After a brief glitch in the program, all returns to relative normality midweek and with that fact, is another one that the 2019 Cheltenham Festival is just 4 weeks away...
Our tipster Kevin O'Malley chips in with big price selections for the four Novice Chase races at the Cheltenham Festival...
All of the pieces look to be in place for this race, with Le Richebourg, Lalor, Kalashnikov and Cilaos Emery cutting a formidable quartet heading the market now Dynamite Dollars doesn’t run. I put up Knocknannus as an E/w selection at 25/1 after his Newbury romp earlier in the season. While the sheen was taken off that bet somewhat after his Leopardstown mishap, I thought it best to have a look and see if there’s one more horse lurking and worthy of a bet. I think there is and his name is ORNUA, an 8yo trained by Henry de Bromhead, who is trading at healthy odds of 20/1. This handsome Mahler chestnut has run 7 times over fences thus far, with 3 wins, 3 2nds and a 3rd to his name. Last time out he was pitched in deep company at Sandown, but bossed the affair until half way up the run-in when collared by Dynamite Dollars. Bar a couple of minor errors, Ornua’s jumping was accurate, quick and brave and he recorded a clear career best in defeat with a Racing Post Rating of 157, backed up by a good speed figure. Sandown on soft ground is a demanding prospect and to be fair, Ornua only got tired late up the hill. He’s versatile, but would be best on something like good to soft and, like Knocknanuss, I think he is interesting and very capable of running a big race from on or near the pace in the Arkle.
National Hunt Chase
OK Corral does look a nice chaser and will surely go close with a clear round, but that horse aside I think the places look relatively up for grabs at the current prices. The main hope 4 weeks out is we get a run for our money. Colin Tizzard’s Mister Malarky is a nicely progressive 6yo stayer, who was relentless up the Newbury home straight last time out defying a handicap mark 130 with any amount in hand of his rivals. If he can build on an RPR of 149, he looks to have boundless stamina, is a safe jumper and is agreeably priced at 20/1 at the time of writing. I also like the Stuart Edmunds trained Now McGinty, another improving young stayer with seemingly all the staying power in the world. Edmunds has already earmarked the Welsh Grand National in December as his chief long-term target, which shows the regard the horse is held in at this early stage. He didn’t beat a strong field at Chepstow the last day, but there was plenty of quality in his work late in the race, where he settled the argument with a persistent De Rasher Counter to stretch away decisively in the closing yards, having pinged the last fence in good style beforehand. He’s rated 142 after four chase starts and there might just be more to come from this 8yo.
The market for this race is a bit nutty, with at least 6-7 of the top 10 in the betting for it, highly unlikely to even run. Again, the goal here is to find an unexposed and classy horse or two at nice prices that are a) likely to run and b) in with a sound theoretical chance of getting into the frame. The first horse I like is the Rebecca Curtis trained Drovers Lane, an imposing 7yo who was actually quite impressive at Cheltenham last time out over the JLT trip, recording an RPR of 154 and Topspeed rating of 125, which marks him down as a very smart operator. He clearly stays well having won over 3m1f in the past, but proven stamina is so often vital around Prestbury Park and with the RSA Chase looking hot enough, connections should probably run their progressive novice over 2m4f in the JLT. Adrian Heskin usually rides, but Sean Bowen was a worthy replacement to the sidelined Heskin last time out.
I have also had a few quid on Spiritofthegames at 66/1 with Bet365, 50s and 40s elsewhere. Dan Skelton’s 7yo is a talented horse and produced a career best in defeat off top weight to Kildisart here last time out. At the weights, he comes out as well as the winner and the pair actually ran to the same RPR (154) as Drovers Lane. Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation head the market prices, but for a bit of RPR perspective, their best efforts are 156 and 155 respectively and they are trading at 4/1 and 5/1. There really is no standout contender for this race and I’m excited to see how the chances of both of these selections develop in the coming weeks.
It is a shark infested at the top of the market for the RSA with four standout contenders and in the realistic price range, I couldn’t find anything I liked for a bet. So, we’ll side with the batty and perhaps unrealistic with another Colin Tizzard trained runner called Drink’s Interval, available to back at 80/1 at Bet365. A 145 rated 7yo mare, Drink’s Interval has gone off the boil for one reason or another in her last two starts, but she is a very smart horse on her day, a point she proved with an emphatic win at Chepstow first time out, where she slammed subsequent winner and useful prospect Debece by 11 lengths. She clearly has a lot of work on her plate, as to get in the frame here she needs to both bounce back to her Chepstow form and improve on it. There is often one or two mares getting 7lb for a crack at this and on decent ground, Drink’s Interval could just take her chance, with options limited off her handicap mark.
You can get in touch with me via email: Kevin.OMalley@GG.CO.UK OR by finding me on Twitter: @KOM_GGRacing
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