Rideout Racing – Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post

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Cheltenham Festival Antepost Angles Week 4 

Fay lands a knockout blow 

This weekend’s action kicked off with an intriguing clash between last season’s Albert Bartlett winner Stay Away Fay and the well-regarded Giovinco. With just the two other rivals, it wasn’t a surprise to see Cobden opt to make the running on Stay Away Fay. Both horses jumped well, and it was Giovinco who came there swinging. Given the fact they didn’t go a particularly strong gallop, it was hardly a surprise to see Stay Away Fay shaken up first. I don’t believe he’s as slow as people think, but he does need a few reminders before the after-burners kick in. Once he was able to eyeball Giovinco, there was only one winner. 

Stay Away Fay now heads the Brown Advisory ante-post betting and I still think he’s a fair enough price at around 5/1. My only concern would be the switch to the Old Course at Cheltenham. The Albert Bartlett is run on the New Course which tends to put more of an emphasis on stamina, but the tighter turning Old Course can suit a speedier type. Stay Away Fay isn’t slow, but I would have concerns about him getting slightly outpaced coming down the hill before turning for home.  

Given how well Giovinco jumped and traveled, each way punters may be interested in him at 20/1 for the Turners. He looks the type to thrive on a flat track and further down the line could be a lively one for the 2024 King George

Not So Sleepy rolls back the years

Just the four runners went to post for the rearranged Grade 1 Fighting Fifth. In the absence of Constitution Hill, Not So Sleepy rolled back the years to land the race for a second time at the grand old age of 11. He’s been a star for his connections and proved these older horses can still dine at the top table. 

Given the bottomless conditions, you would have to be disappointed with the run of Goshen, whilst You Wear It Well also ran below par. The real head-scratcher for me was the run of Love Envoi. Tailed off throughout, she never traveled with any sort of enthusiasm, but turning for home she was still there battling away. She’s eventually plugged on for a respectable second having really run no sort of race. Returning from an injury, it may well be connections didn’t have her at 100%, looking to ease her back into competitive action. Alternatively, it could be that the injury has slightly dented her enthusiasm for the game. Having put her up at 12/1 for the Mares Hurdle, her next run will be very interesting. Fingers crossed she travels a little sweater! 

Le Patron lands Grade 1 for Gary Moore

The Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase went the way of the outsider of six, Le Patron at 16/1 for David Noonan and Gary Moore. This wasn’t a vintage renewal of the race and highlighted the lack of depth in the English two-mile novice chasing division. Credit to the winner, he jumped well in the main and kept on gamely up the Sandown hill.

The runner-up, Colonel Harry, shaped as though a step up in trip would suit, whilst JPR One travelled stylishly throughout before making a mess of the second last. Back on better ground, there’s races to be won with him and he’s one on my radar for the spring handicaps.  

Slade Steal enters Festival calculations

A strong field of five went to post for the Grade 2 Tote Navan Hurdle where Slade Steal backed up a good hurdles debut with another strong success. Stellar Story set the fractions upfront but didn’t go as hard as I thought he might. He faded late on but he’s one to keep onside when we get to see him over three miles. Turning for home the field of five was tightly bunched and my eye was drawn to Lecky Watson. He appeared to travel best into the contest, but Rachael was busy on Slade Steal and forced Lecky Watson to come around him. Credit to Slade Steal, he responded to Rachael’s urgings and picked up well in testing conditions. 

All the talk afterward was about the Ballymore, but I think Slade Steal is more of a Bartlett type. Rachael had to get to work earlier than a few of her rivals and he took a while to hit top stride. The Ballymore often goes to a speedy sort who possesses an injection of pace. Slade Steal looks a galloper to me and a high class one at that. 20/1 for the Albert Bartlett would entice me more than the 12/1 on offer for the Ballymore. 

It was also in my mind that connections had both An Tobar and Slade Steal entered in the Royal Bond up to final decs. Could it be that they thought An Tobar was a quicker horse? Possibly not, but it’s something to consider. Connections also have Killaney King who comes with quite the reputation. He’s set to make his hurdles debut at Punchestown on Tuesday. 

The Arkle rematch is well and truly on! 

The big race of the weekend saw Jonbon confirm the Schloer Chase form with Edwardstone, to land his first Tingle Creek. Jonbon didn’t appear to be enjoying the testing conditions underfoot, but his class shone through. He stays well at the trip and Nico sent him on to win his race coming down to the last. He will surely be given a break now before a big spring campaign awaits.

Edwardstone travelled and jumped neatly in second. He looked a little one paced to me and I believe he’s interesting once stepped up to the middle distance. Still running to a high level, there’s races to be won with him this season. Haddex Des Obeaux led throughout and was only collared jumping the last. Officially rated 150, it’ll be interesting to see what the handicapper does with him. Should he escape lightly, he’s on my early season radar for the Grand Annual. Front runners can be hard to peg back on the Old Course at Cheltenham and his run there earlier this year looks a strong piece of from.  

Over the Irish Sea, El Fabiolo returned to action with a powerful success in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase. Giving 17lbs to 151 rated Maskada, he absolutely tanked up besides her coming down the back straight and really put her to the sword in the jumping department. I thought he was visually very impressive and given how a few of Willies are needing the run, I thought it was a brilliant return to action. 

Willie was quick to suggest the Energumene route and bring El Fabiolo over to Ascot in January for a potential clash with Jonbon. I struggle to see that clash taking place before Cheltenham. Jonbon had a tough race this weekend and I don’t believe Henderson will want another gruelling contest as Jonbon’s prep for the Champion Chase. Henderson may also be thinking about the effects the Clarance House had on Shishkin two years ago. 

Rightly, or wrongly, I just don’t think the rematch will happen before March!

Indiana makes Dream chase debut and can taste Cheltenham success in March 

JP McManus has a phenomenal team of youngsters to go to war with this season and I believe we may have seen an extremely smart sort in the shape of Indiana Dream in a Beginners Chase at Navan. Seen just once over hurdles, where he recorded a facile 15 length success over the now 131 rated An Mhi, he was sent off second favourite behind Hidden Valley Lake. Understandably novicey in the jumping department early on, he warmed to the task nicely and came there swinging into the straight. An excellent jump at the second last saw him shoot clear before being steadied to ping the final fence. Mark Walsh gave him a slap down the neck after landing and he’s galloped through the line in the fashion of an extremely talented horse. 

Given this was just his third life start, and only second for Willie, I thought it was a massive performance, especially when you consider plenty of Willies have been needing the run. He’s destroyed classy race fit rivals and done so making the odd jumping error. 147 rated hurdler Saint Felicien was left 13 lengths back in second with the likes of Santonito and Shanbally Kid further behind. Indiana Dream has the physique of a three-mile chaser and clearly possesses a high-class engine. Given his experience and novicey jumping, I think there’s stacks of improvement to come. 

Odds of 20/1 with Bet 365 have enticed me in and I’m hoping he will be Closutton’s number one for the race. Gaelic Warrior was Galopin Des Champs 2.0 on chase debut and will surely head down the Turners route, with Facile Vega flying the flag in the Arkle.  Grangeclare West is a possible representative, but he tailed off after an impressive start over hurdles last season and I’d like to see him kick on over fences. JP McManus has Corbetts Cross for the contest, but I think he may head down the Turners route. He possesses plenty of boot and tanked through last season’s Albert Bartlett. Emmet Mullins has also hinted he will be kept to intermediate trips for now. 

Stay Away Fay sets the standard in the division, and I think he’ll be a tough nut to crack. Antepost is about value though and I think there’s plenty of juice in the 20/1 about Indiana Dream for the Brown Advisory and a win in Graded company next time out, will surely see his odds slashed.

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