Thursday Preview

Thursday Preview

1pt Bog Warrior to win the World Hurdle @ 10/1
1pt Top Of The Range to win the Pertemps Final @ 14/1
1pt Sweet My Lord to win the Byrne Group Plate @ 14/1

There is often a bit of a sense of anti-climax on the Thursday of the 4 day Festival. We’ve had the best two days racing and have the Gold Cup to come on Friday. With no Big Buck’s this year’s Thursday card doesn’t have the class of the rest of the week.

If you ignore the free money Sportingbet and Coral have given away by going evens Sprinter Sacre, I haven't had a winner yet. Jumping is the name of the game and had Rival D'Estruval, Grandouet and Jezki not blundered away their chances it might be a very different picture at the half way stage.

Its therefore good to be kicking off with a horse who's looked a really good jumper so far in Dynaste (13/8) who looks a cut above these having shown top class novice form at 2½m-3m this season. On all known form he’s the winner of this and the one concern was quick ground, which he won’t be getting. Having put him up as a maximum bet at 5/2, I’m obviously happy with the way the race has shaped up.

Captain Conan (7/1) is only running here to keep him away from stablemate Simonsig in the Arkle and I didn’t fancy him to get the trip, even on good, quick ground. Even if he stays he looks a good novice but not in the top bracket and he’s one to consider laying for a place.

Aupcharlie (7/1) is harder to assess. He should stay the trip well having only been edged out close home by Back In Focus and Tofino Bay over 3m, form which got a boost yesterday. He’s talented but has found little off the bridle so far. Whilst he might outclass the rest of the field he won’t be able to beat an on form Dynaste on the bridle so I’m happy to oppose him too. Texas Jack's (10/1) form also got a boost with the 3 who finished alongside him in the Moriarty dominating the RSA yesterday. That looked a weak renewal though and he's taking on sterner opposition here - he has each way claims.

With the ground not riding quick, the only concern about Dynaste is that he’s been absent since Boxing Day. If he can’t perform anywhere near his best, I think the race is ripe for an upset and my ante-post bet Molotof might come into it. It was obviously disappointing he couldn't win the Pendil last time when just unable to give Grandioso 3lb, but the Henderson horses often improve hugely for their Festival prep run. 28/1 remains good each way value in a race where beyond the favourite there is little between the others.

In the Ryanair, I’ve gone with For Non Stop at 20/1, (now 16/1). He loves decent ground and a fast run race and his demolition job in the Old Roan at the start of the season was really impressive. Of course plenty of his opponents would have come on for the run that day, but they can’t all have been unfit and to put it in context, Imperial Commander won the Paddy Power off a 12lb lower mark the season he won this and Taranis was only 3rd in the big December handicap here off a 2lb lower mark before winning (getting 5lb when it was a Grade 2.)

This has cut up badly and there are plenty I don’t fancy against the selection. I’m a Cue Card (7/2) fan but I reckon its 50:50 him getting home on the ground so I can't back him at a short price. Riverside Theatre (6/1) is another horse I like but he doesn’t like the course and has bombed twice since having a really hard race when winning this under a great ride last year. Champion Court (8/1) doesn’t look good enough and Alberta’s Run (12/1) is 12 and likes quick ground.

If Menorah (8/1) jumps he’ll be bang there but the sponsors’ First Lieutenant (5/2) looks the ideal type for this. Having not stayed in the Hennessy or Lexus, this looks his trip and whilst he likes quick ground, he'll go on the surface and it’ll bring his stamina into play. He’s much the most likely winner and if For Non Stop can finish in front of him, then we’ll have a great chance of a winner.

The World Hurdle is always more of a test of stamina than its credited with and Oscar Whisky (9/2) is just the sort of classy speed horse it's paid to oppose in this. I wasn’t convinced he’d get home in a strongly run race on good ground and it looks even more unlikely now so he’s easy to oppose.

I doubt either Solwhit (10/1) or Peddlers Cross (10/1) will get home either, even if they retain enough ability for this, which I doubt. Peddlers Cross is the lay of the week, for both a win and a place. Whilst I suspect Get Me Out Of Here (9/1) and So Young (28/1) are still as good as ever, I doubt either will get the trip. This is a huge ask for the inexperienced Wonderful Charm (11/1) and I can’t back a horse who hasn’t run outside novice company yet and has 2 stone to find on form. Smad Place (10/1) has a chance on last year's form but has been out of sorts so far this time around.

The obvious one is Reve De Sivola (6/1) who has won the Long Walk and Cleeve Hurdles, goes on the ground and comes into this with stamina proven and in great form. He’s a likely winner and but for the presence of one horse I’d be backing him.

Regular readers of this column will know how highly I regard Bog Warrior (10/1) He’s been incredibly fragile but a return to hurdling has rejuvenated him and having thrashed Solwhit over 2½m at Punchestown, he stepped up to 3m for the first time when easily beating Zaidpour at Gowran. He’s always looked better going left handed and I’m expecting him to improve again having raced only right handed so far this season.

He’s only been beaten once (by Flemenstar) when standing up in his entire career. The key to him is the ground - if it's getting towards good then I'd much less confident but if it's sticky after being covered for so long and gets a bit chewed up with the Pertemps Final having been run on it, it'll be fine. I’m convinced he’s just a much more talented horse than Reve De Sivola and given how few of the others look likely to get the trip, he looks to have a great chance here. Had the ground been genuinely testing he'd have been a really confident selection, but even on dead ground I think he may well just have too much class for these. Given how fragile he is, he's obviously a chancy selection but I can't let such a talented horse go unbacked at these odds.

1pt Bog Warrior to win the World Hurdle @ 10/1

Often the handicaps on Thursday look too difficult but this year there are a couple where I really like the shape of the market. The first is the Pertemps where everyone has been saying Sam Winner (5/1) is the handicap blot of the Festival off 140 because 2 years ago he was mixing it with the likes of Zarkander and Grandouet who are now two stone higher. There's some obvious logic to that but just because they've trained on into high class performers doesn't mean he will. If like me you think Peddlers Cross is a shadow of the horse he was, there's nothing much to his jumpers bumper win and he's a very short price for a race like this.

The other market leader is Shutthefrontdoor (7/1) who looks on a stiff mark of 144. Tony McCoy was very downbeat about his chances and whilst he's clearly progressing, he also looks very short.

That means there ought to be plenty of value elsewhere and if the ground had come up genuinely good, Jetson (11/1) would have been the selection. He's been laid out for this for 2 years (just missed the cut last year) and looks nicely handicapped. He's a Pricewise selection and we've rather missed the boat now - I'm also concerned the likely tacky ground may be against him so he's reluctantly passed over.

Ballybough Pat (16/1) is interesting and how he runs will be a guide to Wonderful Charm's chances in the World Hurdle, having been a good 6l 2nd to Paul Nicholls charge in October when getting 3lb. Back on a decent surface I can see him going well off 137

Preference though is for Top Of The Range (14/1). He didn't look like making the cut for this so was turned out last Friday in very un-Henderson like fashion to get a penalty and he sneaks in off 136. He's theoretically 2lb well in but he won easily last week and looks the classic sort from Seven Barrows for a Festival handicap.

1pt Top Of The Range to win the Pertemps Final @ 14/1

The other handicap with a good betting shape to it is the Byrne Group Plate. Favourite Ballynagour (5/1) absolutely hosed up last time with Tuesday's winner Golden Chieftain behind. Colin Tizzard's horse isn't a reliable yardstick though and Ballynagour has been bumped up 20lb for that. Given how well in you need to be to win a Festival handicap that means he'd need to be winning that sort of race with his head in his chest to win here. Of course he could bolt up but he wasn't a consistent type in France and you need plenty of luck in running in this sort of race so he looks plenty short enough.

Of the others at single figure prices, Hunt Ball (17/2) was the fairytale of last season, culminating in winning the novice handicap at the Festival off 142. He's now off 157 and winning off that sort of mark may prove harder than winning the Ryanair and with ground softer than he likes I'm keen to oppose him. Cantlow (8/1) has been one of the most obviously plotted up horses of the season, running over inadequate trips in novice chases. The ground has posed a dilemma for connections though as I suspect they'd have liked to run over further but the perception was that it might be really testing on Tuesday so they bypassed the 3m handicap and have been forced into this. He's a bit of a bridle horse (not obviously an amateur's ride hence why he's not in the Kim Muir) so I want to oppose him.

The one I like is Sweet My Lord (14/1) for the all conquering Mullins/Walsh combination. He was all set to win a big pot at Leopardstown off an Irish mark of 128 when tipping up at the last. That's clearly not ideal and given how costly jumping has been to my selections this week, I might just be a glutton for punishment - but I think the handicapper has taken a big chance letting him in here off 140 and he's well worth backing at a generous 14/1

1pt Sweet My Lord to win the Byrne Group Plate @ 14/1

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Cheltenham Countdown

Welcome to our exclusive betting blog focusing on the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.

For the second year running, we recruited National Hunt expert Matt Tombs to cast his eye over the jumps season, analysing races and form all with the intention of hitting the jackpot at the Cheltenham Festival. As with his 2012 and 2014, he came out with a 6 point (24%) profit after a big 25/1 winner on Friday. View the complete list of articles and recommended bets below.

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2013 Results:

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Jezki - Supreme Novices - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Arvika Ligeonniere - Arkle - 1pt 8/1 NRNB - U/P

Oscars Well - Arkle - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Hey Big Spender - JLT Chase - 0.5pts E/W 33/1 - U/P

Grandouet - Champion Hurdle - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

Cotton Mill - Champion Hurdle - 1pt 50/1 - N/R

Unaccompanied - Mares' Hurdle - 1pt 7/1 - N/R

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Rival D'Estruval - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 8/1 NRNB - U/P

Defy Logic - Neptune Novices Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB N/R

Whispering Gallery - Neptune Novices Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 NRNB - N/R

Taquin Du Seuil - Neptune Novices Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Rocky Creek - RSA Chase - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Lyreen Legend - RSA Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - 2nd

Sprinter Sacre 4/11 or longer - Champion Chase SP - 2pts 3/1 NRNB - L

Finian's Rainbow - Champion Chase w/o Sprinter Sacre - 1pt 11/2 - N/R

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Tap Night - Jewson Novices Chase - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Molotof - Jewson Novices Chase - 0.5pts E/W 33/1 - U/P

Dynaste - Jewson Novices Chase - 2pts 5/2 NRNB - 2nd

Top Of The Range - Pertemps Final - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Lambro - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 66/1 - N/R

For Non Stop - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - 3rd

Trustan Times - World Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 N/R

Bog Warrior - World Hurdle - 1pt 10/1 U/P

Sweet My Lord - Byrne Group Plate - 1pt 14/1 U/P

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Ted Veale - County Hurdle - 1pt 25/1 NRNB - WON

Ballycasey - Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - N/R

Flemenstar - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Bog Warrior - Gold Cup - 1pt 66/1 NRNB - N/R

Silviniaco Conti - Gold Cup - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Salsify - Foxhunters - 1pt 10/1 - WON

Kid Cassidy - Grand Annual - 1pt 10/1 - 2nd

Drumshambo - Grand Annual - 1pt 25/1 - 4th

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Under 10 - Total Winning Favourites - 2pt evens - WON

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Advised Bets:

Buckers Bridge - Powers Gold Cup - 1pt 11/1 - U/P

Goonyella - Irish Grand National - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Rocky Creek - Reynoldstown Chase - 1pt 6/5 - WON

Somersby - Ascot Chase - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Raya Star - Kingwell Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Cotton Mill - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 8/1 - 2nd

Menorah - Denman Chase - 1pt 8/1 - 3rd

Bog Warrior - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 12/1 - NR

Bright New Dawn - Deloitte Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - 2nd

Walkon - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 11/1 - U/P

Coneygree - Neptune Novices' Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - U/P

Flemenstar - Lexus Chase - 1pt 6/4 - U/P

Jenari - Topaz Novice Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/R

Monksland - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - WON

Riverside Theatre - King George - 1pt 11/2 - U/P

Oscars Well - RP Novice Chase - 1pt 7/4 - 2nd

Trustan Times - Long Walk Hurdle - 1pt 3/1 - U/P

Cristal Bonus - December Gold Cup - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Grandouet - International Hurdle - 1pt 5/2 - 2nd

Bog Warrior - John Durkan - 1pt 12/1 - N/R

Arvika Ligeonniere - Drinmore Novice Chase - 1pt 10/3 - WON

So Young - Hatton's Grace Hurdle - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

Duke Of Lucca - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Captain Chris - Amlin Chase - 1pt 7/2 - WON

Walkon - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - 2nd