CHELTENHAM DAY 1. IT’S ALL ABOUT WILLIE THE GREAT.

My site is out of form but I always go well at Cheltenham so I hope profit awaits. I made 40 points on last year’s festival and while that will be impossible to repeat I hope Fourmileracing  will be in front come Friday evening. The Willie Mullins factor is huge and I will be going for many of his horses but I will look for value bets also. I have a big worry that the starter might try and make a name for himself with these new rules and as a result many horses chances may be compromised at the off, I can almost guarantee there will be some sort of uproar before the week is over. I feel the ground will ride much faster than the official description, just like last year.

1 30.

Alvisio Ville : Very talented , needs further but can go well at big price. Place prospects.

Bentelimar : Connections have gone for the wrong race.

Douvan : Hugely talented and they rate him one of the very best the yard has ever trained. The likely good ground or faster would be a problem and he is very tall and angular so the undulations of this course could be problematical also but that is clutching at straws.

Jollyallen : Big chasing type and this will be too much for him but he is very nice.

L’ami Serge : I think he will need much further in time and although he is a close second favourite I feel he is up against a powerful Irish challenge.

Quwy : Very inexperienced and will struggle here.

Seedling : Best fresh but looks outclassed.

Shaneshill : Very good animal but does he need much further. Can be in the frame though.

Sizing John : Nice that he is I just cannot see it.

Some Plan : Needs further.

Tell Us More : Held in very high regard and will most likely be in the shake up.

Velvet Maker : Outclassed.

Verdict : I will be shocked if Willie does not win this and I expect the drifting DOUVAN [ now 2/1] to live up to the hype and deliver a big performance. I feel Shaneshill and Tell Us More will follow him home and it won’t surprise me one bit if Willie saddles the first four home. 4 pts win and nap DOUVAN with PP at 2/1.

2 05 .

Clarcam : Really good type with loads of boot and the quickening ground will help him further.

Court Minstrel : Unlikely in the extreme.

Dunraven Storm : No.

Gods Own : No.

Josses Hill : Will love the strong pace and he should be staying on strongly at the death.

Sail By The Sea : No.

Sgt. Reckless : No.

Smashing : Even though he is a grey horse he is a dark one here. Won a schooling bumper in taking fashion in Monksgrange recently and ran huge in the Coral Cup last year. He will love the quicker ground and has prospects in this.

Three Kingdoms : I feel he will not act on the track.

Un De Sceaux : I have been talking this horse up even before he won his maiden hurdle in Ireland. One of the best horses in training. I worry about a false start and over jumping the first but those are his only two dangers in my book but is no value.

Vibrato Valtat : Should love the fast pace and is fancied by many to run into a place but not by me.

Verdict : I don’t see a ”Golden Freeze” type spoiler in here to try and ”get” UN DE SCEAUX. It is possible the starter is his biggest danger and I have a horrible feeling they will not be let go first time but  he should win and by some. He is too short for a bet so as  I give SMASHING a great each way chance I will put 1 pt on him at 7/1 w/o the favourite with PP. That 7/1 might be bigger tomorrow even so hold out for bigger.

2 40.

Even though 15 pounds higher than when last successful over fences GALLANT OSCAR is very appealing in this. His UK mark of 134 is very lenient still in my opinion. He is low down in the weights off 10-5 and if he can steer clear of any trouble in this big field I can see him coming there swinging late on. 1 pt win at 10/1 with PP.

3 20.

Arctic Fire : Improving all the time. Relishes a strong pace and fast ground . Still can’t figure out how he lost the County last year. Conditions are in his favour. Should be placed.

Bertimont : Impossible for me to fancy.

Faugheen : Unbeaten and although I was not that impressed by him at Ascot ,unlike most, his Christmas run and his form from last year is simply outstanding. His speed figures are out of the ordinary and he is still improving. One could argue his jumping might let him down but the quicker surface will suit him admirably . He looks to be the champion in waiting.

Hurricane Fly : Outstanding horse over the years and will be trying to win this for the third time. Despite all that he seems to run a bit below par here compared to Ireland and I just hope he comes home safe and sound. A place is the best he can hope for.

Jezki : I gave him a great chance  last year but he seems on the downgrade and I am readily passing him over this time.

Kitten Rock : Outclassed.

The New One : Unlucky last year and a player again obviously this time. He will need to curb his ever increasing tendency  to jump to his right if he is to have any chance of beating Faugheen.

Vaniteaux : Lightly raced and I feel he has not had things go his way . I can see him outrunning his big price.

Verdict : I believe that FAUGHEEN  is a bit of a cert here. He has some engine and a powerful raking stride and a heart to go with it. I can see no flaws in him at all. I will be stunned if he is beaten. I think Arctic Fire might chase him home. 4 pts win FAUGHEEN at evens and a 1 pt win on ARCTIC FIRE at 15/2 without the favourite.

4 00.

I think Willie might well be going for his 4th win of the day in this. I feel his two runners will go 1,2. Annie Power is a wonderful mare and I hope she wins, she will if she is anywhere near her best. They say she has been training as well as ever so it looks ominous for her opponents. Glens Melody was a ‘sympathetic’ second to Quevega last year and looks nailed on to be second or win if Annie defaults. She can throw in a howler of a mistake [ last year for example] and especially at the latter end of her races so I hope that doesn’t happen today. Bitofapuzzle looks best of the home brigade and is a lovely each way price.

Verdict : ANNIE POWER should win but I cannot back her at 8/15 so I will go 2 pts on GLENS MELODY in the betting without market at 5/2 with PP.

4 40.

Ferocious race to try and sort and again I think the Irish can win it. CAUSE OF CAUSES has been laid out for this and he loves a fast run race on good ground over an undulating track. He is being punted . 1 pt win at a skimpy 13/2  with PP.

5 15.

GENEROUS RANSOM is going to go seriously close here with an error free round. I have been punting him steadily for this for some time. 2 pts win at 10/1.

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