Betting Tip: @ The Young Master @ 16/1 with unibet
5:30 3m2f (New) Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (Class 2) (5yo+ 0-145)
Last year (horse – trainer – jockey – SP):
1. Domesday Book – S Edmunds – Miss G Andrews – 40/1
2. Pendra – C Longsdon – Mr D O’Connor – 16/1
3. Premier Bond – N Henderson – Mr S Waley-Cohen – 9/1
4. Potters Legend – L Wadham – Mr M Legg – 10/1
Nature of the race
Known as the “Kim Muir”, this is the only amateur riders race at the Festival that is a handicap. Whilst jockeys can claim an allowance, the top amateurs (who aren’t able to claim) are most in demand and Jamie Codd in particular has an excellent record, with four wins in the last nine renewals. Nina Carberry and Derek O’Connor are two other names to look for having hit the crossbar repeatedly. It’s now run over just half a furlong shorter than the Gold Cup and is a stiff test of stamina as a result.
Really progressive winners are rare and, if anything, you are looking for a horse who has dropped in the weights since the start of the season having not performed as well as expected – horses running off the same or a lower mark than they began the season off are 8/143 in the last 15 renewals. Most of the recent winners (9/10) were aged seven to nine, with the exception (The Package in 2015) successful as a 12-year-old. Six of the last winners were sporting some form of headgear and quite often that is being applied for the first time. The biggest-priced winner in the last decade was 16/1 (twice), so it’s not quite the lottery it may seem.
As the race has increased in quality, Festival form has become an increasingly good guide and six of the nine New Course renewals have been won by horses that had run at the Festival before. Cause Of Causes (2016) had won the previous “four-miler” and four other winners had been placed in that contest.
Historically, this was a race dominated by British yards but the Irish, having drew a blank since Greasepaint in 1983, have now won two of the last four renewals. Nicky Henderson is the leading British trainer with three wins, although he last tasted success in 2005, while Donald McCain has won it twice.
Best of the Irish
The Irish are on the march in this and the shrewd operator that is Pat Kelly is putting blinkers for the first time on his 2016 Pertemps Final winner Maldini in the hope he can improve on last year’s close fifth. I wouldn’t bet against it, although the current 5/1 is stingy when you consider he’s yet to win over fences.
Gordon Elliott is no mug either when it comes to Festival handicaps and his Squouateur (that’s easier to write than say) is back for another crack after looking a shade unlucky last year, given that he was still travelling well when unseating Jamie Codd (back on board) three out. This has no doubt been the plan since and he’s disputing favouritism with Mall Dini.
Best of the home challenge
Sugar Baron is one of the classier long-distance handicap chasers plying their trade at the moment and he was beaten only a neck in the London Gold Cup last time, and before that he had finished second at Cheltenham over slightly shorter. So Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old should again be thereabouts, although he has edged up in the weights and that rules him out on one of the trends.
Others to consider
Pendra has gone off favourite at three Cheltenham Festivals and got closest when second in this race last year off the same mark as today’s and under Derek O’Connor, with whom he is reacquainted. He’s not been sighted since but that’s no worry as he goes well fresh and his stable is in form. Missed Approach has been a little disappointing this term but he’s on a winnable mark if recapturing his best form and has undergone wind surgery since last seen.
The Young Master is another to have gone under the vet’s knife (or whatever they use for these things) since his last outing and he too looks to be dangerously weighted, having dropped 15lb from his peak. Sam Waley-Cohen knows him well and the nine-year-old does have some Festival form on his CV, having run at the last three and doing best when finishing third (of 23) in last year’s Ultima off 14lb higher.
There’s plenty of others with chances but one who would be very interesting if the heavens truly opened (there’s plenty of wet stuff forecast) is Band Of Blood, a heavy-ground winner at Exeter two starts back form Dr Richard Newland and now on a hat-trick mission.
Best bookmaker offers
Boylesports are refunding losing stakes on this race (as a free bet up to £20) if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd to the SP favourite. As this is the last race on the card, we can also snap up a free bet (up to £10) with Betway if our selection loses, which will come in handy for Friday’s racing.
I’m loathe to put up either of the two Irish raiders at the head of the market as there is no value left so, after digging a little deeper down the betting list, I’ve come up with THE YOUNG MASTER and, with one eye on the forecast, BAND OF BLOOD, who can be backed (split stakes) at 16/1 and 14/1 with Unibet.
Betting Tip: @ The Young Master @ 16/1 with unibet
All odds were correct at time of posting.