Upping The Ante – Episode 13

Angels Breath in the Dovecote at Kempton

With just two weeks to go until the pinnacle of the National Hunt season, it is more important than ever to be taking heed of the sage wisdom of antepost tipster Gavin Lynch and esteemed presenting colleague David Jennings with their wise words relating to the Cheltenham Festival. This week is no different to the previous twelve, with the pair providing a detailed rundown of all action relating to the Festival, and all the news we need to know. Perhaps no greater event has occurred this week than the recent revelation of Le Richebourg’s injury and the shake-up that this has had in the Arkle market, with Lynch stating that there is only one horse to be backed in his absence. Despite the proximity of the Festival, we are still seeing clues aplenty, perhaps due to the equine flu outbreak. For Lynch, the season’s talking horse of Angels Breath, who had previously only jumped four hurdles in public, didn’t lose too much in defeat conceding five-pounds to a race-fit rival on ground that was too firm. Another Henderson novice hurdler who did his reputation no harm was Dickie Diver with a comprehensive win at Chepstow, although the pair suggest the Albert Bartlett trip might be too far for him. The same yard’s Epatante has shot to prominence in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle, and provides a real threat to antepost favourite Honeysuckle. You can view our very own Cheltenham Clues, which are published weekly.

Ireland once again provided a fair few of the week’s biggest runners, with Laurina maintaining her unbeaten record for trainer Willie Mullins, scoring easily at Punchestown. She won’t be Lynch’s selection for the Champion Hurdle, but her presence in the race certainly contributes to one of the best edition’s of the race for years. Rathvinden was an impressive winner of the Bobbyjo Chase and looking further ahead than March, he is David Jennings’ idea of the Grand National winner, although stablemate Cadmium, who scored cosily on Sunday at Naas, isn’t shortlisted for the pair for the Grand Annual, for which he figures strongly in the betting.

Lynch once again delves beyond the week’s action to provide helpful insight into the Festival, this week’s statistical focus being on the handicap chases. Detailing the nationality of the winners of the Ultima and the Grand Annual, the British holding the upper hand here, the weights of the winners of the Kim Muir and Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate over the past decade, and the novice status of the Grand Annual winners, it is once again a sequence of invaluable advice that makes tackling potentially the hardest races of the week considerably easier.

Another thing that certainly makes punting easier is knowing who the bookies’ fear. Sponsors redzone.bet revealed that the favourite that they are most keen to see beaten would be Presenting Percy, and also the most popular bets in the last week. Now that it appears that Laurina will be targeted towards the Champion Hurdle, punters have latched on to stablemate Benie Des Dieux for the Mares’ Hurdle. Similarly in light of the absence of Le Richebourg from the Arkle, Glen Forsa has been supported in the market, as has the ever-popular Tiger Roll after his surprising win at Navan over hurdles. He is just one of a number of tips that the duo have advised that are significantly shorter today than they were when tipped up; the Cross Country favourite has moved from 9/2 into 6/5, Lalor has moved from 7/1 to 3/1 and perhaps the highlight of Lynch’s portfolio, Honeysuckle is now 9/4 from 14/1. That of course brings us to this week’s selections, and it’s a bumper week of big prices –

  • Calipto – 18/1 out to 22/1 Ultima Handicap Chase – a winner of a Listed Handicap Chase on just his second start over three-miles, he has a solid track record at Cheltenham, which includes a fourth in a Triumph Hurdle, and a close-up sixth in the Grand Annual. For Jennings, he has been greatly improved by the step up in trip, and looks a great each-way player for this competitive handicap.
  • Le Prezien – 16/1 out to 20/1 Grand Annual – another of Jennings’ tips, he was a four-and-a-half length winner of this race last year off a mark of 150, he is rated just one-pound higher this time around. He’s had just the three runs this season, which has seen him place in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and finish an unlucky fifth in the Shloer Chase. He can go well in a contest which favours those who have previous form in the race.
  • Allaho – 14/1 out to 16/1 Albert Bartlett – a close-up fourth in a bumper on his first start for Willie Mullins, he made his debut over hurdles for this yard in a Grade Three, scoring by four-lengths at Clonmel. He lacks the experience of the usual winner of this contest, but for Lynch he could quite easily be a superstar and go well on just his second start over timber.
  • Dinons – 25/1 out to. 28/1 Albert Bartlett – a winner of five hurdling starts after falling on debut over timber, including a fourteen-length win over course and distance in October, he was travelling well in graded company in November when very badly hampered. He is for Lynch an experienced angle into a race that is often best attacked with a few runners.
  • Klassical Dream – 11/1 for Ballymore – Lynch second-guessed the destination of Fakir D’Oudairies, who is now presumed to run in the Supreme, and a chance is worth taking that Mullins’ runner will be seen in the Ballymore, rather than the Supreme where stablemate Aramon is likely to end up. He already had graded form at the highest level in France before he scooped a Grade One at Leopardstown in February, making him great each-way value for what could easily be the most competitive novice hurdle of the week.
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