DATE POSTED: 14th March 2018
We post a 'Big Race' preview for our shareholders most Saturdays. It's a full analysis of the biggest and most competitive handicap of the day - and usually the biggest betting heat. It's a free extra service we provide to our shareholders, written by our own racing professionals. For the Cheltenham Festival we're making these 'Big Race' postings public.
DAY THREEThe Thursday action sees The Pertemps, Ryanair and Kim Muir take place, along with a strong supportimng card, but its the former we concentrate on today - probably the most difficult race of the week to fathom!
Our Festival Big Race Preview starts today and goes right through the week. The big race of the day is posted the evening before racing.
This is probably the toughest handicap race to predict in the whole festival, possibly because runners are often treated sympathetically in the various qualifying races, thus preserving their Handicaps, which may explain why winners of those races have only won the Final on Three occasions in the last 20 years. However we like a challenge and hope that some of the statistics from previous years can provide a few clues.
Paul Nicholls has come away empty-handed from fifteen attempts at this race, so deserves a change of luck. He's only got one runner this year, the 6YO French-bred, Connetable, who hasn't shone in his last three races since qualifying for this Final, so seems unlikely to change Paula's fortune, although we know the horse has been targeted for this race for a long time.
An unusual statistic is that there has never been a French-bred winner in the race. This year there three others, apart from Connetable, namely Wait For Me, Protek Des Flos and Delta Work.
There is no Willie Mullins entry to worry about this year and the most serious Irish challenge comes from Gordon Elliott who saddles the current favourite, 7YO Glenloe, as well as 5YO Delta Work. 5yo's rarely win, the last time was in 1988, so it would be a turn-up if Delta Work managed it.
Favourites don't fair very well either, with only one winning in the last 12 years, but we wouldn't let this discourage favourite backers this time round, particularly as Glenloe is on a handy mark of 10st 5lb and is owned by JP McManus who loves to win this race.
JP also owns Protek Des Flos, A Great View, and 9YO Sort It Out who seems to be the subject of a gamble and just can't be ruled out of the reckoning. Seven of the last twelve winners were 8yo or older and he looks just the type who has been laid out for this race.
Jonjo O'Neill has won the Final four times and could have another live contender in 6YO Forza Milan who was 2nd in his qualifier and followed up with another a good 2nd at Newbury.
Eight of the last eleven winners were rated between 132-142, which includes Glenloe, Sort It Out and Forza Milan, so we will row in with them, making SORT IT OUT our main selection and suggest Forza Milan as the best each-way option at a price.
Whatever you choose in this ultra-competitive 3m handicap, we wish you good fortune.