Cheltenham hosts Trials Day this Saturday, its final meet before March’s four-day Festival where many of the British hopefuls warm up for their intended targets.
The Grade 2 Cotswold Chase is arguably the feature race of the day, featuring several Gold Cup hopefuls.
However, this year’s renewal doesn’t feature any horse short in the betting for the big one as Bristol De Mai, a 25/1 shot for the Gold Cup, leads the market.
He’s the class horse in the race but his Haydock form, where he won last season’s Peter Marsh Chase and was a stunning winner of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase last November, is almost solely responsible for his lofty official rating, and when the ground hasn’t come up heavy away from Haydock he’s not shown the same level of form.
That’s a long-winded way of saying he’s got to be taken on – and the fact that he finished 23 lengths behind Saturday’s opponent TEA FOR TWO, who is several times the price at 8/1, in the King George last month doesn’t really stack up.
That certainly wasn’t the first time Tea For Two had given Bristol De Mai a good beating as he won a solid renewal of the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl last season, beating class horses like Cue Card and Empire Of Dirt.
Those Aintree spring races on good ground after many horses have had grueling races at the Cheltenham Festival come with plenty of caveats, but any suggestion that Bristol De Mai deserves to be so much shorter in the betting is plain wrong.
We tipped Tea For Two at 18/1 that day at Aintree and his excellent King George third where he was just a handful of lengths behind the Gold Cup favourite Might Bite has to be taken seriously.
There’s concern that Tea For Two doesn’t like Cheltenham and prefers flat tracks like Aintree and Kempton, but he unseated in the early stages of last year’s Gold Cup and you have to go back to his hurdle days for his last run at the track, where he was pulled up in a grueling Albert Bartlett raced on soft ground.
He’s gone on to win two Grade 1s and place third in a King George since then so, with him only being a nine-year-old, what’s to say he’s not simply a good horse?
The Grade 1 horses tend to come to the fore in this race and put wide margins between themselves and the glorified handicappers – of which The Last Samurai, Singlefarmpayment, Theatre Guide, Definitly Red and even the unexposed American have to prove they aren’t.
I like the solid Grade 1 credentials of Tea For Two and he’s a best priced 10/1 with StanJames.
Given the question mark over his Cheltenham credentials and so few bookies offering quartered odds, I’m not sure an each-way play is wise this time.
A word on American: I would agree he shouldn’t be written off after one bad run but he is way too short a price for a progressive profile and I can’t help but think that, if he were a flat horse, he would be twice the price.
1pt win Tea For Two @10/1, 14:25 Cheltenham, Saturday (StanJames)Leave a comment