Friday, December 14, 2007

Cheltenham selections tomorrow

Franchoek has been described as 'the next Katchit' and is the current ante-post favourite for the Triumph hurdle in March; he's the one they all have to beat in the opener at 12.20.

The eight contestants in the Relkeel hurdle look pretty closely matched; a number of the runners are not guaranteed to stay the extended two mile five furlong trip. Pouvoir seems to have developed a habit of getting himself beaten while, at the weights, Liberate is in with a shout if he lasts home. The original selection was Charlie Mann's course and distance winner My Turn Now but my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact the stable haven't had a winner in the past fortnight. I'll take a chance with Paul Nicholls' Gwanako.

Clear top rated animal in the 2.05 is Howard Johnson's Tidal Bay; the word is that Nicky Henderson's Duc de Regniere is the horse Mick Fitzgerald has postponed his retirement to ride. The Henderson stable has been going through a quiet spell; this race will prove useful for future reference.

The Gold Cup looks extremely competitive. The best value I've seen in this is Venetia Williams' Idole First priced up at 20/1 with totesport; that's worth an each way interest as IF beat Palarshan (currently around 8/1) on similar terms over course and distance last March. Dangers abound, with likely favourite New Little Bric feared most.

In the International at 3.10 John Carr has said current champion Sublimity is not fully wound up. I'm concentrating on Afsoun, Katchit and Mac's Joy. In my mind's eye I can see Katchit getting swamped just after the last in the Fighting Fifth a couple of weeks ago. In contrast Afsoun looked the winner at Ascot last time but was outfought by Hardy Eustace over a distance the yard feel doesn't suit. Mac's Joy should have a shout at the weights but I'm siding with Afsoun.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

The day started with 10/1 shot Harper Valley defeating 1/3 favourite Franchoek and went rapidly downhill from there, with some unforeseen winners going in.
Gwanako was sent off 3/1 favourite and raced prominently but he looked one paced approaching the last and was well beaten by 8/1 chance Pouvoir who stayed on all the way to the line.
Tidal Bay won the novice chase well with Duc De Regniere, who missed a couple of fences out, finishing third. Gold Medallist has been off the course a long time but he jumped well in front and would be the one to take out of this race.
Idole First made a blunder four out when looking one paced and was never competitive after that, eventaully finishing seventh at odds of 16/1. New Little Bric (7/2f) disappointed badly, being pulled up four out; Tamarinbleu won at 22/1, with all the fancied horses failing to make the frame.
Afsoun (9/2) raced in second place for much of the International but lost his place badly two out only to stay on again in the closing stages, eventually finishing fifth. Connections had said a strongly run two miles suited but it didn't look like that here. The horse is known to be edgy but, to me, he doesn't look the easiest of rides; that was his last chance in my book. David Pipe's Osana (7/1) went off in front and was never caught, earning himself a quote of 8/1 for the Champion hurdle in the process.