Wednesday is always my quietest punting day at the Festival, as I have no time whatsoever for the Cross Country Chase or the Champion Bumper.
Look, if you follow these types of races and make money from them, then the best of luck. I am not going to sit here and take the rise, but they leave me completely cold, for all I am sure Tiger Roll will be in for a raucous reception should he prevail over those cheesy wedges.
Rain shouldn’t be gamechanger
The muddies are watered a bit for day two as it is open to debate how much rain we get from Tuesday night into Wednesday – forecasts vary, and most have actually improved overnight on Monday, though some are still suggesting up to 8mm+ – but hopefully it is not too much of a game-changer, either way.
To be honest, when I looked at the make-up of the other races immediately after the declarations came through on Monday morning I did not give myself much hope of finding many worthwhile bets. But let’s take it in chronological order, and crack on.
Without favourite market is way to go in Ballymore
I said last week that I thought that Sir Gerhard (pictured below) could go off the shortest-price favourite of the week in the Ballymore at 13:30 – whether that comes to fruition, we shall see – and I am in no rush to oppose him, especially at his current price of around 4/5 on the Exchange.
Last year’s Champion Bumper winner did plenty wrong (mainly his jumping) and still easily saw off Three Stripe Life by six lengths at Leopardstown in a very quick time, and he looks the stand-out in here.
The only doubt about him is the 2m5f trip as it is an unknown over hurdles, but the counter argument is that he won a very good 3m point, and I simply think he will outclass this lot.
I don’t tend to play at odds-on though, for all that I certainly wouldn’t lay him at his current Exchange odds, and this is where the Without Favourite market comes in.
I haven’t really warmed to Journey With Me, and the same applies to Stage Star (though I think it would be a mistake to dismiss him, even partly, on the basis that his stablemate Bravesmansgame, himself a Challow winner, disappointed against the Irish in this race last season) , and they are both 9/4 in Sportsbook’s W/O market.
I fully agree with them that Three Stripe Life is the right favourite on this line, and I would make him a touch shorter than 2/1 (and he is a touch bigger on the exchange market at the time of filing). He is bred to excel at this longer trip.
I could not put you off that bet and indeed I thought about going in two-handed on this market, but my recommended play is 7/1 Whatdeawant each-way, three places, without Sir Gerhard.
I may be being lulled into the selection partly because he is owned by the sponsors (who won this with City Island in 2019) and he also needs to put a disappointing run at Naas last time behind him, but the manner in which he was backed into 2s from 5s for that Grade 1 has stayed with me. And he certainly didn’t receive an optimal ride there.
Whatdeawant is better than he’s shown
He is thought to be a lot better than that display then and this is a horse who beat the Albert Bartlett favourite Ginto in his bumper days and who looked a fair tool when winning on his hurdling debut at Navan, a race in which he overcame quite a bad mistake up the straight.
Hopefully, all nine stand their ground here, as I definitely want three places on my side. In fact, I will also recommend a bet on him at 9/2 each-way, 1/4 odds, two places, without Sir Gerhard and Three Stripe Life, and he would remain a bet at 4s on that line.
I appreciate these are low-stakes secondary markets, but I make no excuses for flagging them up. Most punters play in fivers and tenners, and do not forget that.
Very similar to the Arkle on Tuesday, the Brown Advisory at 14:10 lacks a stand-out but the numbers have stood up a lot better than I thought they would.
I was rather hoping that my ante-post each-way tickle on Threeunderthrufive would see him lining up against just five or six, but at least we are getting four places with the Betfair Sportsbook now and he remains a fair price at 14/1 with that concession.
The problem is that the race is so deep, and tight-knit, in competitive terms, that he could run a career-best and still finish fifth or worse.
The way I will play this race is to put an in-running keep bet lay in around 1.51/2 on Bravesmansgame, as I am not solid on his stamina over 3m on softening ground at Cheltenham, as I am entirely sure what Harry Cobden has been holding on to late on in his flat-track wins.
For what it is worth, I will be going in to lay him at 1.548/15 blind – it’s a figure I always use for some reason – but that has to be a personal play and not a tipping recommendation.
Two to back in competitive Coral Cup
The 26-runner Coral Cup at 14:50 is as competitive as you like, and then some, but the Betfair Sportsbook have cushioned the blow by offering seven places.
I appreciate I could be betting against at least four proper Irish plot jobs in here but I am siding with Gowel Road and Dans Le Vent, in different markets after the prices changed later on Tuesday afternoon.
The case for both is simple. Now, they may not have the required amount in hand of the assessor to be winning this, but they are no forlorn hopes, that is for certain.
Gowel Road is 11lb higher than when beating Unexpected Party here on officially good ground in November (the runner-up is now rated 22lb higher) but he has run two good races in defeat over 2m on his last starts, and the step back up in trip will suit.
In fact, this is only his second outing at this distance, so there could be plenty more to come from him over it, while the weather can do what it likes for him. However, Timeform said it was good to soft when he won here, and not good, so a bit of rain may be handy for him.
I was going to put him up each way at 12s, seven places, before that went to 8s on Tuesday afternoon, so suggest you back him 13.012/1 or bigger win-only on the Exchange.
Dans Le Vent is 7lb higher than when winning over 3m on good ground at Haydock in November but it is fair to say he has been rather frustrating to follow since.
He ran a blinder when fourth in the Relkeel here (when his rider couldn’t claim – she has recently had that reduced from 5lb to 3lb by the way, so that’s a negative) but he has been given far too much to do in valuable handicaps at Kempton and Sandown off this mark since.
The handicapper hasn’t budged at all, despite the fact he was beaten around eight lengths in each race – that tells a story in itself – but he is surely better than he showed there, if he can be put into the heat of battle a touch earlier.
Mind you, he finished eighth in this race last year under a similar, possibly over-patient ride, but surely they will look to get after him a touch sooner this time around. And he also comes in here in much better form than he did last season.
Back him at 33/1 each-way, seven places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
I want the seven places on my side with him, but I am also going to recommend a win-only bet at 40.039/1 or bigger on the Exchange. He is the type of horse who could drift massively in that market.
I am not going to waste your time with the Champion Chase, Cross Country and Champion Bumper as I simply can’t find any betting angle there whatsoever – granted, I didn’t look very hard in the last two contests – so over to the Grand Annual at 16:50.
Creeping Frero looks well-suited
My first bet is Frero Banbou at 14/1 each way, six places. You may well get bigger about him too, but 12s is fair with two extra places.
He is vulnerable to a handicap lurker but he has a pretty solid profile, including course form, and, with eight possible forward-goers in the race, I think his creeping style could prove ideal. And any significant rain won’t hinder him judged on his Lingfield win in the heavy from a well-handicapped horse two starts ago, and it looks like any will be welcomed from Tuesday’s times.
I thought he should have gone close to following up off a 6lb higher mark at Sandown last time, but Charlie Deutsch rode far too confident a race on him and he could never reel in a ridiculously well-handicapped Dolos in the race that Dolos always wins (nearly anyway, with race form figures of 21121).
The handicapper inched him up another 1lb for that four-length defeat but they were clear of the third and hopefully there is more left in the tank.
I liked Embittered for the race last week but at the current 15/2 it is a definite no thanks now, and I would much rather Amarillo Sky onside at 8/1, six places (though Gumball at 25s was a very close third selection, and I will come to him in a moment).
Amarillo Sky is one of those who could be vying for the lead but I hope common sense prevails there (and he doesn’t need to get to the front) as I am willing to take the risk on him after his hugely impressive Newbury success last time.
Sure, he has gone up 8lb for it and has no Cheltenham form, and he fell when in the process of winning at Newbury two starts ago, but sometimes a handicap performance hits you full in the face and I reckon he could have won by 20 lengths there.
I will leave it there but I will probably also have a small, personal win-only bet on Gumball at 25s, too.
He was set to beat Eldorado Allen when falling here 2 out in 2020 (after which he was rated 151) and he is down to 140 now despite showing a lot more last time, actually being dropped 1lb for just a 1/2 -length defeat.
To be fair, that Ludlow form has not worked out at all – and it is light years away from this grade of handicap – and the jury is obviously out on whether the first-time cheek pieces improve his jumping, but I’ll have a few quid on him just in case. Join me if you so wish, but I won’t be including him as a tip or in any p & l update (watch the grey go and win now….)
Have another good one.
13:30pm Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: Haxo, Hemlock, Journey With Me, Sir Gerhard; Midfield: I Am Maximus, Scarface, Stage Star, Three Stripe Life; Held Up: Whatdeawant
14:10 Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: Bravesmansgame. Ahoy Senor, Dusart. L’Homme Presse, Threeunderthrufive; Midfield: Capodanno, Farouk D’alene, Fury Road; Held Up: Beacon Edge, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Streets Of Doyen
14:50 Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: The Shunter ?, Camprond, Grand Roi, The Bosses Oscar, Fair Frontieres, Christopher Wood ?, Hang In There; Midfield: Saint Felicien, Gowel Road, Indigo Breeze, Fastorslow, Ashdale Bob, Ganapathi, Garry Clermont, Tronador, Call Me Lord, Commander Of Fleet, Top Moon; Held Up: Drop The Anchor, Unexpected Party, McFabulous, Mars Harper, Dans Le Vent, Maze Runner, Champagne Gold, Daly Tiger
15:30 Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: Chacun Pour Soi, Energumene, Envoi Allen, Funanbule Sivola, Politologue, Put The Kettle On; Midfield: Shishkin; Held Up: Nube Negra
16:10 Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: Tiger Roll, Shady Operator, Prengarde ?, Back On The Lash, Step Back; Midfield: Easysland, Plan Of Attack, Potters Corner, Tout Est Permis, Alpha Des Obeaux, Mitchouka, Poker Party; Held Up: Delta Work, Midnight Maestro, Brahma Bull. Diesel D’Allier,
16:50 Cheltenham – Lead/Prominent: Amarillo Sky, Before Midnight, Exit Poll. Editeur de Gite. Dancing On My Own, Elixir Du Nutz, For Pleasure, Global Citizen; Midfield: Embittered;, Andy Dufresne, Buddy Rich, Il Ridoto, Thyme White; Held Up: Frero Banbou, Poseidon, Gumball?, Hasankey, Capuccimix, A Wave Of The Sea, Sky Pirate
17:30pm Cheltenham – too little info to go on to get any meaningful handle on likely tactics
Profit and Loss (not including Tuesday)
P/L: + 191.06
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