Simonsig is one of the hottest favourites at this year's Cheltenham Festival but has our man found a better bet at a bigger price?
Trends and Stats
Only one of the last 22 winners started chasing after new year
Eleven of the last 12 winners were first-second in all completed chase runs
Twenty-four of the last 26 winners were first or second last time out
No winner since 1989 ran more than five times over Fences
Eleven of the last 12 had won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race over hurdles or fences
Twelve of the last 13 winners were rated 142+ over hurdles
My Leading Contenders
Very good winner of the Neptune last season but has beaten nothing of note over fences this season. As with all Nicky Henderson horses he jumps very well and will take some beating. Seems best with cover so a decent size field for the race would probably suit best, whereas a smaller field may not afford him that benefit.
Second in the Champion Hurdle last season and no horse in the race comes near to offering the form this fella does, and it seems to be forgotten that this horse was rated as high as 168 over hurdles. Always steps up to the mark in his big races and don't think this will prove an exception. Is a huge price considering he may well get the run of the race up front and the fact he stays a strongly-run 2m around here very well. Pundits have crabbed his win at Doncaster but I was more than impressed and think the two horses that finished behind him could well go on to win big handicaps themselves.
Not convinced 2m around Cheltenham will suit this fella given how much he seems to appreciate heavy ground. Also think his form is well below that of Simonsig and Overturn.
Likes to make the running but can he go as quick as Overturn on better ground? I'm not convinced he can, while I get the feeling there's been a slight overreaction to his defeat of a 134 rated opponent on his British debut at Newbury. As the saying goes, he could be anything, but I'd rather side with horses proven to be capable of running to 160+ at the Festival.
Seems more likely to line up in the Jewson. Held in high regard by those at the Henderson yard but you'd have to think they won't run him against Simonsig when there's an easier opportunity available to him.
Who I'm Backing
This race looks likely to cut up badly and I can see less than eight runners being a distinct possibility. Overturn on the balance of form and ability deserves to be shorter in the market and I've got him around the 3.7511/4 mark in my book and as such we have to back<a href="//www.betfair.com/exchange/horse-racing/market?id=1.106337385" target="_blank"> the current price of 4.84/1. The smaller the field is, the better it will be for our selection as it means it is more likely that he can get an uncontested lead. If he does he could well get the rest at it. Certainly Overturn's pace might stretch Simonsig and an ability to fight it out at the business end is something the favourite could learn from. I can see Overturn managing to induce mistakes from the rest of the field and at Championship level that often proves vital. The fear of a small field also means that laying the likes of Avrika Ligeonniere in the antepost place market could leave us with egg on our faces.
Back Overturn @ 4.84/1