Get with Gevrey at 14/1
With the majority of ante-post bets already advised ahead of the Cheltenham Festival it's a good time to scan the portfolio and see how we're looking.
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The good news is all of the selections are still intended runners and none have drifted in the markets, but the perils of ante-post betting are bound to scupper at least one or two of them before the roar for the Supreme so I won't count my chickens just yet!
On to the tips.
THE GIANT BOLSTER - GOLD CUP (1pt e/w at 25/1 - now top-price 20/1)
I was pleased with his run behind Silviniaco Conti at Newbury. It proved his King George run was all wrong. Back at Cheltenham, his favourite track, he's a live outsider and goes there with a good chance of hitting the frame. For all the talk and promise, it might not be so much of a better race than last year after all.
ROCK ON RUBY - CHAMPION HURDLE (1pt win at 10/1 - now top-price 6/1)
Won at Doncaster in terrible circumstances but from his point of view it was a fine prep for his defence. I'm still unconvinced by Hurricane Fly and he goes there with a good chance of retaining his crown.
SMAD PLACE - WORLD HURDLE (1pt win at 20/1 - still available)
Nothing's happened here since advised, the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on February 24 remains his target I believe. Alan King's had some wretched luck this season so I just hope this one makes it to the track.
MENORAH - RYANAIR (1pt win 14/1 - still available)
I was disappointed to see him tried over three miles in preparation for the Ryanair but I don't think he actually damaged his Festival chances when third behind Silviniaco Conti and the Giant Bolster at Newbury.
HADRIAN'S APPROACH - RSA (1pt e.w 40/1 - now a top-price 16/1)
Unlucky not to beat Unioniste at Newbury when proving he has the engine for an RSA and I was delighted with his run. Needs to brush up on his jumping but if he does he's a major each-way player. Not convinced by Boston Bob at all.
FAGO - ARKLE (1pt e.w 16/1 - now a top-price 11/1)
I thought he was cruising when he fell at Warwick and I was bitterly disappointed with such a soft fall. Still, he looks the most likely to give Simonsig and Overturn a race. Could run again before Festival for a confidence booster.
AUPCHARLIE - JEWSON (1pt win 10/1 - now a top-price 6/1)
Support since advised bet suggests this is the race for him at the Festival and he must have a fine chance if lining up for top-notch connections.
DODGING BULLETS - SUPREME (1pt win 14/1 - still available)
He was the one to beat on form before My Tent Or Yours' romp and I would still prefer him to the likes of Melodic Rendezvous and River Maigue. Sometimes, though, Goliath gives the Davids a good kicking and MTOY looks like a machine. Hopefully he runs in the Champion!
TAQUIN DU SEUIL - NEPTUNE (1pt win 10/1 - still available)
Colleague Ian Ogg put Jonjo O'Neill's exciting novice up and that form where he gave My Tent Or Yours 5lb for a narrow defeat looks better and better. Must have a very solid chance.
The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle is the latest race I'll get involved in and I want David Pipe's GEVREY CHAMBERTIN on my side ahead of his possible run at Haydock this weekend.
The full brother to Grands Crus has had a flawless season over hurdles thus far and I'd expect him to extend that sequence if pitching up in the north west on Saturday - his first attempt over three miles and in graded company.
He has shown plenty of speed in his five starts to date but he settles better than his brother ever did over timber and I can only envisage further improvement as he goes up in trip.
His debut win over hurdles at Aintree in October has been franked by Oliver Sherwood's exciting prospect Many Clouds a couple of times and I just think Gevrey is on the cusp of proving what a top staying novice he is.
Ballycasey and At Fishers Cross have stronger form in the book at the time of writing but that might not be the case after the weekend, and, the only other horse ahead of him in the Albert Bartlett betting, Pont Alexandre, looks highly likely to go for the Neptune.
This is one ante-post bet that could go wrong very quickly if the son of Dom Alco flops in Lancashire, but looking at the five-day declarations there is nothing that stands out like our selection and he could halve in price for his Cheltenham target with a convincing success.
It's a carrot I can't resist and he's worth adding to the portfolio.
One point on him takes us to a 13-point spend so far, with a total spend of 20 points looking likely.
Next week I'll be previewing the Triumph Hurdle and the following week it's the publication of the weights for the Festival handicaps. A few bets are bound to be advised once they're released and that preview will wrap up the ante-post portfolio for the Festival.
Then it's just a case of letting battle commence...