Monday, 14 March 2016

Worcester Form at the Cheltenham Festival

Keep up to date with our blog throughout the Cheltenham Festival...

Day 4 - Gold Cup Day

Not a great showing from the #WorcesterForm runners on Day 3, between the 15 runners, just the one place result. A Good Skin was a good second in the final race of the day at 14/1. Nothing to eclipse the victory of Ballyandy on Day 2, although a few hopefuls, including a Gold Cup contender may come close or surpass that performance.

In the final three races at the Festival there are a combined 13 runners who have had a spin around Pitchcroft. These 13 runners have amassed 11 victories by 8 horses, plus a raft of place performances. High in the betting of these 13 include:

  • Paint The Clouds - second favourite in the Foxhunter Chase - won here in May 2011
  • Flying Angel - third favourite in the Martin Pipe Hurdle - won here in October 2015
  • Eastlake - third favourite in the Grand Annual Chase - racecourse debut winner at Worcester
The remaining runners are; Current Event, Twirling Magnet, Roadie Joe, Croco Bay, Dresden, Next Sensation (currently favourite for the Grand Annual, placed previously at Worcester), Surf & Turf, Germany Calling, Lough Kent and Pearls Legend.

The highlight for the Worcester racegoers and staff though tomorrow to watch out for is most definitely the Gold Cup contender, Irish Cavalier, who back in May 2013 got his maiden victory at Worcester in the hands of the now retired AP McCoy.

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At odds of 100/1, and as the outsider of the race, not much hope is being handed to Irish Cavalier. However, the seven year old has a Class 1 chasing victory at Cheltenham to his name and like previous long shot victors in the race, such as Lord Windermere just two years ago, will be looking to cause an upset!

Day 3

Before we proceed with the day 3 runners, let's revel in the #WorcesterForm performances of day 2! Seven runners with a Worcester run under their belt, two of which WON! The Romford Pele put in a good performance early in the day, setting the scene for a good Worcester Form day. Any Currency took victory in the Cross Country race at odds of 11/1, and also has a second place to his name at Pitchcroft. However the standout #WorcesterForm performer is BALLYANDY (pictured below), after winning on his racecourse debut at the season finale here in 2015, he's gone from strength to strength this season, and this afternoon became the first Worcester winner to do the same at the Cheltenham Festival this year. Four wins from five (a once narrow second), what next for this special bumper performer and product of Pitchcroft? Watch this space...

Onto day 3, and we've got 15 pieces of Worcester form in the fields, with interest in all seven races!

As De Me was an unplaced finisher back in 2014 and isn't a particularly fancied horse in tomorrow's opener, but read on, as there are a few very nice types with Worcester form that are declared for tomorrow's action.

In the Pertemps Network Hurdle, Our Kaempfer & Join The Clan fly the Worcester flag. Our Kaempfer, like Ballyandy, obtained his maiden victory at Pitchcroft in October 2013 and is the current joint second favourite, and on form looks like he's got a battle with three of the JP McManus runners.

The Ryanair Chase looks a difficult prospect now for 14 of the runners, since Vautour opted for this race over the Gold Cup. One of those is former Worcester placed horse, Dynaste, as well as September 2013 Pitchcroft winner, Village Vic.

Cole Harden looks to hold onto his World Hurdle crown, a winner in late 2013 at Worcester, it's going to take something for the seven year old to defend the crown against Thistlecrack, but experience may pay dividends and he certainly won't be rolling over with ease!

As the feature race of the Worcester season winner in 2013, Astracad is once again off to Prestbury Park. After three and a half years without tasting victory, he finally got his head in front again in October last year, 50/1 suggests he's a long way out of his depth but there may be another big Cheltenham performance to come from this ten year old. Favourite for the race, Johns Spirit, also holds Worcester form, placing in September 2011.

Into the final two, and there are 7 runners across the pair of races, a few with very strong chances of snatching a Festival victory. Let's run through them:

  • Mares Novices Hurdle
    • Smart Talk - won at Worcester on the same day as Ballyandy (21/10/15), clear second favourite behind the odds on Limini
    • Awesome Rosie - won at Worcester in May last year, middle of the pack at 25/1
    • Girly Girl - won at Worcester in October last year, not far behind Awesome Rosie in the betting
  • Kim Muir Cup
    • Lost Legend - something of a Worcester favourite with 3 victories and a second (2013 & 2014), 33/1, not out of the reckoning by any means but many others fancied more
    • Upswing - won at Worcester on the same day as Ballyandy & Smart Talk (21/10/15), high in the betting, stands a good chance if reproducing the recent Worcester winner form
    • The Giant Bolster - won at Worcester in October 2010 and trained locally, good chance at 10/1 and always enjoys a spin around Prestbury Park
    • A Good Skin - placed in October 2014 at Worcester, probably a little out of his depth but does have Class 3 Cheltenham winning form to his name

A whole host of #WorcesterForm runners to look out for day 3, and wouldn't it be fantastic to see Smart Talk & Upswing taking home a Festival trophy, following Ballyandy's victory on day 2, what a remarkable day of racing that 2015 season finale will transpire into!

Day 2

As the action concludes at Prestbury Park for day 1, we look at how the Worcester form runners performed before looking through tomorrow's card.

Day 1 yielded a 14/1 place with The Young Master. Tipped up as the most likely of the #WorcesterForm runners to run into a place yesterday. This was the best the Worcester form could conjure up on Day 1 with the other runners un-placing throughout the afternoon, however, day 2 prospects look quite good...

Like the action on day 1, there are four races with Worcester form. We start with the Coral Cup, where The Romford Pele (pictured below) has been declared but is some way down the odds at 28/1, however no strong favourite gives him a chance. A popular punt with Arsenal fans, it looks as though this nine year old will need most things to drop his way, however based on Last Time Out form, could nab a place.

It's the Cross Country, like previous years, that looks to boast the best chances for former Worcester winners. Two Pitchcroft winners and two seconds line-up in the contest tomorrow in what is always a magnificent race. Balthazar King won his chasing debut at Worcester and looks to regain the crown he won in 2014 and is the current second favourite. Valadom sits bottom of the odds and is the other Worcester winner in the pack. However both Pitchcroft seconds hold good chances in the races; Dolatulo & Any Currency, both Class 3 second places at Worcester, but some 4 years apart. At 13 years old Any Currency maybe looking at his last Cross Country appearance, however the classy gelding is shorter than 10/1. A Balthazar King, Any Currency battle may again be on the cards.

Chic Name is the only runner in the Fred Winter with any Worcester form, a second place back in September last year. The 4 year old will have to outrun his 33/1 odds to feature in this very competitive handicap hurdle.

Should any of the Cross Country four not be the first home, all attentions at Worcester turn to the Champion Bumper, where the current favourite, Ballyandy, runs. The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained five year old looks a magnificent prospect, having won a Class 6 bumper here on the final day of racing for the 2015 season, before going on to win two Class 1 bumpers and come second in another. One of those victories was at Cheltenham and with the form it's not hard to see why he's been well backed in to 5's in places.

Is the Worcester double on tomorrow? A Balthazar King victory followed by a Ballyandy victory? We think so!

Day 1

Five former Worcester winners have been declared for day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival 2016, running across four of the day's seven races.

Our first sighting of the Worcester form comes in the Ultima Handicap Chase at 2.50pm, a Grade 3 contest over 3m1f. Not one, but TWO Worcester winners go to post in the race. The Young Master, a general 14/1 chance currently, won at Pitchcroft on 26th September 2014 before going on to famously be disqualified at Wincanton after winning a listed event. According To Trev sits at the bottom of the weights, and at the foot of the betting (100/1), he put in a winning performance at Worcester on the 9th of May 2012. Double Ross is the only other runner in the race to have taken a spin around Worcester, however failed to finish that race.

In the OLBG Mares Hurdle, over nearly 2m4f at 4.10pm, Stephanie Frances makes an appearance, currently a 33/1 shot. She broke her handicap maiden at Worcester Racecourse back in October 2014, before in 2015 winning the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Following two falls this is a big ask, but former Cheltenham winning experience keeps the 8 year old in with a chance.

Vintage Vinnie & Johnny Og (pictured below, farside) line up in the 4.50pm race, the Amateur Riders Novices Chase, both hovering around the 50/1 mark. Vintage Vinnie won his only Chase affair at Worcester, impressively so, but did not build upon this victory that was gained on 25th September last year. Johnny Og has ran three times at Worcester, but is yet to register a place at Pitchcroft.

On Tour & Jayo Time fly the Worcester flag in the final race of the day, the 5.30pm Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase. Jayo Time has a win and third place to his name at Worcester, but is the outsider of the field at 33/1. On Tour didn't register a victory at Worcester, instead going down narrowly in August 2014 before putting in a host of winning performances last season, and sits as a 20/1 shot for tomorrow's race.

As the odds imply, The Young Master is the best chance tomorrow for a Worcester winner to get a Worcester victory, and in a race where the field is 7/1, he could be the one to watch on day 1!