Tactical advantage for Allmankind
Cheltenham 13.55: 1pt win Allmankind 6.8
Cheltenham 13.55: 2pt place Allmankind 2.32
The news on Friday that Energumene was lame and would miss the Arkle suddenly changed the likely tactical dynamic of the race and that was influenced further when Numitor was taken out of the race this morning.
These absences will likely result in Allmankind having nowhere near as much pressure on him for the front running role early on in this race as once seemed certain. Indeed, on this occasion, it may be the Skeltons who are recipients of a 'freebie' as three of his rivals certainly won't be interested in going toe-to-toe with him early on and I doubt Rachael Blackmore will be too keen on putting Captain Guinness upsides him either.
Allmankind has won all three of his starts over fences showing his customary attacking front-running nature. But he isn't a tearaway. When winning the Henry VIII at Sandown, Harry Skelton was able to take a pull on him going away from the stands which allowed Ga Law upsides early in the back straight before Allmankind soon went on again. In the Kingmaker he almost seemed too relaxed early on before a mistake at the first appeared to wake him up.
While he did make mistakes at Warwick, it's notable how well he gets himself out of trouble when he's 'wrong' at a fence. That was particularly the case at the second last that day and that skill is something that I think is somewhat lacking in Captain Guinness and Franco De Port.
Captain Guinness's jumping doesn't leave much margin for error and that showed when he fell at Leopardstown on his most recent outing. Prior to that, when finishing behind Energumene at Naas, he was good when on the right stride but he lost more ground when he wasn't that Allmankind did at Warwick and he doesn't seem to quite have that horse's athleticism in the jumping department.
Franco De Port finished second in the Irish Arkle when Captain Guinness fell and his jumping was far from fluent that day either. He got in close and was down on his nose at the third and he showed a tendency to jump markedly to the left despite going left handed. As with Captain Guinness, he doesn't look comfortable when having to adjust just before a fence and with the pressure that Allmankind is going to be putting on his rivals out in front, any jumping frailties could be exposed.
Shishkin also showed a tendency, albeit a lesser one than Franco De Port, to edge to the left at Doncaster last time and he did the same at Kempton prior to that. He has got himself out of trouble well at fences and that could be crucial when he's trying to chase down Allmankind in the closing stages. He's been superb in all three starts over fences, just as he was over hurdles last season, but the one slight concern is if Harry Skelton is able to go no more than an even pace on the front runner.
Shishkin has shown that he takes a little while to hit top gear and if Harry Skelton has managed to create a scenario where he's been able to slow it up approaching the last bend and can kick off it, Shishkin may be temporarily outpaced and that could be crucial. He's clearly the one to beat but the likely tactical scenario with Allmankind being on his own in front isn't an ideal one for Shishkin.
With shops closed I've no interest in advising a bet that will put accounts under any further pressure so I won't be advising to back Allmankind each way. Bookmakers' prices in the w/o Shishkin market are also generally under the place part on the exchange so I'm advising to back Allmankind win (any 5.0 or bigger) and place (any 2.0 or bigger) on the exchange, with a stronger bet on the place part.