It’s here. After months of plotting, analysis and the inevitable catalogue of ante-post vouchers falling by the wayside the Festival is finally upon us.
My original plan for this blog was to analyse each race and provide ante-post sections for all races in advance, however, that proved to be far too ambitious and I didn’t even reach halfway through the line-up of races.
Ahead of each day I will be posting my selections for every race, but as ever it’ll probably pay to lay rather than back my selections.
Tuesday/Day One Selections
Supreme Novices Hurdle:
This race is still wide open and looks to be lacking that bit of quality we’ve seen in previous years, with last minute withdrawals not making it any clearer. I can’t be backing Melon at the current prices, he could be very special but we’ve not seen anything to actually demonstrate that yet and at current prices it would be a very low priced stab in the dark.
The best form in the race clearly lies with Ballyandy who also has the Festival form to offer, so I can’t see him finishing outside of the frame, however, at the prices I’m going to take a risk on CRACK MOME. He was highly thought of until disappointing last time out but I think he’ll improve for the better ground, so am prepared to take the risk at the bigger price on offer.
I advised Cilaos Emery ante-post at a lower price than currently available and think he’d still have a chance of hitting the frame so the 20/1 on offer could be worth an each way punt.
I can’t see past ALTIOR and at the prices it looks more of a watching race. In the each way market I’d back Royal Caviar just in case anything happens to the favourite.
Ultima Handicap Chase:
The first handicap of the week looks as competitive as ever but I’m going to side with NOBLE ENDEAVOUR. There’s been plenty of talk about this horse and I can see why, so I’m backing him to get as off to a good start to the handicaps.
Let’s be honest it looks like a weak Champion Hurdle, which makes confidence in a selection that bit more difficult. The apparent weak look to the race could make it that bit more likely a shock winner is on the cards, but with the drying ground I’m going to side with YANWORTH. He has the best form in the book and I feel some are getting too fixed to the idea he doesn’t win that impressively; he’s just that kind of horse and will never win that impressively but I just feel he’ll be that bit too good for the rest of the field.
Wicklow Brave could be an interesting one from an each way perspective.
It looks like being the most interesting renewal of this race we’ve seen with the two Mullins/Ricci horses going head to head, after playing months of Willie Mullins bingo. I’d usually side with Vroum Vroum Mag but the fact Ruby has got off her and the rumours of failing to spark at home means I can’t back her here. I can see the logic in Limini being favourite but has she really shown that much to be such a short price?
The focus on the two Mullins horses means Apples Jade might just be that bit overpriced and she’ll come on for her last run, with Gordon Elliott surely having her at peak for this race. With that in mind, APPLES JADE is my pick.
The Apples Jade, Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag tricast might be worth a play here too.
National Hunt Chase:
This looks a really competitive affair where it usually pays to play by jockey. With the race being named in honour of JT McNamara, Derek O’Connor being jocked up and the style of his last victory, I’m going for EDWULF here.
Close Brothers Novice Handicap
This looks like being the biggest puzzle of the day, an ultra-competitive handicap with little more than a few pounds separating top to bottom in the handicap.
A few who I fancied here missed out and I could see more than half of the field having a realistic chance of winning here, but I’m going to take a chance on one at a longer price. TULLY EAST ran well at the Festival last year when placing in the Martin Pipe and has looked to have enough talent over fences to be competitive here and I just wonder if he has been campaigned with this race in mind, so at the prices he’s worth an each way punt.
Day One Selections:
1:30 Crack Mome – win @
Already Advised: Cilaos Emery @ 10/1
2:15 Royal Caviar – e/w
Already Advised: Altior
2:50 Noble Endeavour – win
3:30 Yanworth – win
Already Advised: Bueveur D’Air (win @ 7/1) & My Tent or Yours (e/w @ 50/1)
4:10 Apples Jade – win
4:50 Edwulf – win
5:30 Tully East – e/w