Cheltenham Festival Treble

Un De Sceaux looks a great bet next month at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ryanair Chase where he won’t have to worry about Douvan who is the short price favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase over the shorter tip of 2m.

Clive Buckenham via Twitter

Willie Mullins’ runner has been in good form this season. He was successful in the Grade One Tingle Creek at Sandown back in December on his seasonal reappearance, while more recently he looked right at the top of his game in the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham.

The opposition to Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase is not that strong, especially now Cue Card has come out of the race to concentrate on the Cheltenham Gold Cup therefore the 5/2 odds being quoted on the former Arkle Trophy winner looks fantastic value.

There should be no stamina doubts about Un De Sceaux stepping up to 2m5f as he has won twice over that trip in France on soft ground which suggests he is equally as good over this distance.

Many people’s banker of the Festival this year is Unowhatimeanharry in the Stayers’ Hurdle on day three of the meeting. Harry Fry’s runner has dominated his division this season with three wins already in the campaign.

Unowhatimeanharry won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2016 and has had no problems stepping out of novice company. The nine-year-old prevailed in the Long Distance Hurdle by six lengths where he had Ballyoptics and Menorah behind him in second and third respectively.

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It was in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle back in December at Ascot where Unowhatimeanharry really established himself as the Stayers’ Hurdle favourite at the Festival. He then added the Cleeve Hurdle to his CV this season and as a result is now 6/5 to score in the 3m contest.

Finally, Colin Tizzard looks to have all the aces in the pack in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he trains the first three in the betting for the race with Thistlecrack, Native River and Cue Card. The preference should be Native River who can score in another prestigious contest this season.

At The Races via Twitter

Native River won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury back in November to put himself in contention for the Blue Riband event at the Festival. He then followed that up by scoring in the Welsh Grand National off top weight.

Unlike the favourite Thistlecrack, Native River is sure to appreciate the stiff test that comes with the 3m2f contest at Cheltenham. Those who don’t stay the trip normally get found out up the hill in the closing stages of the race.

In the Cotsworld Chase last month, Thistlecrack made a few jumping errors which cost him ground and resulted in him finishing second behind Many Clouds. If he is in a battle with Native River inside the final furlong of the Gold Cup, the favourite may have to settle for second again.

Selections: Un De Sceaux (Ryanair Chase), Unowhatimeanharry (Stayers’ Hurdle), Native River (Gold Cup) – 1-point win treble

‘Deadly’ Double, Wednesday, February 15

In the Racing UK Apprentice Handicap (5.10) at Kempton on Wednesday, Moayadd was beaten in a similar ‘egg-and-spoon’ race over 7 furlongs at Chelmsford last month on his debut for Neil Mulholland, but found the expected improvement when landing odds of 8/11 in a better race, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Newcastle eight days ago with a minimum of fuss. His 6lb penalty is offset by dropping back into 0-50 company and he can get the evening off to a good start.

In the 32Red Handicap (6.50) at Kempton, Franco’s Secret has one his last two starts – including over course and distance 12 days ago – by a neck and a head and has been raised just 3lb, in total, so may be able to complete a hat-trick under Tom Marquand. The form of his previous win at Lingfield has been franked by the second, Chevallier, who won a 0-95 contest back at the Surrey track last month, so there are reasons for believing he’s still well handicapped, despite a career-high mark.

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Selections: Kempton 5.10 Moayadd, Kempton 6.50 Franco’s Secret, 1-point Win Double

‘Yielding’Yankee, Saturday, February 4

Charli Parcs was good value for his winning margin when beating subsequent winner Poker Play on his racecourse debut at Enghien in November and was never off the bridle when winning on his debut for Nicky Henderson at Kempton in December. His odds are likely to be prohibitive, but he appeals as the type to follow until beaten and can get the ball rolling for us in the 1.30 at Musselburgh.

Politologue last no caste in defeat when beaten 1¼ lengths by the progressive Waiting Patiently at Haydock two weeks ago and may be able to take another step forward in the 2.25 at Sandown. Paul Nicholls held a strong hand in the race at the five-day declaration stage, with Le Prezien, Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon his other entries, so in the absence of Politologue the stable selected looks the one to be on.

Despite slight doubts about his stamina over 3 miles 45 yards, Rock The Kasbah finished second in a Grade 2 novices’ chase – the form of which has worked out well – over 2 miles 5 furlongs at Ascot in December and may have more to offer. He’s done most of his winning with ‘soft’ in the going description and should have conditions to his liking in the 2.45 at Wetherby.

Last, but hopefully not least, the 3.00 at Sandown may be best left to the progressive five-year-old El Terremoto, who finished third in the murk at Haydock last time and should benefit from stepping back up in distance. Testing conditions hold no terrors for him.

Selections: Musselburgh 1.30 Charlie Parcs, Sandown 2.25 Politologue (if abs., Paul Nicholls’ selected), Wetherby 2.45 Rock The Kasbah, Sandown 3.00 El Terremoto (1-point win Yankee)