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.

tnomas-crapper

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

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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

More Of That For BetVictor Gold Cup Success

more-of-that-for-betvictor-gold-cup-success-1BetVictor Gold Cup looks good for More Of That by Oddsguru – Since the original sponsors, Mackeson, gave up their thirty five year association with the race in 1995, the contest has had numerous backers, and this year’s renewal will see it run under yet another banner, with the BetVictor organisation putting up the cash. Always run at a cracking pace, the race has seen plenty of top notch handicappers in the winners enclosure, but only one, Imperial Commander in 2008, has gone on to win the Gold Cup itself. It has been a race for the younger horse, with only three animals older than nine collecting in it’s entire fifty five year history, and indeed, only three horses older than seven have won since 2000. Only two horses have won back to back contests, Half Free, trained by the great Fred Winter in 1984-1985, and Bradbury Star, trained by Josh Gifford in 1993-1994. The former carried the same weight for his repeat victory, and Bradbury Star had only 3lbs more in the plate for his, so last year’s hero, Annacotty, faces a major task off a 9lbs higher mark, if he is to join this exclusive club.

The Alan King trained 8yo only ran three more times last season, winning once, again over the course in January, and was well beaten in his last race, finishing 43L behind Vautour at the Festival. However he clearly goes well at the course, is at his best when fresh, and following a successful hobday operation, his excellent trainer is hopeful that he has made the necessary progress to defy Saturday’s new mark of 156.

more-of-that-for-betvictor-gold-cup-successPaul Nicholls has won two of the last four renewals, and is mob handed, seeking a third. Cases can be made for all four of his runners, but undoubtedly the 4yo Frodon is of particular interest as it is unprecedented for a horse of his age to participate. This ex French gelding has contested four chases, the first of them as a three year old at Auteil where he finished fourth of nine. He did win over hurdles at Auteil before joining the Ditcheat team, where, despite a win at Haydock last February, he has struggled over the smaller obstacles. However he has really come into his own since tackling fences, winning all three contested chases, last time quite impressively, a Grade2 novice chase at Wincanton seven days ago, where spring heeled at the obstacles, he came home in front in a good time. There is some uncertainty as to how he will react to the entirely different ball game of racing against twenty seasoned handicappers travelling with the choke out over Cheltenham’s tricky circuit, (he was well beaten in large fields at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals over hurdles) but it’s worth remembering that these French breds are taught to jump from the cradle, and if Mr Nicholls thinks he’s ready for Saturday’s test we should take note.

Tom George, who is having such a good season runs Double Shuffle, and this 6yo made an eye catching reappearance thirty four days ago. Racing off a mark of 140, and ridden for the first time by new stable jockey A. Heskins, he was having his first run for nearly six months, and looked badly outpaced until three out, where, taking hold of the bit, he ran on strongly, and only just failed to catch the winner, Art Mauresque, by a fast diminishing head. He has run well on all three previous visits to Cheltenham but didn’t seem to be quite getting home. That run at Chepstow strongly suggests that a lack of stamina has not been the problem and it may be that new man Heskins has found the key to him. Well worth considering!

Jonjo O’Neill has won the race twice and has two live contenders on Saturday, More of That and Taquin Du Seuil. The former won the 2014 World Hurdle, and following an enforced holiday, launched his chasing career at this meeting last year, where he comfortably beat Saturday’s opponent, As de Mee, over course and distance. He won again over the course four weeks later, and might well have remained unbeaten over fences, (and on the course) but for breaking a blood vessel in the RSA chase where he finished third. O’Neill considers him the best he has trained, and entertains strong hopes of winning the Gold Cup itself in March with this hugely talented animal, so you would have to give the 8yo, who goes well after a break, and racing off a mark of 154 a great chance at the weekend.

His other runner, Taquin Du Seuil is no back number either as he is twice a course winner, including at Grade1 level, and is ideally suited by Saturday’s trip. He ran a perfectly satisfactory trial for this when finishing less than 3L back in 6th, behind Ballyoptic over hurdles at Chepstow thirty one days ago on his first start for six months, and it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.

Young, and upwardly mobile trainer, Johnny Farrelly, runs the previous inmate of the Nicholls academy, Stilletto, and this 7yo could get involved at a nice price. He won off a mark of 132 by 10L at Leicester in February, and was then sent off the 11/2jf  for the Plate at the Festival, only to come down at the third fence. He made a satisfactory debut for his new stable five weeks later, finishing last of three over an inadequate two miles at Warwick. He looks nicely treated off a mark of 141, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs, and with one of the best pilots around, Noel Fehilly, doing the steering, could be there at the finish.

Selection: More Of That

E.W.      : Double Shuffle

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Weatherbys Champion Bumper – 2m N.H. Flat. Cheltenham March 16th‏

First run in 1992, it has been a contest dominated by Irish stables, who have won seventeen of the twenty three renewals, with that man Mullins hitting the back of the net on eight occasions. It usually takes a very decent animal to win, and the roll of honour features some really outstanding horses, such as Florida Pearl and Cue Card to name but two. Last years hero Moon Racer did this column a favour, so let’s hope we can keep the ball rolling and point us in the right direction again.

Top rated of the Mullins brigade (eight entries at the time of writing) is the 6yo Avenir D’Une Vie and with four runs under his belt is one of the more experienced. A winner at Navan in December he was beaten by Jessica Harrington’s contender, New To This Town, in January by 1 3/4L, but was conceding 10lbs. He was impressive last time winning by 14L from the well fancied Tamlough Boy, and if owners, Gigginstown stud allow him to take his place he must be a serious contender.

Not far behind on the ratings is the second highest of the Closutton troops, the 5yo mare, Augusta Kate, owned by a syndicate formed at “The Masters” and including the soccer pundit Alan Shearer, and those two mainstays of “Get me out of here” Ant and Dec. Augusta Kate is out of that superb Grade 1 winning mare, Fethard Lady and by the redoubtable sire Yeats, so certainly lacks nothing on the breeding front, and she fully lived up to her stellar pedigree when hacking up in a listed contest at Listowel on her debut last September. She followed up two months later at Navan in equally impressive fashion, and was then wisely put away, avoiding the attritional heavy ground that we have been racing on for all of this “Monsoon”winter. She is reported to be a very lazy worker at home but obviously retains her best for the racecourse. She will arrive at the post a fresh horse on Wednesday and looks the one to beat.

2015 Weatherbys Champions Bumper preview.

Having won a modest Class6 Worcester number in October, the Twiston-Davies trained 5yo Ballyandy went to post an 8/1 shot to win a much hotter Class1 contest at Cheltenham twenty five days later. He stayed on well up the hill and won comfortably. He was a 7/2 shot to repeat the dose at Ascot five weeks later, and, while running well, couldn’t quite manage the concession of 10lbs to another of next Wednesday’s opponents, Coeur Blimey, losing by a length. He may well have been in front too long at Ascot but made no mistake a Newbury two months later winning comfortably carrying his penalty. With four runs under his belt, he goes to post one of the most experienced in the field, a definite advantage in a race that can be pretty rough, with inexperienced young horses rolling about on Prestbury Park’s undulations. One for the shortlist!

Multitalented John Ferguson went close to winning this in 2012 when his New Years Eve came second to Champagne Fever, and fields an interesting runner in the 5yo High Bridge. He was second to O’K Corral on his debut at Kempton in February 2015, and third behind Aurillac at Cheltenham last October. He then won nicely at Huntingdon in November showing plenty of pace over the 1m5 1/2f course. He really seemed to step up a gear last time at Catterick when hosing up by 13L and 3L from the two subsequent winners, Atomix and Shambourg. He again showed plenty of pace in a race that was run in a decent time for the conditions. The form looks solid and it would come as no surprise to see those famous black colours well to the fore at the business end of Wednesday’s contest.

With New To This Town having already taken the scalp of Avenir D’une Vie, Jessica Harrington must be harbouring hopes of adding to her success with Cork All Stars in the 2007 renewal. It can be argued that the Mullins horse was giving weight, but equally the Harrington animal did seem to run a little green under his claiming rider, and ran on with some resolution to win totally on merit.

Selection. :  Augusta Kate

E.W.          :  High Bridge (if abs) New To This Town

Paddy Power Gold Cup 2m 4 1/2f handicap Cheltenham Saturday

Cheltenham Mackeson Meeting

First run in 1960 as the Mackeson Gold Cup, it acquired its present sponsor in 2003 and has always been an extremley competitive affair. Historically weight hadn’t been hugely significant, but in recent renewals the lighter weights have been having the best of the argument.

First run in 1960 as the Mackeson Gold Cup, it acquired its present sponsor in 2003 and has always been an extremley competitive affair. Historically weight hadn’t been hugely significant, but in recent renewals the lighter weights have been having the best of the argument.

Al Ferof (11st8lbs 2012) has been the only horse to shoulder more than eleven stone in the past eight years. The star of the older more exposed animal has been in decline with eleven of the last twelve winners being relatively lightly raced second season chasers. This is a really severe test and it is usually won by a progressive animal capable of defying a mark at least 10lbs higher, (the 2013 winner, Johns Spirit who won off a mark of 139, is being asked to defy an eighteen pound rise on Saturday). Read the Oddsguru’s 2014 Paddy Power Gold Cup preview.

Course form is highly significant, with fifteen of the last twenty winners boasting a success over Prestbury Park’s unique undulations. Usually run at a frenetic pace, stamina for the trip is essential, although interestingly it tends to be the type who has the pace to be competitive at two miles but stays 21f, rather than the three miler coming back in distance who have the better strike rate.

The market has proved a useful guide in recent renewals, with seven of the last ten winners starting at 8/1 or less. Having won three times Nigel Twiston-Davies is the most successful trainer represented on Saturday, followed by Paul Nicholls with two victories. David Pipe, whose father, Martin, won the race seven times, hit the back of the net himself in 2011 with Great Endeavour, and tries for a repeat with the current favourite Kings Palace at the weekend.

By Kings Theatre out of the Witness Box mare, Sarah’s Quay, he is certainly bred for the job, and his racing c.v. Is also pretty impressive. He has won three of his four starts over fences including an impressive victory as a novice over three miles and a half furlong at this meeting last year. Four weeks later he was again impressive over the course when beating that good yardstick Sausalito Sunrise (3m 1 and 1/2 furlongs) by seven lengths. Making all he jumped superbly and was pushed clear on the run in easing down near the finish. He then made all in a two runner affair at Newbury, again winning easily, despite some decidedly dodgy jumping. He was a big disappointment at the Festival where denied a soft lead his jumping went to pieces and he finished a well beaten sixth. There must be some doubts about his ability to handle the drop back in trip in Saturday’s large field, but he did have the pace to win a bumper as a 4yo and I’m certain any jumping deficiencies will have been ironed out at the Pond House Academy. He looks a horse with a big future and is well treated off a mark of 154.

Rebecca Curtis’s Irish Cavalier won over the course and distance at the festival off a mark of 137, and was kept busy, running twice in the space of three days at the Punchestown equivalent, where he ran well on both occasions. He reappeared in a conditions event at Newton Abbot four weeks ago and won comfortably. He is a very progressive animal and his chance has to be taken seriously, but his mark,19lbs higher than for his Festival win is a big ask.

Nick Gifford whose dad Josh won the race twice in the ninetys with Bradbury Star, runs the 7yo Generous Ransom. He has won two of his seven starts over fences, including over the course last January, and ran another fine race at the Festival, finishing third , 3L behind Irish Cavalier, whom he now meets on 15lbs better terms. Following a six month break he reappeared in a 2m5f hurdle at Cheltenham three weeks ago, and clearly needing the run he finished tailed off. Likely to come on a ton for the pipe opener, and with his nice racing weight of 10st7lbs he has plenty going for him and is shortlisted.

Fences have been the making of Malcolm Jefferson’s 7yo Oscar Rock. He has won two of his last three chases, and was probably unlucky in the other, being brought down when looking the likely winner. He really impressed on his reappearance at Market Rasen six weeks ago easily winning off a mark of 147 and a rise of 8lbs seems more than fair. His very able trainer knows what is required to win at Prestbury Park, and it will be no surprise to see his 7yo involved at the business end.

Alan King is quite bullish about his 7yo Annacotty and this course winner is worth a second look. Previously in the hands of Martin Keighley, he is only 3lbs higher then last January, when taking a graded contest over the course. The move to the King Academy may well have elicited further improvement, so is worth considering.

Selection: Oscar Rock

E.W. : Generous Ransom

Racing Betting Preview BetBright Cup Chase

Racing Betting Preview BetBright Cup Chase. 3m1 1/2f Cheltenham Saturday

Oliver Sherwood’s 8yo Many Clouds made a highly satisfactory reappearance at Carlisle at the beginning of November when defeating the talented Eduard and Holywell in a class 1 chase, and then ran the race of his life when winning the Hennessy at Newbury four weeks later.

As only three winners of this, Kim Bailey’s Master Oats in 1995, Paul Nicholl’s See More Business in 1999, and Noel Chance’s Looks like Trouble in 2000, have gone on to victory in the Gold Cup itself it hasn’t been the greatest guide to success in March. However if all eight turn out on Saturday this years renewal looks the strongest for some years, and certainly contains some potential Gold Cup winners.

With three 9yos, four 10yos, and an 11yo veteran collecting in the last ten runnings experience obviously counts. Paul Nicholls has won the race twice over the same period, with Colin Tizzard, David Bridgwater , Jonjo O’Neill, and Nigel Twiston- Davis getting their name on the scoresheet once. While David Pipe and Alan King have failed to win, they have both had two runners placed, King being of particular interest, as he has had only two runners over the period. Course form is important with eight of the last ten winners having previously been successful at the track. ( The other two had strong place form ). The market has been a poor guide with none of the last nine Jollys obliging .

Despite failing to win over the course, Smad Place’s Cheltenham record is exemplary. Having been placed in two World Hurdles he ran the race of his career in last years R.S.A. Chase. There, in a race run nearly three seconds faster than standard, he took it up before two out, and hard pressed by the winner O’Faolain’s Boy from the last, in an epic struggle, he only gave best in the last stride. Put away for the rest of the season, he made his reappearance in the Hennessy at Newbury where he started a well fancied 6/1 shot. Although making some progress after the 17th he was never really in the hunt and finished tired, 20l behind Saturday’s opponent Many Clouds. His excellent trainer Alan King blamed himself for the poor showing, feeling that in retrospect, the horse would have benefited from a previous race before such a competitive event as the Hennessy. With very positive vibes now coming from the stable, and with a pull of 12lbs with Many Clouds, his chance is obvious on Saturday.

Twice placed, and three times a winner ( including this race last year ) over the course, David Bridgwater’s 10yo The Giant Bolster’s chance must be respected. After his heroics in last years Gold Cup ( 3rd btn 3/4l ) he reappeared at Wetherby at the beginning of November, and ran abysmally finishing tailed off last. He ran with more enthusiasm at Haydock three weeks later finishing 15l 5th to Silviniaco Conti. While further progress can be anticipated back at his favourite track, he is carrying the maximum penalty and has to concede weight to classy animals like Smad Place and Holywell, so perhaps a place is the best that can be hoped for.

Another set to shoulder the maximum penalty is Many Clouds, and few would argue that he is the animal with most potential in the field. Oliver Sherwood’s 8yo made a highly satisfactory reappearance at Carlisle at the beginning of November when defeating the talented Eduard and Holywell in a class 1 chase, and then ran the race of his life when winning the Hennessy at Newbury four weeks later. He ran out a most convincing winner staying on with great gusto from the last, to win by 3 3/4l from Houblon des Obeaux off a mark of 151, and went into many note books as a potential Gold Cup winner. He is a relentless galloper who stays extremely well and thrives in testing conditions, so should have conditions to suit on Saturday. The slight caveat would be his lack of course form, but he has only run at the track twice, and was going well enough when brought down at the 14th in the R.S.A. Chase. He has shown his versatility on a variety of tracks and I don’t envisage the course being a problem.

Paul Nicholls, who has been relentlessly firing in the Saturday winners, saddles the 8yo Black Thunder, an animal who has been slowly getting his act together. A faller in the R.S.A. Chase, he disappointed on his reappearance at Newton Abbot in October but ran well in a cl1 chase at Ascot ( Nov1 ) when a close 2nd off a mark of 149. He then trotted up in a four runner affair when odds on at Sandown. He is another burdened with the maximum penalty on Saturday so perhaps this winner of four of his eight chases may find Saturday’s test beyond him.

David Pipes’ 9yo Dynaste stayed on well in the King George V1 chase at Kempton to take 2nd behind his nemesis Silviniaco Conti, giving some encouragement to the view that he has more reserves of stamina than appeared to be the case previously. If this is true last years Ryan Air Chase winner would be a serious contender on Saturday as he ran on so well up that daunting hill in March.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell impressed when winning a handicap at the festival of a mark of 145, and progressed again when taking the gd1 novices chase at Aintree by 10l from the very useful Don Cossack, a performance that led to talk of “Gold Cups” by some good judges. However his performances this season have been disappointing, unseating in his last race. Jonjo was badly out of form at the time, so it is far too early to write off this very promising animal. It would be no surprise to see a much improved performance on Saturday.

Selection: Many Clouds.

Danger: Smad Place.