Daryl Carter Tips

Cheltenham Festival Focus: 14/1 and 8/1 selections added before Christmas

Daryl Carter.
Daryl Carter has a 16/1 ante-post bet for Cheltenham.

In week seven of Daryl Carter's Cheltenham Festival Focus series, he reflects on the week and looks towards Christmas to get ahead with two further selections for his ante-post list...

  • Back both selections before Leopardstown

  • Dysart Enos very much impressed for Mares Novice

  • Blood Destiny makes great start over fences

Flawless start from Blood Destiny

Four-year-old Blood Destiny made a seamless start to life over fences on Thursday 14 December at Naas with a jumping exhibition from the front.

Blood Destiny 1280 x 866.png

Jumping was his big asset here, gaining lengths at every fence over constant pursuer Heart Wood, who had finished second to Grangeclare West on his previous outing. Blood Destiny was always travelling a yard quicker than his main market rival, who was hard-ridden to hassle him for the lead and make a fight of it. Still, he could never match the pace of the Willie Mullins youngster, who ran out a very ready winner by nine lengths.

His 2m circuit time came in at 27 lengths quicker than the 97-rated winner of the following handicap chase, which puts this effort in the high 130s.

The horse's performance dramatically declined during his trip to England for the Triumph Hurdle last year, signalling a red flag. This was a fantastic start, though, and should he continue to jump this way, he could easily have a bright future over the minimum distance of 2m.

He was cut to 14/115.00 for both the Arkle and Turners Novice Chase, and both options are open to him, although those prices make limited appeal at this time. He had the gift of the four-year-old allowance but will lose that at the turn of the year, so expect him out again over Christmas.

Action roundup

On Sunday 10 December at Cork, Joseph O'Brien's Harsh won the three-year-old Maiden Hurdle in refined style despite a less-than-inspiring round of jumping. He won very much as his odds suggested, and this was a form boost for his previous conquerer, Mighty Bandit 8/19.00, where he could only manage a 17-length third. He was introduced into the Triumph Hurdle betting at 33/134.00, but he would be more of a Boodles type.

On the same card At Cork, No Time To Wait ran out an effortless winner of his 2m Maiden Hurdle in a very similar time figure to the three-year-old winner Harsh scoring by six lengths. He improved significantly on his debut third when 40 lengths behind Ile Atalantique at Gowran Park so perhaps it's worth taking his defeat there with a pinch of salt, given he was only five lengths behind him in a bumper last year.

Search For Glory won the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle at the same track on the Sunday. The six-year-old had cheek-pieces added and recorded a useful RPR of 139 and will surely be Albert Bartlett bound and is 20/121.00 for that contest. However, this was a weak enough race and more of a boost for fans of Croke Park.

Just fab and now 10/111.91 for Champion Chase

Finally, on December 10 at Cork, El Fabiolo made a brilliant return when scoring in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase over Fil Dor by an easy five lengths, giving away ten pounds to the 150-rated runner-up. It was a performance that suggested he would need the run, and his jumping here was better than at any point last season. He is still improving and will be exceptionally difficult to beat in the Champion Chase, where he is 10/111.91.

On Tuesday 12 December, Embassy Gardens made a winning chase debut at Punchestown to run out a 13-length winner and showed a good aptitude for fences. He jumped almost flawlessly until the second last obstacle. Although he has a touch of class, he lacks the pure ability of a Grade 1 performer and perhaps the National Hunt Chase 12/113.00 - despite inconclusive stamina - would be more his bag.

On the same card at Punchestown, second-season novice Jetara ran out a ready winner of the Listed Mares Novice Hurdle, having looked in desperate need of her seasonal reappearance behind Brighterdaysahead. The five-year-old filly is now a top contender for another crack at the Mares Novice Hurdle, for which she is 40/141.00.

At Leicester on Wednesday 13 December, Apple Away took advantage of some good placing and got off the mark on the second attempt over fences. The Aintree Grade 1 winner handled extremely challenging conditions to win by 31 lengths, but there's a danger of people getting carried away with this race. It was a slowly run affair, and her jumping was far from foot-perfect. She doesn't look a natural over the larger obstacles to my eye and was guessy and slow in getting from A to B. In my mind, she will get found out in a well-run race, making far too many mistakes and being too slow over her obstacles.

She is now 14/115.00 for the Mares Chase and is outrageously short at 20/121.00 for the Brown Advisory.

Only By Night remained unbeaten for Gavin Cromwell at Naas on Thursday 14 December, by running out a ten-length winner of her Maiden Hurdle in good style. She showed a bright turn of foot from the back of the last. Although this was a very slowly run affair, she was winning against far inferior opponents, as her SP odds of 2/51.40 suggest. She possesses a good level of ability but needs to prove it against more stern opposition before her 14/115.00 for the Mares Novice Hurdle can be considered.

Enos 7/24.50 is now seriously considered for Mares Novices

At Cheltenham on Friday 15 December, Dysart Enos, ran out a good winner of the opening Novice Hurdle. In week three, we highlighted all that she hadn't achieved at Huntingdon and said that her 7/18.00 at the time was very short, considering we hadn't seen any of Willie Mullins' runners out.

She is now 7/24.50 for the Mares Novice Hurdle off the back of this Cheltenham performance, and while I don't think she will be much shorter than that on the day, she has convinced me that she is worthy of her place toward the top of the market with her performance.

Dysart Enos may not have beaten many quality rivals, but the runner-up Beat The Bat will surely turn out to be a mid-130s horse at the least, and the pair pulled well clear of the field in this strongly run contest. I said in week three that running towards 140 would put you in the frame for the Mares Novice Hurdle, and that's still very much the case.

Fergal O'Brien's mare did just that on the clock on Friday. Her circuit time was recorded as 31.32 lengths quicker than the Handicap Hurdle winner Go Dante - who had previously finished sixth in the Greatwood Hurdle - and she was six lengths quicker from two out to the finish than Olly Murphy's runner, who was scoring off of a rating of 125.

A good time performance, a good jumping performance and an exciting five-year-old.

Ride her like a good thing Paddy

Her ability to travel through a robust run affair was proven at Aintree in her bumper, but jumping at speed was yet to be tested, and she passed that with flying colours.

When tackling the Mares Novice Hurdle in March, backers would hope that Paddy Brennan would refrain from resorting to drastic hold-up tactics as he has done with horses at this venue. The Mares Novices' Hurdle has been a tactical affair in recent years, but with speed to hold a good position and the ability to quicken off of a stern pace, there's no reason why Brennan shouldn't ride this mare as the best horse in the race in the front quartet.

Sharp old course is an issue for stout staying Boy 10/111.00

Also on Friday from Prestbury Park, Ginny's Destiny won an instrumental 2m5f Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, scalping Leamington Novices' Hurdle conqueror Grey Dawning as the pair clashed for a second time.

This was a top-class Novice Chase, and this pair, alongside Stay Away Fay, are easily the best of the British staying chasers. Harry Cobden set fair fractions on the front end of the gallop, and the straightforward former inmate of Tom Lacey jumped well and was not for catching. However, the runner-up, Grey Dawning, came out much the best, having made multiple significant jumping errors, with the crucial second last the worst of them.

He was only beaten three parts of a length in the end and give the winner three pounds meaning he comes off best here. That pair will likely clash at Warwick in January - a track favouring front runners - so it will be interesting to see if there is a form reversal.

Grey Dawning is now 16/117.00 for the Brown Advisory, while Ginny's Destiny is not quoted. Grey Dawning must be taken seriously.

At Cheltenham on Saturday 16 December, Broadway Boy won a Premier Handicap Chase off of a rating of 146 and his stamina was seen to excellent effect, scalping reliable yardstick Threeunderthrufive (150).

This was a fantastic performance, and the only horse to beat him over fences was Flooring Porter. Connections seem adamant that he will go for the Brown Advisory, where he is 10/111.00, but this looks like an out-an-out stayer and the ideal type for a National Hunt Chase, for which he is 14/115.00. However, both are run on the sharp old course.

Like with Stay Away Fay, the concern with Broadway Boy is the old course. His previous run behind Flooring Porter showed he lacked gears. The two fences that appear quickly on the turn into the home straight caught him out. However, he managed to escape with a win next time by putting enough distance between himself and Weveallbeencaught before those fences became an issue.

The new course has seen him to excellent effect here, and he is a 150-plus horse.

Brilliant Bob now 16/117.00 for Albert Barlett

Nicky Henderson's Shanagh Bob won the Albert Bartlett trial on Saturday December 16. This was a rare runner in this race for Henderson, who took this with Mossley in 2010 before finishing second in the Albert Barlett proper to Bobs Worth. Everything went wrong for him here.

Nico de Boinville had him covered up inside, but horses kept falling into his lap and shuffling him back. It was apparent Nico was attempting to give him some daylight as Kim Bailey's Destroytheevidence jumped poorly, losing ground ahead of him. He was momentarily outpaced at the top of the hill before coming home strongly under maximum pressure.

It's worth noting that this was his first time in a proper race, and the expensive £200,000 purchase stayed very strongly at the finish. They got racing a long way out here, and he was conceding experience to two rivals finishing second and third, which are worthy of their ratings of 129 and 125. He should improve a good deal for this outing, and the Albert Bartlett typically goes to horses rated in the mid-high 140s, which is not out of reach for him.

With his point-to-point form working out well (runner-up chased home Caldwell Potter next time and produced multiple winners), he looks like the ideal Albert Barlett type, and 16/117.00 is more than fair.

One To Watch

At Doncaster, Rare Edition put last season's disappointing Grade 1 performances well behind him and narrowly lost to a well-handicapped rival. With a more energetic ride, he could have won the race. Rare Edition will likely pick up a good pot this season.

Back Flooring Porter for the Brown Advisory Novice Chase @ 14/115.00 1pt

It makes no sense to me that Flooring Porter - 14/115.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is a bigger price than Broadway Boy for the Brown Advisory after that one has given his form multiple boosts, including winning off of a handicap rating of 146 in a useful field.

I have considered adding Flooring Porter to this column since his debut victory in October. Now seems to be the right time, as he may enter the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. This race is expected to be the deepest 3m Grade 1 pre-Cheltenham.

In week one, we discussed the impressive debut of Flooring Porter at Cheltenham over the Brown Advisory course and distance, where he defeated the now 150-rated Broadway Boy, winning hard-held on the bridle. During his first circuit, he clocked a time much faster than the 2m Handicap winner, Dancing On My Own. He finished the race with a final circuit time of only eight lengths slower, but he was eight lengths faster from three out of the finish.

On that particular day, he showed genuine fondness for the challenging old course favouring horses with greater speed. The dual Stayers Hurdle winner's strategy of taking and maintaining the lead will prove advantageous in March.

It is easy to forgive him for his third-place finish at Punchestown, where he was well beaten and hung to the left while going right-handed. What was remarkable is that he still managed to finish third. That performance is effortless to excuse and provides insight into the Albert Bartlett form from last year, dominated by Stay Away Fay, Sandor Clegane (second at Punchestown) and Corbetts Cross.

The Cheltenham old course almost always has a rail on the left side, which would suit Flooring Porter's tendency to hang left. His time figures and form suggest he is a high-quality horse, easily 155 in this category, much like he was over hurdles. Additionally, he has a great track record at Cheltenham. His claims are strong, and his price is very reasonable.

Looking at this market, it seems like Stay Away Fay is the correct favourite. However, I have concerns about the sharp track. Additionally, Corbett's Cross will have to jump foot perfectly as he gives lengths to Flooring Porter due to his hold-up style of running. Outside of these two horses, the division seems to have little depth.

I expect Flooring Porter to be more like a 4/15.00 chance on the day, and this is his ultimate target. A good run at Leopardstown over Christmas returned to a left-handed track will see him cut drastically.

Back Flooring Porter to win the Brown Advisory @ 14/115.00

Bet now

Back Mighty Bandit for the Triumph Hurdle @ 8/19.00 1pt

I must admit it's a little worrying that this is my third stab at this race, and we are only in December. Still, having received the entries under the table for Leopardstown at Christmas and not seeing Salvator Mundi's name on the Grade 2 Juvenile, I am concerned.

However, Mighty Bandit is a horse I have wanted to get on this list since his debut victory at Punchestown, so I am happy to have an excuse to get him on this list - I'm still blown away every time I watch it back.

Mighty Bandit made my time-figure performance of the week on the Podcast in week three (watch here from 37mins), and now he will make this list at 8/19.00. The circuit time was excellent compared to State Mans's 2m victory on the card, but the fact he ran a final circuit time quicker than State Man and was faster from two out to the line as well as from the back of the last marks him down as a very useful horse.

He not only left a deep visual impression, but he also has the numbers to back it up, and I have concluded that it will take a darn good one to beat him should he continue natural improvement. The only thing left was to see if any of the form would work out, and it has. The third has since bolted up by eight lengths and the fourth by six.

There's always a chance with these Juveniles that they never back up another performance, but this was one of the most taking debut runs I have seen for a long while. All this with zero experience and looking green in the jumping department.

The Grade 2 Knight Frank at Leopardstown at Christmas has seen the winners finish in the following positions in the Triumph Hurdle 1242 (Farclas reversed form in March) 322, so he is a big potential shortener in the next ten days and one I would hate not to be on come the Festival.

Back Mighty Bandit to win the Triumph Hurdle @ 8/19.00

Bet now

This column will be back over the holiday period. Merry Christmas to you all.

Check out my selections for Wednesday's action



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