Victor Value’s Cheltenham Tips

Victor also likes Trifolium for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival

Victor also likes Trifolium for the Arkle

Victor Value is a daily tipping service, providing reasoned selections via email each day. He's kindly allowed me to reproduce his ante-post advice especially for geegeez readers. You can sign up for a two week trial of the Victor Value service for just £2, using this link: Victor Value Trial.

[Please note, Victor nominated Last Instalment as his 50/1 ante post bet for the Gold Cup, as you'll read below. Alas, he won his prep race yesterday and is now a best-priced 10/1. Well done to VV for picking him out, but I appreciate you'd rather I'd sent this email yesterday morning...]

Over to Victor:

It's now only five weeks to the Cheltenham Festival and it's hard to believe that it is so close, the winter seems to have flown this year!

The purpose of these articles is to look at some of the bets that I have placed so far ante-post for this year's Festival and, even more importantly, to look at some of the bets that I intend to place in the next few days and weeks leading up to the festival. At this stage I won't be looking at any of the handicaps but rest assured the notebook and trackers are in overdrive with horses that look like they will be going for some of the most competitive handicaps of the season. I personally haven't had an ante-post bet in any of the handicaps and I doubt I will until much closer to those races.  If I do have a bet I will be letting everyone know in good time.

The big problem at this time of year is that the Cheltenham betting previews are starting to pop up thick and fast in particularly we see the likes of Tom Segal (Pricewise) in the Racing Post putting up their ante post betting advice up for the Championship races and also I have just watched a very informative Half Term Report programme on Racing UK with Ruby Walsh in particular giving useful in insights on the potential Willie Mullins runners. The problem is that all previews tend to erode what value that may still be around and leave you thinking maybe it's wiser to wait until closer to the start of the Festival. That said there still looks to be a bit of value floating around.

I will be honest and say that I haven't given too much attention to the novice races and haven't had an ante post bet in any of them yet! There is also a fair degree of overlap in both the novice hurdle and chase races at the Festival with horses possible runners in more than one race. As you will see in the in the bookmakers ante post betting, many horses are priced up for two or more races.

The Novice Hurdles

The Supreme Novices, the Neptune, the Albert Bartlett and the Triumph Hurdle

I am happy to take on the front two in the ante post betting the Willie Mullins trained Vautour (8/1) and Paul Nicholls trained Irving (10/1) who are priced up more on reputations of their connections than what they have actually achieved on the racecourse so far. Vautour may well turn out to be a superstar of the future but both Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card were beaten in this race in their novice days,

The horse with the best form so far in the book is the Philip Fenton trained The Tullow Tank (10/1) I do like this six year old son of Oscar, a winner of the Royal Bond Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas, any doubts about his ability to go left handed removed for me, a race won in the past by the likes of Istabraq, Hurricane Fly and Jezki.  I am nor saying he is the league of the first two but he is going the right way and I do like the way he races off the bridle and keeps finding more for pressure. If he was trained by Mullins or Nicholls he would be ante post favourite for the race. I feel he would relish the extra distance of the Neptune Hurdle but it seems that the ground will decide which race he goes for. If it's soft he will go for the Supreme if its good the Neptune. If he was to go for the Neptune he would meet a formidable opponent in the shape of the David Pipe trained Red Sherlock who is as low as 6/1 with Ladbrokes for the race.

Supreme Novices -Betting Advice - 2pts win - The Tullow Tank - 8/1 @ BetVictor- Non Runner Free Bet

Neptune Hurdle -Betting Advice - 2pts win - The Tullow Tank - 11/1 @ BetVictor - Non Runner Free Bet

 

The Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle is a race that I don't have a strong opinion on,  I didn't have a bet in  this race last year and I am leaning that way again. If I do have a bet it will be when the final declarations are known.

The Triumph Hurdle is another race that I have just taken an interest in and once gain I ma happy to take on the market leaders Ivan Grozny, trained by Willie Mullins as low as 8/1 with most firms and La Rocher trained by Nick Williams as low a 7/1 with BetVictor. To be fair to Le Rocher there was a lot like about his victory last Saturday at Cheltenham and he does bring the best juvenile form to the table particularly from this side of the Irish Sea. He last two victories have come on heavy ground and I doubt he will get that at the Festival. If the ground was to turn out heavy on the day I wouldn't be as opposing so lightly.

Those of you who read my weekend eyecatchers article will hopefully will have taken some of the 25/1 that was available on the John Quinn trained Pearl Castle for the race after his easy victory at Doncaster. Sadly if you didn't take a price then you will now see his odds have been cut he still represents a good price.

Betting Advice - 2pts win - Pearl Castle - 16/1 @ BetVictor (Non Runner Free Bet)

Victor Value is a daily tipping service, providing reasoned selections via email each day. He's kindly allowed me to reproduce his ante-post advice especially for geegeez readers. You can sign up for a two week trial of the Victor Value service for just £2, using this link: Victor Value Trial.

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The Arkle, JLT (Jewson) and the RSA Chases

Like in the novice hurdle races uncertainty on the weather front and its potential effect on the going at the Festival means a fair few connections are keeping their options open in regard to their running arrangements. Some novices have been entered in both the Arkle and the JLT and other in the JLT and the RSA, It's all a bit of a betting minefield but here goes.

Arkle Chase

Once again Willie Mullins has the clear favourite in the ante post betting market with Champagne Fever around the 4/1 mark with most bookmakers. We do know the horse likes Cheltenham, having won the Champion Bumper and the Supreme Novices this year. He also has an entry in the JLT but in all likelihood I would expect him to race in the Arkle if he is turn up at the festival. An easy winner of Beginners Chase at Punchestown in November he was swiftly cut into favouritism for the Arkle. He subsequently ran at Leopardstown where he made a bad mistake two out and could only finish third.  My first reaction when seeing the race was that blunder cost him the race but subsequent viewings of the race have made me not so sure that he did. If he is the horse many thought he was then it will take a good one to beat him. His preparation for this race has been less than ideal and I can pass him over form a value perspective.

The second favourite in most ante post lists is the Paul Nicholls trained Dodging Bullets who owes his lofty position in the Arkle ante post betting to his win over Grandouet at Kempton over Christmas and whether he has the class or the jumping pedigree to win the race, is open to doubt for me and at 6/1 he doesn't appeal to me.

Paul Nicholls is also likely to be represented by Hinterland who I much prefer out of the pair, Hinterland beat Grandouet at Sandown at the beginning of December in good style, jumping and travelling well, and his trainer was quoted as saying after that race

"I thought he had come on a ton for the last race but he needs to be fresh so we wouldn't be in a hurry to run him again for a while. He has bags of speed, he jumps really well and he wants to be held up in a fast run race like that. Obviously the Arkle is made for him and that's the race we'll be aiming at"

Barring an injury he will certainly take his chance and if the ground is good he will be major player in the race and the 11/1 with BetVictor (NRFB) looks solid value to me.

Grandouet has to be a player given his smart hurdling form but for me his jumping has always come up a little short on the big occasion, for example: falling when travelling better than ever in last seasons Champion Hurdle. The doubts about him are reflected in the 16/1 that's available in the ante post market for the race, odds that could look very silly if he does put it all in on the day

The 2012 Champion Hurdler Rock on Ruby has been a late recruit to the chasing ranks and a winner of his only chase so far. He needs good ground to be at his best, which is no certainty this year, but on the positive side he does like Cheltenham and does seem to peak in the spring. That said, he just doesn't look like he can win an Arkle to me and at 9/1 he is another one that doesn't appeal.

Felix Yonger is another Willie Mullins trained possible and is another contender who needs good ground to be at his best, as we saw last Sunday when he was beaten by Trifolium.  It looks like he will be switched to the JLT and if he gets his favoured good ground would be a very interesting contender there.

There was a lot like about Trifolium win at Leopardstown and I think he goes into the Arkle with most solid form and a much better preparation than some of the other contenders. He jumped well and economically in that race and he does have previous experience of the Festival having finished third to Cinders and Ashes in the 2012 Supreme Novices Hurdle and connections think he will be equally at home on good ground. There is a lot like about him and the 6/1 on offer with BetVictor isn't wildly exciting but looks fair to me.

Victor's Betting Advice - 2pts win  - Hinterland - 11/1 @ BetVictor (NRFB) and 2pts win  - Trifolium - 6/1 @ BetVictor (NRFB)

 

JLT (Jewson) Novices Chase       

Some familiar faces find themselves at the forefront of the JLT ante post betting including Champagne Fever. Another heading the markets with some books is the Paul Nicholls trained Wonderful Charm who has some solid form under his belt this season and last time out finished second to Oscar Whiskey at Cheltenham. He looks likely to continue to progress but he will need to improve to win this race,

Oscar Whiskey a smart hurdler of that there is no doubt. He is a latecomer to the chasing game and although his novice chase form this season is up there with the best but he doesn't looks the most natural in this sphere and I cant forget his two previous poor runs at the Festival both of which suggested to me in he doesn't cope very well the atmosphere generated at the festival. Given his record here at the Festival the 6/1 quote with BetVictor looks extremely poor value!

Harry Fry is a trainer I really rate highly and he has interesting contender in Vukovar. Very highly regarded by his connections he was backed off the boards on his chasing debut at Warwick but was out speeded over 2m by the quirky but talented Mr Mole. Steeping up three furlongs at Newbury last time out he showed that the extra distance and the more galloping track suited him well. He is one on an upward curve and will appreciate the furlong longer distance of the JLT. Who knows whether he can match his soft ground form on better ground is the unknown but he is one to treat with respect and certainly the bookies are, as is he is a generally available as low as 10/1.

Tarquin Du Seuil was a decent novice hurdler last season and he always looked like he would be a better chaser than a hurdler for Jonjo O'Neill. His progress this season has been good if not spectacular but there is probably more to come from him. He does need a stamina test though and seems to reserve his very best from for soft/heavy ground, On good ground he could find himself been done for foot by one or two speedier rivals in the field. Would have to be respected if the ground was very testing but at generally available 7/1 or 8/1 he looks short to me.

Don Cossack has always had a bit of a reputation as a talking horse who maybe doesn't deliver when the chips are down. He was a talking horse when in the bumper field but didn't go to Cheltenham and last season as a hurdler he didn't make it to the Festival but to be fair to him connections have always said that chasing was his game and so far he has proved them right. He has only had three races over fences and his past two performances have been top notch. On his penultimate start he finished second to the smart Morning Assembly more of him in the RSA section and then last time out at Faiyhouse when he won the valuable Drinmore Novice Chase out battling the very decent Carlingford Lough in the process.  He brings top class form to the race but there is a nagging doubt that he would need it to come up very soft for him to win over 2m5f in this company. He is also entered in the RSA Chase but his trainer Gordon Elliott has indicated doubts about his the stamina for the RSA. It will be interesting to see where does end up.

Felix Yonger as I mentioned above his appearance at the festival will be dependent on the ground needs, goodish ground to be seen at his best. A solid jumper on the evidence of last weekends Leopardstown run he would be a danger to all if he got his favoured ground conditions.

Willie Mullins will hopefully be running what I consider one of the dark horses of the race in the form of the five year old Djakadam.  A useful if not top grade novice hurdler he already likes like he will be a far better chaser than hurdler. He made it two form fences when winning at Leopardstown at the weekend. He looks just the sort to continue to improve with racing. He looks a natural chaser who jumps well and gallops. He should be suited by Cheltenham and he looks decent on rain softened ground. He has yet to encounter good ground yet but it was encouraging to hear Willie Mullins quoted as saying that JLT Novice Chase would have to be looked at. He looks a very interesting contender if the ground continues to ride soft.

Victor's Betting Advice - 2pts win - Djakadam - 14/1 @BetVictor (NRFB)

 

RSA Chase

This race can be a real tester for novices over 3m 1f particularly if the ground is fairly testing.

Top most of the ante post betting lists is the Willie Mullins trained Ballycasey as low as 7/1 in many books.  The seven year old is one of those horses that you can put in the category of "could be anything" We have not seen him since his easy victory at Navan in November. He certainly hasn't had the ideal preparation, one race so far over fences, for a race as gruelling as the RSA for novices. In that light of this his ante post odds like skinny to me.

Carlingford Lough cannot be accused of lacking experience he has had 12 races over fences now. He won the Galway Plate last year off a low weight and arguably put up his best performance last time out when winning the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown just beating another possible RSA contender in Morning Assembly. He has continued to improve and on goodish ground shouldn't ne underestimated as he now seems to find more of the bridle than sometimes he did in the past. Whether he has the class to win an RSA is open to some doubt though.

If Don Cossack runs in the race he must also be s strong contender. Nagging doubts about his stamina aside he has any amount of class and if he can stay the trip he would be a stronger contender than Ballycasey at the moment in my mind. There was lot to like about his win over Carlingford Lough, but that was over 2m 4f. As with a few others at the meeting the ground will play its part in deciding what race he will run in.

Morning Assembly is my idea of the perfect RSA horse. He was useful Grade 1 winning hurdler and now has had three races over the big obstacles. On his last start he finished second to Carlingford Lough in what I think is the best staying novice chase we have seen so far either side of the Irish Sea. He jumped well in the hands of Ruby Walsh and looked to be travelling better than the winner coming to the last. He just found the experienced Carlingford Lough too much in the run in. He will continue to improve with his racing and can beat that horse next time they meet. Connections feel that he will improve mentally as well as physically in the run up to the festival. He goes there with a great chance. His trainer Pat Fahy may not have status of Willie Mullins but he certainly can train a good horse and that's what he has got here in Morning Assembly.

Victor's RSA Betting Advice - 2pts win - Morning Assembly - 8/1 @ BetVictor (NRFB)

Your first 30 days for just £1

Victor Value is a daily tipping service, providing reasoned selections via email each day. He's kindly allowed me to reproduce his ante-post advice especially for geegeez readers. You can sign up for a two week trial of the Victor Value service for just £2, using this link: Victor Value Trial.

**

The Championship Races

The final one of my betting previews for the Cheltenham Festival looking at the Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup.

I won't be going into an in-depth profile of each of the races apart from the Champion Hurdle or I think this would turn out to be a 5000 word essay, so I will concentrate on the bets I have had in these big championship events.

Champion Hurdle

Can Annie Power home in Champion Hurdle?

Most people would agree that these years Champion Hurdle is shaping up to be the race of the meeting if all the main actors turn up.

The British contenders My Tent or Yours and The New One come up against the Irish Challengers reigning champion Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Our Conor with the added spice of two further dark horses in the shape of the super mare Annie Power and  Un De Sceaux,  the latter two trained like Hurricane Fly by Willie Mullins. If all those seven do line up for the starter then we are in not just for the race of the meeting but it could be the race of a generation.

The Contenders

Hurricane Fly - Willie Mullins - Two times Champion Hurdler and comes in to the race better than ever. Worthy favourite but 10 years old now and there is still a doubt about Cheltenham being his ideal course. If he wins this year we can call him the best Champion Hurdler of the past 25 years.

The New One - Nigel Twiston Davies - Last years Neptune winner, has a good turn of foot but needs to be produced as late as possible. He has a good record in slowly run races so I was surprised when connections were thinking of running a pacemaker.

My Tent or Yours - Nicky Henderson - A lot of pundits felt that the ill fated Darlan would have won last years Champion Hurdle for the same connections so this may the horse that can give them compensation. He beat The New One in the Christmas Hurdle and  will almost certainly be ridden by A P McCoy.  A hold up horse, he had a reputation of being a bridle horse that has been put to bed by his last win. Wont be far away and the Henderson camp will be pleased that he has gone under the radar a little this year.

Our Conor - Dessie Hughes - The most impressive winner of a Triumph Hurdle in many years, he looked likely to beat Hurricane Fly in last weekends Irish Champion Hurdle but the Fly just outstayed him in the run in. He has been trained for one race that's the Champion Hurdle but my doubts are whether he will see out a strongly run two miles in testing ground.

Jezki - Mrs Jessica Harrington - I backed Jezki at 9/1 and he is a bigger price, now on the back of his two defeats by Hurricane Fly. He looks like the sort of horse who would need everything to fall right for him to win. I wouldn't be backing him now but he is just the sort to stay on and grab a place, if there was an unsustainable early gallop. Will probably be ridden by Barry Geragthy who I think suits the horse better than A P.

Now we come to the Dark Horses neither are certain to run but if they do both have the potential to be Champions.

Annie Power - Willie Mullins - I have liked her since this time last year when she started to post some super speed figures for a novice and I backed her for the Champion hurdle last year at 25/1, she is now as low as 6/1 after her easy win at Doncaster, That win told us nothing that we didn't know already: She has got a great engine, jumps fluently and she has the class to be a winner of the race. I think she is the best mare we have seen since Dawn Run and has the ability to win Championship races from 2m to 3m. She will also receive the 7lb Mares allowance in the race which could be decisive. She has never raced on really good ground but I think good horses can win on most surfaces so that doesn't really worry me.  I have a very small financial interest in her going for the race so I hope she runs but I hope for the sport itself she runs. I wouldn't rush out to back her now as she will probably be around the 6/1 mark comes the day but at that price I would be backing her on the day.

Un De Sceaux - Willie Mullins - The third horse I have backed in my Champion Hurdle ante post portfolio and another dark horse. He has hardly had the ideal preparation for this race but he is unbeaten over hurdles, albeit in very weak company. The impressive thing about Un De Sceaux for me is the pace that he goes at and it would take a very good horses to be able to lay up with the strong pace he would set. Not only does go a good strong gallop but as his jockey Ruby Walsh has said he can sustain that through the main part of the race too. It would be some performance if he was to win the Champion Hurfle with his less than ideal preparation but I think the sky could really be the limit for this one. Sill not certain to run in the race he could go to Punchestown and come back for a crack at this next year but it would be great if he did. I backed him at 16/1 after his last win at BerVictor (NRFB). The 12/1 available with SkyBet still offers a little bit of juice.

Victor Value Champion Hurdle Betting Advice - 2pt win - Un De Sceaux - 12/1 @ BetVictor (NRNB)

 

The World Hurdle

Will Big Bucks come back to his best and win the World Hurdle again for the fifth time? On the evidence of last weeks return after nearly two years of the track he has a lot of to make up. I always feel when a horse has been of the track for such a long time they are usually at least 95% fit. If that was the case with Big Buck's I cant see him reaching the levels of his previous World Hurdle victories. If you think he can win the race again the 9/4 with Racebets would make plenty of appeal.

Will Annie Power even run? I am hoping she will go for the Champion Hurdle but if she was to line up for these years World Hurdle she is most likely to be favourite in the betting. I believe she has the capability to win a Grade 1 over 3m, either over hurdles or eventually over fences but she was on here toes last time out at Doncaster and if she was as keen as that in this race there would be reservations about her getting the trip.

Rule the World trained by the indomitable Mouse Morris. Handles Cheltenham as he showed when was runner up to The New One in last years Neptune Novices Hurdle. He stayed on that day and looked like the sort who could progress into a World Hurdle horse. Last time out he made all to win over 2m3f at Naas, he made all that day and found plenty for pressure. After the race his trainer indicated that the World Hurdle would be his next target, he has to improve to win this level of race but knowing how 'Mouse' works he will have this horse spot on for the Festival and ready to run for his life. He wonn on very heavy ground last time but connections feel that he will be even better suited by better ground. I was fortunate to get on at 14/1 last Sunday just before Tom Segal (Pricewise) put him up in his Chetenham ante post column he is now a best priced 8/1  but I think that still a value bet given the doubts about most of the horses above him in the betting.

Victor's World Hurdle Betting Advice - 2pts win  - Rule the World - 8/1 @ SkyBet (BOG) & (NRFB)

 

Queen Mother Champion Chase

If he turns up healthy for the race then its Sprinter Sacre's race for the taking simple really. The question will he turn up and will he have a problem with his irregular heartbeat like when he had to be pulled up at Kempton over Christmas? If back to his best the evens available with Racebets will look like the value bet of this and any festival, he is as low 1/2 with Ladbrokes.

Sire De Grugy is second in the ante post betting and he just keeps on improving with every race but with doubts about the course and going left handed the best priced 11/4 with William Hill doesn't appeal as value to me.

Benefficient the main Irish challenger won last years JLT Novice Chase at the festival and comes into this race in very good form. As a hurdler he was underestimated and he was underestimated when he won last years JLT bookies and punters should be wary of opposing him as he always seems to outrun his price. Whether he has got the speed to win at this level over 2m on good ground is the question. He also holds an entry in the Ryanair and he would live contender in that race. A best priced 10/1 with William Hill he looks interesting.

Captain Conan is the second Nicky Henderson runner and if he runs here rather than the Ryanair he would have a great chance of reaching the frame at a decent odds. I think a strongly run race at 2m is better than the 2m4f of the Ryanair. He hasn't been seen on the track since he finished third to Sire De Grugy at the beginning of December. He looked in need of  his first run that day, as did a few of the Henderson horses, and should continue to improve with his races the 12/1 available with William Hill looks decent each way value and should the Sprinter not be there he would have as good a chance as any of landing the winners prize.

Victor's Champion Chase Betting Advice - 1pt each way - Captain Conan - 12/1 @ SkyBet (NRNB and BOG)

 

Ryanair Chase

The most confusing of all the Championship races from a betting perspective, with so many of the runners have more than one possible engagement at the festival. At the same time it also arguably provides punters with the opportunity of finding some value bets.

Looking at the betting at the time of writing Benefficient is the favourite with most ante post bookmakers but could go for the Champion Chase. Second in the betting is Cue Card, last years winner, who looks likely to go for the Gold Cup. Paul Nicholls' Al Ferof is third favourite in most books but he looks set for a tilt at the Gold Cup like Cue Card as does First Lieutenant. With serious doubts about the last three horse's participation in the race, it's easy to see that value lies a little bit further down in the ante post betting.

The two that strike me as offering the most value are the Willie Mullins trained Marito and the Tom George trained Module.

Looking first at Marito whose only entry at the Festival is the Ryanair! The eight year old has won three of his five starts over fences. Last season he ran in the JLT, won by Benefficient, at the festival and was travelling as well as any when he fell two out. If he had stood up he may not have won that day but he would certainly have gone close. This season he has only had two runs, finishing second to Hurricane Fly on his seasonal reappearance. That race blew the cobwebs away and last time out he comfortably beat the very useful Roi Du Mee at Tramore on New Year's Day, He looks to be the horse open to the most improvement in the race and the 12/1 available with Ladbroke's looks a value bet.

Module also ran in the JLT last year and finished a decent 4th on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for him. At the start of the season I had him down as chaser with loads of improvement to come. He has only had two runs so far on his seasonal reappearance he was well backed and would probably have beaten Somersby at Exeter, with a better jump at the last, only beaten a head with Cue Card back in third. There was talk of an attempt at the King George after the race but ran he ran below par in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon in December which put to bed any lingering thoughts of a King George run. The Tom George stable hasn't been in the best of form this season so there must be slight doubts as to whether we will see the best of the horse this winter. Still if the ground is soft come the day of the Ryanair then eight year old could can improve and show why connections have regarded him so highly. The 16/1 available about Module is too good to resist for me

Victor's Ryanair Betting Advice - 2pts win  - Marito - 14/1 @ SkyBet and  - 2pts win - Module - 16/1 @ William Hill

 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup

The climax of the Cheltenham Festival indeed the Blue Riband race of the UK and Irish National Hunt seasons, this years renewal is overshadowed by the quality field that could line up for the Champion Hurdle but I doubt the Gold Cup will disappoint us in anyway.

Bob Worth - Nicky Henderson - Last year's winner, attempts to retain his title and he is a worthy favourite to do so. I got him wrong after last years win. I felt he needed even more than the 3m 2f of the Gold Cup distance to be seen at his best now and that was partially confirmed in my mind after a dire seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase. All of this changed with his victory in the Lexus chase over Christmas, in a slowly run race he showed a good turn off foot to out speed First Lieutenant on the run in. The key to him was the better ground he faced. The distance isn't the problem it's the ground which makes his Gold Cup victory even better given he won despite the soft ground. He loves Cheltenham and good ground and looks a solid form choice to retain his crown He is a best priced 9/4 in the ante post betting for the Gold Cup which looks about righty.

Silviniaco Conti trained by Paul Nicholls is second favourite in the ante post betting out stayed Cue Card to win the King George at Kempton. He brings top class form to the race and we know he handles soft ground very well. In last years race he seemed to be still travelling well when falling on landing three out the jury is still out as to whether he would have won the race.  In my opinion he wouldn't have beaten Bob's Worth. I think the petrol tank was on the point of emptying and he would have finished 4th at best. Despite his outstaying of Cue Card at Kempton he still has to prove he can stay the Gold Cup distance or truly prove that Cheltenham is his best course. For those reasons I couldn't back him at a best priced 7/2.

Cue Card trained bu Colin Tizzard, is another classy horse who quality has been underestimated by pundits over the years and I include myself in that comment. Last year's easy winner of the Ryanair Chase improved further when winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock over 3m 1f giving him every hope that he can stay the Gold Cup Distance. He was allowed to dictate the pace that day but at Haydock but at Kempton he wasn't allowed that luxury. Still he did look to have the race won two out but those early exertions took their toll at the finish. It would be easy for connections to go for the winnable Ryanair Chase again but he has earned a chance at Gold Cup Glory. Cheltenham suits him as well as does the usual spring ground so if he does get good ground he would be a ganger to all. Although some will say Kempton is an easier track than Chetenham its not as easy to get a breather into a horse on a flat track as it is on an undulating one like Cheltenham. If you think his jockey can get the fractions right with am uncontested lead then you might be interested in the 8/1 available with Stan James. The percentage call for me though is that  he wont get the uncontested lead he needs!

Al Ferof another trained by Paul Nicholls he has been well back recently for the race and is now a best priced 14/1 with William Hill & Racebets. I fancied him myself for the King George but he didn't seem to enjoy the track or the really soft ground. he likes the Cheltenham hill and if the ground his good he would have to be in with some sort of chance. Those supporting him will be hoping that a return to Cheltenham and the extra distance  will bring out the improvement that will be required to be entering the winners enclosure.

First Lieutenant was my ante post fancy for last years Gold Cup but owners Gigginstown Stud decided to let him go for the Ryanair Chase and relied on Sir Des Champs I think that was a mistake as I think did his trainer Mouse Morris, who would have preferred him to go for the Gold Cup. As with last season he hasn't been in the best of form but he ran much better to finish second in the Lexus to Bob's Worth. He is another horse who seems to be at his best on spring ground and we know he likes the undulations of  Cheltenham.  I am beginning to think he might ne just short of this sort of level but you can expect him to run his usual good race if conditions are in favour and run into a place. He is a best priced 12/1 with BetVictor which makes some appeal for each way punters.

Last Instalment trained by Philip Fenton is the only "dark horse" in the ante post betting for me. In Februart 2011 he was arguably the leading novice chaser either side of the Irish Sea and looked set to run a big race in that years RSA and was as low as 5/1 with some bookmakers, he had also beaten First Lieutenant by six lengths earlier that season. He wasn't able to take his chance in those years RSA because of a leg injury and hadn't been seen on the track until last month when he ran at Thurles. He looked well that day and jumped really well, he certainly ran very fresh which was to be expected given his absence from the racecourse, he was still in there with a chance at last but he just blew up on the run in. There is still more improvement to come from him and as long as he doesn't bounce he must have great chance in his next target race this month. A win or another really good performance would have to make connections think about a tilt at the Gold Cup. It would be a tough ask and fantastic training performance by Philip Fenton if the horse was  to win a Gold Cup,  given his leg injuries but he is still very unexposed over fences, still has low mileage and has a touch of class. He must be worth a small bet at the 50/1 available with Ladbrokes with their Non Runner No Bet offer. If he was to win his next race he wouldn't be a 50/1 for the race he would be a lot shorter and if he does line up for the Gold Cup he would probably be around the 12/1 mark making those 50/1 odds great value!

Victor's Gold Cup Betting Advice - 1pt each way - Last Instalment - 10/1 @ SkyBet (NRNB and BOG)

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2 replies
  1. martin says:

    Why would they want to send Al Ferof for the Gold Cup, when to me it is patently obvious, the horse doesn’t stay 3m, let alone 3m-2f

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