WHAT A START! THREE WINS IN ONE RACE: Daqman launched his Cheltenham week with an opening race to remember yesterday, a Triple Whammy, laying hot home hope Irving (‘lacks street cred’) and naming the winner (‘Vautour has everything’) and the 20.0 runner-up for a profit of around 55 points.
‘FLY’ FLOP FOR FOUR LAYS IN A ROW: He also laid the losing Champion Hurdle favourite, Hurricane Fly (‘the party’s over’) – his fourth consecutive successful lay – and his win banker of the day was 30 points on the nose on the record-breaking Quevega.
NOW IT’S DAQMAN 29, PRICEWISE 10: His three wins in the the first race plus his Champion Hurdle lay took his returns to 29-10 over Pricewise where each has tipped in the same race. His results were:
WON Vautour (WON 7-2 from 5.1 on BETDAQ to win 40 points)
WON Josses Hill (2nd 14-1 from 20.0 BETDAQ win and place)
WON Irving (Lay, unplaced 7-2)
WON Hurricane Fly (Lay, unplaced 11-4)
WON Quevega (WON 8-11, 30-point Banker)
JUST LOOK AT THESE BIG BETDAQ OFFERS! Daqman’s verdict on today: ‘It’s totally different to yesterday. It’s a day of outsiders and I’m confident of a return from some of mine at 27.0, 24.0, 21.0, 16.5, 15.0 (twice), 14.5 and 13.0’.
WHO GOES THERE? THE BIGGEST HANDICAP CERTAINTY IN TRAINING
I’m doing my BETDAQ ‘double’ double big time today. I need to make a few grand so I can put in an offer for a horse called Victor Hewgo, before anyone else spots that he’s seemingly the next best thing to an Arkle winner.
The little-known northern nine-year-old has been runner-up this year, first to Western Warhorse, then to Holywell, both big winners on the opening day of Cheltenham. A blushing handicapper must have his rating wrong by around 20lb!
1.30 Cheltenham (Neptune Novices’ Hurdle): This is the race that last season produced The New One who, in 2015, may be facing Faugheen among his Champion Hurdle opponents, the principal Willie Mullins gladiator here from 11 who were prepared for this novice-stayers’ arena.
Faugheen fits all the stats as a Graded-level three-time hurdles winner (24 out of 27), first or second last time out (29-30), with added recent trends of bumper form (86%) and trained in Ireland (50%) on his CV.
But you have to make two assumptions here. That Faugheen is better than the bare form – you can’t even say ‘beat nothing but did it well’ because his jumping has been moderate at times – and that he’s better than Rathvinden. There’s just a pound in it, according to the official handicapper.
But the Pipe horse, Red Sherlock, was always holding Rathvinden in the Neptune Trial for this in January. Son of the superb racemare Lady Cricket, he is by the same sire as Annie Power.
Team Pipe’s poor Festival form in recent years turned to triumph yesterday when Western Warhorse claimed Champagne Fever on the line in the Arkle. Those who back Westerners on good ground were laughing at 33-1.
My outsider to get into the three is Lieutenant Colonel, 15.0 on BETDAQ this morning. Considering he’s a Kayf Tara, he’s shown speed over 2m and should be much more at home over the extra trip. A good second to Vautour in December.
DAQMAN’S VERDICT: Faugheen has all the credentials but lacks the form of Red Sherlock, who has already beaten little Rathvinden. The race should play to the strengths of Lieutenant Colonel, unexposed at the trip.
DAQMAN’S 1-2-3: Red Sherlock 1, Lieutenant Colonel 2, Faugheen 3.
DAQMAN’S BETS (each to win 30 points): 7.5pts win RED SHERLOCK, 2pts win and place LIEUTENANT COLONEL and 5.75pts win (stakes saver) FAUGHEEN.
2.05 Cheltenham (RSA Chase): Education, education, education! Ballycasey has not passed his exams. Six of the last seven winners had all had nine previous jumps starts under Rules and 80% in the decade had already won over at least 3m.
Not so, Ballycasey. Not so Don Cossack, who ran up to him in the P J Moriarty, after beating Carlingford Lough in the Drinmore. Morning Assembly, who beat Don Cossack on that one’s chase debut, but was second to Carlingford Lough over Christmas, is also short on experience.
They’re all beating each other, all of a heap! And the questions we seek to answer – does Paul Nichols have a Denman (2007) and does Willie Mullins have a Cooldine (2009)? – are tough as a Dara O’Briain school of hard sums.
It’s the trappiest RSA I can remember in years. It reminds me of the Star of Mohaison season (2006) when the Nicholls’ beast came from a Fontwell novices’ chase, beat the form horses, beat the stats, to win at 14-1.
Is this a case of play it again, Sam? Maybe Sam Winner, who’s scored over further, and on good ground, is the winner! His form at Cheltenham, still standing, is 1140331 and he’s won over further (even had an entry in the 4m NH Chase).
Stamina is also no worry for Smad Place, in the ‘three’ in two World Hurdles. Not much between him and Sam Winner on Newbury form but that was on heavy ground.
If in doubt in these championship events, look for a Presenting or an Oscar. That would be Ballycasey and O’Faolain’s Boy.
With the Cheltenham hill in mind, I checked out the videos on this field, and it was an eye-opener to see that, in both races he won, Morning Assembly was overtaken but fought back to win. Yet Carlingford Lough was too powerful for him over 3m at Leopardstown
DAQMAN’S VERDICT: Morning Assembly, in front of Ballycasey over hurdles, is tough as they make ‘em but was ground down by Carlingford Lough (9.4 on BETDAQ) over Christmas.
Sam Winner (14.5) and Smad Place (8.4) are close together on heavy-ground form. Both prefer today’s terrain. Both love Cheltenham.
DAQMAN’S 1-2-3-4: Carlingford Lough 1, Smad Place 2, Sam Winner 3, Ballycasey 4.
DAQMAN’S BETS (each to win 30): 4pts win SMAD PLACE, 3.5pts win CARLINGFORD LOUGH, 2.2pts win and place SAM WINNER
2.40 Cheltenham (Coral Cup): Smashing! ‘A grand, bonny little horse,’ is Paul Townend’s description of him, but is he man enough, big enough for Cheltenham?
Well, we saw a good little ‘un yesterday, in the irrepressible Quevega, and Smashing is in the right ratings range, but Ruby Walsh prefers another Willie Mullins’, Indevan, and both have drifted like lonely dogs on a raft, over my betting weir for the stable at 25.0 and 30.0, as I write.
The seven others in the winning ratings-parameter include the Greatwood winner on today’s course, Dell ‘Arca, who ran a cracker in another big-field handicap at Newbury in February.
Near the top of the handicap, Alan King, who had the one-two last year, runs the second, Meister Eckhart (6lb higher but ‘a proper horse’ he says) but he also saddles Vendor, the Fred Winter third in 2012.
Looked his old self when winning at Newbury after a wind op and again there when third to Dell ‘Arca over the minimum, giving him weight.
DAQMAN’S VERDICT AND BETS: Alan King may have this one bottled up, but whether his genie is the well-handicapped VENDOR or previously-placed MEISTER ECKHART does not require a decision from you because you can get 16.5 and 21.0 respectively in a fabulous 105% BETDAQ market, requiring only 3.5 points split between them for one to return 30.
3.20 Cheltenham, (Champion Chase): Barry Geraghty, who was king for a day in the Cheltenham amphitheatre yesterday, is 131211 in this since 2005 and Captain Conan was not at his best behind Sire De Grugy in December.
He’s beaten ‘Sire’ in the past and has won over further, which is also a confidence booster for jockey – and punter – with the Cheltenham hill in mind.
This is not a Master Minded year (2008-9) or a Sprinter Sacre procession (2013), and Sizing Europe, Somersby and Wishfull Thinking, who were around in those days, all have to do a Moscow Flyer (2005) and win for the double-figure-age group. I doubt they are up to it.
DAQMAN’S VERDICT AND BETS: I’m a Captain Conan man in what the market says is a two-horse race with Sire De Grugy. In that case 6.0, particularly in a 101% orange, is great value.
4.00 Cheltenham, (Cross-Country): The same horses used to win this year on year (Spot The Differemce, Garde Champetre), revealing the genius of Enda Bolger at training them for this discipline.
We are overdue for a sequence horse and Big Shu, Balthazar King and Sizing Australia have all won it before.
Balthazar King has form at Cheltenham on good ground, good-to-soft at worse, since April 2011 of 1111211, still standing.
Big Shu is as tough as they make ‘em; in fact, his family goes back to the Gold Cup and Grand National winner, L’Escargot.
But the stats say you need a horse off 10st 9lb or less (6 out of 8), which is a strong pointer to Any Currency, a narrow second in a similar CD x-country in December, and third in November. On both occasions, the ground was riding good.
DAQMAN’S 1-2-3 Balthazar King 1, Big Shu 2, Any Currency 3
DAQMAN’S BETS: Already ante-post 7.6 BALTHAZAR KING. Now I’ll add 2.5pts win and place ANY CURRENCY at 13.0
4.40 Cheltenham (Fred Winter) The last two races usually throw up big-odds winners. This one has had 40-1 (twice), 25-1, 20-1, 14-1 and 12-1 scorers in the last decade. I usually make two lists for this:
Horses in the frame in Graded races: Akdam, Azza, Clarcam, Gerdago, Ivan Grozny, Noble Inn, Solar Impulse, Violet Dancer.
Horses by top-Group-1 sires: Ballyglasheen, Certification, Dawalan, Hawk High, Handiwork, Noble Inn, Orgilgo Bay, Raven’s Tower, Solar Impulse.
DAQMAN’S VERDICT AND BETS: Those common to both groups are worth a pound: Noble Inn at 24.0 on BETDAQ this morning and Solar Impulse at 27.0
5.15 Cheltenham (Champion Bumper) Cue Card and Dunguib earned their stars in this. Irish-breds have won 17 out of 21, with 16 of them trained in Ireland.
But six of the last eight winners have started 40-1, 33-1, 25-1, 16-1, 14-1 and 12-1 and you are looking for one with only two or three previous starts, never out of the first two.
So Black Hercules, Izzini, Kilultagh Vic, Modus, Shaneshill and Value At Risk could contain the winner.
DAQMAN’S VERDICT AND BETS: I could spend all day trying to choose between the Mullins’ horses but, at a price, bred to stay all day, Value At Risk (15.0) should give us a fun run, since they are likely to make a lot of use of him.
DAQMAN’S BETS (BET each to win 30 points):
BET 7.5pts win RED SHERLOCK, 2pts win and place LIEUTENANT COLONEL and 5.75pts win (stakes saver) FAUGHEEN.
BET: 4pts win SMAD PLACE, 3.5pts win CARLINGFORD LOUGH, 2.2pts win and place SAM WINNER and, already ante-post 1.75pts win GEVREY CHAMBERTIN at 18.0 (2.05 Cheltenham)
BET 2pts win VENDOR and 1.5pts win MEISTER ECKHART (2.40 Cheltenham)
BET 6pts win (nap) CAPTAIN CONAN (3.20 Cheltenham)
BET (already ante-post) 4.5pts win BALTHAZAR KING plus 2.5pts win and place ANY CURRENCY (4.00 Cheltenham)
BET 1.3pts win and place NOBLE INN and 1pt win and place SOLAR IMPULSE (4.40 Cheltenham)
BET 2pts win and place VALUE AT RISK (5.15 Cheltenham)
DOUBLE-YOUR-MONEY DAQ DOUBLES: 2 x 1pt win doubles CAPTAIN CONAN (3.20 Cheltenham) with BALTHAZAR KING and ANY CURRENCY (4.,00 Cheltenham)
HORSES TO FOLLOW: Le Bec (2.05 Cheltenham)
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