26th January 2018
It’s Festival Trials day at Cheltenham tomorrow and our target race is the handicap chase run on the card – the Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase (1.50)….
This is a G3 contest for horse aged 5yo+ over the extended 2m4f trip and 17 fences on the New course….
A field of 14-runners goes to post on ground described as soft this afternoon.
Frodon carries topweight of 11-12 owing to his mark of 154 – minus the 5lb claimed by Bryony Frost. At the other end of the scale, Dream Bolt is rated 131 and carries 10-03….
Nick Williams’s Coo Star Sivola heads the early betting at prices as short as 7/2….
Fair enough. The 6yo novice has been progressive this term – albeit whilst getting beaten in each of his three runs….
And a chase rating of 135 looks workable given that he’s 5lb below his hurdling mark….
Nick Williams is in pretty good form too with 4 winners from his 10 runners over the last fortnight….
But Coo Star Sivola is still inexperienced. He’s only had the three runs over fences. Each of those has come over trips around 2m4f and he’s been outpaced at points each-time.
He might want further. And he might lack a bit of seasoning tomorrow. This is a big step up on what he’s tried before. And he’s up against some battle-hardened types….
This will be the biggest field he’s run in over fences too. It will put his jumping under the most pressure it has been put under to date….
He might well overcome all these challenges and pass the tests with flying colours. And I’ll be the first one to tip my hat. But I don’t want to be backing him to do it at this afternoon’s prices. I’m happy to look elsewhere….
We’ll get to my selections for tomorrow’s race in a moment. First, a few words on why I head to Doncaster in good spirts tomorrow….
My ATC readers are flush today after Monbeg Notorious won yesterday’s Thyestes….
‘Well what a nice surprise on a fairly miserable day – a winner. 13/2, £10 ew and £101.25 returned.’ MM.
Plenty of readers got on at the 10s advised 24-hours ahead of time – well before the horse saw the money that got him sent off 7/2f….
Tomorrow, we’re up at Doncaster for the Sky Bet Handicap Chase. I’m two-against-the-field at prices….
You can get immediate access to my selectionson the website when you take a FREE 14-day test drive of my Against the Crowd service….
I never let it put me off when a horse I want to put up is the rag in the market….
Gary Moore’s CASSE TETE is the rag for tomorrow’s race but I can’t resist going in each-way at the general 25s and 22s….
Much of what has happened with this horse since he came over from France and joined Gary Moore won’t go down in the history books….
Last time out on his seasonal debut at Ascot he jumped violently left and made one mistake after another….
He was never in it that day and got beaten 30-odd lengths. He was so bad, there simply must have been something wrong. He went round like his buckle was sticking into his belly.
But the time before that, last March, the horse had romped away with a novice handicap chase at Sandown – winning 27 lengths and going away. He was a different division to the opposition that day.
It was much more like what he promised when still in France and winning a decent race over in Auteuil back in October 2016 – the last race he ran in France before joining Gary Moore….
The bottom line is this. I think this horse is pretty good on his day. He’s been dropped 4lbs for that Ascot effort and a mark of 137 is handy – if – and it’s a big IF admittedly – Moore has succeeded in putting the horse back together for tomorrow….
There are no guarantees, of course. He’s 25s and 22s because the layers believe he’s more likely to flop than excel.
But I know Gary Moore thinks a lot of this horse, connections won’t have given up on him and tomorrow the 6yo gets the genuine soft ground on which he thrives most….
I think he’s a big price for a horse with a couple of very taking performances on soft ground in the book. He requires a bit of forgiveness for sure. But, if like me you’re feeling merciful, the prices might just prove rewarding….
In tomorrow’s Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase (Cheltenham, 1.50)….
CASSE TETE @ 25s & 22s (Generally)
Standard place terms are 1/4 1-2-3. I’ll be going in each-way.
A few tidbits to keep you occupied between races at the weekend….
That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.