By the time you read this the 2017 Cheltenham Festival will be underway. Well all my Cheltenham form study has been done and now it’s just a case of waiting for the race declarations to come and keeping an eye on the weather. It looks like most of the week will be dry although there seems some uncertainty as to Friday’s weather it looks like typical festival going will prevail.
In the lead up to Cheltenham I think we all tend to loss sight of the ball when it comes to the everyday ‘bread and butter’ racing on offer. I can hold my hands up and admit that what’s happened to me over the last month or so. Hopefully my post Christmas concentration on the looking for ante post bets for the Cheltenham festival will pay off big time this week.
It’s an exciting time of year Cheltenham, The Grand National and the start of the flat season all vying for attention over the next month or so. It’s hard to believe that the first classics of the flat season are just over seven weeks away so once Cheltenham is out of the way I will be doing a major spring clean of my tracker. My focus in the short term will be looking in the main at those horses which will be aimed at the big National Hunt races over the next six weeks or so. This all means that the number of eyecatchers will be reduced until the flat season really kicks in.
Before looking at this weeks horses for your tracker I have a few festival pointers for you.
John’s Festival Pointers
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
At any of these big festivals, in particularly Cheltenham, I would suggest you use a separate betting bank to your normal one. In my case most of my bets will be in the handicaps of which there are 10 races. I will be using a betting bank of 40pts for these races. I will also have a 10pt betting bank for the non handicap races for any bets in addition to my ante post selections. Once it’s gone it’s gone so don’t go in to heavily in the first two days as the festival is a marathon not a sprint!
Back the Right Favourites
For those of you who like to follow the favourites the stats for the past five festivals make for interesting reading:
Non Handicap Favourites – 37 winners from 88 runners 42% +18.14 A/E 1.21 63 placed 72%
Handicap Favourites – 5 winners from 63 runners 8% -33 A/E 0.47 20 places 32%
Sometimes it can profitable to go for the obvious and backing the favourites in non handicap races has been profitable over the last 5 years and they are performing much better than the market expects. On the other hand it’s worth avoiding favourites in the handicap races as they are underperforming compared to what the market expects.
Sometimes it can pay to avoid the obvious and here is a good example of that
Avoid Willie Mullins ‘Shorties’ In The Champion Bumper
Champion Irish trainer normally has a few runners in the Champion bumper and he has indeed won the race three times in the past 10 years but its worth avoiding those of his runners at the front end of the market, if you’re thinking of having a bet in the race:
This is his record in the race in the past 5 years:
2 winners from 21 runners 10% +22 6 placed 29%
And his record with his runners going off at odds of 15/1 & under:
0 winners from 16 runners 2 placed
If he has a winner in the Bumper this year then it will likely be one that is unfancied by the market.
This is his record with runners going off between 16/1 and 25/1:
2 winners from 5 runners 40% +38 4 placed 80% +53.40 with a profit to BFSP of +46.86
If you want to see all my final Cheltenham Festival Selections they will be available by 10am each morning exclusively for Eyecatcher Pro Subscribers.
This weeks tracker horses include one that has already mentioned previously, one that could be aimed at the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown next month and a handicap hurdler that can land a valuable pot at one of the Irish spring festivals in the coming weeks.
Saturday 11th March
Shanroe Santos – Lucy Wadham – Was a decisive winner of a 3m handicap chase at Sandown. The 8 year old reminds of the trainer’s good handicap chaser Le Reve. Only having his 6th start over fences he seems to have really got his act together over the larger obstacles now. He is continuing to progress well and looks to have a good chance of doing the hatrick before the season ends. The Bet365 Gold Cup back here at the end of April would seem to be a logical target for the horse.
Examiner – Stuart Williams – A previous eyecatcher, the six year he returned from a short break to run a good 4th in the Lincoln Trial. Only beaten by 2 ¾ lengths at the finish. It was a credible performance given he wouldn’t have been suited by the slow early gallop and he made his effort out wider, covering more ground than those who finished in front of him. Back down to his last winning mark he should continue to be competitive in handicaps over a 1m to 1m 1f this season so races like the Lincoln will no doubt come into consideration. It’s worth remembering he is 0 winners from 7 runs 1 placed when racing after a break of 60 days+ so he should also come on for this run. All his four career wins have come when racing between 16 & 60 days since his last run. His last win came in a valuable handicap at Epsom in June and it’s likely that race will be agenda again given he handles the track well.
Sunday 12th March
Thunder And Roses – ‘Mouse’ Morris – The 9 year old continues to run well and he was still in contention two out in the Leinster National before eventually finishing 6th. The 2015 Irish Grand National winner when trained by Sandra Hughes can be competitive in coming marathon handicap chases in the spring. Probably wouldn’t have really like the heavy ground he faced here but if the going is genuinely soft, 3 wins from 8 runs 5 placed on such going, then he can be competitive of his current mark. The Aintree Grand National or another tilt at the Irish version now look likely.
Chain Gang – Alan Fleming – A winner of a Listowel bumper and a Leopardstown maiden hurdle. The six year old returned from over a year of the track last month when finishing 10th in a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown. He then came over to Haydock to run in another Pertemps Qualifier two weeks later. He was well backed in the morning of that race and looked to be going as well anything four out but didn’t stay the near 3m trip. Back down to 2m 3f at Naas he was staying on as well as anything at the end of the race to get 3rd at the finish. An extra furlong will suit and he looks to be on a workable handicap mark. Stable has been a bit quiet of late but once they hit form I can see this son of Midnight Legend popping up in a handicap hurdle sooner rather than later. One note for a handicap at Fairyhouse or Punchestown!
All that’s left is to wish you an enjoyable and profitable Cheltenham Festival.