CHELTENHAM – MARCH 15
Last year’s corresponding toteplacepot dividend:
2015: £102.70 (6 favourites: 1 winner - 2 placed - 3 unplaced)
Average Placepot dividend (all codes) in 2016 (calendar year): £647.08
Average NH Placepot dividend in 2016: £905.78
Average Cheltenham Placepot dividend in 2016: £522.90 (2 meetings)
Tuesday's Placepot permutation at Cheltenham:
Leg 1 (1.30): 6 (Min) & 13 (Tombstone)
Leg 2 (2.10): 3 (Douvan) & 6 (The Game Changer)
Leg 3 (2.50): 14 (Beg To Differ), 2 (Holywell) & 3 (Carole's Destrier)
Leg 4 (3.30): 5 (My Tent Or Yours), 12 (Top Notch) & 8 (Peace And Co)
Leg 5 (4.10): 20 (Vroum Vroum Mag) & 6 (Flute Bowl)
Leg 6 (4.50): 8 (Native River), 9 (Noble Endeavour) & 7 (Minella Rocco)
Suggested stake: 216 lines to a 20p unit stake
1.30: Two things to say before I light the blue touch paper. Firstly with four different courses to race on, the relevant course winners listed under each race have not been identified as C/D winners at Cheltenham this week because of the different 'routes' relating to so many horses and events. Secondly, the ground has dried up sufficiently for those damned bookmakers to go into the week with an edge, after so many prep races have been contested on bad ground. Upwards and onward be revealing that five and six-year-olds have won 12 of the last 13 renewals of this opening ‘Supreme‘ event between them, securing 35/39 each way/toteplacepot positions during the study period. Five and six-year-olds had (equally) shared 10 of the previous 11 renewals before a five-year-old (Douvan) gave the younger set the edge last year. With Yorkhill being the latest of the main Willie Mullins contenders having been withdrawn of late, punters without ante-post slips will latch onto MIN now I guess, one of three raiders for the yard in the opening event with ten others to follow in later races. As you wonder whether to go for broke on Willie Mullins inmates on day one of the meeting, it's worth noting that Willie has saddled ten of the thirteen winning favourites on the opening day during the last five years, with the maestro going for his fourth successive victory in the race. If Willie is to be denied, TOMBSTONE could provide some sort of shock, given that (arguably) his best effort to date came under yielding conditions. It's doubtful if ALTIOR will be allowed to go off at an each way price, albeit that does not put the Seven Barrows raider out of the Placepot equation of course. It would be something of a sensation if William H Bonney scored, though it's been a long time since Alan King had a runner in the first race I'll wager with the lone horsebox from the yard being driven home shortly afterwards.
Favourite factor: Fate of recent favourites: 23 market leaders—5 winners—7 placed—11 unplaced. First three in the betting: 65 runners--11 winners--18 placed--36 unplaced.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the 'Supreme Novices':
1/1--North Hill Harvey
2.10: Before we get too carried away with the chance of DOUVAN, it’s as well to note that English trainers have won ten of the last thirteen renewals of the 'Arkle' though that said, DOUVAN looks to be one of the real bankers of the meeting, if not the main one. A winner of eight of his nine races to date, his demolition of the 'Supreme' field remains locked in the memory back and though the obstacles are tougher now, it would take a brave punter to take on the six-year-old to serious money. It is hugely significant from my viewpoint that Alan King (never one to be frightened of one horse) has rerouted La Garde Victoire away from this contest, even though the ground is drying out quicker than punters can open 'new accounts' just now which would have suited Alan’s inmate. THE GAME CHANGER might challenge VANITEUX for the runner-up position.
Favourite factor: Fate of recent favourites: 21 market leaders—5 winners—6 placed—10 unplaced. First three in the betting: 64 runners--12 winners--17 placed--35 unplaced.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the 'Arkle':
2.50: Fourteen of the last seventeen winners carried a maximum burden of 10-12 and as Jonjo O’Neill can rarely be left out of this type of contest during Festival week, stable representatives BEG TO DIFFER and HOLYWELL should give us a decent run for our collective monies, especially with BET TO DIFFER wanting some cut in the ground, whereas connections of HOLYWELL will want the sun to shine. Jonjo held three options at the weekend and the chance of these two 'green light' raiders are thoroughly respected, despite the weight barrier being breached if they score. It's worth noting that Holywell's only defeat here at Cheltenham came in the Gold Cup twelve months ago. Beaten less than ten lengths that day on ground too soft to offer his very best form, HOLYWELL would have to go close here if the ground dried out significantly overnight. OUT SAM could perform best of the horses in the 'superior' sector though CAROLE'S DESTRIER is another this year who has a chance of bucking the handicap trend.
Favourite factor: Fate of recent favourites: 25 market leaders—1 winner—10 places—14 unplaced. First three in the betting: 65 runners--9 winners--17 places--39 unplaced.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the Handicap Chase:
1/3--The Young Master
1/11--According To Trev
3.30: Compared to recent years, this looks to be a wide open renewal of the Champion Hurdle, especially if you believe that ANNIE POWER lacks value in the contest. Trainer Willie Mullins has lost so many potential representatives in the contest that I among those that suggest that Annie Power might well have swerved this contest but for stable companions having dropped out along the way. That does not mean that the mare will not become competitive, but with Nicky Henderson holding five entries defending a good record in the contest (only Peter Easterby can match his haul of five winners), 2/1 (thereabouts) about the market leader does not jump off the page at those odds. One of the main problems is which one (or two maybe) of Nicky's representatives should be backed? MY TENT OR YOURS and each way option TOP NOTCH head my list at the time of writing, though if PEACE AND CO were to rediscover last year's from, I would look no further than him to snare gold. That 'if' scenario remains a big factor at this level however.
Favourite factor: Fate of recent favourites: 22 market leaders—8 winners—6 placed—8 unplaced. First three in the betting: 63 runners--9 winners--23 placed--31 unplaced.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the 'Champion Hurdle':
2/3--Peace And Co
5/9--The New One
4.10: Although I will take on Annie Power in the previous race on Tuesday in all probability, I would not bet against VROUM VROUM MAG from the Willie Mullins yard, the stable having dominated this event in recent years, despite the demise of the favourite last year. Whether VROUM VROUM MAG will prove to be anything like as good as Annie Power and especially QUEVEGA we cannot tell as yet, but Willie's seven-year-old has done precious little wrong to date. POLLY PEACHUM and BITOFAPUZZLE have to be mentioned in dispatches given their fine silver and bronze medal efforts in the race twelve months ago though that said, the winner won off a mark of 150 last year whereas VROUM VROUM MAG races from 155 stock this year without ever really having been tested thus far. A winner of 10/14 races to date, Ruby's mount will surely take plenty of kicking out of the frame, providing the ground does not dry up too much between at the time of writing and flag fall. FLUTE BOWL could outrun her odds at rewarding odds if you fancy that there will be a real turn up in the contest.
Favourite factor: The eight favourites have snared six golds and one bronze medal to date, impressive stats that would have looked even better but for the fall at the last flight of Annie Power last year with the race at her mercy.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the 'Mares Hurdle':
4.50: Seven-year-olds have won six of the last 11 contests and NOBLE ENDEAVOUR strikes me as the pick of the nine vintage representatives this time around. Gordon Elliott's raider will have plenty of assistance from the saddle with Jamie Codd in the plate, with connections possibly having most to fear from NATIVE RIVER and MINELLA ROCCO. Colin Tizzard's team have performed well this season and NATIVE RIVER looks the ideal type for this event, whilst the booking of Derrick O'Connor for MINELLA ROCCO catches the eye and no mistake. The overnight reserve nomination is awarded to SOUTHFIELD ROYALE who look like giving Nina Carberry another great spin in the Placepot finale.
Favourite factor: Fate of recent favourites: 21 market leaders—5 winners—4 placed—12 unplaced. First three in the betting: 65 runners--8 winners--13 placed--44 unplaced.
Cheltenham record of course winners in the 'NH Chase':
All place details offered on my pages relate to an 'exact science', whereby horses that finish third in 5/6/7 runner races (and other such scenarios) are not 'placed' regarding my statistics.
Trainers with their relevant number of runners on the Cheltenham card on Tuesday:
13--Willie Mullins (Cheltenham stats this season: 0/10)
9--Nicky Henderson (4/33)
6--Rebecca Curtis (1/15)
6--Neil Mulholland (1/10)
6--Paul Nicholls (6/47)
5--Henry De Bromhead (0/2)
5--Dan Skelton (2/20)
5--Nigel Twitson-Davies 3/25)
4--Jonjo O'Neill (2/26)
4--Colin Tizzard (1/11)
3--Gordon Elliott (0/9)
3--Harry Fry (2/9)
3--Warren Greatrex (0/4)
3--Venetia Williams (1/11)
2--Kim Bailey (0/8)
2--Brian Ellison (0/3)
2--Tom George (1/18)
2--Mrs John Harrington (1/2)
2--Anthony Honeyball (1/5)
2--Martin Keighley (2/12)
2--Emma Lavelle (0/3)
2--Dr Richard Newland (1/6)
2--David Pipe (1/31)
2--Ian Williams (0/4)
+ 23 different trainers who each saddle just one runner on the card
118 declared runners