Cheltenham Festival: National Hunt Chase – Wednesday – Tea should be Better than Mid Div

March 11, 2012

The race for Amateur riders at the Festival, the National Hunt Chase is run over 4miles. Whilst a huge field will be running, chances are far and few between, I hope to have narrowed the field in the coming paragraphs.

It is another one of those races Ferdy Murphy has had success at prices in previously and Jonjo O’Neill made it his own between 2002 and 2007 winning the race in four of the six renewals. The one thing i must insist on for this race is previous winning form over at least 3 miles which will actually rule out FOUR COMMANDERS who otherwise has a profile fit for the race, even at 16/1 he offers no value and is the first from the top ten in the market to get a black line. The next to get the scratch is the current favourite HARRY THE VIKING. He is unbeaten in his two chase starts to date, both coming at Doncaster and he looks ideal for the trip. This of course means he is open to improvement, but the fact that the lastten winners of this race had run at least three times over fences and a key stat to consider as well is that four of the last nine winners had run well at Cheltenham in the same season whilst a further two in the same nine had run first or second in a prior season over the Cheltenham course. Things don’t bode well for Harry.

So what of the Chance of ALLEE GARDE? Ninth in the Albert Bartlett last season that result is open to debate as to how good it was and it’s relevance to this race. What is not under question is the ability of Willie Mullins 7yo bey Gelding. 3 Chase starts to date has seen him win on debut over 2m4f at Clonmel before stepping right into the mix over three miles taking on the likes of Last Installment and First Lieutenant at Leopardstown and finishing a very creditable third, although his last outing would have been viewed as a lesser performance in a false run race against a couple of lesser rivals. It’s how one reads into that run that is make or break on decision making regarding his chance in this. He certainly looks like he will relish this trip

TEAFORTHREE was just a head in front of ALLE GARDE in the Albert Bartlett last season and is a great chance for Rebecca Curtis to taste Cheltenham success. he has certainly improved for the switch to chasing and has shown more than an ability for this track when second behind Join Together back in November. He has won twice since, both at Chepstow, sandwiched in the middle the Feltham Stakes in which he was pulled up after trying to go with Grands Crus. That crazy pace killed his chance and Tony McCoy rightly identified when he had had enough and pulled him up. The win at Chepstow after probably justified that decision and gives us confidence in the ease of his win there. There is some 8/1 around for him and that could looks good as I think he could go off favourite and certainly if he were from one of the bigger yards h would already occupy that position. He looks like a very good chance indeed.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER is a big bold type and should step up to the challenge of the trip, but of Lawney Hills pair in this race I somewhat favour MID DIV AND CREEP for whom I have been hearing very good things and has apparently been trained for this race. Second in the Foxhunters here last year, he followed that up by winning at this trip at Cheltenham at the Hunter May Meeting. The biggest concern is that he fell last time out at Sandown and as already touched upon elsewhere in the blog articles, this is far from a positive, only 2 from the last 102 chase runners to fall last time out in the last ten years have managed to win at the Festival. That’s not to say he can’t find one of the places though and at odds of 33/1 that would still be a nice result. Regular rides from his Amateur partner is yet another plus.

SOLL looks inexperienced for this race and is disregarded although Willie Mullins charge has looked quite handy in his two chases so far. Improvement could be expected but too risky for my money. Preference would go to ALFIE SPINNER, his form behind Invictus and Bobs Worth last time out reads nicely. The only problem with him is he has never won with “good” in the going description and really didn’t look to handle the track in the Pertempts Hurdle last season.

BLENHEIM BROOK would be interesting if taking part but has multiple entries as I write

TEAFORTHREE (8/1)  becomes one of my strongest bets of the Festival therefore and MID DIV AND CREEP (33/1) could make me weep as I leave Lawney Hills alone for Rebecca Curtis’s

TEAFORTHREE 2pt win @ 8/1 Betfred



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