Whilst not keen to take on Min in the Supreme, I do think there is better value to be had elsewhere. There's strength in depth among these 14 runners and Supasundae seemed to get his act together over obstacles last time. His jumping on hurdles bow was a worry. This flat-bred (and flat-breds don’t have the best record in the Cheltenham opener) was a classy bumper horse. He beat Yanworth when with Andrew Balding and ran to a similar level in the Champion Bumper when finishing best of those that had raced up with the pace. We can put a line through Punchestown and he was then green and novicey on his debut over hurdles. He showed similar traits at the first last time but looked better once he had a lead and his turn of foot to put the race to bed was impressive. He’ll have no trouble finding something to take him along here but will still be up with the pace, where you want to be in this as a rule. His trainer has been pretty bullish about the horse’s ability and engine since that win last time and he’s the one I really fancy will outrun his price.
No bet in the Arkle, happy to sit back and watch the Douvan show. No bet either in the Champion Hurdle where Old Guard had been the play. Annie Power is too short to recommend and The New One is nothing more than tempting. A less crazy Peace And Co would be of interest but the 4 year olds from last year suddenly look average. Add to that a returning My Tent Or Yours and it’s a race with more questions than answers. The 3 mile handicap chase has a few that merit a bet. None more so than Out Sam who has been gifted a mark of 139. He’s been well backed though and the 12/1 opening show when the marks came out is a distant memory. 2 that are worth siding with are O Maonlai and Band Of Blood. Both 2nd season chasers, the former is yet to put 2 good runs together but looks fairly treated based upon his run behind Aloomomo 2 starts back. The 3 in behind him have won since (Midnight Prayer was a little fortunate but he’d run well in defeat subsequently behind Russe Blanc) and Aloomomo sits at the top of the market for the last race of the day. Tom George said his next run came too soon but he’s been nicely freshened up since and this trip could be the making of him. Band Of Blood looks a National horse in the making for Dr Richard Newland. This race saw National horse The Druid’s Nephew romp home last year and Newland’s 8 year old is not without a sniff here. First time headgear is always a big plus for the festival (not a stat to go mad with but there’s something in it) and he is blinkered for the first time. A wind-op saw improvement last time and I fancy that race won by The Last Samurai represents strong form. A sterner all round gallop will suit and I’m surprised he’s the price he is.
Vroum Vroum Mag will take all the stopping in the mares’ race but I’m very tempted by Desert Queen. It’s worth forgiving her run last time and she’s well worth a speculative play. That said, it’s not a race I’m particularly well versed on so will swerve officially. The 4-miler is another sit back and watch, though Noble Endeavour would be a tentative selection. I’ll save a roll of the dice for the last in the form of Thomas Brown. He’s clearly not a horse to have ultimate faith in - last time was too bad to be true with cheekpieces back on which, on hurdles form, should have helped his cause. Blinkers go on now and I’m certain he’s a well treated horse. He was sandwiched between Out Sam and Tea For Two (giving weight) over hurdles and his run behind Le Mercury and ahead of Killala Quay and Out Sam 3 starts ago has worked out particularly well. He’s a course winner from his hurdles days and, for all he clearly gets 3 miles, I’m not concerned about the drop in trip. The Nicholls pair of Katgary and Bouvreuil are up there on the shortlist too. The latter (Nicholls won this with a 5 year old a few years back) could well turn out to be the best of these and with the handicap as compressed as it is that’s a sign he’s worth supporting. He ran in what looks a very strong race at Sandown behind Ar Mad and Bristol De Mai and was outclassed, whilst never in the race. He was better up in trip when beating subsequent graded winner Vyta Du Roc before again finding 2 miles too sharp in the Lightening back up in class and this should be more his bag.