. If the wind surgery has solved Slate House’s breathing problems (tongue tie also retained), he will run a big race.
I’ve backed him EW with Skybet at 50/1 to 4 places. 66/1 is available to three places and bigger again on the exchanges. I’ll also have a win bet, probably at around 80/1 on the exchange.
Good luck if you decide to follow me. I’ll post more Cheltenham thoughts for day one later. Incidentally, I’ve also had an EW double with Skybet on Slate House and Singlefarmpayment in the Ultima and recommend you do the same.
Joe, Thank you for this – I enjoy following the detective work that goes into these potential nuggets that you sieve out. I hope this one proves to be the 24 carat variety, a “Marina Hyde”! My head was beginning to ache from the statistical avalanche about Cheltenham, so I can now see a line to follow. Whatever happens I shall enjoy watching the races and if any of your recommendations wins, local food banks et al will get a big bung. Your work is remarkable and superlative and hugely appreciated. Tom
That’s very kind, Tom. The teaser aspect of horses like Slate House is that one can be confident they will come good without knowing exactly when. At 7/1 or 8/1 I’d happily take the chance that it won’t be tomorrow, but he has to be backed at 50/1.