Gold Cup Day – Cheltenham Day Four

Welcome to the final day of our Cheltenham Festival 2020 blog, what an eventful four days it has been. It has been a wonderful festival, with some absolutely fantastic performances as well as some ODDS on favs being turned over. In short, a standard Cheltenham! 

This website is 100% independent & has NO affiliate link. It is curated by 2 racing enthusiast from either end of the British Isles, Charlie hails from Glasgow while Rich is from the Isle of Wight. Miles apart but united by the sport of kings….

Before we get into the nuts & bolts of what we all think of our chances on Gold Cup day, we will have a quick round up of Day 3….

Charlie -Mr Fisher was Unplaced & Champagne Platinum was also Unplaced
Chris – Faugheen 3rd & Mr Fisher Unplaced & Nap A Plus Tard also finished 3rd
Jamie – landed a tidy winner in Samcro, A Plus Tard 3rd while Happy Diva placed 2nd at a nice price!
Rich – Faugheen 3rd & Shattered Love was Unplaced

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That’s Thursday out of the way & now2 we can get on to the final day, with the headline race – The Gold Cup. Were sure a couple of the lads will have a view on this….

Charlie –

4.10 St James’s Place Foxhunters  Chase over 3m 2f 70y

Shantou Flyer – Nap
Runner up in this race last year to Hazel Hill and the pair meet again here and Shantou can reverse that form this time around. Hazel Hill has only lost once since December 2018. That defeat was last time out at Wetherby on the 1st of February when finishing 2nd to Minella Rocco who won by 1 and 1/2 lengths.
Shantou on the other hand comes into this years race having won last 2 starts for new connections, the first of those was on the 5th January this year when beating Green Winter by 1 and 1/2 lengths over 3m at Larkhill. Latest win came at Fakenham on the 14th February when beating Haymount by 23 lengths over 3m 38y.
With a similar display Shantou Flyer can go one better than last year and take this race with Hazel Hill and Minella Rocco fighting out the minor places.

5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f 56y –
Pileon – Nb 

Pileon started hurdle career with a 4th place finish to Chantry House in the British EBF National Hunt Novices Hurdle (Qualifier) at Cheltenham on the 13th December last year over 2m 179y. Was then sent to Catterick for next run on the 9th January in another Novice Hurdle qualifier over 2m 3f 66y.
Pileon won beating Malystic by 6 and 1/2 lengths. Ffos Las was the next port of call on the 30th January to race in another Novices Hurdle over 2m 4f. Pileon lived up to his name and piled on a 20 length demolition of Republican.
Based on those last 2 victory’s Pileon looks overpriced and previous run at Cheltenham is good experience to have.

 

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Chris – 

Not to be yesterday as both Faugheen and A Plus Tard ran fine races in defeat. But we have the fourth and final day in a bid to get back on track.

1.30 – Goshen – Seriously impressive in winning his three hurdle races by a combined distance of 68 lengths, Goshen arrives here in fine fettle and is a worthy favourite. The Triumph hurdle is usually a race in which to focus on those towards the top of the betting, with those unbeaten taking seven of the past eleven renewals. The worry is he can be very unruly and headstrong, but I’m banking on his engine getting him home in what looks a strong contest.

2.50 – Ramses De Teillee – The Albert Bartlett can be a race to throw up a shock, and I’m going for one at a double-figure price (currently 14/1) who boasts some solid graded form over hurdles this campaign. Having previously been a smart staying chaser, experience isn’t normally a bad thing here; Unowhatimeanharry also won as an 8yo in 2016 when going off at 11/1. Whilst handing heavy, he also beat a useful yardstick at Doncaster on good to soft in January, so conditions and a strongly run race should be right up his street.

3.30 – Gold Cup – Delta Work – Ran with credit when 3rd in the RSA last season, where only some questionable jumping put paid to his chances. Delta Work has put that experience to good use in open company, taking the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup in his previous two starts. I was impressed the was he battled and held off Kemboy last time, that stamina is an obvious plus in the blue riband contest. Currently around 11/2 in the betting, I’m hoping Delta Work can end the Festival with a winner for me on the blog.

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Delta Work

Jamie – 

1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle –
Selection: Solo

A fascinating Triumph Hurdle where a clutch of potential top-class juveniles go toe to toe. The home team hold the aces here and Paul Nicholls will have Solo fully wound up for this. This French import could not have been more impressive when winning the G2 Adonis at Kempton beating Fujimoto Flyer by 13 lengths.
The thing that impressed me most about the manner of that victory was the way he galloped clear, showing a high cruising speed in building up an advantage. Ground conditions should be fine for him and he must have a big chance, the faster they go, the better for Solo.

3:30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup –
Selection: Delta Work

The big one, the race we have all been waiting for. Defending his crown Al Boum Photo is the one they all must beat, and I think he will go close. However, I think at a bit more value Delta Work is worth a punt. The selection has racked up a Grade 1 double at
Leopardstown this season, where he has beaten Kemboy, Presenting Percy and Monalee. The imposing Gordon Elliott trained horse looks like he is still improving and his jumping at Leopardstown last month was very good. Everything looks set for a huge run, especially with the Elliott team in fine fettle. My Nap of the final day. I must also
note that I fancy Presenting Percy as an e/w play.

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Rich – 

After a tidy Wednesday, Thursday was a little disappointing so lets make it a fantastic final day….

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 179yds..

Aspire Tower – The former UK based flat horse has been transformed since heading to Ireland & going hurdling. Made debut over hurdles in November in a 2m 100yd Punchestown Maiden, winning by 13 lengths.
Made it 2 wins from 2 starts on Boxing Day when landing the 2m Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle by 18 lengths from Wolf Price 2nd &Wave of the Sea( Winner last time out). Had every chance on February 2nd in the Grade 1 2m Spring Juvenile Hurdle, when falling at the last…

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 8f

Latest Exhibition – Made Hurdle debut on October 26th at Galway in a 2m 100yd Maiden winning by 4 & 1/2 lengths before finishing a 3 length runner up to Abacadabras in a Navan 2m Grade 3 Novice Hurdle on November 10th.
Back to winning ways next time out on December 18th at Navan when landing the 2m 4f Grade 2Novice Hurdle from Andy Dunfreshe before making it 3 wins from 4 runs in the Grade 1 Leopardstown 2m 6f Novice Hurdle by 2 lengths from Cobblers Way on February 1st…

4.10 Foxhunter Chase – Class 2 – 3m 2f….

Minella Rocco – The 2017 Gold Cup runner up had seemingly fell out of love with racing and was switched to the Foxhunters and has flourished.
Winning on his first start in this sphere on January 22nd in a 3 miler at Warwick by 7 & 1/2 lengths from Kashmir Peak before making it 2 from 2 starts in a battling finish in a 3m at Wetherby with Hazel Hill by 1 & 1/2 lengths….

That is everything for you today. We would like to thank Jamie & Chris for their time & input in the last 4 days, we believe they bring you something different to our usual blogs & to you our readers, for taking the time to click on the link & read our ramblings. We hope we have helped you in some way over these 4 days & we look forward to seeing you again….

All the Best from The ArseonlineRacing Team

Photos – GC (File) Delta Work (Fran Altoft) Others – Twitter (ATR & GB Racing)

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Cheltenham Festival – Day Three

Here we go with Day Three of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival from Prestbury Park…

Welcome to Arseonlineracing, this website is a 100% independent racing website with NO affiliate links. Curated by 2 racing enthusiasts from either end of the British Isles, Charlie hails from Glasgow while Rich is from the Isle of Wight. Miles apart but united by the sport of kings…

How are we all doing after the first two days? Let’s see what happened on Wednesday before we get into todays thoughts…

What a day on Wednesday…
Envoi Allen won for Rich
Chris & Rich both put up Champ & what a run that was!
Charlie gave you Dame De Compagnie
Add to that the first 2 home in the Cross Country & we are very happy…

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Right here we go with our thought for Day Three….

Charlie –

1.30 Marsh Novices Chase Grade 1 over 2m 3f 168y

This race is very competitive with several capable of landing the prize from Faugeen, Samcro, Melon and Annie Mc to name a few, but my preference is for Mr Fisher from Nicky Henserson’s Yard.
Mr Fisher had won twice from 5 hurdles races before making his chase debut on 20th November 2019 at Warwick, in the Highflyer Bloodstock Novices Chase over 2m 54y, when finishing a 3 length 2nd behind Torpillo. Was sent to Cheltenham for next race on the 14th December.
The race was the Ryman Novices Chase over 2m 4f 127y and Mr Fisher won, beating Good Boy Bobby by 1 and 1/4 lengths. More recently was sent to Doncaster on the 25th January to race in a Grade 2 Novices Chase over 2m 78y and Mr Fisher won again beating Al Dancer by 1 length. This race is a slightly tougher affair but Mr Fisher knows his way around Cheltenham and could give Nicky another winner to kick off the 3rd day.

Selection Mr Fisher – Nap

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5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Handicap Chase over 3m 2f

Is another tricky race to unravel with several of these in with a chance, from the likes of Deise Aba, Le Breuil, Milan Native, One Style and Plan Of Attack to name a few, are all capable on their day but I think Champagne Platinum from Nicky Henderson has a great chance.
Champagne Platinum has only had 3 chase starts so far, beginning with a 5th place finish behind stable companion Mr Fisher at Cheltenham on the 14th December last year. Was then sent to Newbury on the 15th January to run over 2m 92y and finished 4th behind winner Moonlighter.
Was then sent to Sandown on the 1st February this year to race in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase over 2m 4f 10y and finished 3rd behind Itchy Feet who won and Midnight Shadow who was 2nd.
Although Champagne Platinum has yet to gain 1st victory over fences the booking of Mr Derek O’connor is a sign of intent as he has a 67% strike rate when riding Nickys Horse’s.

Selection Champagne Platinum – Nb

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Chris –

Unfortunately my 10/1 shot Franco De Port finished tailed off in the Coral Cup, but we more than made up for that with Champ rallying up the hill in a pulsating finish in the RSA. We head to day 3 hoping to add to a solid festival for us so far.

I don’t normally do this, but I can’t split my head and heart in the Marsh Novices Chase. At the current prices im happy to have both Faugheen (6/1) and Mister Fisher (11/2) running for me against the rest. Faugheen needs no introduction, and his performance when I was at Leopardstown brought the house down. No question, if the former Champion Hurdler can follow up, he will receive the mother of all ovations in the winners enclosure.

Mister Fisher is a horse I’ve like since I first watched him land a Kempton bumper. He was in need of the run at Warwick, but has since won nicely here at Cheltenham and again at Doncaster, looking like a step-up in trip was the right choice instead of heading for the Arkle. Those running at the previous festival and winning a graded chase last time out have a great record here.

My NAP of the day, and possibly my bet of the week is A Plus Tard in the Ryanair Chase. Thirteen of the past fifteen winners won at the previous years Festival, with French bred horses taking the past six renewals. More than half of the fifteen winners were second season chasers and horses at the top of the betting are regularly gaining success in this Grade 1 over the intermediate trip. It’s clear with these trends we cannot look much further than A Plus Tard, and I feel he will take all the beating.

 

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Jamie –

1:30 – JLT Marsh Novices Chase –
Selection: Samcro

A top-drawer renewal of this race with so many in with a shout of winning. I am keeping the faith with Samcro on the back of a wind op after his last run at Limerick on Boxing day. That day he finished tired and well beaten by Faugheen. At around 11/2 he could be the value bet in this race if he turns up with his A game.
He looked so visually impressive on his bow over fences at Down Royal and may well have beaten Arkle runner up Fakir D’oudairies in a top-level race at Fairyhouse if he had not unseated Jack Kennedy two fences out. If his breathing issues have been sorted then he must be seriously considered for this two-and-a-half-mile contest, which looks to be Samcro’s ideal trip. On his best form he is a worth a punt.

2:50 – Ryanair Chase –
Selection: A Plus Tard

A smaller field than usual for this intermediate distance Grade 1 over fences. Last year’s winner Frodon is back to defend his crown under Bryony Frost. However, he faces a tough task as he takes on top class Irish pair A Plus Tard & Min. The ever-improving A Plus Tard looks the one to be with here for the in-form Blackmore / De Bromhead team.
Freshened up since Christmas, where he beat Chacun Por Soi in good style over two miles, the selection here has the pace and jumping prowess to take this. A Plus Tard looked a top prospect after winning the Novices handicap chase here at the festival twelve months ago and he can confirm that with a win here.

4:10 – Brown Advisory  Merribelle Stable Plate:
Selection: Happy

Diva (E/W)
A good winner over course and distance back in November of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Happy Diva looks set for another big run at Presbury Park. She loves it here and enjoys the hustle and bustle of a big field handicap. Top amateur Richard Patrick takes a crucial 3lb off her back and that could really make a difference on this soft ground,
which happily, Happy Diva has good form on. Kerry Lee has freshened up her star mare and she must have some sort of an e/w chance. Course form at Cheltenham can count for a lot and Happy Diva on her best form will give you a good effort for your money.

Rich – 

1.30 Marsh Novice Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 3f 168yds….

Faugheen – The 12 year old has taken to chasing like a duck to water, which is hard to believe when he was last seen over hurdles. The duel Cheltenham Grade 1 winning hurdler, in fact the 9 time Grade 1 winning hurdler began his chasing life at Naas on November 16th in a 2m 4f Beginners Chase, winning by 7 & 1/2 lengths from Walk Away. He made it 2 wins from 2 starts when landing the Grade 1 Limerick Novice Chase 2m 3f 160yds by 10 lengths from Samcro before making it 3 wins from 3 chase starts by talking another Grade 1, this time at Leopardstown in the 2m 5f Flogas Novice Chase from Easy Game by 1/2 a length.
This would be a fairy tail & I believe in Fairy tails….

2.50 Ryanair Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 4f 127yds…

A Plus Tard & Min are likely to be well supported but I am going for 2018 JLT Novice Chase winner SHATTERED LOVE. Despite only winning once so far this season, the mare was a 34 length victor over Listen Dear on her 2nd run at Clonmel. Although she finished well behind Min, 19 & 3/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December and 19 lengths behind Al Boum Photo on New Years Day in the 2m 5f NYD Grade 3 Chase at Tramore she improved last time out when runner up at Gowran on February 15th to Chris’ Dream in the 2m 4f Red Mills Chase, over turning form with Snow Falcon(3rd in this race) having been well beaten on seasonal return and she has a 7lb allowance today. PLACE OUTSIDER!

That is everything for you today folks, a huge thanks for popping by….

Remember to bet responsibly, if you can’t afford to bet just watch the first class action on TV

All the Best from the Arseonline Team

Pictures – Cheltenham RC Twitter Account

Cheltenham Festival – Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the Arseonlineracing coverage of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, from Prestbury Park.

This website is 100% independent & has NO affiliate links. It is curated by 2 racing enthusiasts from either e3nd of the British Isles, Charlie hails from Glasgow while Rich is from the Isle of Wight. Miles apart but united by the sport of kings…

Lets just have a quick round up of day one at the festival before we crack on with todays thoughts from Charlie, Rich & our guests Chris & Jamie…

What a start with Shiskin landing the Supreme for Charlie & Jamie. Rich finished 4th while Chris was unplaced.
Jamie had the runner up in the Arkle at 2.10
Rich landed the RF in the Mares’ Hurdle, while Stormy Ireland was unplaced for Jamie
Hold the Note placed 3rd for Chris in the Novice Handicap Chase at 4.50
Chris closes day one with another place, Lord De Mesnil finishes 2nd in the National Hunt Chase…

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Tiger Roll on the Cheltenham Gallop

That’s day one out of the way, lets see what we have in store for Day Two…..

Charlie –

2.50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 over 2m 5f

This years Coral Cup looks a decent renewal with several contenders who on their day could win if taking their chances. Willie Mullins sends 7 runners in this race showing he intends to have a say in the outcome but Dame De Compagnie from Nicky Henderson looks the most likely winner, Currently at the head of the market at time of writing.

Dame De Compagnie has had 6 races in the UK winning twice. The first of those wins came on debut at Uttoxeter on the 3rd November 2017, when winning a Mare’s Maiden Hurdle over 1m 7f 168y beating Passing Call by 1 and 3/4 lengths. Was disappointing next time out at Cheltenham on the 19th November 2017 when finishing last of 5 in the Supreme Trial Novice Hurdle over 2m 87y. Next race was at Ascot on the 17th February 2018 in a Class 2 Novice Hurdle over 2m 3f 58y and finished a nose 2nd behind Point Of Principle.
Was sent back to Cheltenham for next race in a Listed Mare’s Novice Hurdle over 2m 4f 56y on the 19th April 2018 and beat Just Janice by 1 and 1/2 lengths. Returned to Cheltenham on the 17th November 2019 to race in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle over 2m 87y and finished 5th. Returned to Cheltenham again for most recent race on the 14th December last year in the Park Mare’s Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f 56y and won beating Indefatigable by 4 and 1/2 lengths.
Dame De Compagnie has tasted victory and defeat at Cheltenham and has learned loads along the way she is taken to go in again to land my Nap for the 2nd day in succession, the biggest threat comes from Franco De Port from the Mullins contingent who has won twice from 4 races, although 1st race and win was for Clement Lefebvre at Auteuil on the 9th March 2019.

Selection Dame De Compagnie – Nap 

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4.50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 over 2m 87y – 

This race is a difficult puzzle to solve but I have spent a bit more time than normal having a right look through the field. Palladium is interesting from Nicky Henderson’s yard, was fairly useful on the flat before going to Nicky and has 2 wins and a 2nd over hurdles with Both wins coming at Sandown after finishing a short head 2nd at Warwick on hurdles debut to Maskada.
Latest win came at Sandown on the 1st of February, in the Betway Novices Hurdle when beating Flic Ou Voyou by 10 lengths over 1m 7f 216y. Aramax and Mick Pastor pose the main dangers but I think Palladium has the making of a great hurdler and is in the best hands in the business.

Selection Palladium – Nb

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Honeysuckle

Chris –

With both Hold The Note (drifted to 10/1) and Lord Du Mesnil (7/1) running well and rewarding each-way support we head into day 2 hoping to turn those places efforts into wins.

I can’t see past Envoi Allen after his form was boosted on day 1, as well as the legendary Tiger Roll, I certainly couldn’t put anyone off the double, but I’ll go for two with a bit more value.

Champ – A fall last time out certainly dampened enthusiasm for Champ, but I’m not going to let that setback change my mind. Indeed, on trends only two from the past twenty winners had a faultless record in the season leading up to this race. A grade 1 winner over this trip as a novice over hurdles, I’m hoping the fall will make Champ take his fences a little more seriously, and at odds of around 7/2, should give us a big run for our money in the RSA.

Franco De Port – I must be mad to put one up in one of the most competitive handicaps of the Festival, but I’ll once again follow the trends. In the Coral Cup there have been nine winners from the past eleven renewals that hailed from the top eight in the handicap, with half of the past eighteen winners being French bred. Adding to that the past three winners running well in a Graded contest previously, and we land on the Wille Mullins trained Franco De Port. He’s already been backed at the time of writing, but I still feel there is value in the current price of 10/1.

 

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Jamie –

2:10 – RSA Insurance Novices Chase –
Selection: Copperhead

A cracking race in prospect as Champ & Copperhead look to hold off the Irish challenge. Colin Tizzard looks to have the right horse here as Copperhead looks like a big, strong relentless galloper based on what I seen in the Reynoldstown at Ascot.
On this soft ground, that is a big plus.
The Son of Sulamani will need to have improved between Ascot and here but he looks to be improving rapidly and is surely right in the melting pot. Last year’s winning jockey Harry Cobden has formed a very good partnership with this horse.
The only thing that appears to be against him (apart from nine other talented rivals) is course experience. With only one other Cheltenham race under his belt back in January 2018. Still, that would need put me off in the slightest.

2:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle –
Selection: Burrows Edge (E/W)

Nicky Henderson’s horses are flying now, and punters will be looking to take advantage of that. He runs the fast-improving Burrows Edge here in what is always one of the toughest puzzles of the week. A good winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle last time out when he put distance between the runner up and himself nicely.
All I will say about this race is that it is full of potential improvers and well handicapped horses. Burrows Edge is only carrying 10-10 and that makes him a very dangerous proposition to his rivals.
He will need some luck in running as he is a hold up horse. Solid e/w play in a very tricky race.

5:30 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper –
Selection: Appreciate It

My absolute banker of the week is the Willie Mullins hotpot Appreciate It.
He looks tailor made for this race and can give the master of Closutton a remarkable tenth success in this race. Last time out he really caught the eye with how he quickened away from some expensive recruits at Leopardstown’s Dublin racing festival. He looks a big galloper who in time looks made for fences once day.
Appreciate It has the class and courage needed to take this as it will be a rough race. Expect to see this classy sort staying on strongly up the hill.

Rich –

Thanks guys, I’ve gone a bit OTT today with 4….

1.30 Ballymore Novice Hurdle – Grade 1- 2m 5f….

Envoi Allen – Having finished last season winning the Grade 1 Champion Bumper(NHF) by 3/4’s of a length here from Blue Sari and ended the season 5 wins from 5 starts.
Made Hurdle debut on November 2nd at Down Royal in a 2m 100yd Maiden HUrdle, winning by 6 & 1/2 lengths before making it 2 from 2 starts over hurdles at Fairyhouse on December 1st in the 2m Grade 1 Novice Hurdle from Abacadabras, who has since won the Grade 1 Future Champion Hurdle on December 21st at Leopardstown.
It soon became 3 from 3 on January 5th 2020 by landing the Grade 1, 2m 4f Novice Hurdle by 3 & 1/2 lengths from Elixir D’Ainay at Naas.

Having already won over C&D at the Festival, I think this gives Envoi the edge in this race.

2.10 RSA Novice Chase – Grade 1 – 3m….

Champ – Winner on final start over hurdles in the 3m Sefton Novice Hurdle, Grade 1 at Aintree back in April having finished runner up in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at last years festival. Started life chasing by winning opening 2 starts, both at Newbury when landing the Class 2 Beginners Chase 2m 6f by 3 & 1/2 lengths from Dashal Dancer before landing the Grade 2 Berkshire Novice Chase 2m 3f from Black Op by 1 & 3/4 lengths.
Fell 2 out here in the Dipper Novice Chase when 4 lengths clear on January 1st. Has not run since due to the ground conditions….

3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase – Grade 1 – 1m 8f….

I am with last years JLT Novice Chase winner DEFI DU SEUIL, who is 2 from 2 at the festival & 2 from 3 over C&D. 3 wins from 3 starts this season having won the 2m Grade 2 Cheltenham Chase at the November meeting on season return beating Politologue by 1 & 1/4 lengths before landing the Grade 1 Tingle Creek, 1m 7f in December and made it 3 for the season with the Clarence House 2m Grade 1 at Ascot, beating Un De Sceaux on both occasions.

4.10 Cross Country Chase – Class 2 – 3m 6f 37yds….

Reigning Champ Tiger Roll heads to Prestbury Park on which everyone hopes will be another step to making history at Aintree in April. Tiger is 4 wins from 5 starts at the Festival, 2 wins from 4 C&D runs and has won this race for the past 2 years & is Top Rated at 171. Won by 22 lengths last season from Josies’ Orders having won by 2 lengths in 2018. Was 5th on seasonal return.
This year he faces a Cross Country specialist from France called Easyland, who is unbeaten in his last 6 runs, including over C&D having won here by 7 lenths in December and it may just be possible to turn over the ODDS on Favourite!

That is everything for you on Day Two of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. Remember, if cannot afford to lose cash please don’t bet just watch the fantastic coverage provided on the TV or tune into the Radio…

All the Best from the Arseonlineracing Team

Images from Cheltenham RC Twitter Account & Fran Altoft (Tiger Roll & Honeysuckle)

 

Cheltenham Festival – Day One

Hello and Welcome to Arseonlineracing. This is a 100% independent racing website with NO affiliate links. Run by 2 racing enthusiasts from either end of the British Isles, Charlie hails from Glasgow while Rich is from the Isle of Wight… Miles apart but united by the sport of kings!

Welcome to Day One of our coverage of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival from Prestbury Park. This week Charlie & Rich are joined by regular contributors Chris Price & Jamie (Aka @Glen_Colt).
Chris is the author of the National Hunt Diaries, while Jamie is a regular helping us out during the big racing events for the past couple of seasons….

We are also running a Twitter Poll, for the 4 days with a site NAP, it’s called The Peoples Nap & with each member picking their best pick of the day & you guys voting for the NAP, so get involved & vote! The poll can be found on Rich’s Twitter account @FunkyAOL

As with normal blogs, Charlie will lead the way with Chris & Jamie in the middle & Rich bringing up the rear!

The going at Cheltenham is – SOFT

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Charlie –

Supreme Novice Hurdle – Grade 1-  2m 87y 
The opening race of the Festival begins with a field of 16 competing to become the best Novice Hurdler, this is normally a competitive race and the last 20 years has seen the Irish bred runners win on 10 separate occasions, with French bred runners winning 5 times in same period including 3 out of the last 5 renewals.Normally the winner of this race comes from the 1st 3 in the market and with Asterion Forlonge and Shiskin both joint favourites I feel these two will provide the winner.

Asterion is trained by Willie Mullins and has yet to be beaten, having won a PTP race at Oldtown over 2m 4f beating Assemble by 6 lengths, when trained by Derek O’connor. Moved to Willie Mullins and made rules debut at Thurles on the 21st November last year when beating Watergate Lady by 3/4 of a length over 2m. Was sent out to Naas on the 5th January this year and beat Pencilfulloflead by 10 lengths over 1m 7f and 190y. Latest race for Asterion Forlonge was on the 2nd February this year at leopardstown when beating Easywork by 9 and 1/2 lengths over 2m.

Shishkin has a similar profile having won a PTP at Lingstown over 3m beating Apple Rock by 8 lengths on the 25th November 2018 when with trainer R James. Moved to Nicky Henderson’s and made rules debut at Kempton on the 16th March 2019 when beating Certainly Red by 8 lengths over 2m in a Class 5 National Hunt Flat Race. Next run came at Newbury on the 18th December in a Class 4 over 2m and 69y and Shishkin fell after misjudging the 2nd. Returned to Newbury on the 15th January to race over 2m 69y in another Class 4 on Heavy ground and beat Shakem Up’Arry by 11 lengths. More recently was sent to Huntingdon to race in a Class 1 listed race over 2m 3f 137y and beat Shan Blue by 11 lengths.

Verdict – Shishkin – Although had a blip when falling at Newbury has shown a great attitude in both starts since and has several gears under the hood. I feel there will be a scrap for an early lead and Nico will hold Shishkin up behind the leading pair before pressing the button.

Arkle Chase – Grade 1 over 1m 7f 199y 

This is the 2nd race on the card and is just as competitive as the opener. In the last 20 years The Arkle has been won by French Bred Runners on 8 separate occasions including 4 of the last 5 renewals. Irish bred Runners have won 7 times since 2000 and only once from last 5 renewals. Notebook and Fakir D’Oudairies are both at the head of the market and favourites have a 50% success rate in this race having won 6 times from last 12 renewals.

Fakir D’Oudairies has won twice over fences and has placed 2nd in the only other outing over the larger obstacles. With the wins coming at Navan on the 10th of November when beating Melon by 3 lengths over 2m 1f. Next win came at Fairyhouse on the 1st of December last year, when landing the Group 1 Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m 4f beating Ronald Pump by 22 lengths. Was sent to Leopardstown to race in another Group 1 over 2m 1f and finished 2nd to Notebook who won by 1 and 1/2 lengths.

Notebook has a similar profile to Fakir, although has the upper hand being undefeated over Fences and having beaten Fakir before at Leopardstown.
Notebook started the winning sequence with a 2 and 3/4 length victory over Éclair  De Beaufeu over 2m and 40y at Punchestown on the 15th October. Next win came at PunchesTown again, in the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase over 2m 40y on the 16th November and beat Moon Over Germany by 5 lengths.
Notebook was then sent to Leopardstown on the 26th December to race in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase over 2m 1f and beat Fakir D’Oudairies by 1 and 1/2 lengths. Notebook returned to Leopardstown on the 1st February to race in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase over 2m 1f and beat Cash Back by 3/4 of a length.

Verdict– Notebook (Nap) – For me I can’t see Fakir overturn the form shown when last meeting Notebook and being unbeaten swings this race in Notebooks favour, I fully expect these 2 to fight it out and come home in the first 2.

Chris – 

The talk is nearly over, as we prepare for the finest week in sport, once again I’ll be keeping faith in some trusted key trends and have got 3 selections on the opening day that I believe can give us a little value. (Prices correct as of Monday)

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

Fiddlerontheroof – An impressive winner of the Tolworth Hurdle last time out, Fiddlerontheroof arrives here ticking several key trends. A grade 1 winner, with an official rating of 154 ticks two boxes straight off, as does having at least four starts over hurdles.
The forecast overnight rain should ensure the ground is to his liking, and a current price of 7/1 seems more than reasonable, for all that this looks a red-hot renewal.

4.50 Nothern Trust Company Novices Handicap Chase

Hold The Note – I always look for a horse who has had usual three of four starts over fences heading into this. With connections of Hold The Note also landing this race two years ago, it’s safe to assume he’s been laid out after a very good second in the Grade 2 Hampton Chase in January.
Indeed three of the past four winners ran in a graded chase last time out, with twelve from fifteen either winning or finishing runner-up on their previous start. It’s also a contest which seems to favour those at the top of the betting, with those at single figures taking nine of the past fifteen renewals.
He’s been well supported in recent days, but there is still some 15/2 out there if you shop around.

5.30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase

Lord Du Mesnil – The Richard Hobson trained charge has taken giant strides this winter, with a stamina test on testing ground his forte. His experience also shouldn’t be conceived as a negative, with half of the winners over the past decade running at least ten times over fences before success here.
Since it was made a conditions race instead of a handicap in 2014, four winners have landed this off an official rating of 150+, with the services of solid amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen an obvious plus today.
He’s not been lost in the betting at a price of 7/1, but like the previous race, there have been multiple (seven) winners this decade at single-figure odds.

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Jamie – 

1:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle –
Selection: Shiskin

The race we’ve all been waiting for as the Cheltenham roar sends the Supreme Novice runners on their way. It’s a typically open looking Supreme with Joe & Marie Donnelly owning the two horses at the head of the market, Asterion Forlonge & Shiskin.
I am going to plump for the latter as he has really impressed me this season. The main
attributes needed to win this two-mile contest are speed, slick accurate hurdling, travel well and stamina to get up the famous hill. Shiskin looks to have all the boxes ticked. Crucially the seven barrows inmate handles soft going, so don’t be put off if the rain falls on Prestbury Park.
There are many dangers, although I think Shiskin is the one they all must beat.

2:10 – Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase –
Selection: Fakir
D’Oudairies (NAP)
Always one of the most enthralling races of the week is the flat to the mat nature of the Arkle. Ireland hold a strong hand in this year’s renewal and the one that is on my lips for this race is Fakir D’Oudairies.
Joseph O’Brien’s inmate needs to improve a few pounds; however, he looks as if he is being trained specially for this race. Last seen when second over two miles at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival when he was just behind Notebook (the favourite
for this race).
Before that he had won the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, putting in a spectacular round of jumping and was matching the highly rated Samcro until he lost his jockey at the second last fence.
This horse holds every chance if he turns up with his A game. My nap of the day.

4:10 – Close Brothers Mares Hurdle – Selection: Stormy Ireland (E/W)
This race revolves around the big match up between Benie Des Dieux & Honeysuckle. Leaving many punters to wonder, who would be a good e/w bet?
I think the answer lies here with that man Willie Mullins again. Stormy Ireland is appropriately named after all the bad weather we have all been experiencing and she left some good mares well behind when winning at Punchestown last month. So, we
know she is in fine fettle. We also know that her trainer has an unbelievable record in this race since its inception in 2008.
Only three other trainers have beaten Mullins in this contest. Stormy Ireland was runner up last year and it wouldn’t be a massive surprise
if she were to place again. She looks an outstanding each way play here and should give you a good run for your cash.

Rich – 

Thanks guys, lets get cracking…. I have 2 for you today…

1.30 Supreme Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 87yds….

Asterion Forlonge – Made debut at Thurles on November 21st in a 2m NHF race, winning by 3/4’s of a length before switching to Hurdles on January 25th at Nass. Asterion made a winning hurdles debut in a 2m Maiden by 10 lengths from Pencilfulloflead, who was a next time out winner in a 2m 6f Maiden Hurdle by some 12 lengths at Punchestown.
Asterion made it 3 wins from 3 starts under rules, when landing the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle over 2m on February 2nd by 9 & 1/2 lengths from Easywork.
Trainer Willie Mullins has targeted this route before when landing the race with Klassical Dream, Vantour & Champagne Fever!

2.10 Arkle Stats….

Willie Mullins has had 4 of the last 5 winners with Nicky Henderson winning the other with Altior. Willie Mullins runs Cash Back & Bapaume.

4.10 Mares’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f….

Benie Des Dieux – Winner of this race back in 2018 when beating Midnight Tour by 1/2 a length and was 3 lengths clear last season when falling at the last in this race with the win looking assured before Roksana went on to land the odds
Benie won twice in May landin the rade 1 Punchestown Mares’ 2m 4f Hurdle before heading to France to land the 3m 1f Garde 1 Grande Course De Hailes D’auteuil Hurdle by 6 lengths from De Bon Coeur at Auteuil.
has had one run since & that was on January 23rd at Gowran in a Grade 2 2m 4f Galmoy Hurdle, winning by some 21 lengths from Penhill. She is the ODDS ON Fav & the one to beat….
So step forward Honeysuckle, the Mare is 7 wins from 7 runs over hurdles but this is her first taste of the Cheltenham Festival. She landed her first Grade 1 back in April 2019 when landing the 2m 4f Mares’ Novice Hurdle Championship Final by 5 & 1/2 lengths to make it 4 wins from 4 starts. Honeysuckle returned on November 12th beating Easygame by 11 lengths in a 2m 4f Fairyhouse Hurdle on the way to landing the 2m 4f Hattons race Hurdle at Fairyhouse from Bacardys by 9 lengths, she has also added Punchestown to the winners list when dropping back in trip to 2m to land the Irish Champion Hurdle on February 1st by 1/2 a length from Darvers Star…
Who WINS? I quite like the Reverse Forecast!

That is everything for you today folks, we hope you enjoy our musings & we look forward to a fantastic festival….

Please bet responsibly…

All the best – The Arseonlineracing Team 

Pictures – All except Gate – Cheltenham RC Twitter Account