Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cheltenham Day 4 preview

The kids lead us off on the final day and there are huge tips out there for Alan King's Walkon. Currently trading at around 5/1 it seems bound to get shorter. But the Triumph Hurdle is a bit of a lottery. The horses are too young to have any sort of consistency. Like young teenagers, their bodies are changing all the time and they can have more off days than most. So I'd recommend not taking it too seriously and seeking an outsider to have a small amount of each way on. For me Art Sleuth fits this bill this year.

A case could be made for about ten of them in the County Hurdle. I'd love it if Dave's Dream could win the bonus on offer to any hirse winning this and last Saturday's Imperial Gold Cup. Although he's still ahead of the handicapper and that wasn't the toughest race, this may be too soon and this will be much harder. I prefer Raise Your Heart or Sunnyhill Boy but I'm going to steer clear of anything other than a tiny bet.

The third is the staying Novices hurdle, now called the Albert Bartlett. The Irish have dominated in this sort of event this festival and I'm sure they will win it again. Alpha Ridge will lead them out and blow away Pride of Dulcote which I think is the strongest of the home team. Whether Alpha Ridge can hold on is another matter. I'd take Browns Baily to be challenging up the hill and may just take it.

The Gold Cup is truly fascinating. No previous winner has ever come back to win having lost the title in between. If you're going to win it has to be back to back. So that would rule out Kauto Star. Except. Except it doesn't because Kauto Star is truly exceptional. Last year's winner, Denman has had so many problems that it is amazing he is here at all. In his only run this season he was humiliated. Winning jockey Tom Scudamore even turned round and waved at the reigning champ as he crossed the line. Only the most optimistic will think Denman can do anything this time. Neptune Collonges is a great horse but I will oppose it and take Madison du Berlais as the main danger.

This is going to be one of the so called 'bad' Gold Cups with a hatful of horses still in with a shout on the run in. Apparently it's only ever 'good' if one horse wins by a mile or there's just a pair battling it out ahead of the rest. I don't buy that theory at all. Sure, there's no real stand out horse head and shoulders above the rest. But there are a large number of very strong competitors which will blow away the chaff - the likes of Snoopy Loopy and Knowhere.
My picks:

1st Kauto Star
2nd Madison du Berlais
3rd Neptune Collonges

The next race is run over exactly the same course and distance but for just 10% of the cash. It's the Foxhunters and there's tons of dross in there. I watched Southwestern at a recent Point to Point and the horse really disappointed. I'm not sure it's got a chance here but would love it for Jeremy Scott if I was wrong. I reckon Royal Auclair is in with a good shout. And if that's the case then it must be a poor event. I certainly won't be betting.

Th next is named after the incredible trainer Martin Pipe and my pick is the incredible Little Shilling. He's sitting on a six timer and is fresh having been off the course since December. True, the wins were all at gaff tracks, but here is a horse that has shot up the handicap but still has room to improve further. The big danger for me is Penn da Benn.

The lucky last, the Grand Annual, is a two mile handicap chase. Lorient Express is another with a good winning streak but I'm going to take JP to win yet another and I'll pick Clew Bay Cove of his three entries.

Which will I take seriously? I might have a pound each way on Art Sleuth. Browns Baily and Clew Bay Cove will also have a couple of quid on them. Little Shilling and Kauto Star might get slightly more.

But the main lesson for tomorrow is to watch and enjoy. It'll be another 361 days until we can do this again.

1 comment:

Steve O said...

You have taken a lot more care over your blog than I did mine. Perhaps that's a reflection on my slapdashery, but at least we both agree on the Gold Cup. Let's stick a quid in the jukebox and put that old Kiki Dee classic on.