Two things had me thinking we might have been onto a loser yesterday. Firstly I saw Sue Smith herself had gone down to Southwell and then, I saw the belly on BENNYS WELL and knew right away he had not gone there fit for anything.
He was beaten a mile out and finished tailed off, which didn’t surprise me in the least.
It is one of the hazards punting this early in the season and despite how well things have been going recently I didn’t get a good feel from what I had yesterday morning at all.
Today I have just one rated race from the meeting at Cheltenham.
* – MIJHAAR….+14
SAINT JOHN HENRY….+8
* – KING BORU….+8
* – POLAMCO….-4
* – ON THE BRIDGE….-10
* – KILFINICHAN BAY….-11
* – MR SHANTU….-14
* – DARK SPIRIT….-19
* – MAWAQEET….-25
* – MY LAD PERCY….-37
* – FIGHTER JET….-40
My top rated is one of five in here that have gone fishing at Cheltenham previously and caught nowt. He has never attempted this trip and his sole win over hurdles to date came in 2013, over two miles. He was given a try over 2 miles 6 furlongs in January this year and was talked off.
However, the soft ground that day would not have suited and today’s genuine good ground will be more to his liking. That comment also applies to horses like DARK SPIRIT (3-7), POLAMCO (2-3), MR SHANTU (3-9) and none more than KILFINICHEN BAY (6-10). The last named is also 5-6 at the trip and it’s just track craft I’d not be sure about regarding him.
I’ll not be betting myself but I would rather be with POLAMCO, the highest rated of that quartet. Harry Fry has his running very well at the moment and I would be prepared to forgive him his CD beating in April as it came at the end of a long season.
Outside my top six MR SHANTU (7th best), is on a bit of a roll and has won three of his last four races. He beat another of today’s runners, KING BORU, very easily last time up and Jonjo has taken 7lb off his back .
The rest of the card is going to be informative going forward. In the opener we have a horse unbeaten in both races over obstacles, that ran 5th to TREVE in the 2013 Arc de Triomphe, PENGLAI PAVILION. He has won his two NH races by a total of 35 lengths and is going to be mighty hard to beat.
Only four go to post at 2-45 but it’s a little cracker. It might get all tactical though and I’d not even consider punting it.
The 3-55 is one i’m very much looking forward to. The Irish raider SHANTOU FLYER, beat the horse I tried to buy a few years ago, SHADOW CATCHER, three weeks ago (what a lot of fun that horse would have given us!), and that one had previously given CYRIUS DARIUS a big scare on that ones debut 9although, to be fair, the Jefferson horse jumped like a dog on debut and will be one of the better ones this season, if he learns to pick his feet up.
I’d prefer to side with “match fit” horses right now and like the look of VINTAGE VINNIE. One of those horses that was always going to prove better over fences than hurdles, he was impressive on seasonal debut at Worcester.
The novice hurdle at 4-30 has a runner I had considered putting in my 20 to follow, DRUMLEE SUNSET, taking part but I think he’s more of a stayer. If he can win this over the shorter trip I’ll be impressed!
They finish with an amateur riders handicap that would not, under normal circumstances, be on my radar….it’s still not.
Best of luck if you are betting today