With all or nearly all of the Christmas racing digested, CALUM LEITCH decides its now time to look at some antepost fancies and value prices ahead of the Cheltenham festival with one runner suggested each day this week.
If your not a big lover of the festive season, then you’ll be all too familiar with the fact that Cheltenham is creeping up very fast now that we are into the first week of January. It’s now 9 weeks until the famous Cheltenham roar will be heard and to kickstart the New Year I deem it appropriate to point out some value antepost selections that have caught my eye for a number of weeks and months.
In recent years, picking the Arkle winner has been very easy (for most.) The likes of Un De Sceaux, Douvan, Altior and Footpad all dominated the novice chase division over 2miles en route to their respective Arkle successes and were very unopposable (in the main.)
This year however, there are question marks afloat between some of the market principles. Lalor was hugely impressive on chasing debut (at Cheltenham) but struggled to reel in Dynamite Dollars on softer ground, who reversed the form emphatically. Kalashnikov didn’t seem to suit the flatter track at Kempton, so excuses can be made for him, but he still didn’t sparkle the way he should have and was vulnerable to the same horse who defeated Lalor (who also gave him weight)
Mengli Khan is an in-and-out performer but landed a career-best 3rd in the Supreme last festival, but has work to do with Kalashnikov on hurdles form and certainly didn’t look a natural over fences last time.
Defi Du Seuil has sound claims, he’s taken to fences very nicely and didn’t stay 2m4f last time and looks set for a drop in trip and an Arkle assault. He’s bounced back to form, is a former festival winner and could be value. However, recent Triumph hurdle winners seem to be cursed, so maybe its best left to KNOCKNANUSS who represents terrific value at 16s. Whilst a relatively average hurdler compared to these, he did beat Peregrine Run smartly in a bumper and had smart overall bumper form. After a lengthy absence, he was supported heavily into 11/8 for his debut over fences but fell when taking a very keen hold early, he looked a very difficult ride. But as he showed on his next 2 starts, that once he got into a rhythm, he set a very fierce gallop, combined with his spectacular attacking jumping, he was near impossible to reel in. He was beaten into 2nd last time in the Plumpton Arkle by the now JLT favourite Master Dino (more on him later in the week) but was conceding weight and Knocknanuss ran some very good horses into the ground with that performance from the front, as he has done all season. That was over 2m4f and with a step back in trip he might be very hard to catch in an Arkle given how he attacks and jumps and travels and stays over that trip. We’ve seen some of the market principals beaten by frontrunning types and Gary Moore’s charge could take some pegging back and I think he’s a great price.
Stay tuned throughout the week to find all the festival fancies