Won with plenty in hand on second run
Excuses for poor run last time
Afadil is overpriced in the Fred Winter
Can bounce back from poor run
Cheltenham 16:50: Afadil 0.5pt e/w 18/1
Afadil was well beaten on his third start over hurdles at Haydock but there were excuses for that run and I think he's capable of bouncing back today.
His jumping early on at Taunton on his hurdling debut was unconvincing but it warmed up on the final circuit and he beat a moderate field with a huge amount in hand.
He followed that up with a comfortable success in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh. He raced enthusiastically in behind the leaders before being nudged along to make his challenge early in the home straight. He jumped 3 out upsides Fils De Roi and stayed in that position with Harry Cobden sat quietly until being shaken up on the run in to win by 1½ lengths.
It seemed the initial thought from Paul Nicholls was to go for the Triumph as a third run to qualify for this race may come too quickly but an opening mark of 124 was too good to resist so Afadil ran in the Victor Ludorum at Haydock 13 days later. He finished tailed off there but it was reported that his blood wasn't right after so there was an excuse for that poor run.
Afadil was dropped 1lb for that run to 123 and the manner in which he travelled all over his rivals at Musselburgh suggests that could prove to be on the lenient side.
He also looks likely to be suited by a well run race as that can allow him to settle a bit better in the early stages and the ground will hopefully be no issue for him.
If they had been able to get him out earlier in the season I expect he would be coming into this race on the back of three solid runs and would be towards the front of the market. It is worrying that he ran quite so poorly last time even allowing for the excuses and maybe he'll be the type who takes a big step forward next season but I think he's a bit overpriced given the ability he's shown and any 16/1 or bigger appeals.
Looks likely to be suited by this test
Cheltenham 16:50: Samuel Spade 0.5pt e/w 18/1
Bad has gained by far the most attention in the lead up to this race of the Ben Pauling trained pair but I think he's got a good chance with his other representative.
Samuel Spade showed some ability on the flat for David O'Meara and has done well over hurdles with three good runs so far. He made a winning hurdling debut at Kempton when his inexperience showed a little in the first half of the race before moving into contention approaching the home straight. He went clear with Chaos Control after 2 out and looked set to get the better of that horse with a bit in hand before Samuel Spade crashed through the last. Gathered up, he picked up well to win by 1½ lengths.
He was beaten by Perseus Way in the Chatteris Fen next time at Huntingdon when conceding 8lb to that rival but again he showed a good attitude in finding plenty for pressure and he pulled five lengths clear of Despereaux who won yesterday.
Samuel Spade beat very little with ease last time while showing that he is likely to be much better going left-handed given his tendency to go left at the hurdles. I also think he's another who could improve for a big field and a well run race as he clearly sees out the trip well and the ground is no issue for him.
There is a slight concern over his jumping even allowing for it likely being better going this way round but I think there's more to come from him and any 16/1 or bigger appeals.
Racing... Only Bettor. Day 1 at Cheltenham. Watch below.