Fulham Manager Scott Parker must be wringing his hands with despair as bookmaker Paddy Power hammered another nail into his coffin today. The Irish…
Faugheen – 6/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Yes, you have read that correct… the mighty 12-year-old Faugheen can win a Grade 1 novice chase at the Cheltenham Festival. And no, I have not gone all sentimental.
Consider the facts – he is a dual Grade 1 winner in novice chases in Ireland this season, he is a nine-time Grade 1 winner over hurdles – his class and ability has never been in doubt. He won a point-to-point before joining Willie Mullins and is bred for fences, borne out in how he has jumped better with each chase start this season.
He has only had 25 career starts – the same number as 8-year-old stablemate Bapaume, while 8-year-old Melon has had 21 starts and 7-year-old Midnight Shadow has had 20 starts. In racing terms, Faugheen is lightly raced and clearly retains all the requisite zest.
To my eye, if he was an 8-year-old, and given he is to be ridden by the number one jockey in the Mullins’ camp Paul Townend, should the two-time Cheltenham Festival winner not be 3/1 favourite?
In addition to our 8/1 about Itchy Feet, advised a few weeks ago, I strongly suggest adding Faugheen at 6/1.
Sire Du Berlais – 6/1 EW (Skybet 6 places)
The Storyteller – 7/1 EW (Skybet 6 places)
Skandiburg – 12/1 EW (Skybet 6 places)
Combination Trifecta – Tote
At first glance, backing three in one race when two of them are single figure prices is the stuff of madness. But at the Cheltenham Festival, the place terms offered are often a nice cushion to allow such methods to flourish. Skybet are 6 places here, and that should do nicely for these three selections.
The cream often rises to the top in this race, and in the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Sire Du Berlais and The Storyteller you have previous festival winners, who have been given eye-catching and characteristically brilliant qualification paths. They will be trained to peak here, as they have done previously, and while Sire Du Berlais can win this back-to-back for the first time since Buena Vista did, The Storyteller is also a very classy horse who is a Grade 1 winner over fences.
It would be a lovely sub-plot should the Olly Murphy-trained Skandiburg pip them both, as he has received an equally notable preparation for the race. Clearly taught a thing or two by Elliott when he was his assistant, Murphy could be in for a good day with Itchy Feet and Skandiburg here.
As I fancy all three to run massive races, it might be wise to add the potential of a big payout should all three fill the podium spots, by placing a ‘combination trifecta’ bet with the Tote.
Duc Des Genievres – 20/1 EW (Paddy Power)
Aso – 20/1 EW (Paddy Power)
With a 5/1 ante-post bet on A Plus Tard looking pretty good going into this, it might be worth adding a couple of nice priced each-way selections to our armoury, in the shape of last year’s sensational Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres and the 2019 Ryanair Chase runner-up Aso, both at a massive 20/1.
Duc Des Genievres ran away with last year’s Arkle on soft ground and should get enough dig on Thursday to think that he could produce something resembling that run. If he does, (a time of just under half a second slower than Altior ran when winning the Champion Chase the day after on similar ground,) then he will be in the shake-up.
Aso has finished in the places in this race for the last two seasons, and will be coming here fresh and in first-time blinkers. He was only just touched off by a thriving and brilliant Frodon last year, and there are reasons to think that he could turn that around.
With doubts about Min producing his best at Cheltenham, and Riders Onthe Storm backing up three weeks after the mother of all exhausting races at Ascot, the Ryanair looks at the mercy of A Plus Tard or a couple of ‘under the radar’ horses in Duc Des Genievres or Aso.
Kilfilum Cross – 12/1 EW (Skybet 6 places)
Fingerontheswitch – 25/1 EW (Skybet 6 places)
With the Stayers Hurdle sure to go to Paisley Park, and no strong opinion in the Plate and Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, it is left to the closing race on the card for the last bets of the day.
The Kim Muir is often a fascinating race, with a mix of long-range plots and seemingly exposed hard-knocking handicappers.
It is a couple in the latter category that I would rather side with. Kilfilum Cross was a cracking second to Any Second Now in this last year, and sparked back to life in the cheekpieces, which are retained here, at Kempton a month ago. At 12/1 he’s hard to force out of the frame, ridden by the very capable Alex Edwards.
The other dart is firmly in the aforementioned exposed category, but conversely is in the form of his life – which can count for a lot. Fingerontheswitch has struck up an amazing relationship with now regular pilot Millie Wonnacott, and I expect them to hunt round, jump soundly, and be played late – hopefully picking up a few scraps once a few of the other amateur jockeys have gone at it.