Thursday 22 February 2018

Betting Ring

Wayne Bailey

A couple of years back, I got involved in a racing syndicate and we bought a young chestnut gelding at Goffs; a son of Definite Article and Glenview Lake.

Unfortunately, our lad has been injury prone and hasn't yet seen a racecourse, but our trainer Colm Murphy is doing his best and there is a slight chance we may get a run before the year is out. With an interest in the yard, I wish Colm and the Irish lads all the best with Big Zeb in today's Queen Mother Champion Chase, but patriotic punting is a quick way to the poorhouse and I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with Master Minded instead this time around.

It's great to see both horses go head-to-head once again but make no mistake, this is not a two-horse race and the likes of Somersby and Woolcombe Folly are capable of giving the market leaders a run for their money.

The lads tell me that Big Zeb is in super form at home, but he fluffed his lines in the Tied Cottage at Punchestown last time and has a real fight on his hands if he wants to retain his crown.

You can't help feeling that Master Minded's old rib injury had something to do with his defeat in this race last year, but he's injury free at the moment and a breathing operation over the summer has worked a treat.

His Tingle Creek performance was near perfect and although he looked tired when winning the Victor Chandler Chase with AP McCoy on board last time, the team admitted afterwards that it was tactics rather than fitness that saw him just about scrape past the line. Trust Nicholls and Walsh to get it right this time.

Stat Attack

The opening National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (1.30) is a four-mile race for novices, with all horses ridden by amateur jockeys. It's not the most punter-friendly race of the Festival and the last outright favourite to win was back in 1992 (Keep Talking). Since 2000, we've had seven winners priced in double figures, two of which were 33/1 outsiders.

Watching Brief

Time For Rupert is attracting plenty of support around 2/1 in the RSA Chase (2.40) and on all known form, the Paul Webber (pictured) trained seven-year-old is entitled to go off as favourite.

But race fitness is essential here and each of the last 47 RSA Chase winners had raced during the same calendar year. Time For Rupert is the only horse in today's renewal that hasn't been seen in 2011, so it's Kit Kat time for me when this one comes around.

Lay of the day

Celtus should go off around 5/2 in Betfair's place market for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40), but he's worth taking on at that price.

He clocked up a few wins in France before he arrived in the yard of Nicky Henderson (pictured), but he had no answers when asked to pick up in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton last time, and will find this tricky off 11st 9lbs.

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