Betting Preview BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase

betting-preview-betbright-best-for-festival-betting-handicap-chaseBetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase 2m5f (new) Cheltenham Sunday – With nine of the last ten winners returned at odds of 8/1 or less, and the “Jolly” hitting the back of the net on the last three occasions, the contest has certainly been punter friendly, and long may this happy state of affairs continue. Previous Cheltenham form has been a significant guide as seven of the last ten winners had won over the course, and indeed two of the last three winners of Decembers contest, The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (also run over the new course) have doubled up here, Village Vic last year, and Double Ross two years ago.

With two wins and three places from nine runners over the past decade, the Twiston Davies yard knows what is required and have two left in at the time of writing, Bristol De Mai and Foxtail Hill. The latter needs a half dozen to come out to get a run, so the 6yo Bristol De Mai is the one to concentrate on.

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Nigel Twiston Davies’ in-form Gloucestershire yard could well throw up yet another winner according to the Oddsguru

He was well beaten on his reappearance in a two horse affair at Carlisle after a six month break, but showed the benefit, when running a very solid race in the 2m7 1/2f Rehersal Chase at Newcastle last time. Racing off Sunday’s mark of 154 he finished second to Otago Trail with Definitly Red, who was in receipt of 12lbs, 1 1/4L back in third. As the latter absolutely hosed up in the Roland Meyrick at Wetherby on Monday, the form looks rock solid. The drop back in trip should be an advantage, and as he showed that the undulations of Prestbury Park hold no fears when finishing second to Black Hercules in the JLT at the festival in March, he clearly has plenty going for him. A slight concern would be that no animal rated in the one fifties has won since Fondment won off 152 ten years ago, but a literal interpretation of the Rehersal Chase form does make him look well handicapped on 154.

The Paul Nicholls trained 7yo, As De Mee was over 14L behind Bristol De Mai in the JLT at the festival, and meets the Twiston-Davies contender on only 7lbs better terms here, but does look an improved animal this term. He won first time up, at Fontwell in October, and last time looked really good when winning a Class2 handicap over the National Fences at Aintree twenty nine days ago off a mark of 137. However in between, doubts were raised about his affinity for Cheltenham, when disappointing in the BetVictor Gold Cup over the course in November, and indeed he has only managed one placing, (over hurdles) from his four course appearances. Despite this it has to be said that he looked good at Aintree, and as the sole representative of the Ditcheat powerhouse, racing off a mark of 145, he has to be considered.

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Backers of Thomas Crapper could be feeling flush on Sunday

The 10yo Thomas Crapper is now reaching the veteran stage but does go well here and has won twice over Cheltenham’s smaller obstacles. Fitted with a tongue strap in the BetVictorGold Cup he ran well to finish 6th, 15L behind the winner, and has had a minor soft palate operation since, to aid his breathing. Trainer Dickin, reports him in fine fettle, and with just 10st in the plate, it would come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end.

With two wins and three places from his ten course appearances, the redoubtable winner of last year’s race, Village Vic, clearly feels very much at home on the Prestbury Park turf, and is likely to lead them all a merry dance again on Sunday. However he is 14lbs higher than last year, and failed by a neck to defy a 3lbs lower mark in the “BetVictor” in November, and could only manage a gallant third in the “Caspian Caviar” twenty two days ago off Sunday’s mark of 158. While it would be great to see this brave animal prevail, he has it all to do with 11st11bs on his back.

Nicky Henderson’s 8yo Vaniteux has mostly been campaigned at trips shorter than Sunday’s 20f but this winner of two of his six chases looks as if a step up in distance will suit.

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Will Nicky Henderson be all smiles with Vaniteux?

Having his first run for seven months he finished a respectable third behind Sire De Grugy and Quite By Chance over 2m1f at Ascot, and put in another solid performance when again finishing 3rd over 2m1/2f here at Cheltenham twenty two days ago. A winner of an Aintree Grade2 chase, this French bred has a touch of class about him, and quite stoutly bred, by Voix Du Nord out of a video rock mare, is likely to enjoy the step up in trip and even off his mark of 154, has to be on the shortlist.

Selection : Vaniteux

E.W.          Bristol De Mai

Racing Tips Welsh Grand National

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Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase 3m5 1/2f Chepstow Tuesday
– First run in 1895, the race moved to Chepstow in 1949, where it was won by the ten year old Fighting Line, ridden by Dick Francis, the future Royal Jockey, (rode Devon Loch for the Queen Mother in the 1956 Grand National where he had that mysterious collapse on the finishing straight, with victory in his grasp) and legendary crime writer.

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Devon Loch’s infamous 1956 collapse under Dick Francis

Surprisingly, for a contest that one tends to associate with the out and out staying type, the race has been won by plenty of classy performers, including four future Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes, Burrough Hill Lad (1983), Cool Ground (1990), Master Oats(1994), and Synchronised (2010).

Of trainers represented on Tuesday, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Paul Nicholls, and Jonjo O’Neill share the training honours with two victories apiece, but they are some way adrift of the great Martin Pipe who won five of the six renewals between 1988 and 1993. Unfortunately son David has yet to hit the back of the net but any runner from the Nicholashane yard is worth a second glance. Weight has been of huge significance with the giant Carvills Hill twenty five years ago, the last to carry top weight to victory, and indeed only three, the subsequent Gold Cup winner, Synchronised (11st6lbs) the Alan King trained Halcon Genelardais (11st3lbs) and Irish trained Notre Pere (11st) have managed to defy the eleven stone barrier in the last twenty years. A previous outing has been vital, as we have to go back more than thirty years to find a seasonal debutant in the winners enclosure. Age also has been very significant, with only three horses (including the 11yo Mountainous last year) in double figures, collecting, in the past three decades. Welsh Stables have struggled to keep the prize west of Offa’s Dyke, with the last winner to hail from the Principality being the David Jenkins trained Norther in 1965. Can any, of Curtis, Bowen, or Williams rectify this sad state of affairs next Tuesday?

Well the latter, represented by last year’s runner up, Firebird Flyer (pictured top) looks to have a serious chance. As a nine year old he is in the right age category, with 10st 8lbs on his back the weight looks ideal, and having had a pipe opener at Haydock on November 19th he has had the requisite outing, so he certainly goes there on Tuesday with plenty going for him. Indeed that highly encouraging Haydock performance, (first run for eight months) off Tuesdays mark of 141, strongly suggests that the Williams contender has improved this season, as his second in last years contest was off a mark of 133, and his subsequent win in the Midland Grand National was off 138. The softer the better for this strong stayer, so definitely one for the shortlist.

Colin Tizzard’s Hennessy Gold Cup winner, Native River, looked an improved animal at Newbury, but with top weight here has a huge task in front of him, as no Hennessy winner has won this since Playschool in 1987. Some pretty talented animals, who have run well at Newbury, such as the subsequent Grand National winner, Hedgehunter, who finished a good 4th in the 2004 Hennessy, failed to make any impression in the Chepstow marathon, with only 10st2lbs on his back. Very soft ground would also be a negative for the Tizzard 6yo, but as runner up in the 4m National Hunt Chase the trip should hold no fears.

Runner up at Newbury, Carole’s Destrier, meets the winner on 3lbs better terms for the 1/2L he was beaten, and Neil Mulholland’s 8yo certainly wasn’t stopping at the end of that gruelling handicap. Unfancied in the market, it was his first run for seven months, so plenty of improvement can be expected. He probably wouldn’t be suited by very soft ground but if Chepstow remains dry is worth considering.

Whatever the ground is like on Tuesday, the Philip Hobbs trained Onenightinvienna will cope, and this 7yo demonstrated his wellbeing with a win in a Carlisle conditions event at the beginning of November.

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Philipp Hobbs’ will fancy his chances with the 7yo Onenightinvienna

A winner of a Class2 3m event over hurdles, he was rated 144 in that discipline, but on breeding he was always going to be a staying chaser. He ran in the Grand National in April, coming down at Beechers on the second circuit, having previously finished 5th over an inadequate 3m at Ascot in Febuary. Racing on Tuesday off a mark of 146 giving him a racing weight of 10st13lbs this progressive young chaser doesn’t look badly treated and could easily give Philip a second Welsh National.

The 8yo Unioniste probably represents Paul Nicholls best chance of bagging a third win in the contest, as racing off a mark of 145, he is fully 13lbs lower than where he started last years campaign. A previous winner at Grade3 and Class1 level, he needed his first two runs in October and November, and should now strip fit and ready to run. This strong stayer, a winner of seven chases, has won three times on heavy ground, so if the rain arrives, could find conditions ideal, and it will come as no surprise to see him in contention jumping the last on Tuesday.

Selection:    Firebird Flyer

E.W.    :    Onenightinvienna

Racing Tips Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle

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Nicky Henderson’s Consul De Thaix is given a strong chance by the Oddsguru on Saturday

Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle 2m Ascot Saturday  – Sponsored by the Ladbroke organisation since it’s inception in 2001, it is to be run this year as the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap. Due to weather, and the rebuilding of Ascot,  there have only been twelve renewals of the contest, and the most successful trainers have been Nicky Henderson, with three winners, and Irish handler, Gordon Elliott with two,( both in the last four years). Inexperience has been no bar to success, with seven of the last eleven winners having raced only seven times or less over hurdles in Britain or Ireland. Good recent form has been important, as seven of the last eight first past the post, had managed a top three finish in their previous race. Last year, Oddsguru followers, while celebrating, had to put up with a reduced dividend, when the Philip Hobbs trained 4yo Sternrubin, under an inspired ride from R.Johnson, got up in the shadow of the post to force a dead heat with our selection, the Harry Fry trained 6yo Jollys Cracked It. They meet again on Saturday and there seems to be plenty of confidence in the market that the Fry runner can stage a repeat.

Jolly’s Cracked It sustained a minor injury after last year’s race which has kept him on the sidelines since, but his top trainer, reports him fit and ready to run. He has had four races over the Berkshire track winning three of them and being placed on the other occasion so from a mark only 6lbs higher than last year he looks to have a serious chance at the weekend, particularly if we get some rain.

Last year’s co-winner, Sternrubin gained his victory off a mark of 134, and won on his reappearance over course and distance in October, racing off an 8lbs higher mark. He had Saturday’s opponent, Modus, 1/2L and a neck behind in third, but two weeks later in a Cheltenham handicap Sternrubin was a disappointing 5th, finishing ten lengths behind Modus, who finished 2nd, and despite a 6lbs swing the Nicholls contender now looks the more likely of the two to come out on top.

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Could Modus give Paul Nicholls his first winner in the race?

Despite having had fourteen runners in the contest, a win has eluded the Master of Ditcheat but Modus does look just the type to fill in this gap in the Nicholls CV. A winner of two of his seven starts over hurdles the tough and consistent 6yo ran another solid race last time when only failing by 1/2L to better the well handicapped North Hill Harvey at Cheltenham five weeks ago. He has been put up, rather harshly in my opinion, another 5lbs for Saturday’s contest, but strikes me as the type from whom there is plenty more to come.

Two of Nicky Henderson’s entries, the 5yo, Brain Power, and the 4yo Consul De Thaix met in a Sandown handicap two weeks ago, with the 5yo prevailing by 3/4L. There are sound reasons to think that positions can be reversed at the weekend as the winner had the benefit of a run three weeks earlier, while the very inexperienced runner up was having his first run since finishing 10th in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. He also meets his stable companion on 4lbs better terms so this clearly progressive animal looks nicely handicapped on a mark of 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10st10lbs and has to be on the shortlist.

Without a winner in the contest prior to 2012, Irish Stables had a particularly poor record until Gordon Elliott won with Cause of Causes, and as he repeated the dose two years later with Bayan, his 5yo Mick Jazz demands a second look. Previously trained by Harry Fry for whom he failed to hit the back of the net, he made a winning debut for his new yard in a Clonmel Maiden at the end of October. He finished 2nd in a Navan Grade 3 seventeen days later, and despite not getting the run of the race, continued to progress when finishing third in a valuable Fairyhouse Handicap thirteen days ago. Not badly treated on a mark of 141 he is worth considering.

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Derrick Trotter would surely be keen on the chances of (he) Who Dares Wins (Rodney)

Alan King won this with Raya Star in 2011 and will be hoping for a repeat with his progressive 4yo Who Dares Wins. He was only having his fourth race over hurdles when finishing out the back in the Triumph Hurdle, but his three runs this term have been much more positive. He made a good start to the present campaign when finishing 4th to Ballyoptic in a valuable Chepstow Grade3 in October, and was going ok when unseating at Cheltenham five weeks later. However it was last time that he really showed what he could do, when coming home 9L clear of the field in a Class1 Newbury handicap off a mark of 140. He is set to carry 11st10lbs on Saturday and will have to put up a weight carrying record to win, but that Newbury performance was impressive.

Selection: Consul De Thaix (if abs. Who Dares Wins)

E.W.      : Modus

Betting Tips Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase

betting-tips-caspian-caviarCaspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase 2m5f Cheltenham (new) Saturday – Sponsored by Massey Ferguson from its inception in 1963, until 1980, the race has had many diverse supporters in the succeeding thirty four years, with the Caspian Caviar organisation, generously providing the cash since 2014. In the sixty five year history of the race, top weight, hasn’t stopped seven of our steeplechasing heroes, including the great Flyingbolt, who won the 1965 renewal by 15L, with 12st6lbs in the plate, and the immortal Fred Winter’s Pendil, who carried 12st7lbs to victory in 1973, from getting their heads in front, but we do have to go back twenty years to find the last successful top weight, Addington Boy (11st10lbs) in 1996.

The race is regularly contested by animals who have run in the centrepiece of the big Cheltenham November meeting, The BetVictor Gold Cup, and that race has been an excellent guide, with five of the last nine winners having been placed in that contest. Indeed three winners of the November race, Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1996), and Exotic Dancer (2006), have doubled up.

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Village Vic won this race in 2015

With one 4yo, five 6yo’s, six 7yo’s and six 8yo’s taking the honours since 1996, it is clearly a race for the younger animal. Indeed we have to go back to the 9yo Fragrant Dawn’s victory in 1993 to find a winner older than eight, a stat that doesn’t augur well for the chances of the first three past the post in last month’s BetVictor Gold Cup, Taquin Du Seuil, Village Vic, and Buywise, all nine year olds. Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, with three winners apiece, share the training honours, although Philip Hobbs with two, including last year’s winner, Village Vic, has them in his sights. Poquelin in 2009 and 2010 is the only horse in the entire history of the race to have followed up the following year, which makes things look even more difficult for  the 9yo Village Vic. With the stats speaking strongly against the first three home in the BetVictor, the two to concentrate on from that good guide, are the 4th, Aso, and 5th Bouvreuil.

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Venetia Williams saddles the 6-y0 Aso

The Venetia Williams trained 6yo Aso was having his first run for nearly seven months, and was also making his handicap debut so it was a highly meritorious effort to get within 5 1/4L of the winner Taruin Du Seuil. Indeed, but for a mistake at the second last, he would have finished closer still. He races off the same mark at the weekend, (144) so it would come as no surprise to see this Frenchbred, a winner at Grade2 level over hurdles, go close. A slight caveat would be the ground, as he does seem very effective on a soft surface. However the good-soft ground in the BetVictor didn’t seem to inconvenience him, so given similar conditions, he should be fine, and must have serious prospects of giving Venetia a second success in the race, (won with Niceonefrankie two years ago).

The last, and only 5yo to win, was The Laird, all of fifty years ago, but the Paul Nicholls trained Bouvreuil looks to have serious prospects of doubling this age groups tally. Like Aso, he was having his first run for seven months, when finishing 5th, 1 1/2L behind the Williams runner (4th) in the BetVictor Gold Cup, but this doesn’t tell the whole story, as pilot, Gavin Sheehan, travelled wide the whole way around, covering much more ground than most of the opposition. A French import two years ago, he didn’t get his head in front until last January, and then went on to show what a steeplechaseing prospect he was, when narrowly beaten in a Novices Handicap Chase at the Festival in March. Having been runner up in the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the 2015 festival, Bouvreuil clearly handles Cheltenham’s undulations well, so with B. Geraghty doing the steering on Saturday, the likelihood of Mr Nicholls recording a fourth victory, and owner, J.P Mc Manus, a third look strong.

Warren Greatrex‘s 6yo Aloomomo ran a fine race on his first outing since the Cheltenham Festival, when finishing 3rd in a Novices Hurdle at Ascot three weeks ago. He looked at one stage as if he might win, but lack of condition found him out. He will have benefited hugely for the run and as a winner three times over fences he looks nicely weighted with 10st5lbs in the plate. His talented trainer is quite bullish about his chances but is concerned about the ground. If we do get some rain he is well worth considering.

The Harry Fry trained 7yo, Thomas Brown has only had seven races over the larger obstacles, and considering it was his first run for seven months, he put up an excellent performance when winning a Class2 Aintree Handicap five weeks ago, off a mark of 137. Jumping well he was tiring in the closing stages, but battled on well to win by a length from On Tour. He has plenty to find with Bouvreuil on Cheltenham running in March but is clearly progressive, and has won over hurdles at Prestbury Park. He looks well handicapped off a mark only 5lbs higher than Aintree, and with one of the best jockeys around, Noel Fehilly, in the plate, is another to consider.

Selection: Bouvreuil

E.W.  Thomas Brown