The Betting Lab's Tony Calvin marks your card for Monday's action and has a 20-1 antepost hope after the Dublin Racing Festival.
By Tony Calvin
There were some huge performances at Leopardstown over the weekend, but the one that really caught my eye was from a horse who only finished a distant third in his race.
The horse in question was Special Tiara, and I cannot believe he is still available at 20-1 to retain his Betway Champion Chase title next month, and at 16-1 non-runner no-bet with some firms.
The one question he had to answer yesterday was whether his first ever fall, at Kempton in the Desert Orchid, had affected his confidence but the way he travelled and jumped on Saturday was a joy to behold.
You can reasonably expect him to strip a lot fitter at Cheltenham and there is also the reasonable expectation of better ground, too, and considering he was placed in two Champion Chases before winning last year then I think he is some each-way punt at the available prices.
But, back to more immediate matters.
Newcastle had to survive a morning inspection, so I am not in any mad rush to tip and bet there to be perfectly honest, especially with some of the fields cutting up.
Boreham Bill was undeniably disappointing when fourth at Huntingdon on Boxing Day, but the form may be better than it looked at the time. Not many have come out of the race since but Lygon Rock, the 50-1 runner-up, was only just touched off on his next start – and he could be worth another chance.
The return to a left-handed track could suit too, though he did also jump left when fourth to Santini at Newbury previously.
That Newbury form has worked out tremendously well, with the first three and the fifth all winning since, and hopefully he can return to that level of form after a short break.
However, I will not be going mad on the stakes front though, with Ben Pauling being without a winner since December. That is a worry.
Attractive bets were very hard to identify at Southwell but I thought Champion Chase was another rare exception at the price.
He never got competitive in what was pretty bad ground at Plumpton last month on his debut for Martin Bosley but he did show a bit more than his beaten distance would suggest there – he tried to make a move from the rear but could not sustain it in the ground on his first start since October – and I think he could be a player here off a 3lb lower mark and with that run under his belt.
He seems to act on any ground but he has form in testing ground conditions, and is 6lb lower than when a fair fifth here – in the context of this 0-110 handicap anyway – in April.
Hopefully, the first-time cheekpieces will prove a positive, too (Bosley is 0 from 2 with these since 2006, but they were 66-1 and 25-1 chances).
Indian Red has an obvious chance and is probably the most solid proposition in the line-up, but I am happy to give Great Return a whirl.
The first-time cheekpieces angle is a decent one with the Warren Greatrex stable, as they have had three such winners since December – Rock My Style was the most recent at Chepstow on Friday – and he must go well here if they bring even slight improvement on his good recent placed efforts at Lingfield and Kempton.
There are negatives about this horse, as he was underwhelming on his only start at the course in October despite it being his debut, and he is drawn widest in eight.
But the price compensates, and he does go to the track after a series of decent efforts at Southwell. In fact, a slow start cost him victory when only beaten a neck last time, so he can do without a similarly tardy start from his berth here.
He normally jumps smartly though, and if he can get across to the rail, then he could prove hard to peg back.
He races off the same mark as when second effort last week and, considering the front two pulled eight lengths clear of the third, I would imagine the handicapper will be having his say when he is re-assessed.
He is a much shorter price than the odds that I usually play at, as is Boreham Bill, but needs must on occasions on Mondays and it is justifiable in this instance, anyway. He should be favourite ahead of Avon Green, so the 3-1 is fair.
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