As De Mee ticks the right boxes at Cheltenham
On the face of it, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained More Of That has outstanding claims in this afternoon's BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham's Open Meeting (2.25), with seven wins from nine career runs.
One of the most memorable victories was over hurdles when he beat Annie Power in the 2014 World Hurdle at 15/2 - but bitter disappointment followed that November at Newbury, when he could only manage third to Medinas and Cole Harden in the Long Distance Hurdle, despite going off at the prohibitive odds of 4/7.
Following a year-long break, he won two novice chases at this course in late 2015 but once again let favourite backers down when third in the RSA Chase at this year's Festival in March.
While it would be a little unfair to say he can't be trusted, I'm not too keen on taking 9/2 about the eight-year-old today, and the fact that he missed an intended run at Carlisle due to the ground has me wondering if he's fully ready for battle in what could be a tough race this afternoon.
He still has the potential to be a top-notch chaser and as a racing fan, I'd like to see him put in a big run but I just can't be having him at those odds so we look elsewhere for a bit of value.
Double More Of That's odds at the time of writing, the Paul Nicholls-trained As De Mee ticks the right boxes off what appears to be a quite lenient mark of 142.
He was second to More Of That in one of those aforementioned novice races at Cheltenham, but he's been a good deal busier than the favourite with seven outings since, winning his latest at Fontwell.
At odds of 10/11, he was expected to win that race but it was a decent enough beginners' chase and an eight-length win while still on the bridle was a real confidence booster, having finished last season off with a poor run in a handicap chase at Sandown. This time around, he's race fit, the handicapper hasn't been harsh and at six years of age, he could have a bright future ahead for Nicholls.
I was going to go each-way but I reckon he's got potential and I think I'll just go on the nose instead this afternoon.
In the opening Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.40), Nucky Thompson catches the eye around 6/1 under Noel Fehily. The Richard Spenser-trained gelding was a decent enough sort on the Flat but raced a little freely on his hurdling debut to finish fourth of eight last month at Wetherby, having hit 1/2 in-running on the exchanges at one stage.
But Fehily gave him a much better ride at Warwick last week and the three-year-old held on gamely to beat Castafiore and open his account. It will be interesting to see what sort of pace is set today.
Philip Hobbs' Defi Du Seuil will probably go off as favourite and has strong claims although odds of 2/1 yesterday evening look a little short.
A bumper winner at Lyon Parilly in April, he had plenty in hand when winning a juvenile maiden hurdle at Ffos Las last month.
Ten minutes later on the all-weather at Lingfield, the Robert Cowell-trained Outback Traveller gets the nod in the Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (12.50), priced somewhere in the region of 8/1.
A winner of the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June at 10/1, he ran poorly a month later at York but the five-furlong trip was a little too short so that race is overlooked.
Most recently, he finished fifth of nine in a Group Three at Ascot which was better than it looks on paper - and considering the horse he beat at Royal Ascot, Brando, has since won the Ayr Gold Cup, the Bushranger gelding has good prospects.
Likely favourite Lord Of The Land is also worth a mention around 4/1 for David O'Meara.
He's won two on the trot on the all-weather at Kempton and Lingfield last month although he did get a very easy lead last time and the result might be a little flattering.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, Cogry slips in nicely near the bottom of the weights in the Grade Three BetVictor Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (1.50).
I'm always wary of backing horses which fell last time so it's of some concern that he hit the deck at the first fence in a handicap here back in October.
But still looks well-handicapped on a mark of 134 today having ran very well to finish third off 136 in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
Ryan Hatch's 3lb claim may help give him an edge this afternoon around 8/1.
Philip Hobbs' Sausalito Sunrise is another one to watch although he hasn't raced in 203 days and the top-weight burden might hold him back if he's any way unfit. * Last week's each-way selection, Erik The Red, was second at 8/1
12.40 Cheltenham: Nucky Thompson
12.50 Lingfield: Outback Traveller
1.50 Cheltenham: Cogry (e/w)
2.0 Lingfield: Yorker
2.25 Cheltenham: As De Mee