- Won over at least 3m – 10 winners in 10 runnings
- Recorded a pre-race RPR (Racing Post Rating) of at least 128 – 9/10
- Ran between 12 and 39 days ago – 9/10
- Aged 10 or younger – 8/10
- Won last time out (including point-to-points) – 6/10
I’ve backed Juveigneur for this at 8/1 ante post (now a best-priced 5/1 with Ladbrokes) but I must I’m not feeling over-confident.
Sure, he has plenty going for him, not least his festival form – winner of the Kim Muir in 2005 and second in a William Hill Trophy two years later. Rated 154 at his peak, he did deteriorate after that, but he’s been revitalised by a spell of hunting and qualified for this race by winning a couple of point-to-points in Ireland (won again since), where he’s now trained by Eugene O’Sullivan for Exotic Dancer’s owner Trevor Hemmings. O’Sullivan knows what it takes to win this race, having done so in 1991, while his jockey JT McNamara has a superb Cheltenham record, winning on Drombeag in 2007.
Now for the big negative. At 12, he’s not getting any younger and thirteen of the last 18 winners were aged between seven and nine, and three of the five exceptions were previous winners of the race. That’s not to say he can’t win and I still think he’s the one they all have to beat, but he might be vulnerable to a younger horse on the upgrade.
That horse might be Cappa Bleu (11/2 bet365), who has been earning rave reviews on the points circuit with two easy wins. This is his first time over regulation fences, though, which is off-putting, but he could be top class. It’s a shame his price has evaporated.
Last year’s winner, Amicelli (8/1 Victor Chandler), now a ten-tear-old, can be forgiven his point-to-point fall last month as he was squeezed for room, having earlier gained a comfortable Bangor win. The runner-up that day, King Killone, was subsequently only fourth to Cappa Bleu, though, which gives him something to find on form.
There are some high-class ex-handicappers high up in the betting, including Royal Auclair (10/1 Blue Square), Kingscliff (141 Skybet), who won this race six years ago. Time passes, though, and their recent form suggests they will struggle to beat the best of these.
At the other end of the age scale, both ROBBERS GLEN (33/1 Coral) and TURTHEN (33/1 William Hill) could go well at big prices. Robbers Glen won a top novice race at Stratford in May and was still going well under a big weight when brought down on his latest start at Ayr. Turthen lost the winning habit when trained by Paul Nicholls but has found it again this season, winning three open points. At nine and eight respectively, these two could be reaching their peak and merit each way wagers, although I’ll be cheering loudest for Juveigneur of course.
Turthen 1pt each way 33/1 William Hill
Robbers Glen 1pt each way 33/1 Coral