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Road To The Cheltenham Festival Hunter Chase


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It is time to start my road to the Cheltenham Festival Hunters Chase (it really was easier when they called it the Foxhunters) for the 2023 renewal. Pointing has been going a couple of weeks in Britain although hunter chases don't start until January 9th at Taunton. In Ireland pointing started in October and we had the first hunter chase at Fairyhouse this week. No British contenders have been out yet, but there have been contenders over in Ireland. As per usual the first post will be focusing on all the runners currently near the top of the market in the ante-post betting and then following updates will occur as and when things need updating
Vaucelet - Skipped Cheltenham last year but won at Fairyhouse, was 2nd to Billaway at Punchestown and then won the Stratford Foxhunters in May. He had to work quite hard to beat Law Of Gold that evening, but they went a slow pace and I do think more of a stamina test will suit. Every chance the tough battle with Billaway left a mark as well. After that he was made ante-post favourite for the race (4/1 with Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill) and it is understandable as he ought to still be improving. He has already been seen this season as he won an Open at Portrush last month. He wasn't especially impressive as he only beat Coastal Tiep by 0.5L with Le Malin a further 0.5L back in 3rd. His trainer David Christie said after the race though was that he was fit enough to do himself justice, but he is working back from Cheltenham. They didn't go a strong pace either and he had to make the running so whilst the bare form isn't great it was a perfectly satisfactory start to the season.
Winged Leader - It will be interesting if he and Vaucelet both go to Cheltenham given he is the same connections as Vaucelet. He was a superb 2nd in this last season and was arguably unlucky to be pipped by Billaway. He hasn't been seen yet this season.
Billaway - Finally got the victory he deserved after finishing 2nd in this race in the 2 previous years. He then went and did the Cheltenham/Punchestown double. He will be 11 next year whereas Vaucelet will be 8 and Winged Leader will be 9 so it could be the younger legs get their revenge. Willie Mullins reported him in good form and Cheltenham is the target again.
Latenightpass - He is as short as single figures, but I would be amazed if he runs as connections have suggested he will stick to pointing before aiming to win the Aintree Foxhunters again.
Samcro - Has won 2 points with ease, but don't back him as he isn't able to run in hunter chases in Britain this season so shame on William Hill for quoting him at 10/1.
The Storyteller - Former Cheltenham Festival winner as he won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate in 2018. He pulled up in the Ryanair in 2019 and then in the following two years he has run over hurdles at the Festival finishing 2nd in the Pertemps in 2020 and then 5th in the Stayers' Hurdle in 2021. Sadly, in September of that year he pulled up lame at Listowel and he wasn't seen again for over a year when he won a Ladies Open at Ballycrystal. He only won by a short head that day beating Its On The Line who was pulled up in the John Corbet Cup last season and was a well beaten 2nd to Ferns Lock in the first hunter chase of the season at Fairyhouse, so that form is not good enough to win at Cheltenham. He qualified for Cheltenham when he won at Necarne on Sunday and whilst he did it comfortably it was not a strong race at all. He has already been tipped up in one tipsters ante-post Cheltenham on another website, but I struggle to see it at this stage. Formerly top-class horses on the downgrade don't tend to win this race anymore and although he is rated 163 over fences if he was anywhere near that level, he wouldn't be going hunter chasing. Like I say the form of his two point wins are miles away from what is needed to win this and he got a RPR of 104 for both wins which sums up the level of the form for me. I would also query if he wants 3m2f round Cheltenham especially if it came up testing. He is 10/1 with William Hill and is as short as 7/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair, but that is way too short a price for me at this stage. Hopefully he will go hunter chasing so we can get a better idea of where he is at.
Good Bye Sam - Was bafflingly put into the market for this last year even though he was never likely to qualify for the race. He was 2nd to Billaway at Naas in his first hunter chase in February, but was then beaten at 2/11 at Thurles in a maiden hunter chase the following month. He finally got his head in front at Tramore and was then beaten into 2nd in a race over the banks course at the Punchestown Festival. He is qualified for this race, but Willie Mullins didn't mention him in his stable tour and at this stage even his top price of 14/1 (William Hill) looks too short let alone the 8/1 he is with Unibet.
Castlebawn West - Won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in Christmas 2020 when trained with Willie Mullins and wasn't seen again until running in the same race Samcro won at Tinahely last month. He was pulled up very quickly after the 3rd fence that day though so it would appear he has been injured again. Given the doubt about his fitness he can't be touched at his current price of 14/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair.
Simply The Betts - I'm not sure what has happened to Bob And Co, but it seems he isn't in contention for Cheltenham this year and David Maxwell has purchased this horse and mentioned it might be his Cheltenham Hunter Chase horse. The problem is I don't think he can run in hunter chases this season as he was 2nd in the Grade 2 at Cheltenham back in April and as far as I know that rules him out. Even if he could run I don't think he will stay.
Monalee - He hasn't run since November 2020 and has only been seen 21 times in his career which for a horse about to turn 12 is not very much at all. He was of course a very close 4th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2020 which along with his 2 2nds in the Savills Chase would be the pick of his form for me. Clearly we have no idea as to how much ability he retains, but his trainer Henry De Bromhead has said he is in great form and is set to go down the hunter chase route with him. I know I have said I wouldn't usually like horses on the downgrade for this race, but like I say he hasn't had much racing (The Storyteller has had 38 starts) so he could be an interesting one. He is 16/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair, but I certainly wouldn't be backing him until we see him run and see how much ability he retains.
Jett - Must admit I thought they had retired him after his shocking run at Aintree, but he is listed in the prices at 20/1. I'd be amazed if he turned up though given how he ran at Fontwell and Aintree last season. NB adding an update to this on 28/11/22 to say that Jett reappeared in a point at Larkhill yesterday, but he ran very poorly and pulled up at an early stage. Even if they do have another go with him I would be amazed if they don't just stick to points let alone consider this.
Bob And Co - Is listed at 20/1 in the betting, but as I mention above he wasn't talked about in Paul Nicholls' stable tour so I couldn't be backing him to make it 3rd time lucky at this stage. At the same time it is hard to see what else Maxwell will have for the race at the moment.
Ferns Lock - I was hugely impressed with him at Fairyhouse this week when he beat Its On The Line by 12L on what was only his 4th start. He will only be 6 in March and given David Christie has the front two in the betting I would be surprised if he made the trip to Cheltenham this season, but he looks a very promising horse going forward.
Porlock Bay - Won this in 2021, but connections decided to miss it last term and focus on Aintree instead where he was a good 3rd. He will be 12 next year so hard to see him regaining his crown if he does go to The Festival this time around.
Dandy Dan - I was really impressed with his victory at hunter chase night at Cheltenham in April when he beat the very useful Caryto Des Brosses in good style. He was then 3rd at Stratford behind Vaucelet where I think it was a combination of his jockey not knowing the course and that a stronger test of stamina was needed, meant he didn't finish closer to the winner. He would appear to not want soft ground, but he could be a player on good ground given what he did in April.
Dubai Quest - Was one of my fancies for the race last year and although he was beaten 25L back in 4th I thought he ran with great credit on just his 13th start. He will be 10 next year, but clearly has had little racing so if he can find more improvement then he would be a leading contender again in March. 
That is it for now. I certainly couldn't be putting up any bets at this stage as I would imagine we might even see contenders appear that aren't even priced up yet given there are various doubts about some of those that I have mentioned above. At this stage though I do think one of the top 3 in the betting looks like the likely winner. 
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On 11/20/2022 at 10:40 AM, Andy2022 said:

According to Nicholls start of season stable brochure Bob And Co will be following the same route as last year.

Cheers for that info Andy. Very surprised he didn't feature in the Racing Post stable tour if that is the case and that Maxwell hasn't mentioned him. Hopefully nothing has happened to the horse since that was published.

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  • 1 month later...

Time to update this again after the hunter chase at Down Royal on Boxing Day.

The Storyteller had landed another open point at Quakerstown since I wrote the first update, but again the bare form of the win was nothing to write home about. Even so there was plenty of confidence about his chances on Monday. Gordon Elliott had put him up in the paper as his best chance of a winner over the Christmas period and he was very well backed into favoritism. In the end though he never really threatened to get competitive and was a well beaten 7th. Unless something comes to light then you struggle to see him even lining up at Cheltenham let alone being capable of fighting out the finish. The fact Skybet still have him at 8/1 is disgraceful and even the 25/1 with Boylesports seems on the short side to me.

Vaucelet had been a slightly disappointing 3rd to Dorking Cock in this race last year, but he was able to reverse that form by getting up to win right on the line. He had looked like he would finish 2nd after jumping the last and I don't think his jockey wanted to give him an overly hard race, but Dorking Cock started to stop on the run-in and he was able to take full advantage. Not surprisingly he was cut into 3/1 with everyone for Cheltenham and at this stage I think he is the correct favourite.

In this country I took in my first point of the season at Chaddesley Corbett and the meeting featured some horses in the betting. Latenightpass was slightly surprisingly beaten in the Ladies Open by Shantou Flyer. The Aintree Foxhunter winner is likely to bypass Cheltenham again though so the 10/1 about him makes no appeal at all. Shantou Flyer dead heated on his seasonal return and I think fitness told late on at Chaddesley. He is Olive Nicholls' ride this season and not surprisingly he looks set to give her a spin at Cheltenham in March. He isn't in the betting as of yet, but his Cheltenham form alone means he would have a fair chance of a top 6 finish. He clearly retains plenty of ability as well.

Jett is in the betting still, but he was pulled up yet again on Tuesday and he should be retired as he doesn't look like he wants to be a racehorse anymore.

It seems like the Mens Open winner Fier Jaguen isn't going to be aimed at Cheltenham this season, but Bradley Gibbs' horse put in a devastating performance to land the Mens Open on the card. He made all the running and forced every horse in the race (and it was a strong contest) to pull up expect for one who plodded onto finish 2nd. I think he could be good enough for a race like this possibly next season when he has more experience and is another year older.

Over in Ireland Chris's Dream made his pointing debut at the end of last month. He is still trained by Henry de Bromhead and had finished 2nd in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase to The Storyteller 2 years ago. He had lost his way, but dropping down to pointing company looks to have turned him around as he was very impressive in beating a useful yardstick Aloneamongmillions by 22L at Moig South. It will be interesting to see what he does next, but he was put into the betting at 10/1 which seems a fair enough price at this stage. He would need to win another point or finish in the first 2 in a hunter chase though to qualify.

Brain Power landed the Grand National in America back in 2019 when trained by Nicky Henderson and he has been in good form this season in points winning 3 times. He was set to run at Down Royal but was taken out because of the ground. His wins are good pieces of form especially his win over Hardline last time. Aintree might be his main target, but Cheltenham has been mentioned as a possibility as well. He is 16/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for Cheltenham. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A brief update this week. Envious Editor won the first hunter chase of the season and has been put in the betting for Cheltenham, but Aintree is his target and although the trainer has surprised with entries in the past I would be surprised if he turned up here.

I have been told that Bob And Co is now being trained in France and whilst that doesn't rule him out of running in this you would think it unlikely.

Onto Ireland and a horse called Rocky's Howya made it 4/4 in points at the weekend. He didn't achieve a great deal over hurdles with a couple of 2nd places the best he managed. After a year off though he seems a different horse as he has gone through the grades and his win at Aghabullogue was his best yet. His trainer after the race said he wouldn't rule Cheltenham out although he still needs to qualify. He isn't currently in the betting, but he clearly should be given this has been given as a possible target.

Chatham Street Lad is a general 20/1 shot for Cheltenham after he won at Ballindenisk on New Years Day. He had been only 4th on his pointing debut the previous month at the same track which was his first run since the 2021 Betfair Chase. His trainer said he had come on a lot for that run and it showed as he won well. After the race though the trainer only mentioned about running him in points so no mention of Cheltenham at this stage. He also needs to qualify.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The obvious place to start is the hunter chase at Thurles last Sunday as we saw a hugely impressive winner in Ferns Lock. In the very first post in this seasons blog I mentioned that he was highly unlikely to go to Cheltenham this season and despite the fact he would have a leading chance, his trainer has said he will not be going to The Festival this year. He was given a Racing Post Rating of 155 for the win and the only sort of rating that high that I can think of in this sphere in recent years would be Mossey Joe's when he bolted up in the Stratford Champion Foxhunter a few years ago. I think his trainer thinks he is better than Winged Leader and Vaucelet and I agree with him. I also think he is doing the right thing in not going to Cheltenham this year. It can be a tough race and Ferns Lock has never experienced anything like it so far. David Christie certainly seems to be of the Willie Mullins school of thinking in letting novices be novices. He is set to go to Gowran on the Saturday before Cheltenham next and I was thinking the John Corbet Cup would have been a good target for him at Stratford, but my reading of the conditions for the race is that he wouldn't actually be able to run in it because of his Fairyhouse win in November. I therefore wonder if he might use Stratford as a tester for Cheltenham and put in the big race. Some bookies did take him out of the market for this on Monday, but I guess he should be kept in as there is a month until entries close and people do change their minds. Clearly though you wouldn't want to be backing him at the moment. If he did go he would be favourite in my opinion. Two other things to note. First of all Ruby Walsh said on RacingTV that he looked like he would come on for the run (which is scary if he can put in a performance like that not fully fit) and 2nd his trainer said he would likely enter Ultimate Optimist as well as the other two at Cheltenham.

I'm surprised Billaway drifted out after his run because he basically put in the same sort of run he put in last season in this race when he was 2nd to Winged Leader. He has never won first time out and obviously he reversed the form come Cheltenham. He was slow at some fences and hit a flat spot, but Patrick wasn't over hard on him once he knew he couldn't win and I would be amazed if we didn't see a big improvement next time. Whilst I'm not biting myself I can see why 9/1 with Bet365 would appeal from an e/w perspective. 

On Sunday 15th Chris's Dream qualified for Cheltenham with a comfortable victory at Carrigarostig. Of the ex Rules horses we have seen so far he would be the one that would interest me the most at the moment and he is now 9/1 with Bet365. As I always say though horses with his profile don't tend to do that well in this race anymore.

The horse who finished behind Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse was Its On The Line. He came over to Stratford for the John Corbet Cup last year and was fairly weak in the market and ran accordingly pulling up. This season as well as being behind Ferns Lock he was 2nd and 3rd in points behind The Storyteller. He appeared to take a massive step-up in performance though on the 15th when beating Lord Schnitzel by 7L at Turtulla. Derek O'Connor rode him that day and I would imagine it would be his ride at Cheltenham as well. He's an interesting one because until that win I wouldn't have given him a hope, but given his trainer I just wonder if he is bringing him to the boil nicely. Only 3 bookies have him in the betting and he is 16/1 with Unibet, but bookies should price him up as he is an intended runner at this stage. I'm also going to add he actually went off favourite against Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse.

Brain Power won again on Saturday afternoon and I will add more when I see some quotes.

In the UK the weather has got in the way of pointing and hunter chases, but Sheriff Hutton on January 15th took place and saw 2 Cheltenham contenders. Dubai Quest was 4th in the race last year and returned to land the Ladies Open in very comfortable fashion. I would imagine he will have another run before Cheltenham and whilst he does have a bit to find on the front 2 from last year he ought to still have improvement in him and the 33/1 price that he currently is seems a bit insulting given some of the horses in front of him in the betting.

In the Mens Open on the card former Tom George inmate Black Op made it 3/3 since going pointing. He had already qualified for Cheltenham after winning two opens last year in easy fashion and he clocked a faster time than Dubai Quest despite the fact he was carrying a stone more. He was a Grade 1 winning hurdler and was 2nd to Samcro in the Ballymore in 2018. He had lost his way under Rules, but the change of yard and going pointing has clearly worked with him as he still has plenty of ability. Only BetVictor and William Hill have him priced up and they both go 25/1 but if he was able to run to his pointing form at Cheltenham then he would have place claims.

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Brian Power is certainly being considered for Cheltenham after his win on Saturday. The winning time wasn't that special, but he did it easy enough.

The main reason for the quick update though is that Winged Leader made his seasonal return at Cragmore on Sunday. He made a mistake at 3 out and at the last, but kept on best of all on the flat to beat Le Malin by 1.5L. That horse was a 1L 3rd to Vaucelet earlier in the season, but what is probably more interesting is the 3rd who was Er Dancer. He was only a head further back, but he has been beaten 16L twice by Brian Power this season and basically the same behind Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse. The winning also wasn't anything special. After the race his trainer said it took a while to get him back after his 2nd at Cheltenham. He got a knock and and 2 months ago it looked like he might not make it out at all. He will improve form that and the Naas hunter chase will be considered before they consider options for the spring.

One thing I always say when people ask me about horses for this race is to not back them until we see entries or see them on track. Unless the horse is in a big yard we rarely get to hear/read anything about them and Winged Leader is proof of that as that is the first I had seen of him being injured. It will be interesting if Christie decides to run both or just send one of them to Cheltenham. Also if Winged Leader goes to Naas then we might not see Vaucelet before Cheltenham because I can't believe they will both run there.

Adding to this post as I have seen some info about Ferns Lock. Apparently someone has put in a hefty bid for him, but the only is rich and doesn't need to sell him so isn't going to. Also to add into the mix is that his best friends own Winged Leader and he is mates with the owners of Vaucelet and thus he thinks it is right that he lets those two head to Cheltenham this season so and keep Ferns Lock for next seasons race. 

Also Famous Clermont won the hunter chase at Wincanton this afternoon and he has been put into the betting for this by some bookmakers. He clearly has the engine for the race as he was really impressive on that front, but his jumping was shocking. He never looked like falling and did actually put in a couple of very impressive jumps, but it is clear that at this stage he still has a lot of learning to do on that front. Will Biddick said after the race that he is one of the best pointers he has ridden but that he needs to improve his jumping before going for a championship race. Therefore I would be amazed if he went for Cheltenham this season but he is a best of 16/1 with William Hill for the race. I do think he has the engine to go pretty close if they can sort his jumping out.

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First of all for the update this week is a horse I mentioned last month after he won a point and that is Rocky's Howya. He was 4/4 going into his run at Tallow on Sunday and needed to win the Open to qualify for Cheltenham. Well he didn't just win, he put in a devastating performance to beat Chatham Street Lad by 45L. The time was fast as well and for me it was a really impressive performance. Given the 2nd was being discussed as a possible for Cheltenham after he won last time and is as short as 12/1 for this race, if they decide to go to Cheltenham with the winner then he must have a chance. He looked very average as a hurdler previously and didn't show much in 3 starts over fences either so that would be a concern as would the trip, but he looks a different horse for the yard change and he clearly isn't a 106 horse anymore. He's not in the betting still, but connections are seriously thinking about a Cheltenham bid.

One UK trained runner I hadn't mentioned yet because I didn't consider him a contender is Go Go Geronimo who is set to be a runner in the race his trainer Kelly Morgan said after he won a couple of weeks ago at Alnwick. That was only an Intermediate and he was 2nd in the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham last season so we know he handles the track. I really respect the trainer as well, but at this stage I struggle to see him being good enough to win this and I wouldn't have minded seeing him in stronger races than the two he has hacked up in so far this season. He's not in the betting either, but again he should be as he is an intended runner.

Secret Investor has got his 1st qualifying run under his belt this afternoon after winning at Bangor. On paper it is a run that would give him no chance at Cheltenham, but his jockey dictated the tempo from the front and only asked her mount to do enough to make sure the race was won and he had plenty up his sleeve. Having said that we still don't really know how much ability he retains and he's not a horse that would make my shortlist at this stage. He was actually pushed out in the betting for Cheltenham and is now 12/1 with William Hill. After the race connections have said he is likely to go to Taunton on the 21st in a bid to qualify for Cheltenham. After that there is only one other race he can run in and that is at Fontwell on the following Sunday.

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On 11/18/2022 at 12:19 PM, Darran said:

Dandy Dan - I was really impressed with his victory at hunter chase night at Cheltenham in April when he beat the very useful Caryto Des Brosses in good style. He was then 3rd at Stratford behind Vaucelet where I think it was a combination of his jockey not knowing the course and that a stronger test of stamina was needed, meant he didn't finish closer to the winner. He would appear to not want soft ground, but he could be a player on good ground given what he did in April.

Darren any news on this horse, you mentioned looks like needs good ground and with the weather we have been getting might be, but seen no mention or entries for him this season unless point to point which I have no knowledge of?

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Not been sighted at all so far and the young girl who rides him has only had one ride in points so far this season. What I did notice though when I searched for him on the pointing website is that he has no trainer listed at the moment. This is always a problem with this race though that until a horse appears you usually have no idea what has happened to it. Obviously still a chance he could appear somewhere before the entries close, but if he doesn't I wouldn't expect to see him in those entries.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is likely to be my last update before the entries are announced next Tuesday. For this update I have just made a list of horses that there are updates on.

Secret Investor - Qualified for Cheltenham with a fairly routine success at Kelso last week which gave him one month before this race. Paul Nicholls has been bullish about the chances of some in this race in the past, but everything I have read makes me think he has no more than an outside chance. In the Racing Post on Tuesday he said the owner had always wanted a runner in the race so that is why they have got him qualified. Neither win has got to the bottom of the ability that he currently has, but I can't say he makes much appeal at 8/1.

Billaway - Landed the Naas hunter chase for the 4 year running a couple of weeks ago although in typical Billaway style he wasn't overly impressive. He made one really bad mistake and hit his usual flat spot. Patrick said after the race though that he always knew he was going to win and I think he had plenty up his sleeve come the line. He was pushed out which didn't surprise me and Bet365 are still a stand out 10/1 which I can understand will hold e/w appeal to many. I do think he will improve for the Naas run and that he will run well again at Cheltenham, but it might be a tough ask for him to win the race again.

Famous Clermont - Put in a much better jumping performance at Haydock when easing to an impressive success in the Walrus on Saturday. He still wasn't totally brilliant over his fences though and Haydock isn't the jumping test it used to be. Still as I pointed out before he has the engine to win this and on pure ability apart from Ferns Lock I think he is the best we have seen under rules so far this season. Straight after the race connections said they would go to Cheltenham, but the day after they seemingly changed their mind and it looks like he will skip the race and go to Aintree instead. There has been much discussion about if this is the right move or not, but for me I think he does need another year before going to Cheltenham. He hated the place last year and you just wonder if Gold Cup day might send him over the edge as well. Another year's experience will do him the world of good and whilst nothing is certain with horses and he might get injured, Hazel Hill was proof of how waiting a year did work out for the best. They have done so much to get this horse to use his ability to the best effect and why would you want to risk that now? Also Aintree is a big race itself so why is it a bad thing to choose to run their over Cheltenham? He is 7/1 for Cheltenham but obviously you want NRNB if you do want to back him.

I K Brunel/Not That Fuisse - These two finished 1st and 2nd in a hunter chase at Taunton yesterday and both performed very well. I K Brunel qualified for Cheltenham with that win and whilst I have no idea if this is the plan or not it wouldn't surprise me if he does turn up. He jumped well and was given a very good ride. Not That Fuisse wasn't given the best of rides and may well have won if he hadn't be caught behind horses after 4 out. I was surprised to see that he was being aimed at the race though because whilst I think he needs 3m now I struggle to see 3m2f round Cheltenham being what he wants. Also whilst he is a very good hunter chaser, he isn't good enough to win this.

The Storyteller - Returned to pointing a week and a half ago, but was beaten into 2nd place by Down The Highway the same horse who had finished just in front of him when they were both down the field at Down Royal on Boxing Day. I find it hard to see him running in the race now and he's clearly nowhere near his peak.

Chris's Dream - His trainer has said in today's Racing Post that he will come over for the race, but he has also been entered in the Grand National and if he runs in this at Cheltenham then he can't run in the Grand National.

Bob And Co - He was being trained in France, but whilst I don't know where he is currently stabled he has left France now. David Maxwell has yet to ride in a hunter chase this season and I noticed that he hasn't ridden his last two runners including at Taunton yesterday. This horse is the only possible runner Maxwell can have (unless he buys one) so it will be interesting to see if he is in the entries next week.

Its On The Line -  Won again at Kildorrery on Sunday beating Lord Schnitzel and It Came To Pass despite making a mistake at 2 out. His trainer said after the race that fingers crossed he will go to Cheltenham next. He is 14/1 and my feeling is that is still under the odds and whilst the trainer doesn't usually send one over for the sake of it his form isn't as strong as others.

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I said yesterday's would be the last update, but then we got an update on Famous Clermont in the paper today.
Having read the pointing update in today's Racing Post it seems as if connections of Famous Clermont are now seriously considering Cheltenham again. Trainer is preferring Aintree, owners are now thinking Cheltenham as they might not get another chance and jockey is also coming round to the idea of Cheltenham. They are going to have a meeting on Monday to discuss it, but it seems at the very least he will get an entry. Whilst I still have my doubts about how he will cope with Cheltenham after last year, he is also the best horse in the race, in my opinion, so I think it is worth backing him now at 7/1 NRNB. Unless they get a change of mind with Ferns Lock he isn't going to go and I'm not sure Winged Leader will either so his price is only likely to get shorter. There are also a few that are around the 10/14-1 mark which aren't going to be running either. On pure ability I think he's a better horse than Vaucelet and if he can jump well enough and he copes mentally with the day then I think he will win.
Famous Clermont 1.5pts e/w @ 7/1 with Bet365 NRNB (take up to 5/1)
Also Bob And Co is now at Harry Derham's after he Tweeted a clip of him schooling this morning and he also confirmed he is going for this race.
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On 2/11/2023 at 5:57 PM, Alley Cat Glover said:

Darren any news on this horse, you mentioned looks like needs good ground and with the weather we have been getting might be, but seen no mention or entries for him this season unless point to point which I have no knowledge of?

Dandy Dan is entered in a point this weekend.

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  • 3 weeks later...
As always this is a lengthy preview and clocks in at just over 4500 words. There is some great value on offer on my selections and all bookies are going 4 places as well which is great to see.
Billaway - A horse that even non hunter chase experts will know well given how long he has been around, and this will be his 4th run in the race having finished 2nd twice and then finally winning last year when just getting up in the nick of time to beat Winged Leader. He was clearly helped by the fact Winged Leader and Mighty Stowaway got racing from someway out because he got badly outpaced having made a bad mistake at the 18th. We know he is likely to hit a flat spot and chances are he will put in a bad error as well because he usually does. I thought he did well to win at Punchestown in front of Vaucelet as I have a feeling he might have won anyway despite the error at the last from the 2nd. This season on debut he was stuffed by Ferns Lock but given how good he looks and the fact he always comes on for his first run it was no real surprise. He then made hard work of beating Le Malin at Naas, but Patrick said that he was always going to win and if anything, he is just getting even lazier. He is probably still at the same sort of level that he has been in previous years which clearly makes him a player, but the concern has to be his laziness, and will things pan out as kindly for him as they did last year? I can understand why people think he is a solid e/w bet at the prices as he is clearly one of the best horses in the race, but I'm just not sure he will be able to double up. His jockey has got his way and he wares blinkers which I think will help him.
Black Op - Got up into the 150s over hurdles (2nd in the 2018 Ballymore and won the Mersey Novices' Hurdle) and fences when trained by Tom George but had lost his way. He has done well for the switch to pointing though when twice last season by 25L margins each time and then won on his only start this season at Sheriff Hutton back in January. The time was good as he was 0.5s quicker than Dubai Quest on the same card despite carrying a stone more. Obvious unknown is how he will get on back under rules and back in a big field given he has only beaten 10 horses in those 3 pointing victories. If he copes with that though I can see him running a decent race.
Bob And Co - With David Maxwell injured at the moment Jamie Codd has been booked to ride, but when the final decs came through on Wednesday morning Codd was jocked up on The Storyteller and Alice Stevens was on Bob And Co. Clearly Alice doesn't have Codds experience, but she is a good jockey and is more than capable. It is obviously a step up from having the owner on top although it is worth remembering that Sean Bowen rode him in the race 2 years ago and he still unseated him. He was travelling well at the time though and he surely would have played some sort of part in the finish. After that he went on to beat Billaway by a nose in the Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown. Last season he only ran twice when finishing a solid enough 2nd in the Walrus at Haydock to Cousin Pascal and then when falling at the 9th in this race. He had gone to France to be trained but came back in January and has gone to Harry Derham, but it will be a tough ask to win this first time out at the age of 12 and the fact he has come to grief on both his runs in the race before also has to be a concern. I've tipped him up the last two years so he certainly had the ability, but there is a huge unknown about how much of that ability he still retains. I can't help thinking his best chance of winning this has past.
Brain Power - Was mainly seen over 2m when trained by Nicky Henderson and was 2nd in the 2018 Arkle and took the International Hurdle in December of that year. The furthers distant he ran over was when he went over to America for the Grand National which he won over 2m5f. Done much better this season though winning 4 times including at Tyrella last time in January. He beat Samurai Cracker in that contest, and he hasn't exactly done much for the form as he has been beaten twice since and he was 21L behind Vaucelet at Down Royal. The trip is obviously a concern and his form suggests he wont be good enough to win this.
Cat Tiger - Maxwell doesn't usually run two in a race, but it seems Cat Tiger is also set to take his chance as Paul Nicholls said in the Racing Post that Charlie Sprake has been booked for the ride. He also said he thought he was his best e/w chance of the week. He has been placed in the last two running's of the Aintree Foxhunters' having been 3rd in 2021 and 2nd last year. He's only been seen once this season when a well beaten 5th at Ascot back in November. He's never really struck me as a possible Cheltenham winner, and he was a well beaten 12th in the Kim Muir over course and distance a year ago. I'd imagine Aintree will be the bigger target for him. He struggled a bit when first going pointing last season and he didn't win until his 4th start.
Chris's Dream - A former Troytown winner back in 2019 and finished 10th in that seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup. His last good run under rules though was when he was beaten a neck by The Storyteller in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in October the following season. He only ran a further 5 times under rules after that which include pulling up in the Ryanair and unseating in the Grand National. He has found his form again pointing though winning both races so far in November and January. Both look decent enough runs, but he still seems on the short side in the betting on the back of them and horses with his sort of profile don't seem to win this race anymore.
Dandy Dan - Ran well in defeat to start with in points last season, before winning a couple of small field Opens very easily. He then went to Cheltenham for the big race on hunter chase night and impressed me by beating the very good Caryto Des Brosses by 6.5L. He then went to Stratford, and I thought his jockey's inexperienced went against him in that contest when she got caught out, but he still finished a very solid 3rd just 10.5L behind Vaucelet. He's had 1 run this season when he was 3rd behind Law Of Gold at Garthorpe recently but looked in need of the run that day so I expect him to improve on that effort. Given we know he handles course and distance that is a big thing in his favour and very interestingly James King has been booked for the ride. I don't blame connections at all for going with him over his regular jockey. He wouldn't want the ground to be too soft though, but otherwise he does have place claims.
Dorking Cock - He landed the Down Royal Boxing Day Hunters Chase last season, but then only had two more starts and was beaten 59L by Billaway at Punchestown. He looked like winning the Down Royal contest for the second year running until Vaucelet came and nabbed him on the line. That is his only start so far this season and on those Down Royal runs he clearly has some sort of chance, but ultimately I would be surprised if he was good enough to win.
Famous Clermont - When this horse started out on his racing career in 2019 over in Ireland, he looked pretty ordinary as he showed little promise in 4 starts in points. He then moved over here and was unlucky not to win first time out as he stumbled at the last and unseated when in command. On his next start he hung left on the run in and through the race away. That wasn't the only time he showed his quirky tendencies and when he ran in a bumper at Wincanton in February 2021 he hung badly left round the home turn and ran out when still going well enough in 3rd place. After 3 bumper runs, he went back to Chris Barber and the team have done a hell of a job with him to get him to where he is today. Last season he was 2nd on his first start, but then won his next 3 which concluded with a very easy success at Exeter in his first hunter chase for which he recorded a RPR of 130. He then went off a 6/5 favourite for the Intermediate Final on Hunter Chase night here and quite frankly he looked to hate every second of it. He made mistakes and weakened pretty quickly from 2 out. Connections did wonder if he had stayed, but in all honestly, he never looked like winning and probably did well to get as deep into the race as he did. He did have another run after that when winning a point in easy style. This season he returned with a hugely impressive performance at Larkhill on New Years Day when winning with any amount in hand. Next up he went to Wincanton where he made some interesting attempts of getting over his fences at times, but then at other times he was electric. Anyway, he still won in a canter and was value for way more than the winning margin of 4L over Shantou Flyer. A couple of weeks later he went up to Haydock for the Walrus which is the biggest hunter chase pre-Cheltenham and his jumping was much better, and he couldn't have been any more impressive. The handicapper has him on a mark of 142 and Billaway was given a mark of 140 when winning this last year. It's quite incredible that no one appears to be talking about him because clearly on pure ability he is one of the best horses in the race, and in my view, he is the best horse in the race. I'd be very confident about his chances, but you have to have his run here in April at the back of your mind. He is certainly a better horse now, but it was a horrid effort and if it is Cheltenham that is the issue then he clearly won't be winning this. Hopefully though that isn't the case and Will can get him into a nice rhythm. Chances are he will make at least one poor jump, but at the same time he can put in some great leaps, and he made good progress from Wincanton to Haydock on that front. I'd have him as joint favourite with Vaucelet so it is clear where the value is.
Go Go Geronimo - Ran a hell of a race to only be beaten a neck by Latenightfumble in the Intermediate Final at the hunter chase night here in April. He helped to set a fairly strong gallop that night, so he clearly stays well and handles the track. He went onto finish 2nd in the John Corbet Cup at Stratford which was another good effort. This season he has run and won two points at Alnwick, but the fact he was 2/5 and 4/9 are accurate to how much better he was than his rivals. This is by far his toughest test yet and I see him running a nice race, but not being good enough to hit the frame. His trainer Kelly Morgan does have previous in this race though having trained Top Wood to finish 2nd and 3rd.
I K Brunel - Was a decent horse for Olly Murphy and has won both starts for his new yard. Initially I don't think the form of his Larkhill win was that strong but given what he did at Taunton my suspicion is he was a good horse in a weakish contest in comparison to this race. I was impressed with his win at Taunton where Izzie Marshall gave him a very good ride. His jumping was very impressive and whilst Not That Fuisse didn't get the run of the race in 2nd, he still might have won. I can see him running a nice race.
Its On The Line - Won a maiden hunter chase at Cork and a novice hunter chase at Tipperary last season where his jumping wasn't always the best. He then went to Stratford for the John Corbet and he was very disappointing running no sort of race. This season he was just beaten by The Storyteller in October, then was beaten 12L by Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse although he was carrying 5lbs more so in hindsight he had no chance that day. He was run in 3 points since finishing 3rd behind The Storyteller again and then winning twice beating Lord Schnitzel both times. His trainer sounds quite bullish about his chances, but I struggle to see it myself as no piece of form would make him good enough to win this and he looks under priced to me.
Le Malin - Only had 10 races having started life in France. Unless the Racing Post database is wrong, he didn't run from June 2019 until last October where he finished a 1L 3rd behind Vaucelet at Portrush. I suspect he was flattered a bit by his proximity that day though. He has also been 2nd to Winged Leader in a point in January and then was 2nd to Billaway at Naas before winning back in a point by 11L. Given Billaway should improve plenty for that Naas run and he always looked like he would get back up to win I can't have him reversing that form or the form with Vaucelet. However, given he has finished close to them you have to think he might be capable of running a decent enough race.
Might Stowaway - Ran a hell of a race to finish 3rd in this last year and probably set the race up for Billaway given he and Winged Leader were in a battle from a fair way out. He was then sold and is now trained by Alan Hill, but he has been very disappointing in both starts. First of all, he pulled up on hunter chase night behind Dandy Dan and then on his one start this season he was well beaten in a point at Horseheath. I know some will be backing him based on last year's 3rd, but he doesn't look the same horse now and I would be surprised if we saw a repeat here.
Moratorium - A solid enough horse for Myles Osbourne and he should be able to give him a nice spin round, but he was beaten in a weakish hunter chase here on hunter chase night and was 2nd at Wetherby behind Not That Fuisse this season. He did win at Alnwick last time, but deserves to be a big price for this.
Myth Buster - Was pulled up behind I K Brunel on his seasonal return, but made Premier Magic pull out all the stops on his next start at Chaddesley Corbett. He then fell at Cocklebarrow before winning as he liked over 4m at Kingston Blount. Was outclassed at Aintree last year and likely to be a similar story here.
Not That Fuisse - Won the hunter chase at Fakenham on the same day as this race last year and followed up with two more hunter chase wins at Warwick and Fakenham before finishing 4th 26L behind Vaucelet at Stratford. Young Heidi Palin took over the ride this season and she gave him a good ride to beat Moratorium at Wetherby, but she got caught out at Taunton when a staying on 2nd to I K Brunel. He used to want a shorter trip, but I think 3m is what he needs now although I'm not sure 3m2f round Cheltenham is what he wants. Jack Andrews is meant to be taking over in the saddle.
Premier Magic - A surprising entry as his trainer has said he wouldn't go for this race again after hating things in the contest a year ago. To be fair he still looks in peak form based on his wins this season as he was given a lot of weight away to Myth Buster when winning at Chaddesley Corbett and then easily beat Law Of Gold at Garthorpe last month by 14L. He does have the ability to run well, but given how much he hated it last year he's hard to actually want to back him.
Rocky's Howya - He had shown very little under rules over hurdles and 3 starts over fences and was only rated 106 when he last ran in a handicap in October 2021. He then had a year off and started back in a maiden point which he won by 18L. He then won a Winner Of 3 bizarrely before winning a Winner Of 2. On his first run in Open company, he beat Le Feline by 24L at Aghabullogue in January and she had won her 3 starts prior to that race and won on her following start. If that wasn't impressive enough his next start was even better. He needed to qualify for Cheltenham, and he went to Tallow last month and hammered Chatham Street Lad by 45L in a quick time. Chatham Street Lad was being talked about as a possible runner in this race when he won an Open on his previous start and he was rated as high as 156 in his prime. The 3rd horse was Woodbrook Boy, and he won on his next start. His form just looks so red hot. Obviously we don't know if he can replicate the huge improvement he has shown in points back under rules and there would be a small concern over the trip, but if he can run to his pointing form then he is a huge player for me in this.
Secret Investor - Another former top-class chaser who landed the 2021 Denman Chase at Newbury beaten Clan Des Obeaux. He clearly isn't at that level now and whilst he has won two hunter chases at Bangor and Kelso with ease the bare form is not strong. Dieu Vivant is a horse who is always easy to beat, and Sir Jack Yeats is nowhere near the horse he used to be. No doubt he will give Natalie a good spin round, but I would be a bit disappointed if he turned out to be good enough to win. The other key thing is Paul Nicholls doesn't even seem that bullish about his chances and seemingly prefers the claims of Cat Tiger.
Shantou Flyer - Did well to beat Aintree winner Latenightpass at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas, but he was out in his place by Famous Clermont at Wincanton on his next start. Earlier this month he ran at Charlton Horethorne, but he stumbled on the bend and unseated Olive. He does have a superb record at Cheltenham including finishing 2nd to Hazel Hill in this in 2019 and is sure to give Olive a great spin round, but it is hard to see him finishing in the 1st 4.
The Storyteller - A Grade 1 winning chaser in the past and got into the 160s ratings wise. No doubt people will trot out the old line of he could carry these at his best so must have a serious chance. Well as I have mentioned elsewhere, horses with his profile just don't win this race anymore. Whilst I am sure a horse with his type of profile will pop up and win the race again at some point, who knows it could be this year, the percentage call is always to try and take them on. At the end of the day, they tend to be running in points and hunter chases for a reason and if he could still run to such a high level, he wouldn't be running in a hunter chase. He beat Its On The Line by a short head on his first point start in October and then won a couple more without ever looking anywhere near his best. He then was sent off favourite at Down Royal on Boxing Day and never ever looked like he was going to get involved in the business end of the race and finished 7th. He ran in a point at Punchestown last month and was also beaten there into 2nd place. Even at current odds he looks under priced to me although it was a big surprise to see Jamie Codd booked for the ride on Wednesday given he was set to ride Bob And Co who would appear to have a better chance. Maybe he was claimed for the ride, but maybe it suggests there is some confidence behind his chance. He still wouldn't be for me, but Codd riding is interesting.
Vaucelet - He has got some record since going to David Christie's yard as he has only been beaten 3 times and one of those was on his debut for the stable.  The other twice was when he was 3rd at Down Royal last season and then when losing to Billaway at Punchestown. He followed that Punchestown effort by winning at Stratford which followed on from his John Corbet Cup win the previous year. He had to work quite hard to beat Law Of Gold, but that horse has a superb record at Stratford, so it is a strong piece of form. This season he returned in an Open at Portrush in October and made all to just beat Coastal Tiep. He then managed to go two places better at Down Royal than he did the previous year by staying on strongly to just get up late on to beat Dorking Cock. That was a bonus win because he isn't at his best on soft ground although I think the fact the race distance this year was 3m rather than 2m5f clearly helped as well. I saw a quote saying that the horse is best fresh, so they have not run him since then, but that isn't really backed up by the facts. Prior to his Punchestown 2nd he won at Fairyhouse over Easter and there was 13 days between those two efforts, and he had won a point at the end of March prior to those 2 runs. He's not run at Cheltenham before, but no reason why he won't handle the track and stays well. He can through in the odd mistake as he showed at Punchestown last year. Clearly, he is one of the best horses in the race and I know plenty of people can't see past him, so it is easy to see why he is such a short-priced favourite, but there is just no value in his price for me. I'd have preferred him to have had a more recent run, so whilst he is one of the likely winners, I think there are better bets in the race who just might be capable of beating him.
Wotzizname - Won a match at Newton Abbot in May and then was only beaten a neck back there a couple of weeks later. Neither of those runs good enough for this though and he has been well beaten in both starts this season.
Verdict - Usually at this stage the betting has a pretty solid look, and you know there will be little movement until the day of the race, but this year is different because Ferns Lock and Winged Leader will come out on Wednesday morning unless we get a massive surprise or Vaucelet gets an injury. Given they are currently 2nd and 3rd in the betting we are surely going to get some movement. First of all, I will say that David Christie is pretty ill in hospital at the moment so if Vaucelet does win then it would be great for him especially given how close he went last year. Vaucelet is no doubt going to be a very popular selection and clearly he has the ability to win this, but I don't think he is the best horse in the race ability wise and therefore he is too short in the market for me. I think Famous Clermont is a better horse than him and if he hadn't of run so badly over course and distance in April confidence would be very high. He is a better horse now though and he has already run to a rating which would see him win most renewals of this. Hopefully that run was just a blip, and he can show his true ability here. I have already put him up as a bet, but he is still value because he will surely be even shorter on Wednesday when the final decs come through.
Last year's winner Billaway needs to improve on what he has done so far this season, but he usually does and I can see why he will be popular, especially if he stays an e/w price and 4 places will be on offer after the final decs come through. Bob And Co certainly did have the ability to win this race in the past, but you are guessing if he still does. As I point out in the preview clearly the fact Codd is riding over his owner is a plus, but then it isn't the first time he has been without him in the race, so I don't think it is as big a thing as some will make out. If he was a double figure price I probably would have a small bet on him, but the fact he's been off for a year has to be a negative. One year I suspect one of the former top class horses will pop up and win, but the percentage call has to be to take on Chris's Dream, Secret Investor and The Storyteller, especially as none of them have the best form so far tis season coming into the race.
I know you have to take on trust that Rocky's Howya will show his improved form back under rules, but his pointing form is red hot and if he can run to that level it would not surprise me at all if he was good enough to win this. If he had run in a hunter chase this season and run to the level he had in points then he'd be at least half the price he currently is. Of the really big prices I think Dandy Dan has a chance if the ground isn't too soft. We know he handles course and distance and he wasn't seen to best advantage when just over 10L behind Vaucelet at Stratford. That effort clearly doesn't leave him with much to find and he will come on plenty for his seasonal return at Garthorpe. The fact James King takes over in the saddle is a huge plus for his chance as well and he has solid e/w claims.
Famous Clermont 1.5pts e/w @ 15/2 with William Hill (4 places and take up to 5/1 e/w and have 2pts win if between 9/2 and 7/2) 
Rocky's Howya 1pt e/w @ 14/1 with William Hill and Betfred (4 places and take up to 7/1)
Dandy Dan 0.5pts e/w @ 40/1 with Bet365 and William Hill (4 places and take up to 16/1)
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Thank you all for following the thread this year and hopefully it has been of help. This race rarely gets talked about in all the various podcasts and blogs on Cheltenham so my aim is to fill that gap. 

This year if you have enjoyed the preview and found it helpful then I am looking to raise some money to a charity close to my family's heart. As some will be aware my youngest son was born with what is still an undiagnosed illness and has various disabilities. Every Thursday he goes to a charity called Small Steps who work with children aged birth to 5 years who have cerebral palsy or other forms of motor impairment, syndromes or sensory impairment to help with their development and my son has benefitted a lot from the services that they provide. They need to raise £400,000 each year to survive. Obviously there is no pressure at all to donate, but if you can spare a bit of cash then it would be great if I help them raise some money towards their total.

The link to donate is https://fundraising.smallsteps.org.uk/donation/donate

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28 minutes ago, Darran said:

Thank you all for following the thread this year and hopefully it has been of help. This race rarely gets talked about in all the various podcasts and blogs on Cheltenham so my aim is to fill that gap. 

This year if you have enjoyed the preview and found it helpful then I am looking to raise some money to a charity close to my family's heart. As some will be aware my youngest son was born with what is still an undiagnosed illness and has various disabilities. Every Thursday he goes to a charity called Small Steps who work with children aged birth to 5 years who have cerebral palsy or other forms of motor impairment, syndromes or sensory impairment to help with their development and my son has benefitted a lot from the services that they provide. They need to raise £400,000 each year to survive. Obviously there is no pressure at all to donate, but if you can spare a bit of cash then it would be great if I help them raise some money towards their total.

I will donate any profits I make from my Cheltenham bets, though I suspect it might not be a lot !

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As always I add my preview for the Fakenham Hunter Chase to this thread

Right onto the Fakenham hunter chase which I have a fantastic record in. It came back in 2019 after a break and I have put the winner up in all 4 renewals. It would be nice to make that 5 this year, but I do think its a trickier race to call than usual. 
Basically, if Bennys King jumps round safely then he wins, but given he made a bad mistake at Hereford where Heidi nearly fell off and she did fall off at Haydock I don't think you can be certain of that. The Hereford win was a really strong piece of form with Magic Saint winning at Wincanton the other week to boost it and he had Gaboriot 20L behind in 3rd. He was running well at Haydock as well when he unseated at the 14th. Fakenham is a tough jumping test and so it worries me about him getting round. Without that I think 4/5 would be a justifiable price, but with that I can't back him at odds on.
So, what can take advantage should he not complete? Mister Whitaker has Gina on who really should be at Cheltenham rather than Fakenham. He travelled well into the race at Bangor, but found very little behind Secret Investor and was beaten 17L in the end. Possibly he will come on for the run, but they went a slow pace at Bangor and it has to be a concern that he has just regressed more than anything. Stamina also has to be the other concern.
I've backed Gaboriot in both hunter chases. There was promise at Hereford, but the Kelso effort was shocking. I guess there is a chance he found the ground too quick at Kelso, but it worries me how quickly he stopped that day. It wouldn't surprise me if he did run a big race, but he wont be carrying my money.
Peacocks Secret was 2nd to Not That Fuisse in this race last year, but he didn't exactly jump all that well which is odd given he has won here before. He did win on his next start at Stratford, but wasn't so good after that. He was last of 3 on his seasonal reappearance in a point last month although only beaten 5L. He's a solid enough horse so could run well if at his best.
With Dale Peters riding his own horse it means he can't ride Rebel Dawn Rising like he usually does. He looked a progressive horse the last two seasons and I thought he did well to win at Leicester last March. He then went to the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham and I don't think he really stayed. He was then ridden to stay in the John Corbet Cup at Stratford and that didn't really work either. 3m round here should be perfect though and he bolted up first time out last season. I can't see him beating Bennys King if he gets round, but I can see him being good enough to beat the rest.
Sir Jack Yeats won this race in 2019 and he's went on to do well for himself since then. He had lost his way though under rules and I haven't seen enough from him since going pointing and hunter chasing this season. I don't think he achieved a great deal when 2nd at Kelso last time although of course he was well clear of Gaboriot and he is a bigger price than him now.
I don't give General Custard much of a chance and that leaves us with the outside Zee Man who I do think has a chance. I thought he ran really well at Southwell 11 days ago and this will be less of a stamina test which will help him. On a line through Dieu Vivant he actually has the beating of Mister Whitaker yet he was a much bigger price. Apart from Bennys King, Caryto Des Brosses is better than any other horse in this race so the fact he got as close as he did gives him a chance here. 
For me the play is to have e/w bets on Rebel Dawn Rising and Zee Man who I think are both a bigger price than they should be given the doubts about the others. Quite how Zee Man is the outsider I don't know. Like I say at the start though if Bennys King gets round then I don't see him getting beaten thus I will do forecasts as well with him to win and one of the other two to finish 2nd to him.
Rebel Dawn Rising 0.5pts e/w @ 13/2 with Paddy Power and Betfair
Zee Man 0.5pts e/w @ 40/1 with Bet365
Bennys King to beat Rebel Dawn Rising 0.5pts f/c
Bennys King to beat Zee Man 0.5pts f/c
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I need to hold my hands up and say that I made an error when it came to Premier Magic. As I said in the preview he had the ability to run a big race, but I was so obsessed with how he ran in the race last year that I wasn't prepared to give him another chance to rectify that despite him being a big price. Of course I was happy to forgive Famous Clermont a poor Cheltenham run at a much shorter price so I should really have given Premier Magic another chance as well. Like last year he wasn't even meant to be in the race, but Highway Jewel didn't make it again and at the last moment Bradley decided to give Premier Magic another chance. In last year's race he was on the inside and he hated it so Bradley decided to go on the outside this year and he travelled and jumped superbly for his jockey/trainer. It is important to be always learning in this game and I have learnt a lesson from taking him on, especially as he was such a big price. He was also wearing cheekpieces which he had only worn once before in a point a couple of years ago and they may well have helped him. He continues the run of 11 or 10 year olds winning the race which now goes back to 2015 and he is the 4th 10yo to win on the bounce.
Turning for home I thought at the very least we would have 2nd and 3rd with Rocky's Howya and Famous Clermont, both looking the only challengers to the winner. The loose horses got in the way on the run in though and it allowed Its On The Line and Shantou Flyer to fly home for 2nd and 3rd. Its On The Line never really looked like getting involved and looked to get outpaced after jumping 3 out. At 2 out he doesn't even look like he's going to play a part in the finish as he jumps that quite slowly and only after the last does he really get going. He's only 6 so you would imagine he will be back for more in the upcoming years. He has been entered at Aintree. Shantou Flyer put in another superb effort at the Cheltenham Festival to finish placed in this race for a 3rd time and for a 5th time overall at The Festival. He was always handy and stayed on after getting outpaced. I suspect he was helped by the fact the loose horses got in Rocky's Howya though. 
Rocky's Howya certainly showed his improved pointing form back under rules and he gave it a right go from the front. His jumping wasn't always foot perfect and he possibily did a little bit too much in front, but he's run a hell of a race and was unlucky that the loose horses hampered him on the run-in. I think they put him off big time and he probably would have finished 2nd otherwise. He's only 7 and he will surely be back for more. I'd imagine Aintree, Punchestown and Stratford will all be looked at.
I did think Chris's Dream might be the best of the former top-class horses and so it proved. He ran a perfectly good race to finish 5th and wasn't beaten far. I'd imagine he will be considered for Punchestown.
Famous Clermont more than likely didn't stay the trip. I say more than likely because he was put off by the loose horses as well and given his quirks in the past it wouldn't surprise me if they put him off concentration wise. I didn't see him make a mistake and Will gave him a perfect ride as he creeped into contention, but the winner and Rocky's Howya were staying on the better and he didn't have enough to see it out. He's only 8 though and given how this race has been farmed by 10 and 11yos in recent years, it wouldn't surprise me if as he got older he might see the trip out better. On The Fringe didn't look a stayer when he first ran in the race and went onto win it aged 10 and 11. If he goes to Aintree then he clearly will be a leading contender and he does have a month to get over the exertions. They might be tempted by Punchestown instead to give him a bit more time to get over it. He more than proved how good he is though.
Vaucelet was a head behind him in 7th and he looked like the was going to play a part for a long way, but he didn't find too much after coming under a ride after jumping 3 out. Again, like Famous Clermont he is only 8 and he might well end up winning this race at some point. As I pointed out in the preview though I was worried about a lack of a recent run for him and he ran like he was lacking a recent run. Punchestown and Stratford are likely to be on his agenda again although I'd imagine where Ferns Lock goes next season will determine if he runs in this again next year. He has been entered at Aintree, but I suspect that Winged Leader will be the stables horse for that race.
Bob And Co was only just behind them in 8th which is as close as he ever got. He was out the back for a long way and seemed to find things happening all a bit too quickly for him. Based on this he could be one for the 4miler back here on hunter chase night because he looked like he needed 4m last week. I suspect the fact he hadn't run for a year also didn't help him.
Billaway seemed to make more mistakes than usual and eventually he paid the price. I did like Patrick Mullins piece in the Racing Post where he said he eventually did what he has threatened to do for 6 years and fall. He looked like he set off too early as ploughed right through the fence and gave himself no chance. I K Brunel unseated at the same fence and was still travelling well at the time. The Storyteller didn't improve for the return to Cheltenham and ran every bit as badly as his Down Royal run and his last point run suggested he would. Mighty Stowaway never looked like he would repeat his 3rd of last year. Dandy Dan ran well enough for a while, but his jumping went to pieces and he ended up pulling up. The ground might have been too soft for him. Cat Tiger never got involved, but will have a better chance at Aintree and after making the running Go Go Geronimo was outclassed. I thought Myth Buster ran a good race until he was left behind after jumping 3 out. He was out of shot when unseating at the 2nd last.
Usually the time of the Hunter Chase is around 10 seconds slower than the Gold Cup but it was over 14 seconds this year. Clearly the winner of the Gold Cup looks above average, but I asked Simon Rowlands on Twitter what it meant regarding this race and he thought it meant Premier Magic was no more than an average winner which I would agree with.
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