Our Irish friend Colm Murray returns with another offbeat racing preview for the second day of Cheltenham’s opening meeting of the season – The Showcase 2016.
RANDOX HANDICAP CHASE
A typically tough handicap chase gets us underway on Day 2 and it is as wide open as you will get with around 7/1 leading the way in the betting. The top weight here is Henryville, who despite having to lump near 12 stone around, is actually well treated compared to his hurdle mark. This horse is well used to carrying these weights and it won’t affect him as much as others so he is sure to be involved at the finish. That said, my idea of the winner lies nearer the bottom of the weights, and that is BUCKING THE TREND. He is a consistent horse who ran very well last season, rounding it off with a very good second at Aintree in May. He confirmed his wellbeing by winning his comeback run a few weeks ago and looks to have every chance today in receipt of near a stone from Henryville. He looks the right type for an each-way bet in a race of this nature. Cogry is another who can be bang there but even though this trip is over 3 miles, it may still be on the short side for him.
|Bucking the Trend (ew)||1.50 Cheltenham||9/1||BetVictor, Coral|
RICHARD ALLEN, WATERS & THE BRITTONS NOVICES´ HURDLE
A novice hurdle here where just the 7 go to post, meaning only two each-way places. That means we cannot be relying on the safety nappy of each-way – we must pick our arrow, load our crossbow and stick it smack bang between the eyes of our chosen bookie. With that said, we won’t overthink this race as WHOLESTONE looks the one to be on. He is crying out for a trip like this and hopefully his jumping will have improved somewhat as half the time he doesn’t even bother coming off the ground, he just walks through the hurdles like the Incredible Hulk (it is rather apt that he wears green colours). Walking through hurdles and sauntering to a 10 length win isn’t easily done, as he did the last day, but this just shows the engine he has. At odds of 7/4 I am advising the straight win but am also including him in a tasty treble.
|Wholestone (win)||2.25 Cheltenham||7/4||Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes|
MASTERSON HOLDINGS HURDLE
A six runner novice hurdle for the 4-year-olds here. Some will call this tricky, I call it child’s play – ADRIEN DU PONT has to be the nap of the day here. He only lost once last year and that was to a horse called Sceau Royal, who re-opposes today. That was at Cheltenham last December but was on soft ground and to me that is the key to Sceau Royal – I don’t see him living with the banker on decent ground here. For those who like bigger odds or for those ridiculous people that like forecasts, don’t be surprised to see Wolf of Windlesham outrun his odds to get second. I strongly advise a win bet at 13/8, while this is the second leg of the aforementioned treble.
|Adrien Du Pont (win)||3.00 Cheltenham||13/8||Betfred, BetVictor|
RANDOX HEALTH HANDICAP CHASE
At first glance it would appear to be another wide open handicap chase but there could be a fox in the henhouse here in the shape of the favourite, FOX NORTON, excuse the intended pun. This horse has his first run outside of novice company but was filling up the minor honours behind the likes of Douvan last year so that shows the class that he has. He looks the type that is unexposed against a series of horses that are fully exposed and he could make a mockery of his price, on ground that he loves. He looks for all the world to be a big each-way play. Of the rest, you would be looking at the likes of Always on the Run, to bag the second and of the bigger priced runners, Rock the World could outrun his big odds.
|Fox Norton (ew)||3.30 Cheltenham||5/1||Bet365, Betfred, Paddy Power|
PERTEMPS NETWORK HANDICAP HURDLE
A 3 mile handicap hurdle that is a qualifier for the same type of race at Cheltenham in March. Robin Hood has the favourite here in the form of Top of the Town, and that man (Charles Byrnes) owes us after mugging us yesterday. Can we trust him after such a theft though? Would you trust your wife if you came home from work and found the milkman watching Attheraces in your slippers? I didn’t think so. We are drawing a line through that horse immediately, but eliminating him does not exactly sort the race out, as there are about 5 horses still in with a chance. Any of the top three can win on their day but they do have a lot of weight and I would look for one with not much, but slightly less weight than those. The horse in question is the chief Irish raider ESTIHAAL. He hasn’t run over jumps in a while but was bang in form when he did and he has been keeping fit on the flat, so might well be up to winning this. In a wide open race I will stick with him each-way. For those who’d like one at double the odds you could do a lot worse than having an each-way interest on The Tourad Man back over his favoured hurdles, at 16/1 with Bet365 or Coral
|Estihaal (ew)||4.05 Cheltenham||8/1||Bet365, Betfred, Coral|
ROYAL GLOUCESTERSHIRE HUSSARS NOVICES´ CHASE
SHANTOU VILLAGE will win this easily, barring a fall, thus completing the treble consisting of the previously mentioned Wholestone and Adrien Du Pont.
|Shantou Village (win)||4.40 Cheltenham||10/11||BetVictor, Coral|
|Wholestone, Adrien Du Pont, Shantou Village||Win Treble||13/1||BetVictor|
CHRISTMAS PARTIES AT CHELTENHAM STANDARD OPEN NH FLAT RACE
Bumpers are bad enough in Ireland but in England they are a joke. I would steer well clear of this race, but if you have some sort of issue where you must invest, then I would steer you towards Gamblers Anonymous, holding your docket that says, “£5 each-way PULP FICTION”. Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.
|Pulp Fiction (ew)||5.15 Cheltenham||25/1||Bet365, BetVictor|