2021 National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup Tips
As the curtain begins to draw on this strangest of all flat seasons, and thoughts now turn to the upcoming jumps campaign, let’s hope the ‘Sport of Kings’ warms the cockles and provides many a notable moment over the coming months for all those involved in it and who follow it.
It is a challenging time for many, but despite not being able to enjoy a day at the races as paying spectators, the ability to watch and bet on the big races has by no means diminished, despite all that is going on. So too, sure as day meets night, Gordon Elliott has plans meticulously mapped out for pretty much his whole string – such is the level of planning and preparation that has catapulted him to the very top echelons of the training sphere.
This morning’s Racing Post comprehensive stable tour has revealed many a nugget, including a nice boost that Abacadabras is confirmed as going down the Champion Hurdle route, while Sire Du Berlais will be aimed at the Stayers’ Hurdle also, making these post-Festival 2020 recommendations look pretty tasty.
Upon further scouring of the comments on his huge string, and another Cheltenham Festival 2021 ante-post bet has leapt to the forefront of my mind. It is an old favourite, who grabbed the place money as part of a nice 1-2 in the Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2020, and was also sadly ruled out of the Galway Plate at the eleventh hour.
Galvin is available at 14/1 with Paddy Power for the 2021 National Hunt Chase, and that looks very much worth taking each-way, as he is due to run just once more, before the depths of winter converge on us. Then he will be prepared fresh and well for the race next March, in a similar fashion to how Gordon Elliott prepared him for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. In emerging out of the pack and chasing home the mightily impressive Imperial Aura, he marked himself down as a class act.
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Indeed, that is why I fancied him so strongly for the Galway Plate, and given there was a significant chance that he would have left behind his current rating of 148, had he taken part in that contest – it puts him well in the mix with some of the classier types to have ever taken in the 3m6f feature for novice chasers on day one of the Festival.
A quick glance at the last six winners of the race and the ratings of them – 142, 145, 150, 152, 143, 146 – suggest that you need a high-quality chaser. I am in no doubt that Galvin is better than a 148-rated chaser, and has run two good races at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.
The only doubt could be his ability to see out the extreme trip of 3m6f, as he has never raced beyond 2m6½f yet. But when you consider his sire Gold Well is a regular producer of top notch 3m+ staying chasers, his dam Burren Moonshine won a Durham National, and her sire Moonax won a St Leger on the flat – if that all doesn’t scream stamina-laden to you, then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong game!
See it as a long-term investment, as you won’t get much chance to see Galvin until that first Tuesday in March. But what is assured is that in taking the 14/1 with Paddy Power now, you will enjoy seeing the regular chipping away of that price, as we edge closer to the spring.
The following content was added at 10:55 on Tuesday 9th March 2021
Having already advised Galvin at 14/1 for the National Hunt Novices’ Chase back in November (see above), now is definitely the time to re-visit the race, with a view to seeing if we can potentially give ourselves any other over-priced options.
Royale Pagaille is into a skinny 6/4 generally, and looks as if he will run here, if market moves are to be believed. But I’m not entirely convinced he should be that price, and is one I’d be very keen to take on and/or lay if he’s that price on the day. He has looked impressive, but all his winning has been on very heavy ground, on flat tracks, and against generally out of form handicap opposition, while jumping very markedly to this left when under no pressure at all at Haydock last time.
If you have a quick look down the other horses in the ante-post lists, of those that are 25/1 or lower, I can only see two other potential runners other than Royale Pagaille and Galvin. Put simply, it is a market that is ripe for another each-way selection, if the right horse can be found.
Those two potential runners are Longhouse Poet, who has been popular of late, and is into 8/1 best price, and Lord Royal – interestingly the only entry Willie Mullins has in this race.
Longhouse Poet is a classy horse, and won well last time against some solid yardsticks in the shape of The Big Dog and Run Wild Fred, but I’d have my doubts about drying ground and if he will truly stay 3m6f.
Lord Royal however, as I mentioned, despite being Willie Mullins’ sole representative, is available at 16/1 each-way with Bet365, who are ‘Non-Runner, No Bet’. That money back concession is important at this stage, as the confirmation stage is tomorrow, and he does hold an entry in this weekend’s Leinster National. But I have seen reports suggesting that Mullins’ is aiming him at the National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase – the last race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.
Lord Royal has snuck in under the radar somewhat this season over fences, as his first two runs resulted in a fall and a below par effort over an inadequate trip. However, his third chase start, in a first-time tongue-tie, was significantly better. Lord Royal chased home Mr Hendricks that day over 3m on very testing ground at Navan, with The Big Dog 4¼ lengths back in third – form that puts him in the same ballpark as Longhouse Poet.
In terms of recommending Lord Royal as the saver to Galvin, and not Longhouse Poet, is twofold. The price about Lord Royal is much more tempting clearly, but also the notion that Lord Royal could well improve significantly for better ground. He has yet to encounter anything other than soft or heavy conditions for Mullins’, but he fairly points his hooves in stride pattern, and on that evidence, should enjoy skimming off a sounder surface.
Lord Royal is also a lovely big, lengthy, scopey horse who looks like he will stay forever, and at 16/1 each-way with Bet365, he is a really good option to add to the original Galvin bet.