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Non-Smoking Man

Cheltenham NH Festival 2019

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Its never too early to start analysing the Grade 1 events at the Cheltenham Festival (which takes place in March 2019).

I will start with the Champion Chase (2 miles for older horses).

Im attracted to betting in races where there are doubts about the favourite's credentials and/or its price.

In the case of Altior, the 11/8 fav. its both viz. the horse, though unbeaten over fences, achieved little in beating the ordinary San Benedito in the grade 1 Celebration at Sandown, and only slightly more when beating  Min 7 lengths in the 2018 renewal of this race. The time of the former in this class was only fair and in the case of the latter was the slowest time of the day adjusted for class and distance.

Therefore I have been searching for concomitantly long priced alternatives in the antepost (betting way ahead of the scheduled event) market.

Ive come up with 2 horses who have shown promising form in similar class events last year: Sceau Royal trained by Alan King and Brain Power trained by Nicky Henderson (Altior's trainer).

First Sceau Royal: SR has showed progressive novice chase form in 2018 , winning a grade 1 and a Grade 2 chase over this trip at grade 1 tracks (ie the best tracks where the best horses run for the most prize money) .  In the grade 2 Napoleon's casino Chase SR achieved a speed figure of 95, according to my figures and before that in the Henry V111 at Sandown achieved a 90. This compares favourably with Altior's 90 and 86 - its best 2 figures in 2018.

Sceau Royal was a mere 6/1 second or third fav for the equivalent Novices championship last year at Cheltenham, the Arkle, (from which it was withdrawn due to a minor setback) yet is available at 25/1 at the time of going to press for the Champion Chase. I have 15 00 at 26/1.

SRs owners have the second fav in the Champion Chase, Footpad, but I have reason to believe that will be campaigned over further in 2019 (It is entered in the King George over 3 miles) and will be scratched from the Champion Chase to pave the way for their other horse who is a 2 mile specialist.

Brain Power: is badly named because it could be called BrainLESS last year . It made a few jumping mistakes in its novice season and fell when fancied for the Manifesto (Grade 1) at the Aintree Festival. Henderson in an interview declares that BP will be kept to chasing for the moment and he mentions the fact that his charge has had an operation for kissing vertebrae on its spine because 'he just wasnt right' last year. When he did get round he showed alot of ability (including achieving a 90 when second to Footpad in the Champion Chase in 2018) and in taking a few quid at 100/1 and 75/1 I am trusting BP will improve the 10 lengths he needs to compete at this level. Also I am hoping Henderson will not reroute Brainpower to another race at Cheltenham with Altior in this race. (He has been known to contest Grade 1s with multiple entries.)

Both Brain Power and Sceau Royal are entered on Sunday (18th November) in the grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham for their respective seasonal reappearances. I will be watching keenly to see if I have had a couple of value investments or I have done my money.

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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Shloer Chase result - Sceau Royal won by just over 2 lengths in good style; Brain Power 4th, beaten 16 lengths.

Sceau Royal shortens to 14/1 and Brain Power left on 66/1 for the Champion Chase.

SR was very fresh and pulled hard early - he was very keen. In spite of this he was quick away from his fences and found extra after jumping the last. Takes on Altior in the Tingle Creek Chase next time out. I think he has a good chance of toppling Altior as he loves Sandown and won the Henry V11 there last year impressively,

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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I watched the race with interest yesterday, and although Sceau Royal won well, if Altior turns up in anything like his Champion Chase form, my money would be on Altior. You must have been disappointed with Brain Power, although it was his first run of the season. I do wish you well with your bets since I don't back ante-post.

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I WAS disappointed with BP. Didnt jump with any fluency and took too much time in the air. I cant have it now for the Champion Chase. Henderson may have to go up in trip or revert to hurdles with it. On the dual antepost investment, although swings and roundabouts, I reckon the points gained on the Sceau Royal side of it outweigh the Brain Power bit.

In general you are quite right to avoid antepost betting - multiple same- stable entries and stingy prices. Exchange betting has killed the market.

Nice to have you on board Antonio...feel free to add your 10 pence worth..

J

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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The Champion Hurdle :

Of the last 8 runnings of this race honours are even between the GB runners and the Irish 'raiders'.  In those 8 runnings there have been 2 dual winners - Buveur D'Air (GB) and Hurricane Fly (Eire). BD is going for a three timer having won it in March 2017 and March 2018. Unsurprisingly BD is hot favourite to win it :

Buveur D  5/2

Samcro    9/2

Laurina  7/1

Melon 10/1

Summerville Boy 14/1

Apples jade 16/1

Supersundae 16/1

Draconien, Min, both  20/1

33/1 Bar

Two stats are well understood - previous course form is a plus and no juvenile hurdler graduating to this race has won for a long time. It can be won by a leading novice from the previous season, notably the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner which was Summerville Boy and Samcro who won the Ballymore (2.5 miles). and Laurina who won the mares novices race by 18 lengths.

Laurina is also entered in the senior mares race this year and may defect from here - the trainer would prefer the mares and the owner prefers this Champion Hurdle against the boys.

Melon was only a neck behind BD in this race last year and Hurricane Fly was also placed in it the year before he won it for a second time.But prior to that he was only 5th to Supasundae  in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. Melon tends to find one too good and why should he now beat BD? (Or Supasundae?)

Apples Jade could only manage 3rd in her last two races last year and they were only mares races - more needed here one fears. She is in in case Samcro (same stable) goes amiss between now and March 2019.

The same could be said for Draconien, who is a Willie Mullins trained entry and stable companion of Melon. Further Mullins has stated that Draconien, a Grade 1 winner in Ireland last season will 'probably' go novice chasing instead. However, the stable's Faugheen, has just disgraced itself and Draconien may be left in pending further discussion, as back up.

Picture clear then..? haha....no not really i hear you say..

What we do know for certain is that this is Summerville Boy's target, as it is for BD and Melon.

Laurina whilst impressive in a novice mares race, has more to do against these and only recorded a modest time at Cheltenham. She is beatable and may not turn up.

Another with a poor time is the favourite Buveur D'Air who, whilst unbeaten over hurdles last year was anything but impressive in the last 3 of those (Christmas Hurdle a Listed race and the Champion. Buveur D'Air landed me a right touch in its first win in this race when it was switched mid season from jumps back to hurdles - I cottoned on this might happen before it was announced and backed it to win a fortune at huge odds on the Exchanges (as everyone thought it would run in the Arkle).

In advance of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on the 1st of december, when most of the leading fancies are due to cross swords, I believe the solid antepost bet for the 2019 Champion Hurdle is Summerville Boy at 14/1. He's a grade 1 course and distance winner whose target this is; further, hw won the Supreme in a fast time having made 2 jumping errors that would have knocked the stuffing out of a lesser horse. Samcro is due to contest the FF but was tamely beaten by a lesser horse first time out and may be overrated or need further.

Summerville boy is the value bet at this stage.

Jack NSM

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We agree on Summerville Boy. Before reading your last paragraph 14/1 looked good e/w value to me, although I won't be taking the price just yet. The last ante-post bet I had was on Lah Ti Dar for the Oaks. :(

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Moderator
8 hours ago, antonio66 said:

The last ante-post bet I had was on Lah Ti Dar for the Oaks.

Can't remember was it withdrawn ?

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She had an unsatisfactory blood test Bazzer, did you back her as well?

Edited by antonio66
Correction

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2 hours ago, antonio66 said:

She had an unsatisfactory blood test Bazzer, did you back her as well?

Not anti-post but I would have done on the day , just couldn't remember what happened to her.

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Saturday's Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle will be a significant pointer to the Champion Hurdle. Samcro seeks to atone for a lacklustre reappearance, Buveur D'Air , the incumbent Champion, makes his seasonal debut, and last year's Supreme winner, Summerville Boy, will be attempting to uphold that form and put himself in the Champion Hurdle picture.

Rumours today suggest that Samcro is a doubtful runner as he is friendless in the betting. An interesting outsider is Vision Des Flos and if there was an upset this is a horse capable of providing it (runner up to the useful Lalor last year at Aintree). Lalor is novice chasing this year as was VDF until unseating on debut. Is trainer Tizzard thinking of returning to a hurdle career with VDF (my fancy for the JLT Chase at Cheltenham)?

Ive had 11 00 Summerville Boy at 6.2 and 2 00 at 29 VDF in the Fighting Fifth. SB is notably strong in the market suggesting the trainer has him forward for his seasonal return. I will be keeping a close eye on his jumping. I hope they dont crawl early..

(My antepost involvement for the Champion Hurdle is 40 00 win with William Hill Summerville Boy at 16/1 and 20 00 We Have A Dream at 25/1. (That was all dated April 2018). Also 2 00 at 15 in early November S Boy.)

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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Looks a very interesting race, although I will be watching rather than betting. It would be good if Samcro runs, he needs softer ground, especially after his disappointing seasonal debut.

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Antonio - I have discovered that the doubt re Samcro's participation was the fact his ferry was cancelled (due to bad weather presumably) and  it looked like he wouldnt make the crossing (like Kemboy, an absentee from the Ladbroke); but he made a later sailing. So the money has now come for him as he is a certain runner.

Ive been looking at the form of the 2018 Champion Hurdle (and Buveur's earlier wins). In the Champion H the first (Buveur D'Air himself) the 3rd and fifth havent run since and Melon (2nd) fell (with Samcro) at Puncheston before we knew who would win. Identity Thief won over 3 miles next time but was then slaughtered over the same trip. Then in 6th onwards we have Faugheen, Wicklow Brave, Ch'tibello, J. Constable etc..There is virtually no confirmation the form is good.

This got me thinking that maybe this year the 4 y.o. juvenile form might be a threat. Basically you have the Triumph Hurdle from Cheltenham - Farclas and Mr Adjudicator - the Doombar at Aintree - We Have A Dream - and the Punchestown equivalent, the AES - Saldier and Mr Adjudicator (Farclas beaten). I have chosen Saldier as the most likely and have had a saver at 50/1 for the Champion Hurdle (despite his last flight fall on his reappearance (which he would have won).

I envisage Buveur D being tried over further later in the season - he is already a winner of the Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) over the 2.5m trip and I think that will be his best chance of a win this season. Samcro too wants further. Does that not leave Summerville and Vision DF to fight it out?

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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No excuses for Summerville Boy - beaten fair and square by a magnificent Buveur D'Air, who is now on track to record a 3rd Champion Hurdle in succession. I havent heard what connections of the second, Samcro are saying but their horse could go chasing now.

Certainly Samcro and Summerville have lengthened for the Champion Hurdle abd BD shortened to evens.

I will have assessed the Fighting Fifth  timewise by Friday and the picture will be clearer then.

Vision Des Flos will surely revert to the bigger obstacles after this confidence booster over hurdles (having fallen over jumps earlier in the season).

Jack

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Buveur D'Air was very impressive, and looks almost unbeatable now for the Champion Hurdle. I was disappointed with Summerville Boy, maybe there is some improvement in him since it was his first run of the season.  Although I previously stated I would not have a bet, I did get an offer of 7/4 Buveur D which was too good to turn down. :)

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I do my own times Antonio - I have worked out my own standard times for every distance at every course, jumps and flat - and have just received the official form book to date for this season. (Each week I get a new supplement to put into the book. Naturally I have been a busy bee working out some time figures for the principal races so far this season.

Of particular interest was the Fighting Fifth Hurdle discussed above.

My modus operandi is to work out how fast or slow a race was against the other races on the card - all adjusted for class.(Its not much use to know that Buveur D'Air was 20.4 seconds quicker than the following maiden hurdle over the same trip; but once allowance is made  (according to a given figure) for the lower class of the maiden (5.5 secs per mile) it is useful to know that BD was 4.2 seconds per mile better than Champagne Platinum ( the maiden winner).

Applying the same procedure to all the races this is what they look like (higher figure the better) -

 11 50 a.m.Style de Voie 7.6

12 265 Dimple 9.8

1 00 Ask Ben 5.5

1 35 Polydora 5.2

2 05 Buveur D'Air 6.3

2 40 Champagne P. 2.1

3 20 Lake View Lad 4.5

I have assessed the day 'class par' at 9.5. Thus Dimple ran .3 secs per mile faster than class; and Buveur D. 3.2 seconds per mile slower than class. BD is thus awarded 83 compared to 92 in the Champion Hurdle 2018 - 1 point = 1 length so it ran 9 lengths slower in  the FF than in winning a Champion Hurdle. I gave Samcro an 84 for the Ballymore victory (75 here)and 92 for Summerville Boy's Supreme win (61 here). Thus Summerville ran fully 31 lengths slower than that in the FF. Vision Des Flos ran way slower than at Aintree and Punchestown.

Although visually impressive in the FF, Buveur D'Air did not impress on the clock.

My immediate reaction has been to top up on the Mullins outsider Saldier at 60 (Betfair), in the belief that none of the horses in the Fighting Fifth did a champion's time figure.

I think the market will take some twists and turns before March and there is scope for speculation on some outsiders. Im keeping an open mind and will be watching the figures as the festival approaches.

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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