Thursday brings the best day’s racing of the meeting in my opinion. The JLT – first of the day – is a great one to start with. The horse I’ve been waiting for is Defi Du Seuil. He was a cracking young hurdler then last season everything went wrong, not just for him but for the whole yard. The Hobbs set up had some sort of virus they couldn’t shift, affecting pretty much every horse. Many wrote Defi Du Seuil off, but he hasn’t half bounced back in this his first season chasing.
He won at Exeter beating the RSA winner Topofthegame, albeit that one lost 20 lengths at the start. The key to the big engine Defi Du Seuil has was revealed in his next race, when he was beaten at Cheltenham by Lostintranslation. They jumped the 2nd last in unison and then Defi Du Seuil took 2 lengths out of his rival by the time they reached the last. That is a hellishly difficulty thing to do at that stage of a race at that level, especially with such a good horse as Lostintranslation.
But Lostintranslation caught him on the run in, in receipt of 3lbs. The weight will have counted, but I suspect that Defi Du Seuil idled. Next time at Sandown, at levels, Geraghty held Defi Du Seuil up a bit longer, taking the lead just after the last, although I think he idled again, despite holding on.
He should have improved again and is a confident choice to win the first. 7/2 is available.
Defi Du Seuil 7/2 (Black Type) 10/3 available with other bookmakers
A bit like Crosspark a few weeks ago, Coole Cody who has caught my eye several times in his career. He ran a fine race last time from the front, beaten by a good horse. If Scholfield goes from the front on him again, I think he’ll have a much better chance of holding on longer, maybe right to the post. His price is too big at 50/1 to 5 places with Skybet.
I tipped and backed Notwhatiam last time at Warwick. I rarely criticise jockeys but he got a less than ideal ride that day being asked to come around the outside on a tight turning track as the went for home. The new course at Cheltenham should be ideal for him and I expect a big run, so he’s my second bet in this race. Skybet go1 12/1 to 5 places.
I think Terrefort will outrun his big odds here, and it’s a shame for his connections that the ground did not hold the rain. He prefers soft and it will be a fair bit faster than that. But he is still too big and should be backed, especially as he returns to what I think is his best trip.
I’ll back him up with a horse I’ve tipped before – Aso – who likes it here and looks far too big a price. Both should be backed EW with Betvictor, the only bookie offering 4 places – 22/1 Terrefort and 33/1 Aso
The good horses Faugheen and Paisley Park offer no value. One who does is Wholestone, very much a bridesmaid horse at this level but worth supporting each way on his track record alone at Cheltenham (both tracks) – 121131232. Ladbrokes offer 33/1 to 4 places.
I’m backing two here – Modus and Gardefort. Modus seldom runs a bad race at Cheltenham, and Gardefort’s trainer Venetia Williams targets this race beyond all others at the festival – she’s won it three times. I backed Gardefort in 2017 in the Grand Annual where he was caught close home, finishing 2nd of 24. This is half a mile farther but I think he will run well at a big price. Skybet offer 20/1 and 28/1 respectively to 5 places and these should be taken.
The ground’s been drying since Tuesday and that should suit The Young Master who has returned this season to something to something like his old self. Worth betting each way. Bet365 offer best odds at 20/1 to 5 places.
I’ll be mixing these selections in EW multiples and advise that you do the same.
Defi Du Seuil. NAP 7/2 win only 7/2
EW bets recommended with above firms.
Coole Cody 50/1
The Young Master 20/1