I'll admit it, I have not looked at jumps racing at all this season, sometimes it is good to come in blind. All I have done is look at GeeGeez Gold, through a number of reports and stats to produce shortlists and look for value. Here are my thoughts, all stats and data courtesy of GeeGeez Gold.
1:30 Supreme Novice Hurdle – FIRST FLOW 1pt E/W @ 11/1
Some things never change, a short-priced, strong-looking Willie Mullins contender with plenty of speed & stamina and ability to act in the heavy conditions that are looking likely for the opening day. GETABIRD looks a strong contender but I've seen plenty of them lose over the years so I'm going to go with a bit of value with FIRST FLOW each-way at 11/1. Now I do have a problem with the trainer/jockey record at the track over the last few years but this runner did step up markedly on his previous 2 wins when scoring impressively by 10 lengths last time out and both his wins have come in very heavy going, he also has a win in a 16-runner field so that is also a plus in his favour.
2:10 ARKLE TROPHY – SAINT CALVADOS 2pt WIN @ 3/1
Another Mullins Hotpot in FOOTPAD but there are a lot of positives about SAINT CALVADOS who has won all 3 of his chase starts, seemingly jumping very impressively along the way. I must admit the trainer is a new name to me, but he obviously would have learned from the best, having operated a satellite yard for Nicky Henderson for many years. I have never seen the in-running comment “jumped with elan” before so I'll take that as a positive sign that this chaser could be a bit special.
2:50 ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE – COGRY & SHANTOU FLYER 1pt E/W @ 20/1
4 horses here have a good record at the course – COGRY, VICENTE, SHANTOU FLYER and SINGLEFARMPAYMENT. I must admit I like the look of both COGRY and SHANTOU FLYER who are both priced at a generous looking 20/1 based on their course form and likely suitability to conditions. Cogry is especially interesting, having beaten Singlefarmpayment in October and with a 40% record on heavy going should relish the conditions. Twiston-Davies is in form and Jamie Bargary takes off a handy 3lb – the pair teamed up to land the Imperial Cup at the weekend. Shantou Flyer has no wins on heavy but he has run a couple of massive 2nd's in Grade 3 handicap chases at the course this year on heavy conditions and the first-time tongue tie and step up to 3 miles at the course could see him go very close. Let's hope I've picked the right two specialists!
3:30 CHAMPION HURDLE – MY TENT OR YOURS 1pt E/W @ 25/1
OK, so this is one favourite I don't feel comfortable opposing in BUVEUR D'AIR who should take all the beating but last year's 2nd looks a bit overpriced with question marks over a lot of the others in terms of class and going. MY TENT OR YOURS Cheltenham form reads 222221 and if we are looking for one to hit the frame or capitalise should anything else happen, it looks the most solid e/w contender at the prices, given that only Buveur D'Air prevented him from winning both the Champion and Aintree hurdle last season. How many other horses do you know that are 6/6 with hitting the frame at Cheltenham, often at the highest level? Faugheen is interesting in first-time cheekpieces also, especially given his previous festival form and raw ability, last 2 runs have looks dubious though.
4:10 MARES HURDLE – LA BAGUE AU ROI 1pt E/W @ 7/1
Yes, I'm taking on another heavy odds-on shot with an each-way poke. You don't get anywhere backing odds-on shots in heavy going over time, especially when it's really competitive over the toughest track on the planet. So, I've gone for the Greatrex/Johnson runner LA BAGUE AU ROI each-way at 13/2 who should be in the frame and again could capitalise if the favourite has an off-day. What I particularly like are the very strong sire stats, overall, over hurdles and over this kind of trip and age range. OK, this runner is responsible for 7 of those wins, but still…Warren Greatrex is also bang in form and has a particularly good record when teaming up with Richard Johnson, thanks to the Trainer/Jockey Combo report.
4:50 NH Challenge Cup – PYLONTHEPRESSURE 1pt E/W @ 18/1
OK, so the words Amateur and Novice should really set off all the warning bells in your head that you might expect. Still, it's a Cheltenham race so we are really looking for a decent jockey and an in-form runner. I'm going for a small e/w bet on the Mullins/Katie Walsh runner PYLONTHEPRESSURE. She is one of the best jockeys in the field, bar the likes of Mr Codd on the favourite but again 11/2 doesn't interest me as much as 16/1 each-way for one of the least exposed runners in the field from a good stable. Not a race to go nuts in!
5:30 CLOSE BROTHERS NOVICE HC CHASE – LE ROCHER 1pt E/W @ 25/1
I LOVE the Instant Expert feature of GeeGeez Gold. I had little interest or shortlist contenders in this race so I basically just removed all horses that had no wins on heavy going and then looked at the data. For me LE ROCHER looks excellent value here with 5/7 wins on heavy, including a win here at Cheltenham, no problems with this class of race either. Has 3/5 places at this distance so the 1 win from 6 does not bother me, the other stats are solid and the price is right for an each-way play. Nick Williams also has a great record at the track over the last 5 years.
So, there you go – all these stats from GeeGeez Gold at a glance. Can highly recommend you signup for a 1-month try for just £1.