Jamie Taylor ventured down to London to attend the BetBright Preview Evening held on 3rd March 2016. Plenty was said in a place that was packed to the rafters, with not enough staff behind the bar and quite a rowdy bunch of people – which meant RR and MC had to continually shush people to get points of the panel across.
Members of the panel were Matt Chapman (MC), Rich Ricci (RR), Paul Kealy (PK), Joe Chambers (JC) and Sam Twiston-Davies (STD).
BetBright Preview Evening
The evening started off taking a look at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, where the members of the panel had this to say.
Rich Ricci was first up in saying that MIN is the best and fastest novice hurdler in training, better than Vautour was at this stage of his career but not as good as Douvan (more on him shortly).
Paul Kealy chimed in next suggesting attendees to wait until the day if you’re looking to back MIN. Citing someone will boost the price on the day and punters may get around the 2/1 mark, form also looking stronger now than it did at the time.
Joe Chambers added that this is a two-horse race between MIN and ALTIOR. He added that Nicky Henderson is very bullish about his charges’ chances, and it should be an absolute cracker of a race.
Paul Kealy then revealed to the audience that ALTIOR is indeed his NAP of the whole meeting – some statement!
PK – Altior
JC – Min
RR – Min
MC – Min
Attentions then turned towards the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, with Paul Kealy wasting no time in suggesting he’ll be shocked if YANWORTH doesn’t win, however added that he is yet to be tested in the heat of a battle.
Rich Ricci said he would be disappointed if Long Dog doesn’t hit the frame in the Neptune and would advise him as an each-way bet to punters looks for an alternative.
Joe Chambers suggested A Toi Phil represents really good each-way value around the 8/1 mark.
The panel virtually all agree in that YANWORTH is the most likely winner of the race, but Joe Chambers offers up A Toi Phil as an each-way option.
PK – Yanworth
JC – A Toi Phil EW
RR – Yanworth
MC – Yanworth
Next up was the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, and Joe Chambers kicked things off saying he’d want to be against Barters Hill, suggesting Thomas Hobson has the flat class and on better ground could get into a good rhythm and rattle him.
Rich Ricci also looked to take Barters Hill on, and added to the cause of Thomas Hobson by putting him up. Ricci thinks he’ll run a huge race in this, but added the horse was mad and does things his own way.
Paul Kealy offered up Shantou Village to the audience, suggesting the need for good ground and a true pace over this longer distance will play to his strengths and is very much a forgotten horse.
PK – Shantou Village
MC – Shantou Village
RR – Thomas Hobson
JC – Bleu Et Rouge (if he runs)
Attentions then turned briefly towards the handicaps, Paul Kealy was first up offering up FINGAL BAY for the Ultima Handicap Chase. He has been crying out for decent ground over fences according to PK.
Matt Chapman then added that Hobbs reportedly likes the chances of Kruzhlinin, Rock The Kasbah and If In Doubt (Pertemps) in their respective races. He also likes Wait For Me in the County Hurdle.
Rich Ricci then added that Kalkir was hurt on the gallops this morning, and will not be lining up at Cheltenham this year.
Joe Chambers flagged up the claims of Leave At Dawn in the Pertemps, won very nicely at Cheltenham in November, he’s the one for him.
No sooner had Joe finished, Matt Chapman piped back up suggesting Gordon Elliott picks out Desoto County, likes him a lot as well as Diamond King in their respective races.
Rich Ricci then added the thinks Children’s List could run really well in the boys race (Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle), he’s a forgotten horse.
Paul Kealy says don’t forget Killer Crow, crying out for better ground and he will go very well in the Novices’ Handicap Chase, and also added that Orbasa well worth a look at 25/1+ in any handicap over 2m4+, Paul Kealy also likes the look of Hawk High in the County Hurdle, especially if headgear applied.
Next up was the Arkle Chase, and Rich Ricci kicked things off…
Douvan is the loveliest horse that does everything effortlessly. He’s a huge horse for a novice with a big engine and Willie Mullins says he’s the best he’s ever trained. Ricci then added that Douvan is the best horse he’s ever had, and that it actually crossed his mind to run Douvan in either the Champion Chase or the Champion Hurdle.
Much to the amusement of the crowd Ricci then suggested that Douvan would win the Champion Chase carrying Un De Sceaux on his back.
Douvan would win the Champion Chase carrying Un De Sceaux on his back. (RR)
— Cheltenham Tips (@Chelt_Tips) March 3, 2016
Undoubtedly the quote of the whole night above!
Paul Kealy added his view next adding to the strength of Douvan saying he just wins, he looks so good and so fast away from a fence. Sizing John at 4/1 (w/o Douvan) is the best bet, made for chasing.
Nicky Henderson says Vaniteux is one of the best horses he has ever run in the Arkle according to Joe Chambers. Matt Chapman responded with Henderson being sweet on Vaniteux but he is sweet on almost every horse these days.
Chapman then added that Douvan is a certainty, let’s move on….
The JLT Novices’ Chase was next on the agenda, and Matt Chapman kicked things off with Philip Hobbs being 70/80% sure that Garde La Victoire will head for this race.
Don’t believe anything about More Of That said Paul Kealy, if Jonjo had his way he’d be running in the Gold Cup so very much doubt he’ll be going down the JLT route. Kealy then added that he’s backed Bristol De Mai, but needs to show he can do it on better ground, and is far too short now in the market at 7/2.
At the current prices Kealy (PK) would put up Zabana as an each-way bet, as he will like the ground and last run too bad to be true.
Pont Alexandre will run in the RSA Chase according to owner Rich Ricci, and added that he likes Garde La Victoire for the JLT. Ricci also thinks More Of That most likely to line up in the RSA Chase opposed to the JLT Novices’ Chase.
Joe Chambers hopes Willie Mullins runs Black Hercules in the JLT, citing that he travels well through his races and jumps well in the main.
PK – Garde La Victoire
MC – Garde La Victoire
JC – Black Hercules
RR – Garde La Victoire
Attentions turned towards the RSA Chase next and Joe Chambers kicked things off suggesting at 3/1 MORE OF THAT is one of the best bets of the week for the RSA Chase.
Matt Chapman and Joe Chambers agree in their thoughts that current favourite No More Heroes shouldn’t be favourite for the RSA Chase based on what we’ve seen.
Paul Kealy was next adding that if the RSA was a hurdle race More Of That would be odds on – however it isn’t so not sure what relevance this point has?
Sam Twiston Davies eventually turns up in some moody granddad clobber, he was asked for his ID on the door by the door staff, and couldn’t get in. He took his position on the panel as the exchange of views continued…
No More Heroes is the 2017 Gold Cup winner said Paul Kealy, who has been very keen on him for a long time.
When asked for his view Twiston-Davies suggested his ride Le Mercurey has an each-way squeak at a price. Like the horse Blaklion trained by his father, he will be better on better ground but admits he has a lot to improve.
MC – More Of That
RR – More Of That
JC – More Of That
PK – Monksland EW
Once that was covered the night then backtracked to give Sam Twiston-Davies his view on the earlier races that were covered. He started off by saying he really liked ALTIOR in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and that Yanworth travels well, relaxes well and should win, competitive race between the remainder for 2nd and 3rd in the Neptune.
In the Albert Bartlett he felt Gangster was an each-way proposition and had been impressed with what he’d seen so far. Adding that he can’t see anything beating Barters Hill but if Thomas Hobson is close to the lead at the last, he has the flat speed to roar up the hill.
Next up for discussion was the Triumph Hurdle….
Sam Twiston-Davies gave riding arrangements for a couple of the Nicholls runners with Nick (Scholfield) riding Zubayr, and Sean (Bowen) to ride Frodon. Twiston-Davies has a choice between three at the minute but clearly likes the claims of Clan Des Obeaux who I think he’ll most likely ride.
He reckoned he got to the front too soon on Clan Des Obeaux last time out, and wasn’t sure how he managed to get him beaten. He added that Connetable’s form is good but he was a four-year-old getting loads of weight, he’s certainly interested but the way Clan Des Obeaux worked with Dodging Bullets has him swaying towards him – but added he will sit on Connetable again before making a decision.
Ivanovich Gobratov is soft, and it is mental that he’s still favourite for the race after his most recent effort chimed in Paul Kealy, adding that he really likes Who Dares Wins for the race.
Joe Chambers added that Alan King thinks Who Dares Wins is a juvenile and that’s it, and is the best juvenile he has at his disposal at Barbury Castle.
Rich Ricci believes the forgotten horse of the race is Let’s Dance, she was still very green the last day and represents outstanding value for the American.
Sam Twiston-Davies then gave his thoughts on Bristol De Mai in the JLT Novices’ Chase and said that if the going was soft at Cheltenham they’d be very confident as to his chances of success at The Festival – they’re still rather confident but would like ideal conditions which is a given.
Twiston-Davies also offered up a couple of handicap projects from the Paul Nichols yard, firstly with DIEGO DU CHARMIL for the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle, citing Nicholls really likes him and the mark he is off and will go straight for the race and is well-handicapped.
He also added that BOUVREUIL in the last race on the first day is worth another look. Connections have had this race in mind since going over fences, and is certainly handicapped to win a race of this nature.
The panel then took a 30min interval before coming back to discuss the Champion Hurdle field.
Rich Ricci kicked things off saying he was utterly devastated when Faugheen had to be taken out, it’s taken him a while to get over that. Faugheen also has the chance to become the highest-rated hurdler of all time, and will be sticking to hurdles next season.
Ricci also added that it isn’t a done deal that Annie Power will be supplemented for this. He’s confused what to do but on ratings she has every right to run. If it was tomorrow he’d run her, but have to think of the health of Vroum Vroum Mag who if we run her and she was to lose at Cheltenham, it would be an opportunity missed. He isn’t going to rush into making a decision and has until next Wednesday, but he really wants Annie Power to win a race at Cheltenham.
Annie Power is gleaming in her coat, she’s looking absolutely fantastic and he hasn’t seen her this well in ages so will have to wait and see.
Paul Kealy added that the 7lb allowance Annie Power is in receipt of is massive, and that she probably does win if she goes although wouldn’t be backing her at this stage.
Joe then cries out “supplement her” to Rich Ricci. The consenus was that if Vroum Vroum Mag was 100% fit for Cheltenham (everything suggested she is fine) she’ll be going for the OLBG Mares Hurdle.
Sam Twiston-Davies put up his father’s horse The New One, who he believes goes into Cheltenham in the best form he has been in for a very long time. This year he will be in the best form he ever will be, and he’ll have a right good crack at it – then adds that Old Guard is a good horse, and potentially very good but he’s yet to go there and prove it on the big stage.
Sam Twiston-Davies believes the Aintree Hurdle will be an ideal test for Old Guard, fearing he’ll be engaging in top gear for a long way in the Champion Hurdle, and should he run with credit the Aintree race is a likely option.
The panel basically all agree that Annie Power is the most likely winner of the race, Paul Kealy throws up Old Guard as an alternative each-way wager, and Sam Twiston-Davies nails his colours firmly to the mast of The New One.
PK – Old Guard EW
STD – The New One
MC – Annie Power
RR – Annie Power
JC – Annie Power
One Hurdle championship covered attentions turned to the stayers and the World Hurdle.
Rich Ricci kept it short and sweet saying let’s not waste time on the World Hurdle, Thistlecrack just wins!
Joe Chambers added that Thistlecrack will indeed be very hard to beat, although at prices Whisper has a squeak.
Sam Twiston-Davies believes Saphir Du Rheu is in great form at home after a wind operation and is training really well, but the challenge of tackling Thistlecrack a whole new ball game.
Aux Ptit Soins is going well also but has had a lot of problems since we’ve last seen him. He won the Coral Cup off a mark in the 130s but obviously needs to improve massively for this.
Saphir Du Rheu will be going back chasing next season, so the whole of Ditcheat are hoping he runs a big race in the World Hurdle, each-way claims for sure.
Last year’s winner Cole Harden must have a really good chance back on better ground says Joe Chambers – and we agree with that view!
PK – Thistlecrack (easily!)
RR – Thistlecrack (easily!)
JC – Whisper EW
STD – Saphir Du Rheu EW
Back over fences was the call next for the Champion Chase. Paul Kealy started things off suggesting that whilst he doesn’t think Un De Sceaux isn’t necessarily brilliant, there is nothing around at the moment to beat him. He added that Sire De Grugy probably would’ve won at Kempton had he not belted the last, but Ar Mad race faster than the pair a concern.
At this stage his bet would be God’s Own without the favourite (w/o Un De Sceaux).
Sam Twiston-Davies added that Dodging Bullets a lot better now and went for a racecourse gallop which went well, he is going to have to improve a stone on Newbury but believes he is more than capable of doing that – and thinks good ground and a fast pace will really suit him.
Joe Chambers then said he was a big doubter of Un De Sceaux but seems to have matured, and is jumping better than ever of late. Ruby Walsh appears to be growing in confidence with him too.
Rich Ricci added that Vautour definitely doesn’t run in the race, and that Sprinter Sacre winning would be great for racing, and that he’d like to own Un De Sceaux.
Panel all agree that Un De Sceaux is the most likely winner from those entered, although small shout for Felix Yonger to chase him home.
The evening rolled on towards the Ryanair Chase which at this stage it’s more a case of finding something that actually runs in the race isn’t it?
Rich Ricci said Vautour working okay but they aren’t seeing the same spark, if he comes right he’ll run in the Gold Cup, if not he doesn’t run at all and will stay at home. Ricci then added that his charge only started working well 4 days prior to his JLT demolition last year, so not worried just yet.
Ricci thinks Vautour is a stone better going left-handed at Cheltenham, and that he’ll stay the Gold Cup trip, and if he doesn’t he’ll come back in trip and win the next two Ryanair Chases.
Sam Twiston-Davies thinks Vibrato Valtat has an each-way chance, race looking like cutting up and he’s in good form at the minute.
Both Joe Chambers and Paul Kealy were keen on Road To Riches. Drop back in trip expected to suit and excellent third in last year’s Gold Cup will stand him in good stead.
General mood between the panel suggests they agree with Road To Riches as most likely winner, Sam Twiston-Davies likes the each-way chances of Vibrato Valtat as an alternative.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The evening was drawing to a close and the panel had finally arrived on the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Rich Ricci was first up and suggested that Ruby maybe choose Djakadam over Vautour, and if he does Vautour will still run, very tough decision and he doesn’t have a clue who he should run at this stage.
Sam Twiston-Davies volunteered to ride whichever horse Ruby doesn’t, but Ricci later added that Paul Townend will get first refusal on the horse Ruby doesn’t ride.
Ricci continued stating that on class you’d choose Vautour, and on form you’d choose Djakadam, there’s positives for both horses and it’s a very tough decision. He isn’t worried about the recent fall of Djakadam either, he’s in great heart at home and plans to run both in the race because he really wants to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Sam Twiston-Davies offered his view in that Cue Card is far and away the best of the English contenders, but he’d absolutely love to ride Vautour.
Paul Kealy then stepped in with a bold statement, claiming RSA Chase 2015 winner Don Poli to be far too slow to win a Gold Cup of this quality, and is one of the worst priced horses in the history of the race. He added that at the moment his head is saying Vautour will win, but his heart wants Cue Card to win for the Tizzard’s.
The general feel on the panel points largely towards VAUTOUR winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, although Matt Chapman likes Don Cossack.
STD – Vautour
RR – Vautour
JC – Vautour / Djakadam depending on ground
PK – Vautour
Sam Twiston-Davies offers up Diego Du Charmil as the best chance of all Nicholls handicap hopes at The Festival…
The best chance of all the Nicholls handicap runners is Diego Du Charmil in the Fred Winter, well handicapped and primed for race. (STD).
— Cheltenham Tips (@Chelt_Tips) March 3, 2016
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