Fountains Windfall and Unioniste are the latest pair of animals to be invited aboard Seymour Biz’s Cheltenham Ark.
In 1968 a singer called Roger Miller sang a song called “If God didn’t make little green apples”, well he certainly has made Apple’s Shakira and given her to Nicky Henderson to train. She runs in the green and gold of J.P. McManus and her three victories have put her in the forefront of the betting for the Triumph Hurdle and after her great win in the trial yesterday currently trades at 5/2. This looks a very good price to me considering the way she won yesterday. Sceau Royal confirmed his chances with a facile win at Doncaster he had little to beat but did it well. There didn’t seem to be much more to be taken from the trials in the way of performances for the Festival, there seemed to be more pointers towards the Grand National at Aintree. Definitely Red‘s victory was a fine show and Brian Ellison should be looking North to Liverpool as he will never get the ground he had on Trials Day in March, he should look at the longer distance where he was pulled up last year, he can do better this year as a 9 year old. And so, even though we had some fabulous racing at both Cheltenham and Doncaster with some close finishes, I am not convinced we learnt very much except that Bristol De Mai seems to go backwards at this time of year, he did it last season, and cannot be relied on. Next weekend at Punchestown will be a better guide when Willie Mullins sends out some of his stars and we may get an idea of which one will slot in where when it comes to the Festival. Meanwhile I will look at a couple more of the Cheltenham races and see if I can see if there is any value in the betting.
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The RSA Novices Chase
We have had a big shake up in the betting for this race since Presenting Percy won the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park last week. Patrick Kelly’s charge won by over five lengths last week but I cannot see he beat very much that day, and to have his price cut to 3/1 does not really fit his performance. Willie Mullins has Invitation Only declared for this race and he won well at Punchestown in mid January, following up his victory at Navan, his price looks fair at 10/1 if he runs here. Monalee is no price at 11/2 after Henry de Bromhead’s charge fell at Leopardstown in December so I rule him out. I have no idea what Alan King will now do with Yanworth after declaring him for the Stayers Hurdle, I am convinced he is worried about the horses dodgy jumping, he is 8/1 for the RSA, but I think it is unlikely he will run here. Finian’s Oscar does not seem to be enjoying his racing at present and all the promise he showed last season seems to have melted away. The big impover I have noticed is Fountains Windfall, Anthony Honeyball’s inmate won a Class 2 at Kempton Park in mid January, a race he won easily. In his previous two races he has fallen, at Kempton and Newbury, when travelling well, he had looked a sound jumper previously in his races and I think he has got over those misfortunes and has enough in the tank to win this.
Fountains Windfall 7/1 RaceBets (Non Runner No Bet) – 3pts win
The St James’s Place Foxhunters Challenge Cup
Pierce Michael Power has the favourite for this very exciting race with Burning Ambition, a very fine point-to-pointer in Ireland, he also won recently at Limerick but that is the extent to what we know about him. The bookmakers seem to know an awful lot more to make him favourite, but I will try to look for some better value elsewhere in the betting. This great race is the Gold Cup for amateur riders, run over the same course and distance it has produced some tremendous battles with some wonderful horses over the years. Paul Nicholls has won this race three times as a trainer including last year with Pacha Du Polder, who is entered again this year. He was fourth in the Foxhunters at Aintree in April and relishes his racing in this environment. He will not have the services of Bryony Frost, who is no longer deemed an amateur after her successful career. Nichols also has Unioniste declared who ran a creditable second at Taunton in January and is not without a chance in this company. Jim Culloty has Lord Windermere, the Gold Cup winner, declared and he certainly knows his way around this course, however as a 12 year old, I think it is asking too much. It is a race where a certain amount of luck in running is required, but also a great amount of experience so I will go with Nichols’ Unioniste each way at a good price.
Unioniste 33/1 Ladbrokes – 1pt each way
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