DISCLAIMER: ODDS AND ARTICLE UPDATED 04/03/2019, 16:30.
With Cheltenham just around the corner, we have two selections in the feature race on the final day of the meeting.
15th March, 15:30
With top-class racing throughout the four days, next week’s 2019 Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly the highlight of the National Hunt season. While the fixture is full of Grade 1 contests, the undoubted jewel in the crown of the meeting is Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and, with last year’s winner Native River back to defend his crown, in addition to the top staying novice of 2018 Presenting Percy, this year’s renewal looks set to be another cracker.
There are reasons to oppose the above pair, however, given that while they were both successful here 12 months ago, their victories came on ground that was softer than is traditionally the case for this meeting. While Native River has acquitted himself well on better ground this term, it remains the case that his best efforts have come on a soft surface and in true tests of stamina.
Similar comments ground-wise apply to Presenting Percy. While he impressed when winning the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park (soft) last month for the second year in succession, the vast majority of his form has come on soft or heavy going. While Pat Kelly’s charge has won on good ground here in the past, it’s worth noting that came in handicap company so it may be worth opposing the pair with two selections at bigger prices.
The first of those is the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy, who has now won his last four starts, dating back to last season’s novice campaign, with his most recent victory coming when running out the impressive winner of a good ground Savills Chase at Leopardstown (3m, good) at the end of December.
At just seven years old, the selection remains open to improvement and showed he handles this track when running a decent race to finish fourth in the JLT Novices’ Chase over 2m4f on soft ground 12 months ago.
The son of Voix Du Nord is improving all the time and while his latest success came on good ground, he is a versatile sort going-wise and at around the 10/1 mark rates as a decent each-way bet in this contest.
In front of Kemboy in last year’s JLT was the Gordon Elliott-trained mare Shattered Love, who was winning at the highest level for the first time when successful that day. The eight-year-old finished a good 1L second in a soft-to-heavy ground Grade 1 over 2m4f at Punchestown the following month, and while she disappointed behind Kemboy at Leopardstown in December, she had previously finished a good second in a Grade 1 at Punchestown (2m4f, yielding) earlier that month.
Shattered Love hails from a yard which know what it takes to win this race and while she holds other engagements at this meeting, she is available to back on a non-runner-no-bet basis at 25/1 and would hold decent claims if lining up.
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