Paul Ferguson has three selections from Cheltenham for us on Friday; Bos Worth in 3:20 and Royal Regatta at 4.40 and Claret Cloak in the 5.15. Compare odds and bet.
With the drying ground in his favour and the fact that Nicky Henderson’s horses have run well as a whole this week, Bobs Worth (3:20) is fancied to land the Gold Cup for a second successive season this afternoon.
The nine-year-old finished off his race really strongly when last seen in the Lexus over Christmas, keeping on powerfully from the back of the final fence and the Cheltenham specialist is taken to win at the fourth Festival in a row. He was trading at 2/1 overnight.
Earlier on the card, the Triumph looks wide open, but Pearl Castle is one to note on the ground. I have had Aintree in mind for him, however, while the County Hurdle is least attractive looking handicap on the card to me. Montbazon is one that could go well at a price, but I have a stronger opinion about runners in the Martin Pipe and Grand Annual.
The most likely winner of the Albert Bartlett is Briar Hill but I thought he looked tight enough around 2/1 last week, so can’t really be advised as a bet around 13/8, given this looks a fairly strong renewal. Should last year’s Champion Bumper winner drift then he is very much one to note, as King’s Palace might just set the race up for him – that said, the Pipe string are clearly in fine form this week.
There are several interesting opponents at bigger odds, too, with Blakemount one to note for the north, and the Philip Hobbs-trained pair of Champagne West and Sausalito Sunrise also capable of out-running their odds – the latter should not be 100/1 (also available at 50s without the top two in the betting, which appeals each-way) and will appreciate the return to a sounder surface. It should be remembered that he was seeking a hat-trick when sent off just 3/1 for the River Don last time.
Hobbs saddles another smart novice in the shape of the well-handicapped Royal Regatta (4:40) in the Martin Pipe.
The six-year-old looks on a fair mark (133) and sneaks in at the foot of the weights. He ought to relish the ground and the strongly run race, and can be forgiven his last run that came on the dreadful ground here on New Year’s Day. Ballyalton came out of that race and ran well behind Faugheen earlier in the week and the son of King’s Theatre is a horse I think can go on to better things.
Available at 20/1 and 16/1 early on Thursday, he has already been well-supported and the 14/1 (Bet365) was starting to dry up at the time of writing. He could well go off single figures and is worth backing each-way.
In the same race, Nicky Henderson’s Full Shift is another horse I like a lot, but he is still a baby and I’m not sure he is mentally ready for a race of this nature.
The final race of the meeting, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual is a race I rarely get involved in, but there are a couple of smart novices on show this year.
Firstly Claret Cloak (5:15) looks like getting his ideal conditions and arrives here on a fair mark. Not seen since running well for a long way in the Henry VIII in early December, he goes best fresh on decent ground, I had Aintree in mind for him, but he still has to enter equations here. Emma Lavelle’s imposing seven-year-old should relish the strongly run race and was trading around 10/1 overnight.
If you don’t want to back him each-way, I suggest having a ‘saver’ on Next Sensation who was improving at a rate of knots when last seen.
Another smart jumping novice, Michael Scudamore’s seven-year-old was last seen winning a decent contest at Doncaster over Christmas and he also acts well on the ground. He was available at 8/1 last night. It could be worth splitting stakes.
3:20 Cheltenham Festival: Bobs Worth; 9/4 totesport
4:40 Cheltenham Festival: Royal Regatta; 11/1 Paddy Power
5:15 Cheltenham Festival: Claret Cloak (9/1 William Hill) /Next Sensation (8/1 Boylesports)
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14