Author: Will Smith
Cheltenham Festival 2016
Published: 22:31 25/02/2013
Speciality Handicap Chase - Cheltenham March 12th
Ante-Post Betting Tip
Festival form is the strongest of all pointers when it comes to assessing any horse's chance at the Cheltenham jamboree in two weeks time. Year after year certain horses come alive granted the whiff of spring and the sounder surface to pound their hooves off.
The handicap entries were released at the end of last week and the weights are announced midway through this week. It will be a nervous time for many an Irish trainer, as they wait to see what mark their festival hopefuls have been allotted. However, in the 3m 110yd JLT Handicap Chase on the first day, there is an English-trained horse that strikes as being very well in on form from last years renewal, is coming to the boil nicely for this year's running, is trained by one of the form trainers in the country right now....and can be backed at 20/1 with Ladbrokes.
I would've preferred to wait until able to secure the bet with a 'non-runner, no bet' concession, but Ladbrokes are stand alone on 20/1 and it is a risk worth taking.
Racing from a 1lb higher mark than he will this year, Fruity O'Rooney finished a gallant second in last year's race, just being run out of it close home by Alfie Sherrin, who was masterfully campaigned and prepared for the day by Jonjo O'Neill. Donald McCain's Our Mick was 4 lengths back in third and is 2lbs worse off with Gary Moore's chaser. It doesn't make sense that Our Mick is shorter in the market.
Should Fruity make it there in one piece he will be racing (hopefully!!) on the best ground he will have encountered all season. This will suit him very nicely indeed. Added to that, he has shown marked improvement for each of four runs in heavy ground this winter.
Last time out behind the imposing Katenko, he was running on under a second wind over a trip short of optimum, suggesting he was coming back to peak form and fitness. You suspect that he has been trained with one day in mind all year, and appeals as a real solid each-way bet at 20/1 now. It is almost certain he will go off shorter on the day, and as such it is much the best idea to secure some value now.
Our Mick might be progressive enough to negate the weight turnaround, and Alan King's Bensalem is on the same mark that he won the 2011 renewal from. While the JP McManus owned pair Cantlow and Quantitativeeasing would be the others on the shortlist, the one that really does stand out on form and price is unquestionably Fruity O'Rooney.
Cheltenham Festival Tip - Fruity O'Rooney - Ladbrokes 20/1