Cheltenham Day 3
The Jewsons’ Novice ‘Chase
Arguably this race has more strength in depth than Tuesday’s Arkle ‘Chase. The re-routed PEDDLER’S CROSS has the grade one hurdle form in the book and clearly wasn’t himself when chasing home SPRINTER SACRE at Christmas. It is concerning for his backers that there are plenty of challengers queuing up to take him on. CRISTAL BONUS travelled with purpose and jumped well at Kempton. He appears to be better suited to left handed track so it is reasonable to expect a progressive run from him over today’s course. FOR NON STOP was all set to finish in the frame at last year’s meeting in the competitive Coral Cup but for falling at the last. He had jumped remarkably well up to that point and didn’t deserve to come down. It has been noticeable how well he has finished off his races this season and he is well suited to a sharp track. SIR DES CHAMPS is another re-routed to this contest. We are still in the dark as to how good this horse actually is. A competitive race upfront will suit him seeing as he habitually comes from off the pace. It did no harm to his profile that SON OF FLICKA came back to Cheltenham and won having finished runner-up behind SIR DES CHAMPS. His consistency is a great asset and makes him eminently backable.
Recommended bet: SIR DES CHAMPS, Each Way.
The World Hurdle
If you’ve been lucky enough to back BIG BUCKS at a reasonable price, the pre-race discussion ends at that point. He is truly an outstanding performer in this sphere and any ‘without the favourite’ bet should logically be accompanied by a saver on this great horse. OSCAR WHISKY is probably the best of those in opposition and his top class two mile hurdle form makes him the late race speed horse. I’d be quite confident that he’ll stay the trip in light of the fact that his last race was not an exercise planned to help him settle better knowing that he would be racing over the three miles at Cheltenham. There are few of the outsiders that have diminished claims to third place. Run the race again and there would be a significant chance that a different set of horses would make the frame.
The Ryanair ‘Chase
In contrast this race is exceptionally open with no small group of runners entitled to dominate the pre-race betting market. RIVERSIDE THEATRE is the class of the field having divided the Gold Cup favourites in a renewal of the King George. He still has a few questions to answer over his suitability to Cheltenham. With proven course form he would be trading at around 5-2 rather than 9-2. RUBI LIGHT and ALBERTA’S RUN were amongst the principles in last year’s renewal. The suggestion is that considering POQUELIN went of as the 9-4 favourite, is that this year’s edition is set to be a stronger affair than last year’s. ALBERTA’S RUN travels and jumps particularly well on good ground and a repeat win here clearly has been the target. RUBI LIGHT is to be respected but it feels as if he is something of a default favourite. For example, it is hard to believe that GREAT ENDEAVOUR will not be more at home in the conditions. RUBI LIGHT will however play the important role of being the pacemaker and his jumping is bound to stretch the field. One that will appreciate a searching pace is SOMERSBY. I don’t believe that the trip makes a great deal of difference to him but rather a situation where he is picking up tiring rivals in the latter stages. He doesn’t appear to possess the change of gear to enable him to quicken in a sprint to the line. The form of NOBLE PRINCE‘s Jewson victory last season has taken a few knocks and it is a little disconcerting that BIG ZEB was easily able to pick him up over two miles at Christmas.
Kim Muir Challenge Handicap ‘Chase
UP THE BEAT catches the eye in this contest due to the fact that his staying ‘chase form has been well franked by PORTRAIT GALLERY who went across to Newcastle a few Saturdays ago to lift the Eider ‘Chase. He remains progressive and should go well here.