Is Getabird the good thing to start off the week? His easy defeat of Mengli Khan, a grade one winning novice, is the best form on offer and suggests that, on ground he will like, that heshould take the beating @ 15/8. The Tolworth form is well represented with Summerville Boy, Kalashnikov and Western Ryder all turning up. With the prospect of heavy ground, at least in places, chances for Kalashnikov may well have diminished somewhat and though the Betfair Hurdle winner is improving, he may just find this too much of a test. His victor at Sandown, Summerville Boy on the other hand became a better horse when conditions got testing and settled much better in the Tolworth, he has Cheltenham form and is value @ 9/1 along with First Flow @ 12/1. Kim Bailey’s six year old may not have the most fashionable pedigree but is a strong, chasing type who will revel in conditions and is clearly improving, he should go well. Mengli Khan is unlikely to turn the tables on Getbird but can place, as could Claimantakinforgan who is better than he showed at Musselburgh and also the improving Paloma Blue.
A very intriguing race and though it is a small field, three have definite chances. Footpad has done everything asked of him since switching to fences and looks a natural, he has been effortless in both grade one victories and is entitled to be favourite @ 6/5. Old adversary Petit Mouchoir got the better of Footpad over hurdles and having suffered a setback earlier in the season, made a satisfactory comeback when not asked any questions at Leopardstown last time. It is likely that he will make this much more of a test for Footpad this time around and should go well @ 7/2. Saint Calvados is the unknown quantity after a facile victory at Warwick form Diego Du Charmil and the manner in which he won suggests he can mix it at the top level, but he does have to prove himself on the undulations of Cheltenham. He clearly has ability and should have a say in the finish. It was clear to see that Brain Power’s jumping let him down at the business end of races and the wind operation may just improve his fencing when push comes to shove. He was not too far behind Un De Sceaux at Ascot when falling and could run a fair race @ 10/1.
Gold Present has missed recent engagements due to softer conditions and this has to cast doubt over Nicky Henderson’s improving eight year old. All roads lead to Aintree for him so he will not be put under serious pressure if not taking to the ground. That said he has the right profile to take this if going on the soft. Another with the perfect profile for this race is Coo Star Sivola @ 6/1. He ran a fair race when fourth to Frodon back at Cheltenham in January and relished the step up to three miles on soft ground at Exeter last time. He should go very well. Singlefarmpayment, just touched off in this race last year, is only 15/2 having had a slightly disappointing season and though the stamina test should suit, he still looks fairly short in the market this time around. The more exposed types of Vicente, Cogry and Shantou Flyer should all be considered. Vicente ran well here in November just failing to get up behind Perfect Candidate and with a stronger pace likely, should be finishing to good effect @ 18/1. Cogry can go well here but does seem to find one too good at this level while Shantou Flyer has had a new lease of life with headgear fitted and connections now opt for a visor. Both should be thereabouts @ 20/1. David Pipe has to be respected in this race and Ramses De Teillee should enjoy conditions @ 12/1 and two more interesting types @ 25/1 are Knight Of Noir, who has one or two bits of decent novice form and Casse Tette, who ran a reasonable race back here in January and shapes as though a trip like this will suit.
If the cheekpieces have the desired effect on Faugheen then we could be in for a thriller but he has been disappointing the last twice and well below the form of the ‘machine’ that we have come to know. Willie Mullins is a master trainer and if anyone can get Faugheen back to his best then he is the man. Buveur D’Air is clearly the one to beat @ 8/13 and we have yet to see him really asked any major questions since reverting back to hurdles, including his victory in this race last year. My Tent Or Yours will again be popular in the place markets as will Melon who has a little to prove after a disappointing run last time. John Constable, Wicklow Brave and Mick Jazz can place at big prices.
This looks to be at the mercy of Apple’s Jade and she should make it back to back victories in this race @ 4/7 though the unknown quantity of Willie Mullins’ sole contender, Benie Des Dieux, is intriguing @ 9/2. La Bague Roi has done nothing but improve for Warren Greatrex and though this trip could be on the short side for her, is definitely worth considering in a market without the favourite. Jer’s Girl, Midnight Tour, Midnight Jazz and Kayf Grace are all of similar standards and will be battling it out for the minor money.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Vicente – 2.50 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 18/1
This will be a real test of stamina due to the heavy conditions and will take some getting. Coo Star Sivola does fit the bill profile wise but is very short @ 5/1. Vicente, a dual Scottish National winner, stayed on well in a race behind Perfect Candidate back in November at this course, admittedly over further but the conditions and strong pace here should set things up for nicely. His record at Cheltenham reads two wins and two places form six starts so he clearly likes it here with the 18/1 a bit of value.
Miss Parfois – 4.50 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 7/1
This improving mare stays very well and looks a national type for the future, handles heavy ground, has course form and is Quickened Clear’s top rated due to the mare’s allowance. The Gordon Elliott trained Jury Duty and Mossback should be respected but are worth taking on due to the lack of all important course form and Miss Parfois may well start favourite come 4.50 and looks value a fair bet @ 7/1.
Mr Whittaker – 5.30 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 11/1
With only four starts to Mr Whittaker’s name, more improvement is likely and after winning over course and distance last time, the eight pound rise may not be enough to stop him. He idled a little when defeating Theatre Territory and clearly had a bit more up his sleeve. You will be sick of the repeats of ‘he has all important course form’ but Mr Whittaker does and should go well @ 11/1.
Report To Base – 5.30 Cheltenham – 1pt win @ 20/1
Report To Base will enjoy conditions and has won both his recent starts easily, yes, he was disqualified at Exeter for missing a fence but he would have won by a wide margin anyway. He may be on a lenient mark here and has hurdles form at Cheltenham where he finished behind Coo Star Sivola but ahead of Poetic Rhythm and Pingshou. He is talented and could be travelling well turning for home with the 20/1 tempting.