We move onto Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival after a successful first two days of action – with the Preview articles +38.63pts to this point in time! Unfortunately my Laptop has decided to break on the worst possible weak, but I’ve put together the best article I could below. Good luck!
In any normal year Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival is usually a clear highlight, but this season we are treated to a fantastic Day 2 card. We kick off this year’s Ladies Day with what many would call the ‘Irish Banker’ in Envoi Allen, an extremely exciting recruit to Hurdling for Gordon Elliot. That trainer is also responsible for another short-priced favourite on the day, as dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll bids to make it a hat-trick in the Cross Country Chase – setting up an unprecedented assault on Aintree to win three in a row. By far the most exciting contest on the day however is the feature Grade 1 Champion Chase, where three of the very best two-mile Chasers line up. Reigning Champion Altior will face his toughest task to date against young prodigies Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi. In what will hopefully be a battle for the ages, let’s hope that Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival can be just as successful as the first.
We’ve had to overcome some obstacles in the build up the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, but we are racing, and it promises to be another exhilarating week of National Hunt action! Day 1 will get underway at 13:30 on Tuesday with the famous Cheltenham roar, and there really is no better curtain raiser in sport. The first day is traditionally my favourite of the four, with the feature Grade 1 Champion Hurdle taking center stage. It’s been well documented that this year’s renewal isn’t the strongest, and that notion is perhaps backed up by a field of 17 lining up, by far the largest entry in the last decade. Although coming into the race there doesn’t look to be a star, I do believe one will emerge – similarly to Buveur D’Air in 2017. Elsewhere on the card we have two further Grade 1s for two-mile Novice Hurdlers (Supreme) and two-mile Novice Chasers (Arkle), both packed with young improving Horses. To add further spice to proceedings, we’re also treated to a brilliant renewal of the Grade 1 Mares Hurdle, with the unbeaten Honeysuckle taking on superstar Mare Benie Des Dieux. It’s safe to say that I cannot wait to get to Prestbury Park!
2m4½f Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) – Thursday 12th March 2020
The Ryanair Chase looks like a race which is going to cut up in my eyes, with the likes of Chacun Pour Soi, Delta Work, Cilaos Emery, Janika, Chris’s Dream, Bristol De Mai and Dynamite Dollars either running elsewhere, or skipping Cheltenham altogether. To be fair to the race however, these omissions won’t dampen the quality – with the top three in the betting all very good Horses.
3m½f RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – Wednesday 11th March 2020
There are two types of people in this world; those who are big fans of Champ, and those who cannot have him at all. I’m certainly in the latter camp. Continue reading “Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post: RSA Novices’ Chase”
2m½f Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) – Tuesday 10th March 2020
You don’t need me to tell you that this year’s renewal of the Champion Hurdle isn’t a vintage one – countless pundits and writers have been saying the same thing for months now. It’s funny how much a year changes a division in National Hunt Racing; it was only 12 months ago that we were licking our lips at the prospect of Laurina vs Apple’s Jade vs Buveur D’Air! As it turned out, the first two flopped and the latter named former Champion got injured on his sole start this season. In addition to the sad loss of last year’s brilliant winner Espoir D’Allen, the already fairly undistinguished 2019/20 two-mile Hurdle division has been blown apart – crying out for a new Champion to arise.
2m4½f Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – Thursday 12th March 2020
The Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Stable Plate for short!) is run over two-and-a-half miles on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival. The race takes place on the New Course, and is open to Horses aged five-years-old or over – providing that they have had at least three runs over Fences. Whilst the Stable Plate is a Handicap, there is no ceiling – which has allowed Horses with ratings as high as 158 to run over the past ten renewals. With the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase run over the same course and distance just over an hour prior, the race is aimed at Horses who are just below this level – and now also provides an opportunity for Horses who can’t get into the ever-competitive Northern Trust Novices’ Handicap Chase on Day 1 of the Festival. For many years this race had been considered a ‘British banker’ in terms of the Prestbury Cup, but the Irish have made a strong resurgence in recent times.
2m½f Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – Wednesday 11th March 2020
The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (better known as the Fred Winter) is run over two-miles on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival, and is the last Hurdles race of the week ran on the Old Course. The race is for four-year-old Horses only, and serves the purpose of taking lower rated Horses out of the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle. Despite some seemingly less talented Juveniles running in the race, it is usually extremely competitive due to the nature of improving young Horses. The race has been won by some nice types in the past, with the likes of Sanctuaire, Diego Du Charmil and more recently Band Of Outlaws victorious. French recruits have an extremely good record in the race, but the last two winners have come off the Flat – including Joseph O’Brien’s 8/1 winner for this blog last year.
3m Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – Thursday 12th March 2020
The Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle is run over three-miles on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival, culminating a 16 race long Qualifying series. Qualifiers for the Pertemps Final begin at Cheltenham way back in October of the current season, with races taking place across the UK from Exeter to Musselburgh, as well as Leopardstown and Punchestown in Ireland. In order to Qualify for the race a Horse must finish in the first six places of a Qualifier, which means that Horses with Handicap marks high enough to get into the race would usually rather finish sixth than first! This caveat means the Pertemps Final has a completely different dynamic to that of an ordinary Cheltenham Festival race, as it’s not all about finding a Horse with the best recent form. One factor that does remain constant in regard to finding a Festival Handicap winner however is that you need a Horse who is ahead of their mark, be that through careful plotting by connections, or untapped potential.
2m5f Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – Tuesday 11th March 2020
The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle is the first Handicap on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival, run over two-and-a-half miles. The race will inevitably have a bit of cross-over with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle as they are run over the same distance, but the Coral Cup is aimed at Horses higher up in the Handicap. Last year William Henry saw off the top weight and much missed Wicklow Brave in a thrilling finish. Recently the Coral Cup has been contested by subsequent Grade 1 performers Whisper, Supasundae and Topofthegame.
2m4½f Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) – Friday 13th March 2020
The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle is the concluding race of the Cheltenham Festival, run over two-and-a-half miles. The race is for Conditional Jockeys’ only, and is named in honour of the legendary fifteen-times Champion Trainer. Certain trainers like to target this race due to their admiration and respect for Martin Pipe – especially Gordon Elliot. Whilst the race isn’t one of the most high-class affairs of the week, you can start to get a picture as to who is being targeted for the race around this time of year. The British and Irish Handicappers start giving marks to Novices’ who have had three runs over Hurdles (usually happens around January time), which gives a rough idea as to if a Horse is Grade 1 standard. Although some Horses might not be up to that level before the Spring Festivals, plenty will get a mark that looks exploitable in Handicaps – with further improvement likely to come. When you combine these sorts of Horses with trainers who like to win the Martin Pipe, betting angles start to shine through.
Cheltenham Trials Day is always one of my favourite National Hunt meetings to attend, with anticipation building for the main event starting in just over a months time. Last season we were treated to three winners going on to land Festival success; Siruh Du Lac (Stable Plate Handicap Chase), Frodon (Ryanair Chase) and Paisley Park (Stayers Hurdle). This season the card looks as competitive as ever, with Paisley Park bidding to retain his Cleeve Hurdle crown, and Bristol De Mai taking dead aim on the Cotswold Chase. I’ll be attending the Prestbury Park meeting as usual, and will provide live updates from the track on Twitter @JakePriceRacing. Be sure to give me a follow to keep up to date with daily selections, Horses to Follow, and 2020 Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post Previews.
3m6f National Hunt Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) – Tuesday 10th March 2020
The National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at the Cheltenham Festival, traditionally being dubbed the ‘four-miler’. After the controversies of last year’s renewal with only four Horses finishing the race however, a BHA review has made several changes to the race conditions for 2020. Significantly, the race distance has been reduced to 3m6f, with the number of fences jumped decreasing from 25 to 23. The participants also have more boxes to tick; Horses must have a minimum rating of 120, have ran at least twice over fences (including finishing in the first four of a Chase over 2m7f+), and have ran at least once during the current season. With the race being for Amateur riders, the Jockey’s also have new conditions to meet; they must have ridden a minimum of 20 times over fences, achieving at least five winners, all under National Hunt rules. Safety is clearly paramount in Racing, so fingers crossed these changes to the race conditions will provide a middle ground – as some fantastic Horses have graduated from this race in recent years including; Cause Of Causes, Minella Rocco, Rathvinden, Native River and of course the legendary Tiger Roll.
2m4f Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) – Tuesday 10th March 2020
The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase is always an intriguing race, aimed at Novice Chasers who aren’t quite yet up to Grade 1 standard. The rating band was changed in 2018 from a 0-140 to a 0-145, attracting a highly competitive field with just 7lbs between the top and bottom weights in 2019, and 8lbs in 2018 (excluding any claims). The race was extremely kind to my selections twelve months ago, with leading fancy A Plus Tard bolting up, and my second selection Tower Bridge following him home. The performance of A Plus Tard from a rating of 144 was that of an incredibly well Handicapped Horse, which has since been proven by him landing a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and earning a mark of 165. A similar story applies to 2018 winner Mister Whitaker, who won the Grade 2 Silver Trophy Handicap in April from a mark of 149 (12lbs higher than when winning this contest). This highlights the type of Horse required to win the race however, as essentially the weights are now irrelevant; Horses who wish to participate will need a mark of 140 to guarantee themselves a run, but obviously cannot be rated higher than 145. Whilst it is no longer an issue winning the race off top-weight, it will inevitably require a Horse who is ahead of the assessor.
The Showcase meeting is the traditional curtain raiser for Cheltenham’s season, kicking off what promises to be a fantastic National Hunt season at Jumps Racing HQ. We’re treated to an absolutely fantastic card on Day 1, with starts such as Al Dancer, Getaway Trump and Wholestone all taking their chances in Novice Chase events. I’ll be at the track across both Days this weekend, so be sure to Follow me on twitter @JakePriceRacing for updates throughout the day. Cheltenham is back!
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival has treated us well so far with Tiger Roll, Band Of Outlaws and Envoi Allen all winning for us on Wednesday, so I have decided to treat myself and attend Day 3 of The Festival despite not planning on it! Let’s hope we can pick up some more winners today. Be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates from the track throughout St Patricks Thursday.
After a solid Day 1 Preview with Supreme winner Klassical Dream (6/1) and A Plus Tard (16/1 Ante-Post) storming home, we swiftly move onto Day 2, where hopefully we can again pick up some more winners. Be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates from the racecourse throughout the day.
After a long twelve months, the wait for the best week in Horse Racing is finally over – the Cheltenham Festival is back! We kick off the week with my favourite day of them all – ‘Champion Day’ Tuesday. The feature race is of course the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, where we have an outstanding renewal which includes the two Mares Apple’s Jade and Laurina, taking on Dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air. Elsewhere we have another three Grade 1 events, two fantastically competitive Handicaps, and one of my favourite races of the season – the four-mile National Hunt Chase. I’ll be attending Day 1 as usual, providing live updates from the track via my Twitter account @JakePriceTips. The recent rain has significantly eased the surface, and despite the dry winter, we look set to race on the softer side of good.
Ante-Post Preview #8 – 05/03/2019
2m Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – Tuesday 12th March 2019
The Arkle Novices’ Chase is the first of three Championship races open to first and second season Novice Chasers, ran on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival. Some of the best horses in our sport have won this race in the past including Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop, Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Douvan. Last year the race was won by Irish banker Footpad, trained by the genius Willie Mullins – who has won three of the last four renewals. The Closutton handler doesn’t have his normal fire-power this year however due to injuries and dry ground, so the race has a much more open feel to it. With Ante-Post favourite Le Richebourg also ruled out of the race due to injury, this looks a fantastic opportunity for a horse to have their day in the sun.
Ante-Post Preview #7 – 03/03/2019
2m½f Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – Tuesday 12th March 2019
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the traditional Cheltenham Festival curtain raiser, always preceded by the famous Cheltenham roar of a crowd full of anticipation and excitement. Run over a fast paced two-miles, this is one of the most competitive Novice Hurdles of the season. The Supreme has a fantastic roll of honor including the likes of Altior, Douvan, Vautour, Al Ferof and Champagne Fever in recent years – so it clearly takes a classy horse to win. Last year the race was won by Tom George’s Summerville Boy, and we look to have an even more competitive renewal this year with no Willie Mullins hot-pot at the front of the market.
Ante-Post Preview #6 – 27/02/2019
2m4f Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) – Tuesday 12th March 2019
The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase is run over two-and-a-half-miles and is limited to Novice Chasers rated 145 or below. This rating band changed from 0-140 last season, and in result we now have an extremely competitive handicap. Last season the bottom weight ran from a mark of 137, and this year we look set for another tightly matched field. Mister Whitaker won from that bottom weight in 2018, but the nature of the race means that the top weights won’t have as difficult a task as they may have in a traditional handicap – we could see as little as 5lbs between the field this year.
Ante-Post Preview #5 – 26/02/2019
2m½f Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – Wednesday 13th March 2019
The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is one of two races at the Cheltenham Festival for four-year-olds, and this race is usually made up of horses not quite up to Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle standard. Last year the race was won by Gordon Elliot’s Veneer Of Charm, with the likes of Diego Du Charmil and Sanctuaire also on the honors list. The race is run over two-miles-and-half-a-furlong on Wednesday of the Festival and is the last race over obstacles on the Old Course, before action switches over to the New Course the following day.
Ante-Post Preview #4 – 13/02/2019
2m4f JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) – Thursday 14th March 2019
The JLT Novices’ Chase is one of three Championship Novice races for Steeplechasers, and opens Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival. The race is run over an intermediate distance of 2m4f, and last year was won by the likeable Mare Shattered Love. Since the races’ inception in 2011 Willie Mullins has struck up an impressive four wins (50% strike rate!), most memorably when Vautour demolished his rivals by fifteen lengths in one of the all-time great Cheltenham Festival performances. In a weird season which has been halted by both the weather and Equine Flu, we’re set for another competitive renewal. Continue reading “Cheltenham Ante-Post #4 – JLT Novices’ Chase”
Ante-Post Preview #3 – 05/02/2019
2m4f OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – Tuesday 12th March 2019
The Mares’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 contest ran over an intermediate trip of two-miles-four-furlongs, and is only eligible for female horses. There have been some fantastic renewals in the past such as when Apple’s Jade saw off Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in 2017, with the former winning this contest in 2016. Superstar Mare Quevega dominated the race for six years running between 2009-2014, but arguably the biggest claim to fame for the Mares Hurdle was when Annie Power fell at the last in 2015, costing punters millions. However you feel about there being a Championship race for female horses at the Cheltenham Festival, it clearly has thrown up some fantastic horses.
Ante-Post Preview #2 – 22/01/2019
3m Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final (Grade 3) – Thursday 14th March 2019
The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final is the concluding race in a series of Pertemps Qualifiers ran at various tracks from October through February. This ultra-competitive Handicap is run over three-miles and requires a horse to have finished in the first six of a qualifying race. Ran on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival, this Grade 3 has been won by some brilliant horses – including Presenting Percy and Delta Work in recent years. The Pertemps Final is a unique race in that although horses need to qualify to run, they don’t necessarily want to win a qualifier as it could jeopardise their Handicap mark. Equally, you need to have a mark which is high enough to get into the race as a maximum field is all but guaranteed.
Ante-Post Preview #1 – 17/01/2019
3m Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – Friday 15th March 2019
The Albert Bartlett is the last of three Championship Novice Hurdles, run over a full three miles on Day Four of the Cheltenham Festival. This unique race is a gruelling test for any young horse, with favourites notoriously faring poorly – recording just three wins since the race began in 2005. In order to find a winner in this race you need a gutsy horse who stays well –which are exactly the type of qualities which previous winners such as Unowhatimeanharry possessed. With there being less than 8 weeks until the Festival gets underway, we are in a strange position where there won’t be a lot of time for young horses to come out of the woodwork and stake their claims for this Grade 1 contest, so there seems to be a lot of value in some all but confirmed runners – especially as there are a lot of horses at the top of the betting with other targets.
It’s that time of year again – the National Hunt season is about to kick-off proper at Chepstow this weekend, meaning we sadly have to say good-bye to one of my favourite racecourses in Newton Abbot – until the spring at least! Their finale fixture is always a belter, last year producing the likes of Black Corton and Maria’s Benefit, who both went on to record Graded success thereafter. This year we are treated to another brilliant card, with over £100,000 worth of prize money up for grabs. Headlined by the Class 2 Intermediate Chase, Cheltenham Festival third Benatar is the stand-out entry and it will be fascinating to see how he does on his seasonal return. I will be at Newton Abbot tomorrow live tweeting the event, so be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips if you don’t already. If you want to read more from me, you can check out my National Hunt Horses to Follow 2018/19 here.