Lay bet specialist Patrick Weaver returns to the Betting.Betfair pages for Cheltenham week with his horses to oppose and his lay of the day for Tuesday comes in the Arkle...
"On balance, Vinndication will do well to win under top weight on going that is very much on the soft side."
The Racing Post Arkle Chase at 14:10 is a Grade One for novice chasers. The betting, unsurprisingly, is headed by the best first-season chaser in Ireland, Notebook.
His Grade One wins at Leopardstown were not impressive but, that said, the runners-up in those races, Fakir d'Oudairies and Cash Back, were beaten fair and square. The trainers of that pair are taking Notebook on again, in the knowledge that their runners could well reverse the placings if the favourite makes one or two significant blunders.
The Irish trio look far classier than their main market rival, Brewin'upastorm. While Olly Murphy's runner has won minor contests at Carlisle and Taunton with a good deal in hand, he has yet to run in a Graded chase so it is surprising to see him around the 6/1 mark in such exalted company as this.
The official handicapper is expecting him to finish nearer last than first, as Notebook 4.1, Fakir d'Oudaires 5.59/2, Cash Back 8.415/2, Esprit du Large 14.013/1, Rouge Vif 17.5 and Global Citizen 21.020/1 are all rated between 4lb and 8lb higher.
With half the field running for us, Brewin'upastorm looks a banker lay at 3.02/1 in the place market for the Racing Post Arkle Chase at 14:10.
Irish have a strong hand in the Supreme
The fabulous four-day festival kicks off, as ever, with the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at 13.30.
It's a Grade One race, so it is no wonder the runners that have won at that level are among the market leaders.
Asterion Forlonge stayed on strongly to win a Grade One by nine lengths at Leopardstown last month.
Prior to that, Abacadabras won over the same course and distance, having come second to his stablemate Envoi Allen at Fairyhouse.
Both races were Grade Ones.
Fiddleronthehoof's top-level success came at Sandown in January when he comfortably beat Jeremy's Flame six lengths.
The two market leaders that are running in a Grade One for the first time are the point-to-point graduates Shishkin (5/2) and Chantry House (6/1).
They have won lesser races easily, and their short prices are based on what they may be capable of, rather than the quality of their CVs.
I'd rather back a runner that is proven top-class already, as opposed to one that has been winning weak slow-run contests. With Shishkin having the greater potential for improvement, Chantry House should be laid at up to 3.55/2 in the place market for the the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Top weight is the key issue
Neither of the first two in the betting for the Ultima Handicap Chase at 14:50 appeal.
Admittedly, it is hard to fault Vinndication, whose strike rate is the best in the race. He has won seven of his nine starts, the latest at Ascot. The question is whether he is capable of winning under top weight of 11st 12lb, 26lb more than Vivas and Ice Cool Champs.
Discorama rarely wins but as often as not is placed when the money is down. The seven-year-old has only won once since coming second over hurdles at the Festival two years ago and has been beaten 29 lengths and 49 lengths in his most recent races.
He has since had surgery on his wind and his trainer thinks he will go close. Backing him each-way makes more sense than backing him to win, given the number of runners.
Cogry would be my tentative selection in an open race. He is gutsy, has the stamina required and raises his game at what is his local track. His form at Cheltenham in the last 18 months is 261312.
No Comment, The Conditional, Mister Malarky, Brave Eagle, Who Dares Wins and Kildisart win in their turn. All six have had this race as their target since the start of the season and carry stable confidence.
On balance, Vinndication will do well to win under top weight on going that is very much on the soft side. I suggest laying Vinndication at up to 3.211/5 in the place market for the Ultima Handicap Chase at 14:50.
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Lay Chantry House to Place in the 13:30 at 3.505/2 or shorter
Lay Brewinupastorm to Place in the 14.10 at 3.505/2 or shorter
Lay Vinndication to Place in the 14.50 at 3.2011/5 or shorter