Tiger Roll was the only winner for the blog on Wednesday. Ibleo should be counted unlucky having conceded so much ground early, with three errors not helping. He finished 3rd, with the blog’s other two selections in that race 4th and 5th.
It’s worth noting that I am making assumptions about the ground today. The official going is still good to soft, but Cheltenham dries quickly these days (and wets just as quickly). If there’s been rain overnight or it falls in the morning, best take a more cautious view of these selections.
1.20 The Marsh
Envoi Allen ought to win this, but, with 8 runners, Fusil Raffles seems an excellent EW bet. He has the ability to place and will be better suited by the drying ground than anything else in this. The big question is, can he withstand my cash on his back? He’s been one of those everyone gets that you just cannot catch right. His first three runs last season were 11P. His four runs this season are 11P1. I needn’t ask you to guess which two races I backed him in (and none of the others)?
So, if he can defy my burden, he’s well worth an EW at 18/1 with Paddy Power.
The ground has played a big part in all my selections today. Many horses won’t have raced on going this good all winter; some who haven’t yet proved they act well on it will do so, and some won’t. I’ve tried to stick with those I know will welcome it.
Storm Goddess has been at her best on good ground. She ran well here in October over 21f and won next time out at Kempton over that trip before stepping up to Listed class where she ran well over today’s trip, 24f. For 7 places EW she is 14/1 with Skybet. For 6 places she is 18/1 with Paddy Power.
Kansas City Chief was 6th in this race last year. He was a good 3rd here too over this trip in October on good ground. He likes the track and the going and has a confident 5lb claimer in Millie Wonnacot, and you’ll get a good run for your money EW 7 places at 50/1 with Skybet.
My final one is Milliner, ridden by Rachel Blackmore. With just 5 runs in his life, he’s the least exposed here and there’s not a lot of data on his ground likings. But I believe he will handle it well enough. Milliner is 15/2 for 7 places EW with Skybet. Small EW bets on these three ought to give you something to cheer about as they jump the last.
As always, it’s most competitive, but I think there is excellent value in the shape of the 15/2 about imperial Aura. Normally a fine jumper, he lost concentration when evens fav at Ascot last time and unseated his rider at the second fence. Had he completed I think he would have won that day and would be a 9/2 or 4/1 chance here. He’s been brought along beautifully by his owners, who know what they are doing (they had Imperial Commander, who won a Ryanair and a Gold Cup).
He’s had 3 runs at Cheltenham – two good 2nds in his younger days then a fine festival victory last year giving weight and a beating to Tuesday’s easy winner Galvin. You can back Imperial Aura to 5 places at 6/1 or 4 places at 15/2: I’ll be backing him win only and adding one more bet – Fanion D’Estruval, who is just 6 and still unexposed in general and very much so at this trip. His only other run over the distance was in the Peterborough Chase where he was still on the bridle when coming down three out.
Fanion D’Estruval started shorter that day than the winner – Mister Fisher, who re-opposes here and is just an 8/1 chance to the 66/1 available about Fanion D’Estruval. I’ll be backing him EW at that to 4 places (Betfred/Boylesports).
Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for an improving horse; especially one whose improvement can be pinned on a change of some kind. The youngest horses in this race Flooring Porter, seemed just an average, half decent hurdler until December 5th at Navan when his rider was forced by circumstance to make the running. Flooring Porter, used to being held up, loved the new tactics and romped home by 12 lengths from The Bosses Oscar. His best Racing Post Rating until then was 145. He improved on it by 19lbs: remarkable.
Would he maintain his enthusiasm for leading the pack once out of handicaps? The only way to find out was to enter him a better race. Connections went in at the deep end on that and put him in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown … yes, he did it again, thrashing another of today’s rivals The Storyteller by 6 lengths. And I believe he can do it again today. Cheltenham is a good course for enthusiastic front runners, especially those who can get into a rhythm. His two big wins were on soft ground, but he has won on good. I’ll be taking the 12/1 to 5 places EW with Paddy Power.
One who loves good ground, though has his best figure on heavy, is Younevercall who was beaten only 7 lengths by Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle. Younevercall has had a wind op since then and is worth £1EW to 5 places at 100/1.
3.40 Paddy Power Plate
Here are four possibles; each likes dry or drying ground: Paddy’s Poem: The Unit: Dead Right: Sully D’oc AA.
Any of these ought to run a good deal better than odds suggest, with Sully D’Oc AA my pick of them. He hadn’t won in the UK and he had wind surgery last July then a decent rest before winning at Ascot in late October. He ran just as well as that next time to finish 3rd at Newbury on good ground. he is 12/1 to 6 places with a number of bookies.
Five from six of Dead Right’s best ratings have come on good ground, so no surprise to hear young Jonjo say it’s vital to him after they won last time out. He’s 25/1 to 6 places.
The Unit showed considerable promise as a young horse, but ran into training problems. He was off the track for nearly two years. He’s run four times since returning, the best of them last time in soft ground. Although that 136 rating wa this best recently, it doesn’t get into the top 10 of his best performances, every one of which was on good or faster. Again, 6 places can be had at 40/1.
Paddy’s Poem’s jumping formline: 3312112231 – the epitome of consistency, he scored his best rating last time out, two weeks ago, on good ground, so he is in fine form for this his first trip to Cheltenham. He is 22/1 to 6 places
4.15 Mares Novice
One selection here: Martello Sky, who looks too big at 40/1 (5 places Paddy Power). She’s nothing much to look at, but this wee grey mare loves a battle, sticking her neck out last time in typical fashion to win her 3rd race of the season. She’ll be fine on the ground and Briony Frost has chosen her over Perfect Myth, who, on paper, is well ahead of Martello Sky on ratings. I think she will run a big race.
4.40 Kim Muir
Storm Control has raced mostly over 20f. It was only in November he was upped in trip and won here at Cheltenham. He then repeated it a month later – track and trip. He was sent to Warwick next over 3m5f and was pulled up. I think it’s reasonable to conclude he dislikes Warwick; he has pulled up on all three runs there. Whereas, he is 2 from 2 at Cheltenham. His best performances have been on soft, but he has won on good to soft, and on good. He should go well here at 16/1 to 6 places with Skybet.
1.20 Fusil Raffles EW 18/1 – 2nd
1.55 Storm Goddess 14/1- PULLED UP: Kansas City Chief 50/1 PULLED UP: Milliner 15/2 – 4TH all EW to 7 places
2.30 Fanion D’Estruval 66/1 EW 4 places UNPLACED – 5TH: Imperial Aura 15/2 – PULLED UP
3.05 Younevercall 100/1 EW 5 places – UNPLACED: Flooring Porter 12/1 EW 5 places – WON
3.40 Paddy’s Poem 22/1: The Unit 40/1: Dead Right 25/1: Sully D’oc AA 12/1. ALL 4 UNPLACED
4.15 Martello Sky 40/1 EW 5 places. UNPLACED
4.50 Storm Control EW 16/1 6 places – 5TH
PROFIT/LOSS TO £1 UNIT STAKES: £23 STAKED: RETURNS £27.70
Take it easy on stakes. Enjoy the racing. Good luck