The indifferent recent form of North Hill Harvey should not put punters off him and Dan Skelton’s inmate can shine in the Grand Annual, writes Seymour Biz.
The smoke is clearing, and the crystal ball is getting a bit brighter as trainers and owners are now showing their hands with having to declare which races their horses will be participating in. Firstly let’s see what Alan King has had to say; the stable star, Yanworth, who will now go for the Sun Bets StayersHurdle as he thinks his form with Supersundae at Aintree gives him every chance. Hmmm, nothing to do with his dodgy jumping over the bigger obstacles then Alan? I am sure he was pleased with Redicean’s victory at Kempton, he will now go to the Triumph with some confidence against Apples Shakira. I am not sure about Elgin being supplemented for the Gold Cup, the connections have until March 7th to decide and stump up the £20,000 required for entry. I am sure it would be a great day out for Elite Racing’s supporters, but it will surely only end up with a lot of torn up tickets and full bookies satchels. The winner was allowed to get away in Scarlet Dragon’s race, but he chased well and deserves his place in the Supreme Novices as does Lisp in the Fred Winter after being placed at Haydock. The Mullins machine rolls on and will certainly gain momentum with the likelihood of Ruby Walsh being fit to ride. I can already hear the cheers of “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby” round the unsaddling enclosure as he comes in on the Irish trainers winners. Gordon Elliot’s star Samcro is to run in the Ballymore leaving the way clear for Mullins’ Getabird, who is now a short priced favourite for the meetings opening race, a race Wash has won five times. Samcro is odds on for the Ballymore. And so let’s look at two more races at the Festival which have a little more value.
Today I will look at two races on the final day, the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle and the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, firstly the ‘Potato’. Here we have a race that has produced some very big priced winners, the average over the last ten years being over 13 to 1, so I have no problem in looking at a big priced outsider. I will nail my colours to Enniscoffey Oscar trained by Emma Lavelle, he was second the Aintree bumper last April and has this season moved onto hurdles. He ran fairly well at the beginning of the season, but then improved considerably to win his last two races both at Doncaster, in his last race he only beat Shannon Bridge a short head, but the rest of the field were very well beaten. Higher in the betting is Santini, a horse Nicky Henderson thinks a lot of but I feel that horse needs more experience. His Chef Des Obeaux has a better chance but probably needs the going softer than he will find at Cheltenham in March. Willie Mullins has the favourite in Next Destination, he as had several wins now in Ireland but on his only foray across the water, last years bumper at Cheltenham, he finished down the field and is no value in the betting being as low as 3’s with some companies.
Albert Bartlett – Enniscoffey Oscar 2pts ew
The Grand Annual Handicap Chase is the final race of the meeting and I do like the look of North Hill Harvey who ran really well last year notching up a couple of victories at Cheltenham including an Arkle Trial. However it all went a bit wrong for Dan Skelton’s charge in his next two races, first beaten by Sceau Royal at Sandown then Saint Calvados at Warwick. He should now swerve the Arkle and take on a handicap and this looks an ideal opportunity. Another in the betting that’s looks good is Don’t Touch It who showed excellent form at the end of last year, however the wheels have come off for Jessica Harrington’s charge and he unseated his rider last time at Leopardstown. Theinval is the current favourite but although he seems to run well he doesn’t do much winning, Nicky Henderson’s horse has not won since December 2016 and his last race was a poor effort being beaten by Ballyhill on New Years Day.
Grand Annual Chase – North Hill Harvey 2pts ew
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