This time next week we will be preparing for the first day of the 2015 Cheltenham horse racing Festival. I don’t know about you but for the last week I have been concentrating on my form study on that almost to the exclusion of everything else.
My Cheltenham Eyecatchers will be completed by the weekend and they will also be available each day for Eyecatcher Pro Software subscribers. As a little bonus if you are a subscriber I will also be adding a couple of freebies for you as a big thank you.
Firstly, you will have my selections from my Cheltenham Festival micro systems that last year gave me the following results from 53 bets 15 wins and 23 places. A winning strike rate of 28% and a 72.97 LSP to industry SP which was even was better if you had been betting to Betfair SP with a 97.51 LSP. For those of you who like your trends I have also undertaken research on all of the races at the Festival and I will be adding each day to the software any profile horse qualifiers. With the eyecatchers, the micro system selections and the trends horses I am fully expecting a fun but even more importantly a profitable 4 days at Cheltenham.
Just to let you know if you’re an Eycatcher Pro subscriber that I have finally got round to cleaning up the eyecatcher horses and have got rid of some of the deadwood so to speak. By the end of Wednesday I will also have updated all the notes that accompany the tracker horses.
This week’s article contains just the two eyecatchers but for subscribers I have also added my first Grand National selection and another horse that was a good winner recently who will miss Cheltenham and now be targeted at Aintree. As ever I will begin this week’s column with a quick look back at the weekend’s action and also a look at the second handicap chase on Day 1 of the Festival.
Weekend Review: Last Samuri Heads For National Battle
There was good racing at Doncaster and Newbury on Saturday. The rain that fell at Doncaster meant some very small fields for what had looked a decent days racing. Sugar Baron took the handicap hurdle that Call The Cops took before going onto Cheltenham glory last year. The six year old improved for the step up to three miles as connections had thought he would. There is more to come from the son of Presenting who shouldn’t have any problems with better ground either. It will be interesting to see if he heads for the staying handicap hurdle at Aintree.
The Last Samuri one of my eyecatchers won the valuable Grimethorpe Chase and beat The Druids Nephew and six other rivals by 10 lengths. The eight year old will now head for the Grand National and on the evidence of this run he goes there a very progressive stayer whose solid jumping and stamina puts him right in the picture for that big race. He will either love the race or hate it but one thing is for certain he’s rapidly on the upgrade.
The Druids Nephew ran a perfectly decent trial for the National and given the ground would have been plenty soft enough for him and goes to Aintree with high hopes of another big run over the National fences, a race in which he fell five out when in the lead. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he finished ahead of the winner in April.
There was also good racing at Newbury with Shotavodka taking the veterans chase for trainer David Pipe, he had looked a well handicapped horse before the race, albeit with stamina for the 3m 2f trip to prove, and showed as he won very easily indeed.
Boite ran a good race with the future in mind on his seasonal return and handicap hurdle debut. The ground would have been softer than the six year old prefers. Given it was his first run since July he is entitled to better for the run and there could be a valuable handicap hurdle in the horse when he gets nicer spring ground. Maybe something like the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April would be a good race for him.
Two horses that are likely to head now to Cheltenham are Sametegal and Johnny Og. The former made it an 8th win in the Greatwood Gold Cup for trainer Paul Nicholls. The seven year old now heads for the 2m 5f handicap chase on Day 3 of the Festival. Given this was only his 5th start over fences and he has previous Cheltenham form he will go there with a fair chance. Johnny Og keeps defying the handicapper and made it 4/8 over fences with a win in the novice’s limited handicap chase over 2m 2f. The Martin Keighley trained seven year old has three entries at the Festival but he does like to dominate his fields, not easy in the Cheltenham handicap chases, and all his wins have come in single digit fields. He can probably still win off his revised mark but I doubt that win will be at Cheltenham.
Cheltenham Eyecatchers: The Handicaps
CLOSE BROTHERS NOVICES´ HANDICAP CHASE – Day 1
Thomas Crapper is an interesting candidate having placed in this race for the last two seasons and in last years renewal was only beaten 2 ½ lengths into 2nd. His trainer was badly out of form for most of the winter but there was a notable improvement in the yards form in February. He loves the course, good ground, the distance and looks fairly treated on his best form. It’s a long time since he won a race and he remains a maiden over fences after 10 starts. The 9 year old is vulnerable to younger improving horses but should give his backers a good run for their money and has solid each way claims.
Aloomomo hails from the Warren Greatrex stable and alongside Out Sam gives his handler a strong hand in the race. The former looks nicely progressive and won three handicap chases in October & November. The six year old was then given a break and ran a good prep race over hurdles at Ascot last month. He will be racing off an 11lb higher mark then for his last chase win at Newbury, he should be thereabouts given his running style and as a six year old there could be more improvement come. Out Sam isn’t as experienced as his stablemate and is still a novice but he made it two from three over fences when winning at Newbury in February. Trainer thinks he will be suited by better going and most likely will be heading for the RSA rather than this race.
Killer Crow trained by Gordon Elliott is 1/7 over fences and ran well when finishing second recently in a valuable Leapardstown handicap. He has caught my eye form the favourable mention the seven year old got in a recent Racing Post Gordon Elliott Stable Tour. He handles a variety of ground and looks progressive.
Willie Mullins could saddle both McKinley and Sambremont who both go into the race with live chances. Sambremont won a Grade 2 winner at Navan last month, albeit only three ran in the race, and the six year old has to be respected like his stablemate. However, it’s worth remembering his trainer’s record in handicap chasers at the Festival isn’t great he is 0/15 with 4 places since 2011.
The Paul Nicholls’ trained Bouvreuil is another interesting contender. A useful juvenile hurdler who was second, beaten only 1 ½ lengths in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at last years Festival. Very much unexposed over the trip being 1/1 over further than 2m 1f. The five year old isn’t as experienced as some in the field but looks a potentially well handicapped horse who will appreciate good ground and ticks a few of the important boxes. The race isn’t easy for a five year old with that age being 1/15, 2 places in the last 8 renewals of the race although the only five year old to win the race in 2009 was trained by Paul Nicholls’.
This Weeks Eyecatchers
Wednesday 2nd March
Vic De Touzaine – Venetia Wiliams – The seven year old came into the race with form figures of 232 over fences and really should have won on his chase debut at Fontwell back in December but was bumped by the eventual winner at the last and went down by a length. He was travelling powerfully in second when making a mistake two out and unseating jockey Aiden Coleman. If he is none the worse for this mishap he can surely win a handicap chase before the season is out.
Thursday 3rd March
Galway Jack – Caroline Bailey – Has now reached the veteran stage being an 11 year old but was in the process of running a big race when falling three out. He was in second place chasing the eventual winner and although he probably would have finished second best if he has stayed on his feet. This was still a good performance and although he is 10lb higher than his last win back in March 2014 there could still be a handicap chase in him this season of his present mark. It’s worth noting all five of his career wins have come in March & April, all five wins have come in single digit fields and all of them have come when running between 16 & 60 days of his last run. Normally a solid jumper, Class 3 is his grade and if he can dominate a small field I think he can win again.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable week and see you all next week.