There was some excellent action over the weekend with several useful pointers for Cheltenham, although my latest ante-post selection for the Festival does not involve the action just gone.
At Gowran Park, Un De Sceaux put the finishing touches to his Champion Hurdle run with yet another facile win over a small and inferior field. We have essentially learned nothing new at all about him and connections were playing it low key after the race, prompting the bookies to shift him out to 14/1 for the big one.
Un Temps Pour Tout was the latest novice hurdler to stake his claim after an easy Ascot win on very soft going. At 16/1 he would have his chance in the Neptune should the rains continue, but might be vulnerable on quicker going.
O’Faolains Boy finally fulfilled the potential he had shown over hurdles last season when winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, and with the Rebecca Curtis stable on the up there will be worse 16/1 bets around for the RSA Chase. Many Clouds who was caught up in a speed duel, should not be forgotten about, however his preference for a right-handed track would put me off him for Cheltenham.
Top Wood landed one of the final qualifiers for the Pertemps Final at Haydock , but Open Day put in an eyecatching trial off top weight, not being knocked about and only losing third place on the run in. Should the ground dry up for Cheltenham he would be of interest in the final, and Paddy Power have introduced him at 14/1.
However my suggestion for Cheltenham today is for the Gold Cup itself where The Giant Bolster can still be backed at a general 25/1. This is a horse who has been placed in the last two runnings of the race and confirmed his love for the New Course with a gutsy display in landing the Argento Chase at the track last month, fitted with a first time hood.
Should the headgear work again, there is no reason he can’t compete again in what is not a vintage race. Whilst the front two in the market are solid, something has to come third. Of those ahead of the selection in the market, Cue Card looks a non-stayer, whilst Last Instalment beat the best of what looks a moderate bunch of staying chasers (including First Lieutenant) in Ireland with Sir Des Champs absent. Captain Chris moved up in the betting after his easy win at Ascot, but both the trip and the track are against him if connections even decide to take in the race. Harry Topper would desperately need the soft ground to remain and was beaten by The Giant Bolster fair and square anyway in the Argento. With a career record on the New Course over fences reading 11241, his inconsistency elsewhere can be ignored and bearing in mind Bobs Worth has already put in a stinker this season and Silviniaco Conti fell in the Gold Cup last year, a surprise is always possible.
1pt each-way – The Giant Bolster – Gold Cup (25/1 general)
Already advised: Ante – Post Portfolio
1pt each-way – Felix Yonger – JLT Novices Chase at 10/1
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