Festival ante-post update

Two weeks to go before the action rolls into Cheltenham town. Time to assess damage and report progress on the ante-post portfolio.

I’m a virgin Supreme winner. I know not the sweet pleasure of bagging the festival opener. And February hasn’t been kind to my bedpost notching chances. Megastar fluffed his lines in an easy 2 mile novice hurdle at Sandown. I’m discounting his Supreme chances on the basis of that form, even if he does show up at Cheltenham. He’s clearly a talented animal and will go much better on good ground. But I can’t see that he’s done enough this season to justify any more faith.

Almost the same can be said for my other punt in this race, Hidden Universe.  Stepped up in grade and trip last month, he ran well ‘til emptying on the home straight when beaten into 4th by the hugely impressive Oscars Well. Zaidpour stayed on for a laboured 2nd and I can’t see him being aimed at this race now.  I’d be more confident of HU’s chances over an even 2 miles, but that hill at HQ might find him out. And that’s if Weld commits him to the race. No word yet.

So I need to bolster my chances of a Supreme conquest.  Many have now come out and laid down a proper challenge. Of the Henderson mob I like the way Sprinter Sacre pulled Gerraghty’s arms out at Ascot. But I may wait a bit longer until the Irish raiders are clearer about their targets. If I’m to break my duck here, I might as well labour over it a little longer.

The bet on Realt Dubh still stands. Neither Finian’s Rainbow nor Medermit have convinced me. It looks a weakfish renewal and so I went in again for a bit of the 25-1 on Starluck a few days before he won his fencing debut at Huntingdon. Couldn’t believe I was getting that price as his trainer Alan Fleming had been very bullish about the target and he’s a classy horse. On the day of the race the ante-post price came into 14-1. After what I thought was a pretty good effort, he was clipped in to a best price 12-1, only for Fleming to say he wasn’t sure the Arkle would be the target after all! Gobshite! We’ll have to wait and see. Personally, I think he’ll turn up for this one. And if he doesn’t, well that’s the roller-coaster of ante-post punting.

Champion Hurdle
Nothing to report except a top-up on Peddlers when he drifted a fraction because those sages at Coral thought he’d idled in front when winning at Kelso. Ha! Mugs!

Doubled up the lovely Peddlers with (possibly mud loving?) Oscars Well at the same time as the above. Nothing else here. Targets of some of the principles in these novice hurdle races is still uncertain and may be my undoing. So Young is a massive danger wherever he turns up. 

Again, nothing new, save for a top up on Wymott. Aiteen Thirtythree is the one to have staked a recent claim. But I think that the form in the book of Time For Rupert gets stronger with every race. Will get him in a crazy combi at some stage.

Queen Mother
I was sufficiently impressed with French Opera’s win at Newbury in the Game Spirit Chase last week to take a bit of the 25-1 ew on offer. The key to him is good ground. But he also seems to need time between his races. I hope he gets to put his feet up and shake down a bit before he lines up. Master Minded and Big Zeb both seem vulnerable to me and I’m happy to take them on each way this outsider. He’s entered in the Grand Annual as well, like last year. I know Henderson has a mission to win the race named after his Dad every year, but surely they will go for the big one this time?

Somersby may entice me to part with some cash too. I feel he could go close if on one of his going days. Woolcombe Folly seems short for a horse plying his trade in handicaps. Golden Silver is an enigma: unstoppable in Ireland and shocking round Cheltenham. 

I’ve had a go at the Bumper, too! Someone tweeted “The winner of the bumper turns out for McCain at Wetherby tomorrow”. So I had a speculative tiny interest on Ebanour for fun at 34-1 on Betfair. Before the off he was down to 18s. Madness! I didn’t lay off, despite him touching an ante post 12-1 in running. In fairness he looks nice enough, though hard to say what he really achieved. He may end up at Aintree instead.

However, I was very impressed with Ericht at Newbury a few days later, who arguably beat much better yardsticks. He’s already short enough but visibly on my radar.  

One certain dead bet here. I backed Rackham Lerouge from Henderson’s yard before he ran in Wymott’s race at Bangor, expecting him to come on for the run. He didn’t and hasn’t been entered. He’s in the new 2 ½ novice handicap chase instead. I’ve also got a small bet on Rock Noir at 33-1 ew, but the horse really needs to improve. Captain Chris looked very good at Kempton last Saturday and I also like Wishfull Thinking from the same Hobbs stable over this trip.

World Hurdle
Spirit River out for the season, so another dead bet.

Triumph Hurdle
Here’s a joke. I backed Moose Moran at 16-1 ew before his hurdles debut at Sandown. I thought it was a fair bet that he’d convert his decent flat form to the jumps game. But he didn’t. He trailed in a well beaten and disappointing 4th. Henderson sent him out again last week at Doncaster. This time he got the job done nicely enough. He’s back to 16-1 for the Triumph in a couple of places….but 25-1 I others! He looks a horse of potential, though.

Albert Bartlett
I saw Our Island from Tim Vaughan’s yard win with some aplomb at Newbury the other week. He stayed on with attractive resolution from a decent sort, although it was only a little race. He’ll go well on better ground according to the trainer and I like him in a race that could easily cut up. 33-1 ew is good enough value for me.  

Also had a small sum on Willie Mullins’ Bishopsfurze at 25-1 ew, but his jumping needs to improve and he wasn’t desperately impressive at Thurles last week. He should stay all day though and he’ll shape better over this trip than in the Neptune on current evidence.

No action here until, at the earliest, the weights are published.  Nothing in the Ryanair either.

The moment has arrived to start plotting up some grab-a-grand Lucky 15s and life changing combinations to tiny stakes. My favourite time of the year, bar none! 


bacchy said…
be amazed if Zaidpour doesn't show up in the Supreme. They still like him a lot and are probably pinning their hopes on quicker ground and a blistering pace.
Davoski said…
Fair comment, Bacchy. He just looked like a stayer to me, the way he finished his race behind Oscars Well. Admittedly good ground is probably the key. Pleased Maguire can now take the Peddlers ride. Common sense.
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