- 1pt ante-post win Firefox @10/1, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 13th March
- 1pt ante-post win Stay Away Fay @14/1, Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, 13th March
- 1pt ante-post win Iberico Lord @16/1 NRNB, Coral Cup, 13th March
- 1pt ante-post win Banbridge @14/1 NRNB, Ryanair Chase, 14th March
I’ve backed IBERICO LORD at 16/1 non-runner no bet for the Coral Cup as I’ve got a strong view he’s been gagging to go up in trip. Connections must know it and haven’t tried yet, with the 2m Betfair Hurdle next up. There’s no way this horse will miss Cheltenham after gobbling up the hill in the Greatwood Hurdle and he could scrape into a Coral Cup off his current mark of 134, but going up a few lbs with a good run at Newbury wouldn’t hurt. The Greatwood form is working out really well with the second placing in a Grade 1, the third winning the Betfair Exchange Trophy, the fifth second in the Lanzarote and the fourth and sixth winning handicaps on their next run. Iberico Lord ran a disappointing race at Ascot but it was effectively a furlong shorter than the Greatwood and on better ground, so he couldn’t get involved with speedier horses. Whilst he won’t have much in hand with the handicapper over 2m, with natural progression he could easily be a high 140s to low 150s horse at the intermediate trip and that’s the perfect profile for a Coral Cup winner. I reckon connections know exactly what they’re doing with a view to revealing his hand in March at a course he loves.
1pt ante-post win Iberico Lord @16/1 NRNB, Coral Cup, 13th March
William Hill go non runner no bet for the Cheltenham Festival and I’ve backed BANBRIDGE at 14/1 in that market for the Ryanair. This is a past Festival winner who won over 2m at the track in an Arkle trial last season but simply has to have good ground. That’s made him unappealing as an antepost proposition but, as was the case last year, if the ground goes he won’t run and the NRNB concession helps massively. In fact the ground is the only reason we haven’t seen him yet (as far as I know) as he was entered for Huntingdon but the course was waterlogged and the prevailing soft ground over Christmas has obviously kept them from making entries. He won a Grade 1 at Aintree last season and we’re yet to see the Ryanair market take shape with only Stage Star showing progressive form and Allaho showing signs of decline. 14/1 would be a steal for Banbridge if he lined up on a sound surface so I think it’s a great bet.
1pt ante-post win Banbridge @14/1 NRNB, Ryanair Chase, 14th March
I’ve backed FIREFOX for Ballymore success off the back of his defeat of Willie Mullins’s Ballyburn in a maiden hurdle. It’s pretty clear he and Down Memory Lane are the two talking horses from Gordon Elliott’s yard this season and I’m not expecting anything else to come from the leftfield from either his yard or from any UK based trainer, as Nicky Henderson almost always sends his best to the Supreme. Willie Mullins has already seen his best bumper horses defeated this season and there’s more than a hint the cupboard might be a little bare in the novice hurdler department this season. Ballyburn trades favourite for the Ballymore ahead of Firefox but the Mullins horse is a keen traveller and the step up won’t benefit that, whereas I’d be surprised if we see Firefox over two miles again because he looks like a stayer and there was talk he could follow the Ginto route to the Albert Bartlett earlier in the season. He looks far too classy for the three miler and I think the market has his Ballymore price all wrong where he trades bigger than Ballyburn. The Betfair Exchange is clearly pointing to the Ballymore over the Supreme or Bartlett and 10/1 antepost quotes should be taken.
1pt ante-post win Firefox @10/1, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 13th March
I couldn’t have been more impressed with Albert Bartlett winner STAY AWAY FAY‘s jumping on chasing debut at Exeter. It was silky smooth and will give him an excellent chance in Grade 1 chases. We know this horse stays all day from his hurdling days and he has the massive green tick in the Cheltenham Festival form box. I honestly think he’s twice the price he should be for the Brown Advisory in March and I don’t know why bookmakers haven’t slashed him more. He did get headed at Exeter but the horse was dossing and as soon as Cobden woke him up he got back in front with ease. It’s a competitive division with loads of Irish horses to play their hand but I highly doubt any of them will cross paths with this guy before March and there won’t be a British trained horse with better credentials.
1pt ante-post win Stay Away Fay @14/1, Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, 13th March