Last week was a very informative one in regard to Cheltenham Antepost markets, with Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival providing us with plenty more to ponder over. Perhaps the most significant piece of information was the revelation that Apple’s Jade – sixteen-length winner of Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle – is to be targeted at the Cheltenham equivalent in little over a month’s time. She is currently vying for favouritism with Buveur D’Air in that contest, but I would strongly fancy her to get the better of that rival receiving her seven-pound mares’ allowance. From an ante-post perspective, however, there seems little value is putting her up in this article – with her price unlikely to change much between now and race day. Read our ITV Racing Tips page for selections on the build-up to the festival.
Another race from the aforementioned Dublin Racing Festival that caught many people’s attention was the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase, won by the upwardly mobile Le Richebourg. Joseph O’Brien’s son of Network justified favouritism to score by seven lengths there, and the Cheltenham Arkle was immediately nominated as his target afterwards. In recent years; Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Footpad have completed the double, but this JP McManus owned six-year-old does not look at the level of those three rivals, and it is questionable whether Cheltenham is his ideal track – having been beaten 22 lengths into fifteenth on his only previous visit there (last season’s County Hurdle).
For most of the season, Willie Mullins’ novice chasers have not quite been up to the standard of recent years. But his Cilaos Emery made a very promising chasing debut at Gowran last month and being a former Grade 1 winner over hurdles, he looks a potentially smart recruit to this discipline. His price looks plenty short enough for a horse yet to jump a fence left-handed, however, and his lack of chasing experience makes him opposable.
The home charge looks the ones to focus on, therefore, and of the UK based runners, my selection is Dynamite Dollars. This son of Buck’s Boum had some smart form to his name early in his career over hurdles, but he has improved beyond recognition since sent over fences – winning four of his five starts in this sphere. His only defeat coming behind Lalor in a Grade 2 over this course and distance in November. He readily reversed form with that rival, however, when landing the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December. His trainer Paul Nicholls has since claimed that his Cheltenham defeat was, in part, due to over exaggerated hold-up tactics, so expect him to be made much use out of this time around. The Michael Geoghegan-owned six-year-old justified prohibitive odds of 1/4 when landing a Grade 2 at Doncaster last time out, but it is his run prior to that – when landing the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton – which I believe entitles him to far more respect than he is currently being given. He had the smart Kalashnikov just over a length behind him that day – and would be meeting that rival on five-pound better terms here. The third – Highway One O One – has since finished a very respectable second in a competitive handicap chase at Cheltenham, and the fourth Hope’s Wishes almost landed a Listed chase at Leicester (at odds of 50/1) on her next run. The RPR of 162 Dynamite Dollars posted there remains the highest recorded from any horse in this line-up, so his current odds of 7/1 seem to greatly underestimate his chances here.
DYNAMITE DOLLARS – 7/1 Arkle Novices’ Chase
THOMAS DARBY – 20/1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
FOX NORTON – 14/1 Ryanair Chase
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