The contrarian word on Day 1 at Cheltenham....

Last Updated: 12.03.2018

Monday, 12th March 2018

The contrarian word on Day 1 at the Festival….

The Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50) represents our solitary target on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival....

The rain has been falling on the Prestbury Park track – and it continues to fall...

By the time they go to post tomorrow afternoon, the ground is very likely to be on the heavy side of soft – or outright heavy – turning this 3-mile event into a stiffer test of stamina than would ordinarily be the case....

  • A nice each-way price....

Clearly, horses who can relish that kind of surface are of most interest and the one that interests me most at the prices is David Pipe’s RAMSES DE TEILLEE at this morning’s 14s – that’s a nice each-way quote....

It’s not been the finest of seasons for the Pipe operation. The winners have been thin on the ground....

The Pond House handler has saddled 100+ winners in 7 of his 11 previous campaigns. This year the total amounts to just 26....

He has fewer horses than he once did. And fewer top-notchers among those than he’s been blessed with in the past....

But the yard has a decent record at the Festival – producing 15 winners since David took over the reins from his father. He’s drawn a blank at the Festival just twice – in 2009 and 2013 – and he’s won this race three times and placed with three others from a representation of 16....

The plan would have been to have Un Temps Pour Tout come back and try and win the race for the third year in a row. But that one is not in attendance this time round.

Of the two he does run, Ramses De Teillee is the preferred ride of principal jockey Tom Scudamore....

  • The ground will be in his favour....

Heavy ground would certainly be right up the 6yo’s street....

He’s been kept to that kind of surface for each of his four chase runs to date – winning two, placing in the other two and climbing up the handicap to the tune of 25lbs to a high point of 148....

He’s down to 145 tomorrow – and that offers him a fighting chance....

He travels well and jumps well – out of heavy ground. And those two assets will clearly be of some use to the grey tomorrow afternoon....

A 13-length defeat last time out at Exeter doesn’t read too well on paper. But he cruised into that race in the manner of a very good horse....

And the one that got him beat, Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape, who had been beaten by top novice Black Corton just 1.5 lengths the time before, is being talked of as a potential Gold Cup horse of the future – so there was no big disgrace in that defeat in receipt of just 2lbs....

Get On The Yager, the other horse that beat him – at Fontwell in December – was in receipt of 9lbs and won the Roland Meyrick at Wetherby next time out.

Dan Skelton’s horse beat Wakanda that day – who has since franked the form when winning the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster....

The ground is the key element that makes Ramses De Teillee’s price attractive. It’s come up right for him....

That factor, along with his status as an improving novice chaser, make him an interesting fit for tomorrow’s bill. Everything is right for him to run a big race from off the market radar....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50 @ Cheltenham)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – RAMSES DE TEILLEE each-way (14s generally)

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

Get the latest odds here >>

  • The last word….

Right now, the place terms across the board amount to 1/4 1-2-3-4....

That could change. The bookies will be scrapping like rats in a sack for market share this week – and the likelihood is that some firms will want to offer punters Enhanced Place Terms – betting to 1/4 1-2-3-4-5....

If you wanted to hold fire and wait for those terms to appear before going in, I wouldn’t want to put you off doing that....

The risk is that with all the rain the market comes for novice and second-season chasers (they’ve won 14 of the last 17 renewals) proven to act on heavy....

My pick very much fits the bill – and you could be looking at a shorter price....

Your call. For what it’s worth, I’m already on....

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the contrarian word on Day 2 at the Festival....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd