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Cheltenham Daily News: Banker or blowout? Sir Gerhard put to Ballymore test

All week this column will be here updating you with the latest market movers, stats, and info with full focus on the Cheltenham Festival. I will take a look at one race of the day, update the Cheltenham Focus section of the column and offer all the latest info to keep you in the know.

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In the opening 13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Sir Gerhard 1.910/11 is the class act in the field. However, in the last ten years, every contest winner has run over 2m4f before scoring here. Can Sir Gerhard smash that trend?

In the 14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase Kauto Star winners are zero for 23 in this race – Bravemansgame 3.7511/4. Interestingly, all six horses that have been beaten in the Kauto Star have and renewed rivalry here have reversed the form – A positive for Ahoy Senor 8.07/1.

The 14:50 Coral Cup has seen just two single figure priced horses win in the last ten years and one favourite.

Trainer Nicky Henderson will look for his sixth Champion Chase win in eleven years with Shishkin in the 15:30. He renews rivalry with Energumene 4.57/2 after their epic Ascot clash – Funambule Sivola 34.033/1 could be the each-way play.

Tiger Roll 2.47/5 will look to win the 16:10 Cross Country race for the fourth time in five years, and this could be his final start on a race track.

Seven of the last ten winners of the 16:50 Grand Annual have been double-figure prices.

The 17:30 Champion Bumper has seen just two British winners in the last ten years, with the Irish making this race their own. Favourites are just two for ten in recent times.

Horses for courses

This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.

Coral Cup

The Shunter – Has won here twice (100%)

Champion Chase

Envoi Allen – Has won here twice (67%)
Shishkin – Has won here twice (100%)
Put The Kettle On – Has won here four times (80%)

Cross Country

Tiger Roll – Has won here three times (43%)
Easysland – Has won here twice (50%)
Back On The Lash – Has won here twice (29%)
Diesel D’Allier – Has won here twice (50%)

Grand Annual

Sky Pirate – Has won here twice (33%)
Editeur Du Gite – Has won here twice (100%)
Elixir Du Nutz – Has won here twice (40%)

Cheltenham Festival Focus

Followers of the Cheltenham Festival Focus column scored yesterday with Constitution Hill advised at 7.06/1 and went agonisingly close with Gericault Roque 13.012/1. He was run down in the closing stages and settled for second in the Ultima Handicap.

There were a few blowouts, Braeside pulled up in the National Hunt Chase – only had to get around for profit, while The Tide Turns couldn’t find his feet in the big field scrimmaging and Appreciate It was disappointing.

The current P/L as we stand

Staked: 29.5pts
P/L: -8pts
Still to run: 13.5pts

Today, followers have Gaillard Du Mesnil for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at 26.025/1 1pt win, which I think has a slight chance to cause a surprise, but I wouldn’t be a backer at his current 15.014/1.

Also, Dancing On My Own 0.5pt win advised at 26.025/1 for the Grand Annual would still be a bet at his current odds of 19.018/1. He should be ridden very prominently, which will help his cause.

Furthest traveller

Today’s furthest traveller is trainer Lucinda Russell with Ahoy Senor 8.07/1 in the 14:10 Brown Advisory.

Race of the day

We take a closer look at Wednesday’s opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where a small field of nine head to post.

SBK4/6

EXC1.74

Trainer: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Jockey: P. Townend
Age: 7
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Sir Gerhard is undoubtedly the most talented horse in this field, and he has only seen defeat once in his short career to date. He scored here in the Champion bumper under a good Rachel Blackmore ride and is now partnered with Paul Townend.

He is certainly a talented horse but stepping up in trip five furlongs at this stiff track is no gimmie as his odds-on price tag suggests. He clung on under a tactical ride in the Champion Bumper, and his jumping left something to be desired latest.

You get the feeling this is either a bolt up or no show job.

SBK7/1

EXC9.6

Trainer: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Jockey: Davy Russell
Age: 6
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Three Stripe Life is another that is yet to try this trip in his short career but ran with extreme credit despite clattering the last behind Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown on his latest outing.

He does shape like this new trip will bring out further improvement, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he reverses placings with the favourite on these terms.

SBK17/2

EXC10.5

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Age: 6
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Stage Star has done nothing but improve for Paul Nicholls. He has scored at Newbury twice this term, including in the 2m4f Grade 1 Challow Hurdle last time out. The form of that race is windy at best, but it still makes him look like a high 140’s horse at least, and he did it in commanding style and recorded a good time figure in the process.

He has been underestimated in this market at his morning odds, and there could be stacks more to come from him.

Big race verdict

I like the chances of over-looked Stage Star, who is a very fair each-way play here. Sir Gerhard takes up most of this market, meaning his price has inflated, but he has form lines that suggest he could be right out of the top draw himself. He has untapped potential, and the fearful comparisons to Bravemansgame from last year are only in the punter’s favour here.

Sensational Day 1 Cheltenham action all reviewed

Missed the curtain raiser? Not to worry, Daryl Carter will be on hand with a “punchy” review of the Cheltenham Festival action each day this week.

Coral Cup claims of Mars Harper are not so obvious

SBK25/1

EXC42

Trainer: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Jockey: J. W. Kennedy
Age: 6
Weight: 10st 9lbs
OR: 137

In the 14:50 Coral Cup, Mars Harper 29.028/1 is not the only horse I have tipped or backed in this contest but is the one that looks to have gone under the radar for the Gordon Elliott team at the morning odds.

Mars Harper has campaigned over a variety of trips this season. Interestingly, Gordon Elliott gave this horse a view of Cheltenham way back in October when shaping well – albeit no match for Camprond in a small field race that turned into a sprint.

He has been a non-stayer over three miles twice this term in highly competitive races finishing an excellent fifth both times in big field events. He then bumped into a subsequent Dublin Racing Festival winner in Good Time Jonny when hitting the front too soon over Christmas, and that horse is now rated 26lbs higher in the handicap.

He caught the eye under a hand and heels ride at Navan in January when a drifter in the market and today’s trip looks right up his street.

Final Word

What a start to the Cheltenham Festival yesterday was! Check out yesterday’s review of all the action, and let the battle commence on day two!Until tomorrow, be lucky!Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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