Matt Tombs / Monday 9th March 2015 / 10:47
It’s time for a pre-Festival accumulator to give us the enticing prospect of ending the week with a life-changing sum of money.
Everyone knows that Willie Mullins might have a stack of winners during the week. The markets suggest he’ll have about 5 but I think he’s going to exceed expectations. When putting together an accumulator there’s an element of stable form in every horse’s price. Therefore by including the best value of the Mullins team in the acca, we’re effectively getting the price several times for taking the same view on the Mullins stable form.
Looking through the list of Mullins’ hotpots there are some I really like and others I’d want to take on. I’d certainly be opposing Annie Power in the Mares Hurdle at around 8/13, after her problems. Willie lost the battle with Gigginstown over Don Poli, who runs in the RSA and I’d be keen to take him on unless the field cuts up and they just hack round, (if Coneygree runs, I’d definitely be taking Don Poli on at a short price.)
He has 8 other favourites at the time of writing and there are plenty I’d like to include. I haven’t backed Douvan for the Supreme as I’m convinced he’ll be a much bigger price than the current 7/4 on the morning of the race. Normally I oppose short priced favourites in the Supreme, (they have a dire record,) but you shouldn’t do so on pure principle. I actually think that Douvan has a great chance, and I don’t like any of the others at the front of the market other than L’Ami Serge. If you’re planning on waiting until Tuesday morning to place your bets, he’d be one to include in an accumulator. I’m a massive Un De Sceaux fan, and for racing’s sake, (as well as my bank balance,) I hope he bolts up, but 8/13 is about the right price.
For now I’d rather include some of the Mullins big guns at slightly better prices. Top of the list is Nichols Canyon in the Neptune (4/1). It’s a predictable race, (20 of the last 24 winners have gone off at single figure odds,) and the more I look at the race, the more I like Nichols Canyon and the less I like the other market leaders.
You need a fast horse for the Neptune and I think Outlander and Windsor Park are stayers, and Parlour Games is a bad price on form. It’s 10/1 bar the four at this stage and, like many of the novice Grade 1s, this might cut up to just a few runners – I think Nichols Canyon will be a fair bit shorter than 4/1.
Another horse I’ve not backed but am getting increasingly sweet on is Champagne Fever who is 6/1 for the Champion Chase. The Arkle is a fantastic guide to the following season’s Champion Chase - Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop, Voy Por Ustedes, Sizing Europe and Simonsig have all followed up in recent years.
Finian’s Rainbow was also 2nd in an Arkle before winning the next season’s Champion Chase and its possible last year’s Arkle form has been unfairly maligned because it produced a freak winner, (Western Warhorse at 33/1). Neither Western Warhorse nor Trifolium has run this season but the 4th home Dodging Bullets has won both the British Grade 1s at around 2m – so it might be a better renewal than it looked.
Connections tried to make Arkle runner-up Champagne Fever a Gold Cup horse, but that didn’t stop Sizing Europe winning this, and with a bit more cut in the ground than in last year’s Arkle, Champagne Fever might have the basic speed to win. He’s generally a good jumper and his Festival form is 112 so there’s a great chance he’ll run his race – whereas many of his rivals have big question marks over them.
The more I look at the Gold Cup, the more it looks to be crying out for a fast horse to come and outclass what is probably not the most talented bunch of stayers we’ve seen. Unless Silviniaco Conti can produce his flat-track form at Cheltenham, (unlike the last 2 years,) its wide open and I think Djakadam (10/1) might be the answer.
He was going well when tipping up in the JLT last year as a 5 year old, and apparently with the dry autumn Willie couldn’t get him fit enough for the Hennessy. He was an impressive winner of the Thyestes (3m1f) off 145, and with the Irish handicapping system, that’s a more impressive effort than it would be to win off 145 in Britain. On His Own won the Thyestes off 3lb lower last season before being chinned in the Gold Cup. Djakadam has to prove he can handle a sound surface, but he looked to be acting on it when tipping up last year. Whilst we’ve missed the price a bit, it would be no surprise to see him backed into second favourite by the off.
I’m convinced that the Irish novice chase form is red-hot this year. That ought to feed down into some of those who’ve been beaten in good novice chases being well handicapped. Willie Mullins looks to have one in Blood Cotil. He had his Irish mark of 140 bumped up to 141 so missed out on the novice’s handicap chase as that’s a 0-140.
Blood Cotil has raced mainly around 2m and is in the Grand Annual, (12/1), but he’s also in the Festival Plate over 2m5f, (20/1) and that seems to be the preferred option. He was looked at as a novice for the Grade 1s early in the season but was beaten by the classy Gilgamboa on his seasonal debut and again when upped to 2m4f when 2nd to Wounded Warrior. He was then virtually knocked over at the first on his next run, before bolting up last time. He could be a graded horse next season and looks well in off 141 – he must have a decent chance in either race.
I’m also keen to include Arbre De Vie who I think is a class horse in the making. He’d run twice in bumpers and once over hurdles in France before joining Mullins. He won an ordinary maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse on his debut for the yard and then was quite impressive in winning a novice at Warwick over 2m5f, (140 rated Kingscourt Native well held in 18l 3rd.)
It’s clearly a bit of a leap of faith to back such an inexperienced horse to win a Festival handicap but Mullins has done it in recent years with Sir Des Champs and Don Poli. Arbre De Vie could be a top notcher in the making and although he runs off a 2lb higher mark (145) than Don Poli did last year, that might not stop him. He’s entered in several races but with Roi Des Francs looking the Mullins horse for the Martin Pipe, I think Arbre De Vie will run in the Coral Cup, for which he’s a 16/1 chance.
With plans in the handicaps fluid I’m looking for NRNB for this accumulator and am prepared to take slightly smaller prices to get it, (if a horse doesn’t run the accumulator stands, just including those that do). Ladbrokes are paying nearly 120,000/1 on the 5 timer where Blood Cotil runs in the Plate. As they’re NRNB and he’ll only run once, it makes sense to split stakes and include a line where he runs in the Grand Annual as well, (maximum payout £1m):
Nichols Canyon (Neptune) @ 4/1
Arbre De Vie (Coral Cup) @ 16/1
Champagne Fever (Champion Chase) @ 5/1
Blood Cotil (Festival Plate) @ 20/1 / (Grand Annual) @ 10/1
Djakadam (Gold Cup) @ 9/1
To include Blood Cotil in the Plate, try this link, while this link includes him in the Grand Annual. To leave out Blood Cotil altogether and play the over 5,000/1 4-way, click this link.