After landing four winners from six so far, Jack Houghton has picked out three more horses to oppose for Thursday at Cheltenham...
"Paisley Park may go on to post a fast time here and prove himself top class, but I want more in the book before supporting a horse at such short odds in a competitive race like this..."
One out of three successful lays on Wednesday, bringing the total for the week to four out of six. Also, I note on the Timeform Results service that Altior traded at a high of [2.00] in-running, so hopefully some of you were able to lock-in a profit in the Champion Chase after laying the short starting price.
There are some horses to get after on Thursday's card too, but we start in an unusual place.
Sire Du Berlais doesn't have obvious chances in the Pertemps
It's perhaps unusual to target a 24-runner handicap in a lay column: the big odds typically makes laying inaccessible for the average punter. Sire Du Berlais looks an especially unreasonable favourite, though, and I would recommend a lay in the place market at [2.68].
Don't get me wrong, I see the rationale. He's 2lbs lower in the handicap than when running in the Martin Pipe last year, he has first-time cheekpieces, and his form is littered with words like "eye-catching", "notable" and "unexposed". He's got that look of a "good old-fashioned gamble" that I hear so much about.
Backers are taking a lot on trust, though. Because the bare form sees Sire Du Berlais having to find around 9lbs on the weight-adjusted ratings with the best in the field, and simply navigating 24 runners brings with it enough doubt and risk to make the odds look skinny.
Paisley worth taking on in the Stayers'
Paisley Park has been a huge improver this year, running up four victories in a row after an unprepossessing start to his career, and his course and distance victory in the Cleeve Hurdle on the back of his Long Walk win makes this the logical next step.
Odds of [3.00] are short, though, especially when considering that his ability to perform well at the Festival is unproven, and when he still has a bit to find against the clock with some of these. Some commentators make the point that Paisley Park beat a number of them in the Cleeve Hurdle, and should therefore have little trouble doing so again, but that logic is flawed and, anyway, he didn't beat Faugheen, Petit Mouchoir, or Supasundae in the Cleeve, and Top Notch wasn't far behind at Ascot. I'm a layer at those odds (and if you want to be too, but are new to laying, check out our guide, here). Paisley Park may go on to post a fast time here and prove himself top class, but I want more in the book before supporting a horse at such short odds in a competitive race like this.
Tattersalls Mares' Novices' Hurdle a big test for hooded Epatante
Not one to go crazy on, but I'll be laying Epatante in the place market at [1.79]. It looks like there may be something tricky about the mare: long breaks between runs and a hood on for the first time suggests all is not straightforward about her, and I would not have a lot of confidence sticking a horse into such a chaotic field - 22 novices running amidst the cacophony of the Festival - whilst restricting its vision for the first time.
Aside from this, though, the form of her two runs is not up with the best of these and, whilst untapped potential may come to the fore, Epatante looks like one to avoid.
Lay Sire Du Berlais at [2.68] in Pertemps Place Market
Lay Paisley Park at [3.00] in Stayers' Hurdle
Lay Epatante at [1.79] in Tattersalls Mares' Novices' Hurdle Place Market