The countdown is certainly on for Cheltenham 2019 now, with National Hunt’s feature little more than two months away. In light of this, Upping The Ante makes a welcome return, with Gavin Lynch joined by the returning Richard Forristal to attempt to make sense of a chaotic and perplexing Christmas period. There are reflections on beaten horses, including dual Champion Hurdle-winner Buveur D’Air, and Native River and Might Bite’s defeat in the King George amongst others, and former selections, with Lynch more than happy with the majority of his tips, including Lalor, Road To Respect, Penhill and Tiger Roll. You can view our very own Cheltenham Clues here, which are published weekly.
There are also reflections on the state of Irish racing, with Lynch suggesting that as things look at the moment the Irish are unlikely to win the Prestbury Cup, with both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott struggling for form over Christmas, and lacking the usual roster of superstars that makes their challenge come March-time so tough to overcome. One thing that is less than certain is the Gold Cup, with Lynch and Forristal struggling somewhat to make heads or tails of a very lively betting market. Presenting Percy, the current favourite, came in for criticism in relation to his inexperienced profile, Native River looking the safest bet in terms for a run for your money, although he is vulnerable on firmer ground and to improvers, and Clan Des Obeaux doesn’t necessarily look sure to stay. The one runner over Christmas who certainly enhanced his claims was Kemboy, with Lynch taken by the way he powered clear in the closing stages to win comfortably in the Savills Chase. The King George, Boxing Day’s showpiece, doesn’t necessarily provide the answers one would hope it would, with Lynch suggesting that as usual with Kempton, that race is all about travelling and jumping well, and less about overall class.
Further to that, the Champion Hurdle market was certainly thrown into disarray by the defeat of Buveur D’Air to stablemate Verdana Blue, however Lynch suggests that the two-time winner shouldn’t be deserted just yet. For the Cheltenham expert, Apple’s Jade is certainly the most interesting runner – if she wins the Leopardstown Champion Hurdle easily, she could well be redirected in the direction of Tuesday’s show-piece, particularly in light of a lack of solid Gigginstown alternatives for that race. Contrary to that, Laurina does not rank a good bet at the prices for the pair, as it is easy to question whether she’ll be able to do it against males.
Whilst many would have found the Christmas period rather confusing in regards to what will be what come March, a handy who’s who of Cheltenham prospects is provided by Lynch, with reflections on races as diverse as the Triumph, the Foxhunters’ and the Mares Novices Hurdle. Of course, it wouldn’t be the usual episode of Upping The Ante to which we have become accustomed, without tips from the two presenters, enhanced once more by sponsors redzone.bet. Today’s selections can be found here –
- Honeysuckle – Mares Novices Hurdle 11/1 out to 14/1 – a versatile, five-year-old trained by Henry De Bromhead who scored by ease over three-miles in a point, before beating a horse by twelve-lengths who has won twice, and scoring in a Listed race prior to Christmas by over three-lengths. Nature of this race makes it necessary to have a strong finish, and her ability to win over further will stand in good stead. As we have become accustomed to in this fledgling race, Mullins’ mares have to be respected, however for Lynch, she looks a decent each-way bet considering we know she will be there come March-time.
- Waiting Patiently*** – Gold Cup 22/1 out to 28/1 – for Forristal, he has exactly what is required to win a Gold Cup, namely an upwardly mobile profile and the requisite pace to blow away his rivals. He beat a lot of decent horses in his unbeaten novice campaign, and was very unlucky at Kempton, having been brought down when travelling well. Judged on pedigree, he looks sure to stay, and with many of those he could face having questions to answer, Ruth Jefferson’s gelding is a cracking each-way bet.
***If you backed the 28/1 Boost on Waiting Patiently with RedZoneBet, you will be refunded. This is down to the fact Ruth Jefferson this morning stated that her star horse will not run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and will be aimed at the Ryanair.