Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) was in outstanding form on Saturday so we dragged him back to share his top tips for Cheltenham’s racing o Sunday.
Sunday starts with a Supreme Novice Hurdle Trial and it is a tight looking affair. Maputo brings some high class flat form to the table here but he will need to be smart to beat what looks a decent field here.
Maputo has run four times over hurdles, winning all his starts, and has looked better with every visit to the racecourse. Last time out he won a listed race at Kempton in good style and is the horse to beat.
However, I’m not overly convinced that was a strong race and this race looks to have more strength and depth. He looks a good horse but I’m against him.
Altior from the Nicky Henderson yard has won both hurdle starts following up a facile win at Chepstow with a good battling performance at Ascot. That day he was keen early on and he has scope to improve much further. However, at the prices, I’m against him and I’m very excited about my selection.
Three weeks ago there was a maiden hurdle run over course and distance and the first two from that race line up here. On that occasion Mister Miyagi beat Drumlee Sunset and I expect that form to be upheld.
In what looked a decent maiden, Mister Miyagi was very well backed and won with something in hand with a long gap back to third. The first two that day looked good prospects, and though they have to improve still to win here, I feel they will. At 7/1 (Paddy Power) Mister Miyagi is a very fair price indeed.
The Arkle Trial is next and it’s another hot looking race. Garde La Victoire comes in a short priced favourite for this and I see no reason to oppose him.
He is a high class recruit over the larger obstacles and I expect him to end the season one of the top ranked novice chasers.
Garde La Victore won the Greatwood Hurdle on this day last season and after two defeats afterwards, ended the season with a win in a listed hurdle at Sandown. He was then put away, missing the spring festivals to be sent novice chasing this season, and it looks like a decision that will be rewarded.
He won a beginners chase at Uttoxeter in good style giving weight and a beating to the promising Bristol De Mai. That was a very impressive performance and he looks like a real class act over fences.
This is a competitive looking race but I just feel that Garde La Victore looks a cut above his rivals. I’m a massive fan of him and at even-money (Ladbrokes) I make him a great bet.
The Schloer Chase gives us another small field yet another intriguing race. Four of these ran in the Queen Mother last season and this should be an informative race for the season ahead.
Mr Mole was a revelation last season, as after looking unruly and like he’d fallen out of love with the game, ran up a four-race winning spree before falling short in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
He was then beaten at Sandown and I feel like he’s had his limitations exposed slightly. Though he does go well fresh, I’d be surprised if he’s able to concede weight all round here and I’m writing him off.
Simply Ned showed some good form last season before falling short at Cheltenham and Aintree but remains a horse of potential. He returned this season with a solid victory at Kelso and brings race fitness in to this. However, he is 11/4 to win and even with a fitness edge that doesn’t appeal to me.
I’m against him too. I’m going to take a chance on the former champion Sprinter Sacre. After being the highest rated chaser in training before suffering heart problems he returned last season a shadow of himself.
A solid second to subsequent champion chaser Dodging Bullets on his return he then flopped at Cheltenham, eventually being pulled up. He ended the season with a second at Sandown that showed a glimpse of his former self.
This season Nicky Henderson has started in good form, but it was the performances of Bobs Worth and Simonsig that caught my eye. Bobs Worth returned from the wilderness to win an Aintree hurdle with Simonsig coming from a lengthy absence just behind him.
He has said he is very happy with Sprinter Sacre and even at 85% of his former self, he wins this race. I’m prepared to take a chance on him at 3/1 (Paddy Power) here.
Cheltenham 1.00 – Mister Miyagi (7/1 Paddy Power)
Cheltenham 1.35 – Garde La Victore (1/1 Ladbrokes)
Cheltenham 2.10 – Sprinter Sacre (3/1 Paddy Power)