Stodge and MoonRabbit’s Cheltenham Preview
Weather & Going (according to MoonRabbit) the week will be wet and windy at times, if you are going your wind resistant waterproof is essential. Put some heatpads in pockets too. The course and famous hill are always a stamina test, wet tracks add jeopardy, but will rain actually make for much soft going – just not been business as usual under turf all winter after last summers heatwave, what falls just absorbs so quick. With thirsty water table despite rain forecast, I think we should expect fast racing – remind ourselves of size and quality of all these fields, what comes out to play in a true-run race? For example, in the Champion Hurdle, if good pace throughout, Vauban can turnover State Man – anticipate other favourites losing out due to good going rather than soft.
MoonRabbit’s Notebook. I’ve kept more than thirty pages of notes from this winters racing. If you’re unfamiliar with this festival think Horse Olympics – competitors have been on a long path to peak this week, particularly in one of 4 prestigious races – 3.30 each day.
Cheltenham Gold Cup (Fri) superstar Galopin Des Champs with an extra finishing gear over rivals at the moment – it will amble around in background not looking interested, but will get up to win. Hewick interests me if you prefer longer odds, it’s lightly raced this season and shown worthy class at times for this great crown. Champion Hurdle (Tue) State Man will win. Vauban e/w if ground good. Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wed) Edwardstone is the best 2m chaser, is over a bruised foot, and nothing will go wrong here in Queen Mum with Funambule Sivola second at a fantastic e/w price. Stayers’ Hurdle (Thur) I have emotional attachment to Marie’s Rock who won Mares Hurdle for me at last years festival, her form this season good while targeted on another festival win. But in which Race? I think Stayers is her best chance, Tuesdays Mares Hurdle (4.10) is just so stuffed with talent I’d fear for her – but at time of writing the owners don’t fancy her staying 3 miles on what they think will be too soft. ?
In other Races. Il Etait Temps a horse in form for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle versus Marine Nationale e/w (1.30 Tue). El Fabiolo takes form into Arkle v Jonbon (2.10 Tue) e/w chance for Bainbridge. Love Envoi for me this year in Mares Hurdle (4.10 Tue). Good Land for Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Wed). Geri Colombe to land novice chase handicap, Thyme Hill e/w (2.10 Wed). Lossiemouth (1.30 Fri). Highway One O Two e/w (2.10 Fri). Blue Lord will beat Shiskin in Ryan Air (2.50 Thur). Delta Work for the cross country (16:10 Wed) a widely expected win at short odds – more interesting Delta Work on this form for April Grand National, I’m already on at 20-1 before it shortens.
I tipped 6 winners from 16 on PB last years fest, that’s set benchmark – in coming days based on further intel I’ll scrunch thoughts down to just 16 tips, sharing these as 4 posted to PB each morning of the festival.
Stodge’s Day 1 Forecast.
Supreme Novices Hurdle The roar as the runners are sent on their way in the opening race is one of the most iconic sounds in British sport. 14 to post and last year’s Champion Bumper winner FACILE VEGA is favourite. MARINE NATIONAL unbeaten in four hasn’t run since December. IL ETAIT TEMPS took full advantage of FACILE VEGA’s poor run to win well at Leopardstown and should see off INTHEPOCKET. Former Derby favourite HIGH DEFINITION looks anything but a natural jumper. Best of the British looks to be Tolworth winner TAHMURAS, I’m on at 10s each way, but having enjoyed a strong pace at Leopardstown IL ETAIT TEMPS could be the one to follow up. Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Chase This looks an epic match between Irish Raider EL FABIOLO and English challenger JONBON. Both unbeaten in three chases having met each other in their final hurdles race, which JONBON won by a neck.
I just think the galloping track favours JONBON, while EL FABIOLO better suited to speedier tracks. If you’re looking for each way value go HOLLOW GAMES. Champion Hurdle Will this be making or the breaking of CONSTITUTION HILL? His 24-length demolition of JONBON in last year’s Supreme marked him as exceptional, they don’t give every horse a 173 rating. STATE MAN won the Irish version and has done nothing wrong this season – another year he’d be favourite, but will he run into something exceptional? VAUBAN won the Triumph last year, but it’s incredibly hard for a 5yr to follow up in this race, and in defeat behind STATE MAN last time was less than stellar. If you want an outsider, I LIKE TO MOVE IT did it well at Wincanton.
Mares Hurdle Ten go in a quality renewal featuring two previous Champion Hurdle winners in HONEYSUCKLE and EPATANTE. I’m more convinced by the latter over this trip – HONEYSUCKLE beaten in the Hatton’s Grace for me didn’t quite get home. MARIE’S ROCK won this last year, went on to win the Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown and won the Relkeel at Christmas. BRANDY LOVE had a nice pipe opener the other day. I think MARIE’S ROCK will follow up. The Grade 2 National Hunt Chase for the amateur riders looks at the mercy of GALLIARD DU MESNIL who was third in both the Brown Advisory and the Irish National last year.
Selections (Day 1) 1.30: TAHMURAS (each way, 10/1 taken. 2.10: JONBON. 3.30: I LIKE TO MOVE IT (each way, 20s if possible). 4.10: MARIE’S ROCK
Good Luck to you all.
Stodge & MoonRabbit