Rory Delargy: Cheltenham Saturday – Rather Be with something else, thanks

5 min

The ante-post favourite’s claims are obvious at first glance, but don’t stand up as well when digging deeper.

12:40 Triumph Hurdle Trial

There is a sense of history repeating here with Never Adapt representing the same connections as last year’s winner Apple’s Shakira, and she is also related to a smart hurdler/chaser in the shape of Top Notch. It’s very hard to rate the form of her debut win in a modest newcomers’ event at Compiegne in March, and there are several others with much stronger credentials.

No doubt she’s showing the right signs at home, but that doesn’t justify odds-on quotes, and I’d take almost anything on at that price in a race like this.

Recommended: Lay Never Adapt @ 1.95 or shorter (max liability 4pts)

13:15 Novices’ Chase

Minella Awards was a wide-margin winner from a good prospect at Aintree last time, but the runner-up didn’t jump a fence that day, and the winner had what amounted to a schooling session. He faces a much more severe test of his credentials here, with experienced Theatre Territory and Ibis du Rheu in opposition, and both of those would be preferred to Harry Fry’s penalised runner. That’s without accounting for the exciting The Worlds End who is sure to start favourite after a flawless start at Chepstow.

By my reckoning, anything shorter than 2/1 a place for Minella Awards is some sort of value to lay.

Recommended: Lay Minella Awards for a place @ 2.75 or shorter (max liability 3.5 pts)

14:25 BetVictor Gold Cup

Lots with chances in a really competitive renewal of this historic contest, and I’m going to take on the market leader with plenty running for me. Rather Be has obvious claims on a line through Mister Whitaker, as he’s 9lb better off with that rival having finished second to that rival in the novices’ handicap chase at the Festival in March, the margin on the day being just a head.

It’s true that Mister Whitaker won a decent race at Carlisle on his return, but it’s important to note that he is the only horse to come out of that to win subsequently. It’s meant to be rock-solid form and most people will view it as a reliable guide going forward, but zero wins from 32 runs for the beaten horses since tells a different story, and it’s possible that the unexposed Rather Be is a bit overrated, accepting that Cheltenham was his only run at a suitable trip all season. He ought to do better, but seems to be a better horse with ease underfoot if his career record is any guide.

I accept that he could well progress in leaps and bounds in his second season, but on the evidence to date, he is not the solid favourite he appears at first glance.

Recommended: Lay Rather Be for a place @ 2.5 or shorter (6pts max liability)

Check out Rory’s and Donn McClean’s preview of the Cheltenham November Meeting where they share their best bets for the meeting. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.