2.10 Some Day Soon (click here for my ante-post blog)
2.45 Flic Ou Voyou
3.20 Lisnagar Oscar (NAP)
3.55 The Young Master
5.35 Silver Forever
2.10 Some Day Soon (click here for my ante-post blog)
2.45 Flic Ou Voyou
3.20 Lisnagar Oscar (NAP)
3.55 The Young Master
5.35 Silver Forever
Jamie Snowden and Gavin Sheehan were second in last year’s Persian War with Double Treasure but have a big chance of going one better in the Chepstow Grade 2 this Friday with Some Day Soon.
Available at a generous 11/1, the six-year-old son of Robin Des Champs has been thriving over the summer, racking up four wins on the bounce, the latest of which saw him give 10lbs to Rebecca Curtis’ Ruthless Article and still win very cosily.
This fella isn’t just a summer hurdler though – his second to Southfield Stone in November last year being a piece of form that reads particularly well, with Paul Nicholls’ charge going on to win the Dovecoat and contest a Grade 1 at Aintree in the spring.
Unlike many of his rivals, Some Day Soon comes into the race hard fit and looks primed to run a big race. The only worry is the weather. Seen to best effect on decent ground, the Snowden team will be hoping there isn’t too much rain in Monmouthshire this week.
Friday 2.10, Chepstow: Some Day Soon 11/1ew
As we close in on September it won’t be long before Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and co have their open days and trackers start to be restocked thanks to essential reading like Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow and Mark Howard’s One Jump Ahead.
Therefore, I think I can just about get away with throwing some long range ante-post out there for next year’s Festival…
Stayers’ Hurdle – Emitom 33/1:
Paisley Park was a revelation in the staying hurdle division last season and rightfully sits on top of the ante-post markets for the three mile showpiece at Cheltenham next March. However, a new kid on the block may give him something to think about in the shape of Warren Greatrex’s Emitom. A winner of five of his six starts under rules, the five-year-old’s only defeat came at the hands of Ballymore second Champ in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, finishing ahead of a very good yardstick in the third-placed Lisnagar Oscar.
Greatrex has been very patient with the son of Gold Well, opting to swerve last year’s Festival, and could be rewarded this term with bags of scope for improvement. He rates as a cracking each-way punt at 33/1, especially when you consider pending injury we know exactly where he will line up, added to the fact that many of the other current market principles most likely won’t be in opposition – Laurina (chasing), Benie Des Dieux (mares), Champ (chasing), Minella Indo (chasing).
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Shishkin 33/1:
Just a day after Al Boum Photo claimed Gold Cup glory for Joe and Marie Donnelly the owners looked to have unleashed another star in the making at Kempton when Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin romped to an eight-length bumper success in their colours. Following the win, Henderson’s assistant trainer Toby Lawes said: “Nico was suitably impressed. He did everything right and we could have a smart horse on our hands.”
An eight-length winner of a point in November 2018 before being snapped up for £170,000 by Highflyer Bloodstock at the Cheltenham Tattersalls sale the following month, this son of Sholokhov looks like a high-class recruit on the evidence of his Kempton run and could well emerge as one of Henderson’s main darts at the Festival opener in March. It will be fascinating to see how he progresses and at 33/1 he presents himself as an attractive each-way punt for a race that Seven Barrows famously took with Altior in 2016.
JLT Novices’ Chase – Brewin’upastorm 33/1:
Despite a good novice hurdle season in which he was fourth in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and second in the Mersey Novices at Aintree, Brewin’upastorm’s best days were always going to be over fences. An eight-length winner of his only point in Ireland, the time has now come for Olly Murphy’s six-year-old to show what he can do over the bigger obstacles.
Born on the day after Bob’s Worth won the Gold Cup in 2013, whether this son of Milan can scale those heights remains to be seen, but I fully expect him to be a leading contender in the top two-and-a-half to three mile novice chases this term. Never tried over further than 2m 5f last season, there can be no doubt that three miles will be his trip in the end, but this season I can see him being kept to two-and-a-half with the JLT being the main target. At 33/1 he offers plenty of each-way appeal.
RSA Novices’ Chase – Bright Forecast 25/1:
One place ahead of Brewin’upastorm at Cheltenham was Bright Forecast, who promises to be another smart recruit over fences this season. Ben Pauling’s five-year-old was doing his best work at the finish in the Ballymore and certainly looks like one for the staying chases.
A horse that finished ahead of Sevarano and Dashel Drasher when winning his first bumper last season, he was then only beaten two-and-a-half lengths by Mister Fisher in the Grade 2 Rossington Main over what was probably an inadequate trip at Haydock in January.
Last season’s RSA was a red-hot edition with the first three all legitimate Gold Cup candidates this term and the class of 2020 look like a strong bunch too with Albert Bartlett hero Minella Indo and possibly a rejuvenated Samcro in the mix. There is no reason to believe that Bright Forecast can’t mix it with these however and how good would it be to see the famous Aldiniti colours back on top if he does.
National Hunt Chase – Dickie Diver 25/1:
Considering we only saw him under rules for the first time in January, Dickie Diver was a real eye-catcher at the back end of last season. Beaten only a head by the very useful Lisnagar Oscar on his first start for Nicky Henderson, he then followed up a facile win on his next start at Chepstow with a battling fourth in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival.
A 20 length winner of his only point in Ireland, the son of Gold Well with Flemensfirth in his bloodline fetched £210,000 at Goffs in January 2018. It was a year before we next saw him but on his performances when we did he promises to be yet another classy recruit to the chasing sphere this term. A horse that looks like he will stay all day, he appears to be a perfect candidate for the National Hunt Chase, going down the same route as OK Corral did for the same owner last season.
So, with just a week to go now (a week, goddammit!) I thought that it might be handy to put links to all my recent Festival ante-post blogs in one place. Obviously, since I wrote them some fancies have fallen by the wayside, but that’s the nature of the beast. As well as that, below are my selections for every race, with some decent value still available. Prices given are the best NRNB ones available.
SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE: Mister Fisher 10/1 (advised at 33/1); Itchy Feet 25/1 (advised at 33/1); The Big Bite 40/1 (advised at 66/1)
BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE: Brewin’upastorm 10/1 (advised at 33/1)
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES HURDLE: Dickie Diver 8/1 (advised at 14/1)
MARES NOVICES HURDLE: Epatante 9/4 (NAP of the meeting)
Click here for my novice hurdles blog from February, which all still stands apart from Danny Kirwan, who misses the Festival.
CHAMPION HURDLE: Espoir D’allen 16/1ew (advised at 16/1ew… not confident he’ll win but easily the each-way value bet if one of the big three underperform)
STAYERS HURDLE: Faugheen 5/1 (advised at 9/1)
MARES HURDLE: Benie Des Dieux 11/10 (advised at 7/4)
ARKLE NOVICE CHASE: Kalashnikov 10/1
JLT NOVICE CHASE: Defi Du Seuil 7/2; Vinndication 8/1 (advised at 33/1)
RSA NOVICE CHASE: Santini 7/2 (advised at 12/1); Topofthegame 4/1 (advised at 25/1)
NATIONAL HUNT CHASE: Ballyward 7/2
Click here for my blog on the novice chasers written in September. A fair bit has changed since then but I’m sticking with Kalashnikov in what looks an average Arkle, while Santini and Topofthegame are both looking good for the RSA.
CHAMPION CHASE: Altior 2/5
RYANAIR CHASE: Un De Sceaux 7/1
GOLD CUP: Al Boum Photo 14/1; Might Bite 14/1
ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE: Give Me A Copper 13/2 (advised at 7/1) ; Minella Rocco 10/1 (advised at 10/1)
CLOSE BROTHERS HANDICAP CHASE: Highway One O One 14/1 (advised at 14/1) ; A Plus Tard 10/1
CORAL CUP: Killultagh Vic 25/1 (advised at 25/1); Cracking Smart 14/1 (advised at 20/1); Brio Conti 14/1; Vision Des Flos 16/1
CROSS COUNTRY CHASE: Tiger Roll 11/10 ; Josies Orders 7/1
FRED WINTER (BOODLES) JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE: Surin 14/1
BUMPER: Blue Sari 4/1
PERTEMPS FINAL: Samburu Shujaa 10/1 (advised at 12/1)
BROWN & ADVISORY PLATE: Count Meribel 25/1; Spiritofthegames 10/1
KIM MUIR AMATEURS CHASE: Cogry 33/1
TRIUMPH HURDLE: Sir Erec 21/20
COUNTY HURDLE: Lisp 25/1; Leoncavallo 25/1 (advised at 33/1); Pingshou 33/1 (advised at 33/1)
FOXHUNTERS: Shantou Flyer 9/1; Wonderful Charm 14/1
GRAND ANNUAL: Magic Saint 7/1 (advised at 20/1); Diakali 40/1 (advised at 40/1)
MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONALS HURDLE: Early Doors 20/1 (advised at 20/1)
Click below for my three handicap blogs from last month.
Following my blog the other day featuring some of those worth a look for the handicaps at next month’s Cheltenham Festival (click here to read), here are three more who are worth a NRNB dabble…
FRED WINTER JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE
A race won by 33/1 shots in the past two editions, in Veneer of Charm and Flying Tiger, there’s a horse I like at double figure odds who might have just crept under the radar a bit for this year’s renewal. 2017 winner Flying Tiger was trained by Nick Williams, who also had the third home the previous year in the form of Coo Star Sivola, so it’s a race the Williams clan like. This year Jane Williams has set out on her own and it is under her training that we find Montestrel, a horse who can currently be backed at 16/1 with the NRNB insurance.
This French recruit had never seen a racetrack before when he lined up at Chepstow in October, yet he put up a very impressive debut display to beat Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin by one and a half lengths – the pair of them ten lengths clear of Elysees in third. Since that race the Nicholls horse has won four on the bounce, including the Grade 1 Finale last time out, while Elysees won his next two and was second in the third, behind Quel Destin in the Summit Hurdle at Doncaster in December.
Montestrel was next seen when starting favourite in the Triumph trial at Cheltenham in November, but was reported to have never been travelling by jockey Lizzie Kelly when coming home a well beaten sixth of six. He’s certainly worth another chance if back on song and has an entry at Taunton next week when he will hopefully show his true form.
Traditionally the Festival finale, this year this two mile cavalry charge is the penultimate race of the four day extravaganza. It’s a contest that Paul Nicholls has enjoyed success in over recent years, winning in 2016 and 2018 with Solar Impulse and Le Prezien and he may well have a lively contender this year too with Magic Saint. Trained by the legendary Guillaume Macaire during his time in France, this five-year-old was a major eye-catcher on his British debut at Haydock in November when travelling like a dream before not getting home over the 2m 5f trip and beaten for stamina by Activial. Dropping back a couple of furlongs for his next start, at Ascot, he was never able to get into a race ran at a furious gallop by all the way leader Hell’s Kitchen after being held up at the back for much of the contest. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the best of this horse yet and it will be interesting to see him over two miles if he takes his chance at Wincanton this weekend. It could well turn out to be his optimum trip and if it does then the Grand Annual is surely his next likely target, a race he can be backed for at 20/1 NRNB.
Another possible for this race available at the same price is Chesterfield, surely one of the most reliable and consistent horses in training. Seamus Mullins’ nine-year-old won the 2017 Scottish Champion Hurdle, finished a close third in the same race last year and was fourth in last season’s County Hurdle at the Festival. His first season over fences has seen him win one of his three starts so far, but his close up third behind Dolos and another of my Cheltenham handicap fancies, Highway One O One, at Carlisle in November doesn’t read too badly. The trainer has been making noises that he prefers an Arkle bid over the Grand Annual but I hope he sees sense and aims for the race he has a realistic chance of winning. If he does he’s a big price and is also one to keep in mind for the Red Rum at Aintree, a track and meeting he won at in 2017.
Thought I’d share a few who I think look interesting with regards to the handicaps at Cheltenham next month, a week ahead of the entries being revealed and with just a month to go now until the Festival itself.
The price has gone now to be honest, with the 20/1 available a couple of weeks ago well and truly snapped up, but I think Give Me A Copper has big claims of landing this one for Paul Nicholls. Now best priced 7/1 if you want the NRNB insurance, this is a horse that was entered for this year’s Gold Cup and I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually was in the lineup for next year’s race. Very lightly rated for his nine years, this son of Presenting had the perfect prep at Sandown at the start of the month when fourth and should come on a bundle for that run. Rated 145, he could well turn out to be very well handicapped indeed.
Another one who could turn up here after a disappointing season is White Moon. I had high hopes for Colin Tizzard’s grey at the start of the campaign but for whatever reason he just hasn’t fired. With that being the case I wouldn’t be surprised to see his sights lowered and him dropping into a handicap at the Festival. This is a race that would suit trip-wise and 25/1 NRNB is tempting.
CLOSE BROTHERS NOVICES CHASE
Available at 14/1 NRNB with Skybet, Highway One O One looks a cracking each-way bet. Chris Gordon has already nominated it as the target for the seven-year-old, who is rated 143 so won’t have any issues getting in. Ran a great race when second to Kildisart at Cheltenham on trials day after being stepped up in trip for the first time and is a horse with some class about him, having lined up in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad at Christmas and Grade 1 Henry VIII before that this season.
Cracking Smart is a horse I’m very interested in with regards to handicaps at the Festival, although guessing which one he’ll go for is the tricky part. Of course, this is the beauty of NRNB but this race would seem to be his most likely destination. Gordon Elliott’s charge has had his fair share of injury issues but is a classy individual, having finished just a length behind Next Destination in last season’s Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas. He made a pleasing enough return in the 3m Christmas Hurdle won by Apples Jade at Leopardstown at Christmas and is definitely one to keep on side. Rated 150, he can currently be backed at 20/1 NRNB.
I also like Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors for this one, a horse who probably isn’t quite good enough for the Stayers Hurdle but has some top form having finished second in that Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle and third in last year’s Martin Pipe. Rated 143, he can be backed at 16/1 NRNB.
This is one of the most competitive handicaps of the week and a bit of a minefield at this stage but I’ve narrowed it down to two I like, both who have qualified from the same race. The race in question was the qualifier at Cheltenham in October, won by The Mighty Don, a horse that has since ran in two Grade 2s and a Grade 1 and is now rated 150. That day he beat Sykes, getting four pounds, by just a short head. Nicky Martin’s runner hasn’t been seen since although is entered in another qualifier at Haydock this weekend, which one can only assume is serving as a prep for the final. Available at 33/1 NRNB he certainly is worthy of some interest.
Meanwhile, an even more fascinating contender is the horse who finished third in that Cheltenham qualifier – Dawn Raider, trained by none other than Pat Kelly, who has of course won this race twice in the past with Presenting Percy and Mall Dini. Now, his current mark of 123 obviously wouldn’t get him into the final but fear not as both of his previous winners were in a similar situation at this stage of the season before elevating their marks to get in. Looking at today’s entries for the weekend, low and behold Dawn Raider is there, entered at Gowran on Saturday. My advice would be to take the 20/1 NRNB available for the Pertemps now because if he hacks up at the weekend that will most certainly be gone.
There are three who look particularly interesting to me here. I landed a touch a couple of years ago when Arctic Fire won this race off top weight and I’m hoping it could be the same story with Vision Des Flos this year. Colin Tizzard has stated that he is likely to aim at handicap with the six-year-old, admitting that he’s just short of Champion Hurdle class, and this would surely be the obvious race. Second, just two lengths behind Buveur D’air, in the Contenders Hurdle earlier this month he would be a classy entry if he takes his chance here and can be backed at 16/1 NRNB with Skybet.
Available at 20/1 meanwhile is Alan King’s Lisp, a horse that has been the model of consistency this season, having followed up victory on his seasonal return at Fontwell with second place finishes in the listed Gerry Feilden, just half a length behind Champion Hurdle bound Global Citizen, and the ultra competitive Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot, when coming home ahead of Western Ryder and Tolworth second Grand Sancy. That’s top class form in anyone’s book and he must be better than a 20/1 shot here after a proposed dart at the rearranged Betfair Hurdle this weekend first.
Finally, at 33/1 I also like the claims of Dr Richard Newland’s Leoncavallo, who has unfortunately been forced to miss the Betfair Hurdle because of the rules regarding flu vaccinations within the last six months. This is a horse that was third in the Galway Hurdle last summer, less than four lengths behind Sharjah, and he looks overpriced under a trainer who knows how to land a big handicap.
From looking like a walkover for Buveur D’air, this year’s Champion Hurdle has now turned into one of the races of the Festival. The prospect of Apples Jade taking on the duel champion is one to relish and add the still relatively unknown quantity of Laurina to the mix and you have the recipe for one of the best renewals in years.
In terms of ante-post value however the joker in the pack could be Espoir D’allen. Gavin Cromwell’s five-year-old probably doesn’t have enough to win the opening day feature but if he lines up does have claims of breaking into the first three, so the 16/1 NRNB available with Coral does hold some appeal. If you draw a line through his lacklustre performance at Leopardstown last February, when he clearly wasn’t right, he is unbeaten in his other eight runs in France and Ireland. It’s fair to say he hasn’t faced anything of the calibre of Buveur D’air and Apples Jade but he’s passed every test so far and I’d be confident he will put on a bold show.
Following his performance in the Cleeve it’s difficult to look beyond Paisley Park, although the best price 9/4 holds little appeal. Fortunately your’s truly is on at 10/1 and I hope some of you took some early value too about Emma Lavelle’s stable star. There can be no doubt he’s the best of the British contenders but it’s very dangerous to forget about the Irish, including last year’s winner Penhill, who looks like taking a similar path to 12 months ago and going straight there. 11/2 NRNB looks more than fair.
There’s no doubt the most popular winner would be Faugheen and I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility as he seemed to be giving Apples Jade a good race when falling at Leopardstown at Christmas. We all know how he obliterated a good field, including Penhill, at Punchestown over three miles at the end of last season too. The former Champion Hurdler can be backed at 9/1 NRNB.
At a much bigger price, I’d also like to throw the claims of Pallasator into the mix. Available at 40/1, the winner of the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot last summer has yet to show his ability on the Flat over hurdles but never had his ideal conditions last season and could be interesting if there’s a sound surface at Cheltenham next month. He was originally set to go novice chasing this term, with the four miler mentioned by Gordon Elliott, but that’s now been put on the back-burner. Staying over timber I think he’d be a lively outsider if he does line up at Prestbury Park and could be worth a few pennies now at huge odds.
And finally, Gordon Elliott’s comments in today’s Racing Post about the possibility of Samcro turning up certainly raise a few eyebrows. He’s available at 8/1 NRNB and if he can return to the form of last season would have to hold every chance, over a distance that would suit far more than the two miles he’s been campaigned over so far this season.
With Apples Jade and Laurina both looking Champion Hurdle bound the 7/4 NRNB available with Skybet on last year’s winner Benie Des Dieux could well turn out to be very good value. The Willie Mullins mare, who is set to return next weekend, looks head and shoulders above the rest of the field and could easily start odds on.