Charlie McCann of BetVictor assesses Wednesday’s cards
Faugheen and Min are the latest high-profile absentees from next month’s Festival after Willie Mullins announced on Monday afternoon that both would miss Cheltenham through injury although he hoped both would be fit for either Fairyhouse or Punchestown later in the season.
With the 2016 Champion Annie Power also on the sidelines the Champion Hurdle looks wide-open with Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air, impressive against second-rate opposition at Sandown last weekend, the new 3/1 favourite at BetVictor.
Bomber Command is worth a check of the market in the Ludlow opener this afternoon making his hurdling debut for Tom George. He was backed into favouritism at Southwell on his sole bumper back in June and ran well in the circumstances given he raced with the choke out – if he is more amenable to restraint he should go close but he lacks the experience of Shantou Rock (1.40) who can make all for the Skeltons.
The selection has finished runner up in two of his three starts over timber and ran his best race yet when following home an unexposed Henderson horse last month – he is taken to go one better.
Label Des Obeaux (2.10) is not yet the finished article over fences but I will be disappointed if he can’t get his head in front in the Novices’ Chase for Alan King. The form of his second to Missed Approach at Lingfield last month was hardly franked by the winner’s poor effort at Wetherby on Saturday, but he deserves to win a race and could even be a likely type for the NH Chase at Cheltenham next month for which he is currently priced at 40/1 with BetVictor.
The 2m 4f handicap chase is a cracking 14-runner event and Altiepix is interesting dropping back in trip having only his second start for Kerry Lee since making the switch from the Gordon Elliot yard. Uhlan Bute came down with the race at his mercy on his reappearance but the handicapper has raised him 6lbs and the vote goes to Icing One The Cake (3.10) who is only 2lbs higher than when scoring at Newbury over the minimum trip at the end of December. He is bred to appreciate the step up in trip – given he won a point-to-point over 3m in his native Ireland – and is potentially smart.
There can be no excuses for Master Blueyes (3.40) this afternoon in the Juvenile Hurdle if he is to take his chance at the Festival next month. The grey was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Huntingdon last time, but just lost out to the unexposed Henderson French import Divin Bere. The selection is 40/1 with BetVictor for the Fred Winter and really ought to break his maiden tag over timber later today.
Distime (4.15) would be receiving a stone from the ex-Henderson inmate Bear’s Affair in the Hunter Chase and is trained by someone I am not too familiar with (Mrs AJ Loder) but I was a big fan of the horse in his prime and this 2m 4f trip is ideal. He gets the each way vote.
The nap runs at Carlisle and I have been waiting for Freddies Portrait (2.20) back on a right-handed track since his latest Ayr run three weeks ago when he lost all chance by continually losing ground by jumping violently to his right. The selection went down by a length to Halcyon Days on his reappearance over today’s C&D and, whilst he is creeping up the handicap, he is taken to make all for Donald McCain who won this corresponding race two years ago.
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