Ladies' Day At Cheltenham Live Blog With P.T. Fornatale

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TwinSpires Staff

March 12th, 2014

OK, we’ll cover the last three races today in one fell swoop so I can get started working on tomorrow – that’s the trouble with a four day meet – the first two days are pretty easy to find time to do the work for but the last two can get short shrift if you’re not careful!

Race 5 is The Glenfarclas Handicap Cross-Country Chase – a unique spectacle going 3 miles and 7 furlongs. We’ll try the top weight #1 BALTHAZAR KING, who won this in 2012. He is consistent and loves the course and this is a specialist’s race.

Race 6 is the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, a grade 3 going 2 1/16th miles. The pick is #13 KATGARY, a French invader who has one 2 of 4 starts. This is a guess but he has talent and looks a decent price.

Race 7 is the Champion Bumper, a G1 flat race for future jump horses going  2 1/16th miles. Many excellent jumps horses got their starts in this race. Fun to see stable flat jock Pat Smullen show up on #18 VIGIL for Dermot Weld. He’s in the mix for me. I’ll also try #9 NECK OR NOTHING – a trip handicapping play. He jumped the path last time here and should definitely improve from that mistake.

That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow, and so, too, hopefully, the OMNI!

Color me a fan of the OMNI – the new (to us) bet where you need to pick two of the top three finishers. That would have been a horrid beat in the exacta, but our bacon was saved when Rathvinden held third in the Faugheen show.

Faugheen looks like one we’ll be watching for a long time at Cheltenham. As great as he was today, his jumping leaves plenty of room for improvement. Special stuff.

The second race is the RSA Novices’ Chase, a Grade 1 race going 3 1/16 miles.

I like two here, #4 CARLINGFORD LOUGH, who has an experience edge, and #11 MORNING ASSEMBLY, who has the right grinding style for the race. For the OMNI, I’ll throw in #15 SMAD PLACE, a logical, well-fancied favorite.

OK, we’re back it at for Day 2. Remember, the festival is a marathon, not a sprint; so despite my modest performance yesterday (just the one odds-on winner), we’re going to stay the course and see if we can make some noise today.

The first race is the Neptune Novice’s Hurdle, a Grade 1 going 2 miles, 5 furlongs.

#10 Lieutenant Colonel has good form and should be suited by these conditions – the extra ground and the faster expected pace. #12 Rathvinden is a bit intriguing to me at the price. He’s done well on this course and at this distance. His stablemate, Faugheen is the big favorite and has done nothing wrong. But his price is a little short for me, given he’s made a few jumping mistakes and this will be his toughest test. I will play #6 Faugheen in OMNIs with the top two and bet the top two to win. Let’s see if we can catch a flyer to start Queen Mother Champion Chase Day.