JLT Novices’ Chase
I’ve been with the determined and bold-jumping Shattered Love ante-post for this, and she still makes appeal at current prices, especially with the heavens set to open tonight. One who has questions to answer on the ground, however, is Finian’s Oscar, who has an unorthodox preparation for this and ran poorly in the Cleeve Hurdle here in January on similar ground.
He has never convinced over fences, looking tentative at best, and reluctant at other times, and while he’s had a wind operation since last seen (and wears cheekpieces), I don’t think his wind is the biggest problem, and he is very easy to oppose at the prices.
It’s ‘s fair to say that the race revolves around Un de Sceaux, for whom rain is a big plus on one front, but a possible negative in terms of stamina. He just lasted home after racing freely in front last year, and I thought that the ride he got from Ruby Walsh was absolutely exceptional. I believe he would not have won but for Walsh’s superb ride which allowed him to stride on without getting as lit up as seemed likely.
With Ruby crocked, and the rain stretching his dubious stamina for the trip, he has become a lay in my book, despite the race cutting up badly (in your face Michael O’Leary).
I have no confidence in any of the runners being too good for Un de Sceaux, but we are effectively backing him to beat himself through over-exertion.
Frodon is the most interesting of his rivals, with this trip on heavy ground no issue, and while his 17-length romp here in January has been crabbed, two of those behind him that day have filled the first two positions in the Ultima, and he is in danger of being ignored.
Sunbets Stayers’ Hurdle
Stamina will really come to the fore here with race favourite Sam Spinner likely to go a strong pace which will force his main rivals to follow.
I can see a boilover if he goes too fast, and at a big price, Colin’s Sister could well hit the frame, and will be ridden to pick up the pieces. That may also be true of Penhill, who won the Albert Bartlett here a year ago by picking Monalee off late. He’s since had a setback, however, and hasn’t run since last Spring, and he has no form against established hurdlers.
I think his ante-post price was more about the reputation of his owner, Tony Bloom, and less about his own credentials.
The Albert Bartlett tends to go to the most experienced horse, and given he had a full flat career before going timber-topping, I can’t see that Penhill will improve as much as he needs to in order to be competitive in a race like this. Lay him for a place.
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
This race is often a lottery due to the difficulty many horses have making ground if held up, and track position in the early stages is vital.
I think It’s a 16/1 the field race as a result, and that his borne out by a litany of shock results over the years. I’m inclined to back one of Village Vic, Go Conquer and Willie Boy, as one of that trio looks certain to lead early and all have the ability to go close if getting the run of things. One I simply cannot have is the gambled-on King’s Socks.
The horse has run once in two years, has beaten one rival over fences this season, and has been hyped to the skies since joining the underachieving David Pipe yard. Pipe had two in the Ultima on Tuesday who were both the subject of support and they finished seventh and ninth of the 12 finishers.
His fancied runner in the Imperial Cup pulled up, and his reputation for laying one out for a gamble is growing old.
A hold-up horse with no solid chase from since his juvenile days, and no form at all in big fields or at Cheltenham is a truly awful bet for a Cheltenham Festival handicap, and he should be taken on in the place markets.
- 13.30 – Place Lay Finian’s Oscar @ 3.0 or shorter
- 14.50 – Lay Un de Sceaux @ Evens or shorter
- 15.30 – Place Lay Penhill @ 4.5 or shorter
- 16.10 – Place Lay King’s Socks @ 3.25 or shorter