Cheltenham Festival Focus: Chance Shishkin to down unfit Allaho in Ryanair Chase

Shishkin landing after a fence at Cheltenham
Daryl has warmed to the chances of Shishkin in the Ryanair Chase.

It's week 14 and Daryl's 33/1 ante-post tip Blood Destiny impressed him at Fairyhouse as he reflects on the weeks action and adds another selection to his growing list...

  • Daryl was impressed with Blood Destiny and says we have a live Triumph Hurdle player

  • He looks to Nicky Henderson's class act to bounce back

  • And offers up some interesting trebles for Cheltenham

First off, I need to start this column with an apology. I tipped Meet And Greet for the Stayers Hurdle last week, two days before entries for the race. I made a big error there, and I am kicking myself as I should have waited. He was frustratingly not declared, so I apologise.

Blood Destiny impresses me at Fairyhouse

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Finally, some good news for the column this week: our ante-post bet Blood Destiny 33/1 won impressively at Fairyhouse by 18 lengths in no more than a canter on his second start. He made all of the running, setting a fair gallop and cruised to victory under hand and heels riding and was slashed into 5/1 for the Triumph Hurdle.

Jockey Paul Townend commented after the race saying,

"He has obviously improved again from Cork. He just has a lovely way of going about it. He was idle enough and missed a couple of hurdles, but he was doing nothing. It was just a matter of getting over the last couple."

And continued...

"I slowed down when they caught up to me and then gave him one squeeze, and he galloped down to the last and away through it again. He didn't have a hard race there either."

Let's get those knocks out of the way first. Many have claimed that all, bar the winner, were looking for handicap marks with a view to the Boodles Handicap at the festival. That's a plausible theory as we take a look at form.

The form

Common Practice was having his third career run and was held up at the rear of the field in this contest, having been prominent and midfield on two previous outings. He had been beaten eight lengths by Lossiemouth over the same course and distance (today's going much deeper) last time, so it's fair to say they didn't have a Triumph Hurdle horse on their hands with this one, and his jockey didn't go for everything but the winner had flown so why would you?

There was a brief moment between the third and second last where it looked as though his jockey fancied his chances but that soon became a fantasy.

Nusret in third quickened from the third last until the final flight again with his jockey not asking for maximum effort, but a tired and scrappy leap at the last meant there probably wasn't much left in the tank. It was an almost identical ride as when beaten previously 16 lengths by Lossiemouth at Leopardstown. He is a nice horse but not at Grade 1 level and his three-out-to-the-line finishing time was only on par with a cantering Blood Destiny.

Jazzy Matty is the "wise guy" Boodle horse at the moment. Still, his previous win over course and distance on good to yielding ground was slower than Blood Destiny's heavy ground time here (both had a hurdle omitted), and he probably isn't that good.

Regardless of the theories, Blood Destiny has done this by an easy 18 lengths in a canter, and he hit the line hard with his stride flowing twice as quickly as those in behind him.

I plead with you to watch his action after the final flight. He flicks his near fore immediately on landing to change his legs to quicken again and this is a sign that a horse has had plenty left in the tank.

The clock

(2m one omitted) Blood Destiny Circuit Time: 4.07.62
(3m rated 130) Corbets Cross Circuit Time: 4.12.13
(2m2f Maiden Hurdle) Whatcouldhavebeen Circuit Time: 4.13.27

Blood Destiny had a hurdle omitted. Still, his field had to circle the outside of it, which means I would add a second onto the circuit time, which gives the horse a slight disadvantage (it tends to take half a second to jump a hurdle, but everyone does this differently). I always look to underate a performance rather than overrate it.

Even so, Blood Destiny has clocked a circuit time (including the 1 second added) of 14 lengths faster than the 130-rated handicapper over 3m and has not come off the bridle. Interestingly, he arrived at the halfway point (omitted fifth) 63 lengths ahead of the leader of the Maiden Hurdle field (Feddens a horse beaten ten lengths by Inthepocket at Wexford).

Compared to the 3m handicap, leader Froza Milan got to the same flight on par with Blood Destiny at 1m55secs but was beaten 63 lengths at the line. This is not a comparison to praise Blood Destiny but just one to suggest that he went an honest gallop.

Blood Destiny's three-to-finish time in a canter also married up well with all other races on the card (on par or better).

It bodes well that his overall time was around 26 lengths quicker than the Bumper on the card, and his time from the back of the last to the line was very quick. We have a serious player for the Triumph Hurdle.

Significant improvement needed from Flame Bearer despite easy win

Flame Bearer is now 3-3 at Fairyhouse after a demolition job of his inferior rivals. He scored at odds of 2/5f despite a very hairy leap at the last. He had gradually built up a lead, but none of his rivals was put into the race at all, and it was significantly slower than the preceding handicap won by ten-year-old and 136-rated Rebel Gold.

He needs stacks more to be competitive in an Arkle, and the Grand Annual could be more up his street if his jumping brushes up. He is now an unappealing 16/1 for the Arkle.

Possible Betfair Sportsbook value trebles


With the lack of racing and followers constantly asking for some combination bets, I have searched high and low and come up with some at big prices.

These will not be recorded on the P/L for this column, and they are not advised bets, but given the demand in recent weeks, I thought it might be nice to offer up a handful.

Maries Rock 9/4 Mares Hurdle

The Mares Hurdle division looks between two horses for me, with the other being Brandy Love, but we are yet to see her and she is yet to run in open company so throwing her into a multiple at this time could prove risky. Maries Rock has this and this only as her target, and she returned with a career-best at Cheltenham when she demolished the boys in the Relkeel Hurdle to record an RPR of 158. That's higher than any previous winner of this race, and the average is 149.8.

Delta Work 7/4 Cross Country

Won first time out this year and will usually come on considerably for his first run of the season. What beats him?

Luccia 11/4 Mares Novice

The Irish have little to offer in the Mares Novice division, and her strength in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at the top of the market before being declared a NR should not be taken lightly.

Betfair Sportsbook treble pays 33/1

Blood Destiny - 5/1 Triumph Hurdle

Has looked outstanding and is being significantly underestimated and with a demolition job of 18 lengths and a quicker time in France than Lossiemouth, he surely goes here.

Allegorie De Vassy 6/4 Mares Chase

Really impressed with her effortless jumping and looks like a strong candidate for the Mares Chase.

Maxxum 7/2 Pertemps Network final

There's little depth to this race with the number of qualifiers being reduced this term, and he has put up a performance in the 150s. We await the UK handicapper's reaction but if it's lenient, then expect him to shorten further.

Treble pays 66/1

Mighty Potter 3/1 Turners Chase

Mighty Potter is easily the most underestimated favourite in the ante-post markets, and he could prove the one to be with and this is the obvious target.

Paisley Park 10/1 Stayers Hurdle

He has done nothing wrong this season and the entries for this race look extremely poor. He could regain his title.

Edwardstone 9/4

Arkle winners have a great record in this event the following season and he has already proven that Blue Lord is no match for him over course and distance.

Treble pays 143/1

Shishkin is the Ryanair value

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I want to attack the wide-open Ryanair Chase, where Allaho heads the market but is easy to back 3.02/1 on the Betfair Exchange, having been as short as 2.111/10 earlier in the season. His issues have been well documented, but according to the latest reports, all systems are go for Cheltenham, but he will go there without his usual prep run. If anyone can get the job done without a prep run, then Willie Mullins can.

Still, he may have a formidable opponent in Shishkin 8.07/1 this year who steps up in trip and has this as the most likely entry along with the Gold Cup for which he is a 55.054/1 chance.

Allaho would be hard to beat should he turn up here, but it may not be impossible, having been all out to repel Janidil 34.033/1 in the John Durkan on seasonal return by two lengths last year and having been beaten on every seasonal return before that.

Going through this market is like looking at a handicap, and this could prove to be an excellent opportunity for Shishkin to get his career back on track.

Nine months ago, he was the favourite for the Champion Chase but was found to have a spinal injury. His seasonal return in the Tingle Creek wasn't devoid of promise for a horse returning from injury, but he looked flat out from the get-go, and a pallet issue has since been found with his breathing.

If that had an effect on him in the Tingle Creek and the issue is sorted, then he looks the clear and only danger to Allaho.

Backers must remember that this horse jumps slightly left, and the return to a left-handed track for this Ryanair Chase will only be a positive. According to reports, he is set to contest the Ascot Betfair Chase in February. He will look to emulate Cue Card, who won that contest before the Ryanair in 2013.

I have long thought that this horse was in desperate need of a stamina test. I thought the same about Altior also. However, the Ryanair looks very thin on the ground, and it could easily cut up into a two-horse race should Allaho get there in one piece. If not, it could look like a home run for a horse that is unbeaten at Cheltenham when completing and will have no issues with an extra four and a half furlongs.

He is 6/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook but there is plenty of 8.07/1 on the Betfair Exchange so I suggest backing him there for an extra point.

Daryl's running P/L

Three Stripe Life for the Brown Advisory -1pt

Bravemansgame for the Ryanair -1pt

Meet And Greet for the Stayers Hurdle -1pt

Daryl's Ante Post selections

Back Facile Vega for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle @ 7/2 1pt win NOW 9/1

Back Champ Kiely for the Albert Bartlett @ 20/1 1pt e/w NOW 16/1

Back The Storyteller for the St James' Palace Hunters Chase @ 12/1 1pt win NOW 14/1

Back Stattler each way for the Cheltenham Gold Cup @ 16/1 0.5pt e/w NOW 10/1

Back Thyme Hill for the Brown Advisory Novices Chase @ 12/1 1pt e/w NOW 7/1

Back Banbridge for the Turners Novices' Chase @ 10/1 1pt win NOW 12/1

Back El Fabiolo for the Arkle Novices Chase @ 6/1 1pt win NOW 11/2

Back Grangeclare West for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle @ 8/1 1pt win NOW 12/1

Back Tellmesomethinggirl for the Mares Chase @ 14/1 1pt win NOW 14/1

Back Blood Destiny for the Triumph Hurdle @ 33/1 1pt win NOW 5/1

Back So Scottish for the Plate Handicap Chase @ 16/1 1pt win NOW 11/2

Back Mighty Potter for the Turners Novices Chase @ 7/2 2pt win NOW 3/1

Back Shishkin for the Ryanair Chase on the Betfair Exchange @ 8.07/1 1pt win


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