Thanks to Mark Twain for today’s headline, which may be applicable to the feature race at Cheltenham, this afternoon’s televised fare.
The race in question is the Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 2.20 and the ‘relevant’ statistic is that this race has been won by an Irish raider just once in the past 41 years.
There is just the one runner from across the water today, the joint favourite French Dynamite from Mouse Morris‘ yard, which had a tune up over hurdles in preparation for today. This 7-y-o is long on potential but short on experience and the hurly-burly of today’s 15 runner race may be beyond it.
The other joint jolly is Stolen Silver, trained by Sam Thomas and in possession of good course and distance form from last season. Trouble is, this one would have to achieve a lifetime’s best by half a stone, first time out and, on balance, we go for two horses that are well handicapped and have the benefit of a recent run.
We start with GA Law, trained by Jamie Snowden which began its chasing career at the age of 4, mopping up a hat-trick of wins and achieving a mark of 150. Injury struck at the end of the season and GA Law was not seen again for no less than 603 days, when it stayed on takingly to be third at Aintree three weeks ago.
All the ability previously shown appears to be intact and, off today’s mark of 142, we recommend an each way bet at 13-2.
Our other pick is the Skelton representative Midnight River, which cantered away with its prep race by 25 lengths, which could have been double.
An eight pound hike is unlikely to be enough, so let’s go each way this one too, at 9-1.
ITV action commences with the Arkle Challenge Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase at 1.45 and, if official ratings mean anything, this race will be won by Tommy’s Oscar.
The original plan for Ann Hamilton‘s 7-y-o was a Listed event at the recent Carlisle meeting, which was abandoned, so this is a re-direct which could be fortuitous. Young Tommy achieved a hurdle rating of 156 last season and, on chase debut last month, won a handicap off 155, which is clear of anything else in this field. We suggest a win bet at 7-4.
Two handicap hurdles complete the coverage, the first up being at 2.55 and sponsored by Paddy Power.
Our pick in this is the re-invented hurdler Sidi Ismael, from David Pipe‘s yard. This 8-y-o turned up at Worcester after 7 months off and a wind op and won easily off a mark of 122. A 5lb nudge takes it to a mark it defied at the end of last year over fences so we recommend an each way bet at 9-1.
Another Paddy sponsored race at 3.30 ends proceedings and we just have to give this one to the Oirish by selecting Unanswered.
Very lightly raced over hurdles, Tony Martin’s 5-y-o was last seen in this sphere in May, winning a Punchestown handicap hurdle off a mark of just 89.
Today’s mark of 111 might look a bit penal, but in the intervening months, the horse’s Flat rating has risen by 21 clicks after a string of good performances.
Already heavily backed, we have to bite the bullet and recommend a win bet at 13-8.
We can’t leave this race without also suggesting an each way tickle on Claire Harris’ Getalead, which has shown remarkable improvement since the tongue strap went on and could just cause a surprise. Take the 14-1.
That’s it – don’t look forward to the cricket too much – it’ll be rained off.
GA Law 2.20 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 13-2 (5 places)
Midnight River 2.20 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (5 places)
Tommy’s Oscar 1.45 Cheltenham 3pts win @ 7-4
Sidi Ismael 2.55 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (4 places)
Unanswered 3.30 Cheltenham 4pts win @ 13-8
Getalead 3.30 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (4 places)