The Rest Of The Cheltenham Card – Friday

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1.30pm

Two weeks ago this looked all over bar the shouting, but there has been a worrying lack of confidence behind Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino in recent days and as I write we can all back him at 9/4 – IF he even runs with the Henderson horses running way below par and numerous withdrawals by the yard already. Even at his new bigger price I cannot suggest we take that chance, and common sense suggest we should look elsewhere for the winner. The softer going remains a concern for many of these and bets should be reduced accordingly  but there are whispers coming out of Ireland that Salvator Mundi could be the surprise package here. Once raced in France on heavy ground when second to Sir Gino after being pounced on close home, he is now with Willie Mullins and although unraced in 11 months or so, if he wasn’t fit enough then surely they would not send him here? 10/1 looks a reasonable price as I write, and with sever question marks hanging over the favourite, he will be my alternative as an each way play.   

Salvator Mundi each way 10/1 paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook

2.50pm

I do suspect the current wide-open market for the Albert Bartlett is more about unknown running plans, and once the final declarations are known we will see a much shorter priced favourites – bookmakers like to do that sort of thing! Paul Nicholls broke the recent Irish stranglehold when Stay Away Fay took this last year at odds of 18/1, but with just the one single figure priced winner in the last 10 renewal, that wasn’t too much of a surprise to many. 10 of the 15 declared arrive from Ireland which tells you more about the quality of our horses than anything else, but it is heavily odds-on they take the prize, though with none of these a winner last time out it’s a difficult one to second guess. Home trained runners Captain Teague and Gidleigh Park are decent animals in the own right and could have some say, but its another Mullins horse for me with High Class Hero a spot of value at 7/1. I assume Paul Townend has chosen market leader Readin Tommy Wrong which is a hint in itself, but if this turns into a stamina test you have to worry about any horse yet to race over further than two and a half miles under rules with an added four furlongs here. At least my suggestion has won over two and three quarter miles with an unbeaten run of four over hurdles, and if he brushes up his hurdling, he could well hit the frame. 

High Class Hero each way 12/1 Paddy Power, Coral, and others

4.10pm

The Hunter Chasers get their chance for five minutes of fame in the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup, with an interesting mix of those from the point-to-point field full stop – and those who headed there towards the end of a career under rules. Premier Magic won this last year at a huge price (66/1) and hasn’t been beaten in three starts since, the last two in point-to-points, but he won’t be that sort of price now, and we may be better off looking elsewhere. Billaway has the form to go close, but no 12 year-old has won this in recent years which is a concern, and the may be more to come from Its On The Line who has improvement to come at the tender age of seven. Bought by legendary owner J P McManus after winning by a head after idling in front at Naas last month. I won’t be having a large bet with 5/2 a skinny price, but as I cannot find a suitable alternative, he will do for me in placepot and multiple bets if nothing else.

Its On The Line 7/4 Boylesports

4.50pm

Just the two races to go for another year, and a Mares Chase next up on the list, with two and a half miles for the fairer sex to travel. Just the three runnings of this race so far and with every one of them going to Ireland, we have a decent starting point in our hunt for the victor. Despite odds of 9/4 (twice) and 15/8 we haven’t actually witnessed a winning favourite yet, though it is crystal clear we need to be searching near to the head of the market. The jolly was second in 2023, fifth in 2022, and second in 2021, so in the never-ending search for value, I will be backing second favourite Allegorie De Vassy, mainly for stamina reasons. Favourite Dinoblue is a class act but she has raced 13 times in total, all over two miles or so except the once when she was beaten over 10 lengths over this trip over hurdles, and if the ground remains on the sticky side, there is a concern she won’t get home. The suggestion ,on the other hand, has hit a top three spot in all eight races over fences, with the majority over this distance or further, and at 9/2 I’ll find a bookie offering a quarter the odds knowing a place will make us the smallest of profits, and a win a decent one.

Allegorie De Vassy each way 9/2 most bookmakers

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