Wednesday 18 April 2018

April Meeting 2018 Day Two: Here Come The Girls

It's all about the lassies on the second of two competitive days of Cheltenham action in the April meeting as the fillies and mares take over the entire card at Prestbury Park on Thursday.

We have once again found some excellent value bets on a day which kicks off with no less than three Listed events.  Here are the best of the contenders:

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2.05 (2m4f Mares' Novices' Hurdle) (Listed) - DAME DE COMPAGNIE

Festival runners Angels Antics and Dame Rose will be well fancied here but both pulled-up last month and have had a hard time on the softer ground with no guarantee that a sounder surface will now help them.

The one who I think will love this better going is Dame De Compagnie for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson and she gets the vote to take the opener on day two - watch out for strong money for her in the betting ring just before the off.

2.40 (2m5f Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase) (Listed) - MIDNIGHT TARGET

There could be some great value here in John Groucott's entrant Midnight Target who appears to me to be very well handicapped indeed.

I say that as, despite having gone up plenty for a novice chase second then a handicap win at Huntingdon, she will love the better ground here and is improving plenty so could score at the expense of The Bay Birch who seems perhaps to be more comfortably in the assessor's grip.

3.15 (2m4f Mares' Handicap Hurdle) (Listed) - MAJESTIC MOLL

Emma Lavelle's 6yo mare is a last time out winner but in fact hasn't run for 138 days meaning she should be entirely fresh for this good ground assignment.

She scored really well at Doncaster in December and looks to be a proper improver, one who is bound to make her handicap mark look a little generous on this occasion.  She can score at the expense of Midnight Jazz of Ben Case.

3.50 (3m2f Mares' Handicap Chase) - MAID OF MILAN

We've not had the chance yet to see the best of Charlie Mann's mare over fences and crucially, nor has the handicapper which is why we should be backing her to take this prize.

She fell last time when an odds-on jolly but has been given plenty of time to recover and looks to be anything up to half a stone well-in for this one if she goes the way I think she will on the better ground.  She should have too much for the likes of Jennys Surprise and Same Circus.

4.25 (2m1f Fillies' Juvenile Handicap Hurdle) - SHINE BABY SHINE

This is a tough one to take a stab at given the inexperience of all involved, but it may pay to take Shine Baby Shine to just outclass main rivals Hillcrest Fire and Cubswin.

Philip Kirby's filly probably just appreciated better ground when running on the Flat so I can see why she's shown limited form so far over hurdles, though her win at Catterick last month is a positive and she may well prove to be handicapped a little better than her rivals today which is what it's all about.

5.00 (2m 1/2f Mares' Handicap Chase) - SISTER SYBIL

Hopefully by the time post time comes around Hughie Morrison's mare's price isn't too restrictive as she surely rates as one of the best bets of the day.

Not only does she look very well handicapped for this, but her rivals are pretty thin on the ground with worries about the likes of Got Away and The Nipper while the others barely even come into the reckoning on form.  Let's hope for 6/4 or better about Tom O'Brien's mount who looks as solid as they come on an otherwise competitive day of action.

5.35 Cheltenham (2m1f Mares' Bumper - 4-6yo) - MECHELEN

We may yet get a pretty tidy price about David Pipe's four-year-old Mechelen and for me she is the one to be on in the lucky last.

The recent Taunton runner-up could close a riveting two days of the April meeting in fine style given that she has a ton of unexposed improvement in her, something which gives her the edge at the weights on the likes of Diamond Gait and Lust For Glory who each have place chances in a competitive enough looking finale.

Tom Scudamore take the mount for a horse who has been given plenty of time to recover from her debut and looks to be a great each-way shout at the very least.


Tuesday 17 April 2018

April Meeting 2018 Day One: All Aboard The Champagne Express

After the close of the Grand National meeting at Aintree and the start of the Flat in earnest at Newmarket this week, jumps fans have an early opportunity to perk themselves up with the April Meeting at Prestbury Park providing some great action.

Two days of quality National Hunt racing get underway on Wednesday with a 7-race card including a Grade 2 handicap chase as well as a host of Class 2 action.  With a selection in each race, here’s how we think we can get the money on day one:

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2.05 (2m4½f Novices’ Hurdle) – POETIC RHYTHM

A trio of horses look to have similar place chances in Silver Kayf, Theclockisticking and Captain Cattistock but given the ground conditions there have to be doubts over all of them.  Fergal O’Brien’s 7yo Poetic Rhythm however shouldn’t have any issues having shown good form over 2m5f on softish going at this track and he seems to be a level above these.

Although the festival would have been a slight disappointment to connections, his form until then had been improving steadily and he is taken to land the opener.

2.40 (Silver Trophy Chase Handicap, 2m5f – Grade 2) – KALONDRA

Neil Mulholland’s likely favourite Kalondra is one who, on the balance of things, is very much going the right way and can take another step forward to win this £34,000 prize.  Having won over the course and distance, Kalondra should face no surprises here and if anything will appreciate today’s better ground (good-to-soft at the time of writing).

At a big price, Traffic Fluide could run into a place with the French bred perhaps having been refreshed by what was an easy spin over hurdles last time out although small stakes for a place and no more are recommended.

3.15 (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, 2m4½f) – CHAMPAGNE EXPRESS

Although Verni looks like the solid one in the race and can be backed to reach a place yet again, I feel like there’s great value Nicky Henderson’s returning 8yo Champagne Express who could prove to be very well handicapped.

The son of Kalanisi had been off the track for two years but was persevered with and made a return to action in a bumper at Kempton last month.  Having previously been rated 133, coming in here off a mark of 123 could mean that even though he won’t be 100% just yet he may well have a few pounds in hand.

3.50 (3m1½f Novices’ Handicap Chase) – BADEN

While I could not discount Ozzy Thomas in this one, I can more than understand the bookmakers putting Baden in as favourite after his Military Gold Cup success at Sandown in March.

In-form Nicky Henderson’s 7yo gets in here off a mark of 128 which seems a touch low to me, Nico De Boinville’s mount potentially having half a stone in hand with conditions most likely not presenting too many problems nor any real excuses.

4.25 (3m Handicap Hurdle) – COUP DE PINCEAU

Ian Williams’ handicap debutant King Of Realms may prove popular and I can see why having won nicely at Doncaster on only his third start over hurdles, however it’s a similar type I fancy more in the shape of Paul Nicholls’ 6yo Coup De Pinceau.

The bay gelding finally made the breakthrough after 5 attempts when winning a small race at Musselburgh in February but a look at his profile overall as well as that performance tells me he’s a little better now than the mark of 135 that he’s been given, so he could just have a little bit up his sleeve for this contest.

5.00 (3m2f Handicap Chase) – SINGLEFARMPAYMENT

Although he hasn’t won since December 2016 (around this track and trip), Singlefarmpayment will probably show himself to be grateful for a little bit of better ground having been flogging himself on the heavy going this winter, including when fifth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the festival last time out.

He does love this course though and can once again show his worth ahead of the potentially well handicapped More Buck’s and Fergal O’Brien’s in-form Lovely Job who are both bound to be popular in the ring.

5.30 (2m1f Conditional Handicap Hurdle) – GOING GOLD

There could be some really good value in the lucky last in the shape of Richard Hobson’s recent novice hurdle winner Going Gold, ridden today by the very capable James Bowen who can make a huge difference in a race full of conditional and even amateur jockeys.

Bowen should get a good trip round on this one and it would seem his handicap mark of 127 is a little on the generous side and with conditions not a problem; he gets the vote ahead of Capitaine.