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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Cheltenham Stayer's Hurdle, Thursday March 15

The 3.30  Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle may be overshadowed by some of the other ‘championship’ races at the Cheltenham Festival, but the winner of the £201,000 first prize money won’t be complaining. Sam Spinner is possibly a little unlucky not to be unbeaten this season, but has improved – officially by 28lb – for stepping up to distances around 3 miles on his last two starts, in any case, and fully deserves his position at the head of the market.

However, one horse that could spring a surprise is The Worlds End, who has twice finished behind Sam Spinner this winter, but is surely capable of better. Tom George’s 7-year-old has yet to win at Cheltenham, but looked sure to be involved in the finish when falling at the second last in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, over 3 miles on the New Course, last year, and subsequently won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

The Worlds End has failed to trouble the judge in three starts this season, two on heavy going, but his trainer is reportedly far from dismayed by his performances so far. He has 11 lengths to find with Sam Spinner on their running in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, but appears to have been trained with this race in mind. Provided the race isn’t run in a bog, he should give us a decent run for our money at potentially rewarding odds.

Selection: Cheltenham 3.30 The Worlds End to win  33/1

Picking a Festival Winner

When looking through the competitive racing cards at the Cheltenham festival it can sometimes be difficult to pick a winner. However we have you covered with this horse generator. One horse that will no doubt be in every punters betting slips is star mare Apple’s Jade. She heads for the mares hurdle on day one of the meeting and is the current 4/7 market leader as many punters are betting on the Cheltenham festival.

Apple’s Jade has been an absolute star for connections (Gigginstown house stud) in winning 10 of her 14 starts to date. This record is further enhanced as on the four occasions she was defeated she finished in second place. She has a career RPR high of 162 which she achieved in the Juvenile hurdle at Aintree back in 2016. This was a stunning performance in which she turned the tables on her triumph hurdle conqueror Ivanovich Gorbatov by a stunning 41 lengths. Both horses careers following this have been completely different with Apple’s continuing to go from strength to strength.

The mare has continued to perform at the height of her powers and put in a hard fought performance in the 2017 mares hurdle in defeating the Mullins pair. They were the now retired Vroum Vroum Mag and the Ruby Walsh ridden Limini. Due to this high class renewal of the race Apple’s was sent off as the 7/2 third favourite but duly obliged through out battling the pair up the hill to win by a length and a half.

Jade is unbeaten in three starts this season that included a comprehensive defeat of the 2017 stayers hurdle winner Nichols Canyon by 9 lengths. Her recent victory was one of her best to date as she out battled the classy Supasundae to win by a cosy half a length. This was her first start over the distance but she again showed her toughness having been off the bridle for over a furlong. Her defeat of Supasundae looks even better now following Supasundae’s victory in the Irish Champion hurdle ahead of the likes of Faugheen.

With several of her key dangers now not making the race and it looking a far less competitive renewal compared to 2017. She must be one of the most solid favourites across the four days and one that most punters will be adding into accumulators as the banker.
Which horse will you be cheering on at Cheltenham? How about using the horse generator below to find out which horse to get behind:

Monday, 12 March 2018

Douvan Aims for Cheltenham Festival Redemption

 Source: deanosbeeno1981 via Twitter

Douvan will face off against the great Altior at Cheltenham Festival in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, desperate to banish memories of his failure last season. Willie Mullins’ charge entered the 2017 Festival on the back of 13 straight wins and was expected to make it 14 on the bounce in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. However, he put forward the worst outing of his career, finishing in seventh place, which Mullins later claimed was due to injury. The bay gelding has not competed since and faces a massive challenge to produce the upset against Altior.

The display of the French horse on the big occasion was staggering due to his past success at Cheltenham. Douvan had appeared to have been healthy for the meet, but in post-race fitness checks, it was discovered that the bay gelding had a small stress fracture of the pelvis that limited his performance during the meet. Mullins has been careful with his charge in his recovery and has resisted the opportunity to put him forward for races over the last year. As a result, he is considered an outsider behind Altior and Min in the betting odds provided by William Hill for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The seven-year-old does have proven pedigree at Cheltenham Festival, making a statement in his first appearance by winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle by a comfortable margin. He defeated Shaneshill and Sizing John among others to take the crown, highlighting his quality. In 2016 he returned to the Festival to compete in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase. Mullins’ charge was considered the overwhelming favourite for the event against a talented field, with Sizing John once again in the picture. However, Douvan dominated the rest of the field and was able to win the event by seven lengths, despite making an error at the final fence.

He continued his dominant run into the 2016/17 season, adding victories to the Cashcard Chase and the Tied Cottage Chase to his collection. However, the injury loomed large at Cheltenham to break his run of success. As the French horse makes his return to the track, he could be without jockey Ruby Walsh, who may be tempted to ride with his stable-mate Min for the event. That’s without the challenge of ending Altior’s dominant streak, with Nicky Henderson’s charge reeling off 12 wins on the bounce.

Source: Raceclear via Twitter

Altior has a strong history at Cheltenham Festival, winning on both his visits to the event. He claimed victory at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 before easing to a six-length triumph in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase last season. Henderson’s charge has only been in action once since last term, but put forward a composed performance to win a two-mile event at Newbury Racecourse.
Douvan will have to put forward a flawless performance to compete with the Irish horse, and even that might not be enough to secure the victory given the quality of Altior in the closing stages. Mullins has to hope that his charge will be on form from the off to put his rival under pressure to claim his chance at redemption.