DAY 3. THE ODD COUPLE, FELIX AND ANNIE.
Let’s reiterate this one more time. The ground is lightning fast , in fact it is bordering hard ground. Unless your horse likes this surface you are out with the washing. Disappointed with Wednesday but happy to be 5 points ahead on week so I hope I can kick on today. Best of luck.
1 30. The Jewson.
Captain Ocana : Absolutely no chance. Should be 1000/1.
Double Ross : Course specialist and will be towards the front all the way round. He has a tendency to belt the odd fence and I feel he might not have the required class to win this. Has really smart handicap form but there is a real class horse up against him here. I have to overlook him.
Felix Yonger : My favourite chaser of the season so far. Willie and more importantly Ruby made a big blunder not to run this fellow in the Arkle and conversely not switching Champagne Fever to this race. They made the same blunder regarding Annie Power and Un De Sceaux in the Champion Hurdle. In my humble opinion Felix Yonger would have hosed up in the Arkle. Nick Mordin gets very few things wrong and he rates him one of the fastest two mile novice chasers in years over two miles and so do I. Did you note TWO MILES ? This is two and a half miles and the extra yardage has to worry us somewhat. If you are so fast at two then you cannot be as good over the extra distance. However, this is one of the best jumpers you will ever see and his speed over the obstacles is breathtaking. I have rarely seen a horse to jump with such alacrity. Furthermore his marked preference for good fast surface is striking and with the prevailing ground conditions in his favour then the stamina doubt might not be such an issue. If he gets home up the hill nothing will beat him.
Mozoltov : Takes a keen hold and prefers soft ground and is a risky jumper. No.
Off The Ground : Loves a fast surface but this is a step too far.
Oscar Whiskey : Likes good ground and improving now over fences but he is not a natural and will be found out here.
Sizing Gold : Really promising type and up to now a splendid jumper. Loads of boot and will be prominent. Will go on the ground and has to be on the short list.
Taquin Du Seuil : One of the big fancies for this and very well placed so far this season by John Joe O’Neill. Everything has been geared towards today and this big angular horse will handle conditions so a big run expected.
Uxizandre : I do not rate his chances. He is a dodgy jumper and if I were on one of the fancied horses I would not be tracking him.
Wonderful Charm : Lightly raced prolific winner but I feel will do very well to get a place.
Djakadam : Very smart young five year old and is a big danger if he runs. Thought to want soft ground but maybe he will get away with this fast surface. If Felix Yonger was not in this I would be looking at him as the winner.
Vukovar : An exciting front runner but can take liberties with his fences and this may not be the ideal track for such a horse . Being well backed all week but I feel maybe another day for him.
SUMMARY: I cannot oppose FELIX YONGER but if his stamina does run out then Djakadam or Taquin Du Seuil might prosper. 2 points win on FELIX though at 4/1 with Paddy Power.
2 05 Pertemps Hurdle.
Fingal Bay : Top weight and fancied but the ‘bounce factor’ could come into play here with him. Very talented but opposed.
Southfield Theatre : Light framed type and might struggle in this hurly burly affair.
Quartz De Thaix : No.
Trustan Times : Talented and quirky and would prefer a flat track so no.
Jetson : Handicapped to the hilt but young Kennedy takes off what could be an absolutely invaluable five pounds and this just might swing it. Needs holding up off a fast gallop on good ground. If he gets the breaks he could do it.
Seefood : Typical improver from this shrewd yard and will go well but I feel is harshly handicapped but do not dismiss.
Mickie : Genuine mare on flat tracks and soft ground. Won’t happen here.
Grand Vision : Lightly raced but coming back to form and dangerous to dismiss. Chance.
On The Bridge : Maybe a .bridge too far.
Pineau De Re : Failed twice before at this festival but loves to face up a hill otherwise and has to be given some sort of chance now.
If In Doubt : Lightly raced and progressive and at the op of the market. Has been the best backed horse in this race. Seems to thrive on undulating tracks like Cheltenham and is off a fair mark . He looks the one to beat.
Vics Canvas : Might have a bit to find.
Uncle Jimmy : Another one from the Hobbs yard [ If In Doubt and Fingal Bay also] and with a big chance. He goes very well fresh and is fairly handicapped.
Top Wood : Fancied by some and will give it a fair shot but I am looking elsewhere.
Mister Dillon : Dangerous to dismiss him with Geraghty up but I am.
Lie Forrit : No.
Pateese : Another from Hobbs but little chance.
First Fandango : No.
Cross Kennon : Can run well in these type of events and is feasibly handicapped to go well. Not totally impossible.
Utopie Des Bordes : Has some decent form but not lately and hard to fancy for big connections.
Crowning Jewel : Will have to run a lifetime best to get involved and unlikely.
Broadway Buffalo : Disappointing this season and hard to envisage him winning this or placing.
Josies Orders : Lightly raced and never raced on a track like this but is improving rapidly and is trained by John Joe and is at the right end of the handicap. Should handle ground and a big player.
So Fine : Another from the mob handed Hobbs yard but I struggle to see him winning but could run ok off bottom weight.
SUMMARY : Philip Hobbs is throwing the kitchen sink at this with five runners and perhaps If In Doubt is his best chance but Uncle Jimmy is right there with him. Josies Orders and Jetson will be bang there also. Pineau De Rea could go well at a monster price but after much agonising I am plumping for a one point win on JOSIES ORDERS at 16/1 with William Hill.
2 40 Ryanair Chase.
Al Ferof : Loves this track and good ground. Stable form a big negative now though so my enthusiasm is tempered somewhat but it is a very weak renewal so every chance.
Benneficient : I feel he should have went for the Champion Chase and like some yards they might have screwed up with their choice of target.. Still every chance though and will love the prevailing ground. Big chance.
Boston Bob : Was a favourite of mine but he seems to have difficulties with his breathing nowadays so I must pass.
Dynaste : Has a big following but I am not a huge fan. Seems to best around Autumn time and yet to win in the Spring. That might be no accident as some horses are like that. I will look elsewhere.
Hidden Cyclone : A horse with a heart of gold and always tries so hard. I am no fan of this particular yard and because of that I cannot go for this genuine and game animal.Even with that he can go very well. Is best fresh which he is here.
Hunt Ball : Not this time.
Kauto Stone : Emphatic no.
Medermit : No.
Menorah : Has decent course form but for some reason never gets it together at the festival so overlooked now.
Rajdhani Express : Won here last year but not this time.
Rathlin : Loves fast ground and to bowl along . Could go well but hard to see him win.
SUMMARY : I am not sure about the quality of this race either just like the Champion Chase. It is very easy to narrow it down to Benefficient and Al Ferof. I am going for the latter so a 1 pt win on AL FEROF at 5/1 with Paddy Power.
3 20 Stayers hurdle .
At Fishers Cross : Jumping fell to pieces this season but they say there was a physical problem and that this is now sorted. That being so he has a huge chance here against the mighty Annie Power and Big Bucks. Rebecca Curtis’s horse will love the fast ground and had a decision over The New One last January twelve months at this venue and that is proper Grade One form. The application of first time cheekpieces [lambs wool] will act as a comfort blanket for this slightly unsure horse. He has all the ability in the world and the others will know they have had a race if his jumping problems are indeed ironed out.
Big Bucks : There is a saying in racing when a horse has had tendon trouble ” they never come back”. A few have disproved this theory [lately Last Installment] but generally it rings true. A wonderful champion in the past I will have to overlook him now and especially on this fast ground and indeed much like another returnee today, [Dunguib , who broke down] I would fear for his safety.
Mala Beach : Progressive but I think is a little outclassed.
Celestial Halo : Grand servant and just loves fast ground but the top two will have to underperform for him to win and all things are possible, however I think improbable.
Medinas : Lightly raced throughout his life but is really smart and especially when fresh. Could run well at a big price but the big two will have to run below form.
More Of That : Unbeaten in four and highly progressive but surely will not jump fast enough in this exalted company. To my mind it would be unprecedented for such a horse to win a modern day Stayers crown.
Reve De Sivola : Had his chance in this last year and I just cannot have him now, especially on this ground. Readily overlooked.
Rule The World : I worry for him on this ground and I must oppose.
Salubrious : Beaten by More Of That when he had run of the race against that rival in December and I just cannot see him as a Stayers Hurdle champion.
Zarkandar : Surely will not stay.
Annie Power : Unbeaten. A terrible shame that this great mare will never get the chance to emulate Dawn Run by winning both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. I felt she would have won that no matter how good The New One was or indeed Jezki. The chance is gone forever and I have some fears for her here. She has been trained for speed this year with the Champion in mind and has raced at only up to 2m 5f on one occasion and this will also be the first time she will ever have raced on a quick surface. She races keenly and is a big mare who hits the ground hard so I hope she will be ok. She is so talented and a once in a lifetime mare but she will need to settle ,handle the surface and show the required stamina to prevail. All of that is likely though and I simply love her and think she is brilliant and will be shouting for Annie as much as I can. I really hope she does it.
SUMMARY : I have to go for ANNIE POWER and although a short price I am advising a 2 points win on her at 13/8 with William Hill. I will also be having a 1 pt bet on AT FISHERS CROSS with Paddy Power in the betting without the favourite market. That price will appear on my Twitter account update tomorrow which is @JBCullinane .That price is 9/2 so 1 pt win .
4.00. Byrne Group Plate.
I feel BALLYNAGOUR 14/1 freely and SHANGANI also readily available at 20/1 are worth a small bet. 1/2 point win each.
4 30. Kim Muir Chase.
I think INDIAN CASTLE has a good a chance as any in another wide open affair. 1 pt win at 7/1 Paddy Power.