TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com £25 Risk-Free Bet With Winner Sports Enjoy a £25 Free Bet if signing up with Winner Sports this year at Cheltenham. Simply sign- up, bet £25 and you will receive a Free £25 bet in your account. Open a Winner Sports account and claim your free £25 bet now TABLE OF CONTENTS Welcome . . 1 Paul Jacobs Best Daily Cheltenham Tips . . 3 Matt Bisogno's RSA Chase Preview, Trends & Tips . . 5 Scott Armstrong's Daily Race Analysis . . 9 Value Bettor's Champion Hurdle Preview . . 15 Key Trends for Cheltenham 2014 . . 17 Day 1 - Champion Day .
. 17 Day 2 - Ladies Day . . 32 Day 3 - St Patrick's Thursday . . 47 Day 4 - Cheltenham Gold Cup Day . . 59 WELCOME TO OUR CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL PROFIT PACK EXPERT HELP FROM THE SECRET BETTING CLUB Welcome to this FREE Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack from the team here at the Secret Betting Club.
It’s our goal to help you squeeze every inch of profit out of your betting during Cheltenham and with that in mind we have put this pack together. It’s free to download and share – so feel free to forward on or copy for others to enjoy if you like what you read. You might also like to consider a full Secret Betting Club membership for even more help and expertise with your betting, not just for Cheltenham but all year-round. Whatever you bet on, have a great Cheltenham! Peter Ling - Secret Betting Club Editor
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Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com PAUL JACOBS BEST DAILY CHELTENHAM TIPS 4 TIME RACING POST NAPS CHAMPION Courtesy of Easyodds.com we have the top daily Cheltenham tips from their expert columnist Paul Jacobs.
As a 4 times Racing Post Naps Champion, Paul certainly knows a good bet when he sees one and he has his 4 best bets of the festival to share. You can view all of Paul's 2014 Cheltenham Festival tips on easyodds.com PAUL JACOBS’ BEST VALUE CHELTENHAM 2014 BETS Tuesday – BVB (best value bet) – Supreme Novices Hurdle VALSEUR LIDO – 16/1 Down through the years there have been two factors that have distinguished winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle from the rest of the herd; the ability to jump efficiently at speed and to see out the trip thoroughly.
The likes of Shadow Leader, Arcalis, Captain Cee Bee and last year’s winner Champagne Fever all extolled those virtues and in Iriving and VALSEUR LIDO we have two more candidates. The differential is that Irving is now priced up at 5/2 whereas the Willie Mullins third string is available at 16/1. The son of Anzillero has hurdled superbly on his two winning starts at Cork and Navan and although he has a bit to find on my private ratings, the five-year-old could very well bridge the gap with the make-up of the race sure to suit.
Wednesday – RSA Chase SMAD PLACE @ 7/1 There is little doubt in my mind that Ballycasey makes the market in the stayers novice chase championship.
He has not been the soundest of horses in the past three years and his form doesn’t exactly entitle him to be the current 5/1 favourite. The best value in the race arguably lies with the grey SMAD PLACE. I will be keen to support several Alan King horses during the four days as his string arrives here relatively fresh following an enforced mid-season closedown and this fellow leads the way.
Two from three over fences, I was hugely impressed by his jumping when he saw off good yardstick Sam Winner at Newbury earlier in the month. Rated as high as 161 as a staying hurdler, I expect him to come on a bundle for both the run and the experience and 7/1 looks a solid each-way price.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com Thursday – Ryanair Chase MODULE @ 16/1 This is a betting market in total disarray and while Al Ferof and Dynaste (if he returns to his best) have solid claims I cannot see why MODULE should be as big as 14/1.
Many of you will point to the fact that he simply couldn’t cut the mustard when raised to Grade One company in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, but he is a horse that needs plenty of time between his races and that run came too quickly following his brave effort in the Haldon Gold Cup.
He was back on track in the Game Spirit at Newbury and with Tom George’s team in superb form, he will go there fit and fresh for this. The key race to look as regards his chance is last year’s Jewson. Inconvenienced by the relatively moderate early pace, it was no surprise to see the seven-year-old outpaced from the top of the hill that day, but the way he rallied from the final fence suggested he would have pushed the winner granted a more solidly run affair. Friday – Foxhunters HARBOUR COURT @ 9/2 Note - Was 7/1 when write-up originally supplied. All the talk for this amateur riders Gold Cup has been the about the hugely expensive Barry Connell purchase Mossey Joe and favourite On The Fringe.
However, the former hasn’t raced for a while, has had several well documented physical problems and it could be the Grand National is his main aim in any case. On The Fringe was turned over by his old rival Tammy’s Hill in the Raymond Smith at Leopardstown and for me is nothing out of the ordinary. So it’s time to go with the new kid on the block HARBOUR COURT, still available at 9/2 His success in the John Corbet Cup last year had to be seen to be believed and he has confirmed he is moving in the right direction with a smooth success between the flags at Cottenham. Already a winner at Cheltenham, he has the scope to improve again and is held in very high regard by the shrewd Alan Hill.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com MATT BISOGNO'S RSA CHASE PREVIEW, TRENDS & TIPS EXPERT ADVICE FROM RACING EXPERT Matt is the head honcho of the very popular GeeGeez website and is a renowned horse racing writer and betting expert to boot. He has kindly shared with us his very detailed analysis, trends and best bets for the RSA Chase. For a similar in-depth breakdown of over a dozen of this year's Championship races, head on over to geegeez.co.uk/cheltenham-festival/. You might also enjoy the cutting edge racecards, featuring 'traffic light' race analysis, pace maps, full form filters, breeding comments, trainer/jockey stats, and much more besides.
Try them for free at http://www.geegeez.co.uk/race-cards/" 2014 RSA CHASE PREVIEW, TRENDS, TIPS The RSA Chase has been a very good dress rehearsal for the Cheltenham Gold Cup itself in recent times, with both Bobs Worth and Denman going on to win the big one since 2007. Run over three miles and half a furlong, this novice chase is often a war of attrition and, as well as being a stepping stone to greater things for some winners, it has also been the last hurrah for others. Indeed, since Denman landed the spoils in 2007, only Alberta’s Run and Bobs Worth have gone on to win further races. Cooldine, Weapon’s Amnesty, Bostons Angel and, so far, Lord Windermere have all failed to record a subsequent success at any level.
So who are the likely movers and shakers for the 2014 RSA Chase? As usual, I’ll highlight what I consider to be some of the more material trends before ploughing into the form book, then finally I’ll offer my idea of the best value in the RSA Chase market. We start with the RSA Chase trends… 2014 RSA Chase Trends Age: Seven-year-olds have a phenomenal record in the RSA. Since 1999, they’ve won twelve of the fourteen renewals, from just 80 runners for a profit of £43.95 to a £1 stake. Just two of the 62 runners aged eight-plus have won.
Form: All of the last 24 RSA Chase winners finished in the first three on their prior start, with 22 of them running first or second the last day. Only Denman and Florida Pearl have won the RSA Chase having been unbeaten over fences since Miinnehoma in 1992. 31 have tried since 1997. Experience: Only the brilliant Florida Pearl (two) has won the RSA with less than three chase starts to his name since 1997. Apart from the very experienced Rule Supreme (eight), the other fourteen winners since 1997 had between three and five prior chase runs. Layoff: All of the last sixteen RSA Chase winners had between 16 and 60 days off the track since their last run.
Breeding: Irish bred horses have taken fifteen of the last seventeen RSA Chases, with French- bred nags claiming the other two. The last British-bred winner was Brief Gale in 1995, and they’ve managed just five places since.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com The trends shortlist includes Black Thunder, Many Clouds, O’Faolains Boy, and Smad Place. 2014 RSA CHASE PREVIEW And so to the form book. Before we look at individual horses, the following races have been key pointers to the likely RSA Chase winner in recent times.
In Ireland, the Dr P J Moriarty Chase has showcased RSA Chase winners Cooldine (won both, 2009), Weapon’s Amnesty (2nd 2010), Bostons Angel (won both 2011), and Lord Windermere (3rd, 2013). This year, Ballycasey beat Don Cossack, with Carlingford Lough an unlucky faller at the last.
In Britain, the two key prep races are the Feltham Novices’ Chase and the Reynoldstown. The Feltham is noteworthy for the fact that no winner has gone on to win the RSA Chase in its history. This year, Annacotty bids to lay the Feltham hoodoo to rest. Beaten horses have prevailed in the RSA however, most recently Bobs Worth in 2012. The placed horses in this season’s Feltham were Green Flag and Third Intention, though both were beaten far enough. The Reynoldstown, run at Ascot, also saw Bobs Worth beaten in 2012 and, whilst it is a stiffer test than Kempton’s Feltham, it is less of a challenge than the RSA Chase itself.
Albertas Run won this en route to Cheltenham glory in 2008. This year, O’Faolains Boy beat Many Clouds. So, since 2008, all six RSA Chase winners have exited one of those three races. I will focus primarily on them.
The RSA Chase requires a combination of stamina, guts and a scintilla of class. Usually, however, an abundance of the first two will suffice. When looking for a bet in this race I want to be on a horse that was finishing to some effect in one of the key trials the last day. The beaten horses in their preps which went on to win the RSA all showed a finishing effort: according to the Racing Post, Lord Windermere “kept on well under pressure” when a half length third in the Moriarty; Bobs Worth “stayed on to take 2nd [at the] last” in the Reynoldstown; Bostons Angel “ stayed on well under pressure from last, led close home”; and, Weapon’s Amnesty “went 2nd after last, kept on run-in”.
None of them were backing out of their race at the end, and this is crucial. We want a horse that can stay. And stay. And stay. In the Reynoldstown, O’Faolains Boy and Many Clouds finished in that order, separated by two and a half lengths. The winner outpaced the second, and looked as though he might run away in the closing stages. But Many Clouds plugged on well or, as the Racing Post put it, “outpaced by winner soon after 2 out, kept on again near finish”. I doubt there will be much between them at Cheltenham, and they both jumped the last in attractive fashion, suggesting there was at least a bit more in the tank if needed.
O’Faolains Boy has raced exclusively on soft or heavy under rules so far, and there would be a slight niggle if it came up quicker than that on the day, but his profile – which includes a very good fourth to At Fisher’s Cross in last year’s Albert Bartlett – has plenty of appeal. Despite that, I am drawn to Many Clouds as the probable preferred plodder of the pair. A useful hurdler, he was second in a Grade 3 novice handicap at Sandown under top weight before getting tapped for speed at Aintree. Since going chasing, Many Clouds has won two and finished
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com second twice. In both the silver medal races, he’s “kept on” having been outpaced. This slightly longer trip and considerably stiffer test looks tailor made, and I like him at 16/1. Ballycasey, the favourite for the race, is harder to assess. He’s only had two chase starts – winning both – and that is less than all bar Florida Pearl in recent times. Is he capable of being a Florida Pearl? Time will tell, but the more pertinent question is whether he’ll have the stamina to see this out.
In his first chase run, he won a beginners’ chase beating Mount Colah, a 135 animal, by eight easy lengths over a two mile trip.
On his only subsequent start, he saw off Don Cossack over two miles five in the Grade 1 Dr P J Moriarty Chase. Don Cossack was well enough held, and I’d have reservations about his getting the three miles-plus of the RSA. Ballycasey on the other hand might improve for better ground and hasn’t proved he can’t stay. Nor yet has he proved that he can and, allied to his inexperience, 5/1 is extremely unattractive for all the promise he might have. He’s also had a couple of training niggles this season, which is less than ideal.
Carlingford Lough is a horse I’ve backed. I admit that I’d not really gone through the form at that time, but he was a standout 14/1 when everyone else was offering 10/1. At time of writing now, there is a range from 8/1 to 12/1, and that’s based on his form. Bizarrely for a novice, Carlingford Lough has had thirteen chase starts! That sequence includes a Galway Plate win last summer, a second in the Drinmore (Grade 1, two and a half miles, beaten by Don Cossack), and a win in the Grade 1 Topaz Novices Chase over three miles. He beat Morning Assembly there, staying on at the finish, and that again is key to his chance.
He sees the trip out well and has bags of experience allied to a touch of class. He might not be quite good enough, but with McCoy doing the steering we should get a run for our money. The Feltham was won by Annacotty in clear cut fashion, and it’s tough to see anything coming from out of the pack in that contest to be good enough for an RSA Chase win. Annacotty’s own claims are rather let down by his staying form away from Kempton, where he’s two from two at the three mile trip. He’s been beaten multiple times in handicaps – as has Carlingford Lough for that matter (though some will argue that was by design rather than accident!) – and didn’t look to have too much more to give over two miles five at Cheltenham last time out.
He could surprise – I know one keen form student who likes this fellow – but he’s not for me. The others at the top of the betting are attempting to win this having swerved the major trials, something which has not happened since Denman, second in a Grade 1 hurdle at the previous Festival, won in 2007.
Smad Place has Festival credentials having been third in two World Hurdles. He has won his two completed novice chases in good style, but has yet to be tested in Graded company. The last horse to win the RSA Chase having dodged Graded chasers previously was Lord Noelie in 2000. It does happen, but 7/1 has no fat in it for a hungry scribe such as me. I’d expect Smad Place to run an honest race, maybe even win, but I don’t think he’s value given he unseated on chase debut and hasn’t really put his jumping under much pressure so far.
Morning Assembly emptied out quickly last time when beaten by Carlingford Lough, and he looks to have more of a chance at Punchestown than Cheltenham to my eye.
And Donald McCain’s Corrin Wood was rated just 130 over hurdles, and yet is allotted 156 after three non-Graded chase wins beating a cumulative eight rivals. Granted, he has stayed well in those races, and he’s shown an ability to handle different going conditions. But the overall
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com performance of unbeaten horses that swerve top company is poor. Indeed, the last winner to take the RSA as an unbeaten and untested in Graded chases horse was Miinnehoma in 1992. Not for me, thanks. If there’s any value lurking in the lower end of the lists, it might be with Paul Nicholls’ Black Thunder. He was two and a half lengths behind Corrin Wood turning in at Warwick last time, and the same margin away at the finish. He’d won a Grade 2 in three previous chase wins, and 25/1 offers a bit of value, given his vanquisher last time is no better than 10/1.
2014 RSA CHASE TIPS The RSA Chase is a compelling race, as ever, and my tips are made in a quest for value. Ballycasey can win – of course – but he’s inexperienced and I’m not convinced by his stamina yet. Smad Place looks like he’ll be thereabouts if his jumping holds up, but he’s no price for a race like that. Many Clouds looks exactly the sort for an RSA Chase, and 16/1 is a perfectly fair, borderline generous, price in my opinion. Carlingford Lough has been around the blough (see what I did there?) and he’s a strong stayer with a bit of class. He’d have been within a couple of lengths of Ballycasey but for unseated at the last in his previous race, and so he ought not to be around three times the price.
And for a real outsider, maybe nibble Black Thunder, though I much prefer the chance of the two above at the prices. RSA Chase Selections: 1 pt win Many Clouds 16/1 (Back with Non-Runner, No Bet firm) 1 pt win Carlingford Lough 10/1 (Back with Non-Runner, No Bet firm) Was 12/1 when article originally written
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com THE BEST DAILY CHELTENHAM TIPS PRO GAMBLER SCOTT’S TOP VALUE ADVICE Professional gambler Scott Armstrong has run the rule over each day of the Cheltenham festival and put forward his best value bets for you to follow.
These articles were first published for SBC members to read throughout 2014 as Scott helped them to build up a strong Ante-post portfolio. Scott has a proven track record betting at Cheltenham, having made a 314% ROI in 2011 and a 83% ROI in 2012. You can find similar analysis like this as a Secret Betting Club member via his monthly 'Racing Rundown' columns which tackle all the big race meetings. Cheltenham Festival Daily Betting Analysis The Day 1 & 2 analysis was originally published on the 6th of January and February respectively, as they were first supplied to Secret Betting Club members.
Some of the markets and odds have changed during the intervening period, so Scott has put together an update, which is correct as of the 3rd March to detail his very latest thoughts. His Day 3 and 4 analysis was written on the 3rd March so is accurate at time of publication. CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 1 (Originally written 6th Jan 2014 - see update section for latest thoughts on the best current bets) ARKLE TROPHY The average bullet travels at 2,500 feet per second or around 1700 mph and while Dodging Bullets from the Paul Nicholls yard may only be capable of hitting around 40 mph he is still worth following on day one of the Festival.
Dodging Bullets was listed as one of my horses to follow a couple of months back when I wrote “16-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham is worth a play with this seasons 2m novice chasing division looking reasonably weak”.
Anyone who took note will be sitting in a strong position with the Nicholls horse now a best priced 8-1 second favourite and as short as 6-1. This son of Dubawi loves Cheltenham which is critically important to any horse participating at the Festival, having been successful at the track in his first two starts in 2012-2013. Dodging Bullets is not the easiest to train or ride having shown a poor attitude on numerous occasions and at one point standing on the brink of the dreaded Timeform squiggle. Indeed, there were people in certain circles starting to re-name him “Dodgepot”. Sweating and edgy are two of the kinder comments applied to the six-year-old in the past with the horse also known to bleed on occasions.
Enough negativity however as this lengthy gelding looked every inch an Arkle contender when recording a comfortable success in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial at Cheltenham in November. The Nicholls yard at the time had been operating under a cloud but it made no difference to Dodging Bullets as he demonstrated an impressive turn of foot to charge up the Cheltenham hill, scoring by five lengths and counting from Alan King's Raya Star. Nicholls had to persuade the owners of Dodging Bullets to allow him to send the horse chasing and it looks sure to prove a financially astute move. The horse was disappointing last Spring at Aintree but a cauterised plate during the summer seems to have rectified any problems and last time out, he smashed the useful Grandouet by ten lengths to illustrate his current wellbeing.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com is growing up fast as a chaser and a strong pace and big field at the Festival will further enhance his prospects. Confusion surrounds market jolly Champagne Fever at current best odds of 6-1 but with the Arkle far from being certain to be his target. Last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle was a high-class affair with the front three of Champagne Fever, My Tent Or Yours and Jezki turning the screw on the rest of the field to finish 15 lengths clear with Champagne Fever prevailing. All three would assuredly have gone close in last year's Champion Hurdle such was the high class form on offer.
There is much to admire about the front-running Champagne Fever yet he was knocked to the canvas by stable colleague Defy Logic in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
I implore you to watch Defy Logic's archived races. The horse is a complete rogue but also blessed with exceptional talent. When defeated by Felix Yonger at Punchestown in November, Defy Logic constantly jumped to the left giving jockey Mark Walsh something akin to a rodeo ride. The horse will find the left-handed Cheltenham track far more to his liking and allied to his electric speed he is capable of proving himself a Championship horse. Remember, this fellow got to within three lengths of the increasingly admirable Annie Power over hurdles. One thing that is guaranteed if you do wager on him, is your own edge of the seat bar-stool or sofa ride.
There has to be a strong chance nevertheless, that the horse will ultimately go for the Jewson Novices' Chase come March.
Felix Yonger completes the triumvirate of horses Willie Mullins has at the head of the Arkle market. A slicker jumper than Defy Logic he has negotiated the Cheltenham hill before when second to Simonsig in the 2011 Neptune Investment Management Hurdle. Indeed, in an ordinary year he would have been called the winner. What races will Willie Mullins target for his three stable-stars? It's anybody's guess with Mullins being a man who likes to keep his own counsel. Rock On Ruby is interesting at odds of 14-1 generally. Often overlooked, being from the unfashionable stable of young Harry Fry, it's easy to forget the nine-year old gelding has won a Champion Hurdle and was only touched off by a short head in the Neptune Novices Hurdle.
Rock On Ruby is hard to judge presently having only raced once over fences but the horse loves it around the Prestbury track having peaked in March for the last three seasons and if bringing half his hurdling prowess to chasing he would be a major player in the Arkle. Hinterland is another Nicholls' runner not without a chance. A cosy winner of the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown in December, the gelding has shown the benefit of a summer wind operation. I would question the strength of form of the Grade 1 race however and Hinterland's jumping has been far from blemish free.
Conclusion: I put up Dodging Bullets at 16-1 some time ago in my list of Horses To Follow and I will not be deserting him now. With so much uncertainty surrounding the other protagonists at the head of the market his price should only recede further. 3rd March Update: Champagne Fever remains a solid and worthy favourite with Trifolium now the 2nd best in the market following his Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase success at Leopardstown. I’m happy to remain loyal to Dodging Bullets and his current price of 6-1 looks about correct. Should the ground continue to dry out Rock Out Ruby also comes into the reckoning but the 14-1 mentioned above is long gone.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 2 (Originally written 6th Feb 2014 - see update section for latest thoughts on the best current bets) NEPTUNE INVESTMENT NOVICES HURDLE Faugheen leads the market in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle and rightly so. That man Willie Mullins' unbeaten five-year old destroyed Josses Hill by 22 lengths going on a furlong in a Punchestown bumper in May last year. Josses Hill has subsequently franked the form when finishing second in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle. Faugheen carried on by winning all three of his hurdle races this winter over 2m6f, 2m4f and 3m without coming off the bridle.
Being such an ominous traveler suggests this race will be his forte and not the Albert Bartlett. His jumping has understandably been a little ropey for one so young but class has seen him through. There is a danger of Faugheen becoming a hype horse as he hasn't had a tough race as of yet but as the old adage goes, you can only beat what's put in front of you and Faugheen will take a hell of a lot of beating come next month.
Briar Hill and Sure Reef are prominent in the betting but with both being owned by Graham and Andrew Wylie, one of them looks set to drop out of this race in favour of the Albert Bartlett. Likewise Tullow Tank, whose final destination may be the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Red Sherlock is the horse I like at odds of 6-1 with Bet Victor and Bet365. Bred by the late David Johnson if Red Sherlock lands the race there could be enough sentimental tears to make an extra water-jump. The son of Shirocco is now undefeated in six outings following a courageous win in the Grace 2 novice hurdle at Cheltenham's Trials meeting.
The race developed into a duel at the second last between Red Sherlock and the highly regarded Mullins horse Rathvinden. Red Sherlock showed an abundance of guts to fend off the well backed Rathvinden, with the pair pulling a mammoth 29 lengths clear of the third placed Aubusson who is rated 140. Reading that form literally would be a mistake but there can be no doubt Red Sherlock is a horse going places. The Pond House charge also looks assured to take his place in the Neptune as David Pipe also trains Kings Palace who is favourite for the Albert Bartlett. It's been noted that Red Sherlock has swished his tail more than once at the business end of races but the horse's resolution cannot be questioned.
Of the others, Ballyalton lost his unblemished record at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but it cannot be forgotten how shocking the weather was on the first day of 2014. It could pay to think back to the tail end of last year when Ballyalton defeated both Oscar Rock and Garde La Victoire over two-miles at the same track. A strong traveller, further progression looks assured. Royal Boy surprised the Nicky Henderson yard when winning the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices' Hurdle. Worryingly however, no horse aged seven has won the race since 1998. From the rest of the pack, Captain Cutter looks unlikely to have the class to win while Oscar Rock has looked laboured during his races this season.
One at a bigger price who could outrun his odds is Apache Stronghold. Unbeaten over fences, the ceiling of his ability is unknown and he could be worth a small dabble at 16-1.
Conclusion: Back Red Sherlock at 6-1 with Bet Victor and Bet365 (non-runner no bet) 3rd March Update:
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com Sticking with Red Sherlock here and the general 5-1 on offer now is fair. Faugheen deserves to be top of the shop but there does look a danger he is being overrated. At a bigger price Un Temps Pour Tout is interesting following his Ascot trial for this race. Bought for a mighty £450,000 this stable-mate of Red Sherlock may be worth an each-way play but the latter remains the stable number 1 here.
CHAMPION BUMPER I suggested last year in the horses to follow section that Royal Caviar “Looks top-drawer and worthy of an each-way play at 14-1 for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham festival”. Black Hercules has subsequently emerged as the one to beat, having run out a comfortable winner of a very strong Thurles bumper but I'd stick by Royal Caviar. Try to avoid all the hype surrounding this race and “wonder reports” from yards and concentrate on the bare form in the book. It generally pays off to follow the BHA ratings in this race.
3rd March Update: No Royal Caviar in the bumper and as before Black Hercules remains the one to beat. Now 13-2, Patrick Mullins will take the ride which can only be encouraging. I’d also suggest backing Willie Mullins’ Shaneshill at 8-1 as they love this horse in the yard and he’s yet to put a hoof wrong. CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 3 WORLD HURDLE Ask me for my banker of the Cheltenham Festival and the reply would be Annie Power. I wrote on the SBC forum a few months ago that the whispers in Ireland were suggesting the World Hurdle was the more likely option for Annie Power and not the Champion Hurdle and that information has proven spot on.
Big Bucks of course is a behemoth of the sport whom only a foolhardy gambler would discount. At eleven-years-old however, despite his trainer's success with an ageing Kauto Star, he can't possibly be improving and it would be a surprise if he returned as majestic as he once was. Horses who have suffered tendon injuries rarely come back the same. I've made plenty by backing Big Bucks with big wagers in earlier years but just as a tennis bettor would no longer get stuck into Roger Federer at short odds so we must realise when a horse has peaked. The statistics tell us that in its 41 race existence only one horse has won before at the age of 11.
I love when horse-racing media analysts state that Annie Power might not stay the distance because that can only aid us in getting a better price on the horse and Annie Power has looked full of beans at the end of her races. Look again at her race over 2m5f at Cheltenham on bottomless ground over the World Hurdle course. Annie Power finished that race like she had just had a canter at home. This is a Gold Cup horse of the future and 3m is easily within the compass of a mare with chasm-deep stamina.
The bonus for Annie Power backers is having Ruby Walsh on board. No one knows Big Bucks better and therefore no one will know how to ride Annie Power better to defeat Big Bucks. Couple that with her 7lb mares allowance and she will be hard to beat.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com Celestial Halo isn't good enough to win the World Hurdle and last year when he finished second was his best chance. Relkeel Hurdle winner, More Of That's plans are uncertain with handler Jonjo O'Neill considering the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree as an option.
The admirable Zarkandar ran a fine race in defeat to Melodic Rendezvous in the Kingwell Hurdle and rates a sporting each-way price at odds of 10-1 generally. It was a far more encouraging run for a horse who looked like he had fallen out of love with the game when beaten comfortably by The New One in December. However, Annie Power treated Zarkandar with disdain when they met on New Year's Day over two-and-a-half-mile and it's difficult to imagine any role reversal. As talented as At Fishers Cross undoubtedly is, the fear remains that he has missed his chance to win a “big” race. Big Bucks was returning from almost a year off in the Cleeve Hurdle, and At Fishers Cross had the ground in his favour yet he still couldn't get his head in front.
Couple that with his tendency to make jumping errors and you would think the games up despite recent strong homework reports.
Conclusion: Back Annie Power at 2-1 Ladbrokes, Spreadex, Bet Bright KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CUP Donald McCain's stable form is much improved over the last couple of weeks and his runners will head to the festival in fine fettle, with Indian Castle strongly fancied as his best chance of the week in the ferociously competitive Kim Muir. Like the Grand National this race is now attracting a better class of runner with the compression of the weights. A classy animal among those at the top of the newspaper race listings is the need for the Kim Muir and £40,000 purchase Indian Castle fits the bill. A six-year old on the upgrade he has also been crying out for this step up in trip.
His last run saw him defeat the useful Annacotty in imperious style at Cheltenham in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase and he remains on a fighting weight. Crack amateur Derek O'Connor shall be offered the ride and the 13-2 on offer shouldn't be sniffed at as I'd expect that price to abbreviate come the big day.
Conclusion: Back Indian Castle 13-2 888sport & Unibet (being backed as I write this today!) CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 4 GOLD CUP The Gold Cup is far from a vintage renewal this season with the biggest reason being the absence of second season novices' along with King George 2nd Cue Card being ruled out in recent days. This has led to the race looking somewhat of a shoot-out between current favourite and reigning champion Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti. Who's got a chance at a sexier price?
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com Captain Chris arrives at the Festival in tip-top form, but it's well documented how superior he is on right-handed tracks and he could only finished sixth in racing's Blue Riband last year.
There's also the overriding concern that his fantastic demolition job in the Ascot Chase was his “Gold Cup”. In his favour the horse has won at Cheltenham twice including an Arkle and Captain Chris has finished second in the King George aka Cue Card who was trading as favourite for this race only a few months ago. Captain Chris is as big as 14-1 and could earn you some place money. Harry Topper has been a credit to his Gold Cup winning trainer Kim Bailey having won both the Grade 2 Charlie Hall and Grade 2 Denman Chases' this season. It's difficult to see him winning the coup de grâce though unless the word soft enters the going description.
Last Instalment is another who needs some dig in the ground. The Gigginstown nine-year-old entered the Gold Cup picture when thrashing his rivals in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup last month. Last Instalment has two glass legs however, which kept him off the track for the best part of two years. Nonetheless, the horse showed all his ability remained, with his eight-and-a-half- length Hennessy stroll where memories of Denman came rushing back. That success rocketed him to a mark of 169 making him the joint second-best chaser in Ireland astride First Lieutenant and only 1b behind Sir Des Champs.
Alas, with no cut in the ground and no Cheltenham form it's hard to expect this magnificent jumper being able to bridge the gap between him and the top two in the market.
In conclusion then, Bobs Worth at current best odds of 7-4 or Silviniaco Conti at 3-1? It's nigh on impossible to crab Bob's Worth who is the consummate professional without offering the flashiness of a Sprinter Sacre. Every time this little fellow runs he gives punters 100% for their money and then some and proved he was back to form when winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas with a typically gutsy display. Cheltenham previous is a major advantage at the festival and this fellow is five from five at the course. A measure of this fellow's worth is the fact he is the first horse since the immeasurable Flying Bolt in the 1960's to win different races at three successive festivals.
Although Bobs Worth tends to hit a flat spot in his races he comes up the Cheltenham hill like Bradley Wiggins on his Pinarello Dogma. Silviniaco Conti took a tumble three out last year in the race when travelling better than anything in the field. However, it was still too far from the winning post to say with any degree of certainty he would have won. Although it's still unsure that he likes the track, that fall was merely a blip as the horse is a sound jumper. Silviniaco Conti looks better than ever this year with a King George win under his belt. Strong traveller, sound jumper and by no means short of speed.
What's not to like? At the bigger odds of 3-1 Silviniaco Conti gets the vote.
Conclusion: Silviniaco Conti is currently 3-1 and there's an argument that he won't be any shorter come Gold Cup day. Back Silviniaco Conti on the day itself.
Secret Betting Club Cheltenham Festival Profit Pack www.secretbettingclub.com 2014 CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIEW FREE ANALYSIS FROM THE VALUE BETTOR The Value Bettor is a proven racing expert with a track record of producing a long-term profit of around 30% on National Hunt racing. He has kindly shared with us his detailed analysis and insight on all the runners and riders in this year's Champion Hurdle CHAMPION HURDLE This year's Champion hurdle is the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory… So often the race plays second fiddle to the Gold Cup – but this time around, a high class and varied line up, make for a fascinating contest.
When assessing the race, you have to begin with reigning champion, Hurricane Fly. When he regained his crown last March, he became the first to do so since Comedy of Errors, in the 70s. He really is a tremendous racehorse – and despite the fact he is now 10, victories in all 4 of his races subsequent races, have confirmed that he is still capable of operating at the highest level. However, despite 2 Champion hurdle wins, he has never looked quite as good at Prestbury Park, as he does back home in Ireland.
The form of both his Champion wins doesn’t really stand up to the closest scrutiny and with some serious up and coming talent, my feeling is that he won’t be quite good enough this time round… The challengers for his title are headed by The New One.
He won the Neptune hurdle at last year's festival, showing a devastating turn of foot up the home straight. He lost little in a subsequent narrow defeat at Aintree - and his form this season has been of the highest order. He demolished Rock on Ruby first time up and followed that up with an equally decisive victory over Zarkandar, before finishing an unlucky second to My Tent or Yours in the Christmas hurdle. The track and the way the race unfolded were completely against him that day – and he made a shocking blunder at the last.
Yet despite all of that, he was beaten less than a length at the line. He definitely looks to me like the one to beat… My Tent or Yours is third favourite for the race – and whilst I would expect him to run well, I don’t think he will be able to handle The New One. Obviously he has the verdict over him from Christmas – but that race suited MTOY so much better and yet he only just managed to win. He came up short at last year's festival when not able to reel in Champagne Fever in the Supreme – and I think it might be a similar case this time round… Our Conor represents the younger generation.
He was a massively impressive winner of the Triumph hurdle last season – looking every inch a future champion. He didn’t run again over hurdles until December, when he was put in his place by Hurricane Fly in the grade 1 at Leopardstown.
The result was the same over the same course and distance a month later in the Irish Champion hurdle. However, this time Our Conor really made Hurricane Fly fight for his victory… There can be little doubt that he has been brought to the boil for the Champion - and I wouldn’t bet against him exacting his revenge on the Hurricane in the big one.