The Cotswold Chase (2.25 Cheltenham) is something of a graveyard for Gold Cup contenders. In the past 40 years, just 3 winners from January have gone on to win in March. None has won a Gold Cup in the past 20 years. It can be a brutal race in really deep ground. With luck it will only be soft tomorrow and the horses will come out of it okay, although I still wouldn’t betting the winner for the Gold Cup.
I was surprised to see Santini favourite. I think it’s as much to do with his optimistic trainer as anything in his form. If there was a way of checking which yard’s runners are consistently overbet I’d say Henderson would be very near the top of the list. Santini is promising, no doubt, but Bristol De Mai has been there and done it. The horse who was not supposed to act on good won a Betfair on good, thrashing a Gold Cup winner in Native River and a dual King George winner in Clan Des Obeaux. The horse who was not supposed to act at Cheltenham was 3rd beaten just over 6 lengths in last year’s Gold Cup . He needs a long break between races and, encouragingly, hasn’t run since the Betfair when 2nd to Lostintranslation.
Santini’s best Racing Post Rating is 166. Bristol De Mai’s topped that 166 six times. His best rating is 182 at his beloved Haydock. At Cheltenham in March he earned a 172. Had he been with another trainer, I think he might well have won a Gold Cup by now. Nigel Twiston-Davies is a master at getting one fit, but he’s a hell of a man for over-racing them, something he’s done with Bristol De Mai despite promises not to.
Perhaps punters are taking a view that Santini is the youngster here. He is 8. Bristol De Mai is 9.
I’m convinced the market has the wrong favourite and that Bristol De Mai should be backed at the 5/2 on offer.
In the 1.50 at Cheltenham Lalor will be bidding to follow up his fine run at the track last time when beaten a short head (yet finishing 3rd) in a good handicap. That was his first time at today’s trip: 20f and his first time in cheekpieces. Hopes will be high in his growing camp of followers that he can win his first race for more than a year. But he has 11.11 to carry in soft ground and although it was soft last time, he has proved himself a better horse on good ground. I don’t believe he can give 17lbs to the in form Warthog.
Warthog won at Cheltenham last time coming back after going more than a length down on the run in to Spiritofthegames who re-opposes here. David Noonan got Warthog into a superb rhythm last time and his jumping overall was excellent, safe and economical. Noonan gets on particularly well with the horse Tom Scudamore has ridden Warthog regularly but Noonan was on his back when he clocked up his 4 highest Racing Post Ratings.
I fear the Nicholls horse My Way who looked to run an improved and honest race for the fitting of cheekpieces last time. The hill will help him too. He’s on a slow but steadily progressive curve and I recommend a small bet on him too to save stakes.
The final bet for me needs a fair leap of faith. Summerville Boy is a horse I’ve liked since I saw him beat Kalashnikov at Sandown two years ago. He went on to win The Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival and was being talked of as a potential Champion Hurdle horse. But he disappointed in all four hurdle races last season and he opened up this season over fences. His chasing debut saw him beat First Flow but next time out he fell at the water jump (Grade 1 at Sandown).
Connections turned him back to hurdles, aiming him at the Relkeel at Cheltenham, a 20f race, his 2nd attempt at the trip, his first a deplorable run behind Supasundae at Aintree. Apart from stepping him back up (he has always looked a stayer to me) connections made a tactical change: for the first time in his career he made all. Summerville Boy seemed to relish being alone in front and jockey JJ Burke gave him a fine ride.
If he is to improve again tomorrow I am assuming they will try once more to make all, a much different prospect over this 3 miles. And he’ll also need to improve for the extra distance. A tall order but I am willing to take a chance EW that he is capable of at least returning a small profit.
2.25 Cheltenham: Bristol De Mai win only 5/2: 3* bet
1.50 Cheltenham: Warthog win only 11/2. 1* bet and saver on My Way 8/1
3.35 Cheltenham: Summerville Boy 8/1 EW 1* bet
Summerville Boy 8/1
EW double 1*
Good luck. Most tipsters are unreliable and inconsistent, including me. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile – whatever the source of the tip.
All the best