The calm before the storm

With huge fixtures at Newbury and Leopardstown to come this weekend (weather permitting) which will shape so many of the betting markets with Cheltenham in mind, the past week’s action has not been out of the top drawer and therefore we haven’t had too many performances of note.  However we perhaps saw some leading lights who could be worth opposing come the Festival.

Oscar Whisky duly landed his first Grade 1 chase at Sandown, but in another small field he hardly impressed with his jumping and will surely come unstuck against a more competitive field at Cheltenham, most likely in the JLT over 2m4f for which he is now a best priced 10/1.  To me the Irish form looks stronger in this division (as turned out to be the case last season.)

Champagne Fever is expected to reappear at Leopardstown on Sunday over 2m5f and depending on how that run goes it should make up Willie Mullins mind about plans for the Festival.  Current indications are that Champagne Fever is Arkle bound and so I think I am going to take my medicine and after taking a punt some time ago on Felix Yonger for that race, I am recommending him for the JLT as well as I think he will take all the beating wherever he lines up.  A general 10/1 for this race, he will surely shorten up by race day.

Arvika Ligeonniere did his usual thing by beating up a small field on a right-handed track at Punchestown on Sunday, but despite Ruby Walsh’s reasoning that he should go better left-handed now, his dismal effort in the Arkle last season surely means he won’t be up to the task whichever prize (Champion or Ryanair) he is aimed at.

Saphir Du Rheu was very game in defying top weight to land the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las in terrible ground, but he is now certain to be rated too highly for handicaps and the World Hurdle may not be the ideal race for this 5yo.  Trainer Paul Nicholls’ instinct is to keep him fresh for a potentially top class chasing career, so I am happy with my each-way wager on stablemate Salubrious with the World Hurdle in mind.

Finally Sew on Target was highlighted as a potential outsider for one of the handicap chases after a fair effort on unsuitable ground at Cheltenham last week and a drop to 2m worked nicely as he won a weakish affair at Sandown on Saturday.  He won’t go up too much for that and he looks an ideal type for the Grand Annual.  However he is not quoted as yet by the bookies so we will have to keep our money in our pocket for now, probably until the weights for the handicaps are announced in a couple of weeks.

Recommended bets

1pt each-way – Felix Yonger – JLT Novices Chase (10/1 general)

Already advised: Ante – Post Portfolio 

0.5 pts each-way – Champagne West – Pertemps Hurdle at 16/1

1 pt win – Briar Hill – To win any race at 6/1

0.5 pts each-way –  Salubrious – World Hurdle at 25/1

1pt each-way – Felix Yonger – Arkle Chase at 14/1

1pt each-way – Mendip Express – National Hunt Chase at 16/1

1pt win – Bobs Worth – Cheltenham Gold Cup at 5/1

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