by Dave Metcalf
Dave has over 30 years’ experience in the media industry having worked for regional and national newspapers. He is a huge horse racing and football fan and has done interviews on various radio and TV stations, including talkSPORT and Sky Sports, whilst working as a PR front man for a betting firm. David has also written for At The Races, Coral News, the Daily Mirror and Racing Plus newspaper. He produced a Cheltenham Festival guide with former eight-times champion national hunt jockey Peter Scudamore, MBE, after helping him to set up a syndicate for his trainer son Michael.
The handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival attract big fields and are notoriously hard puzzles for punters to solve. Here I take a look at three Irish raiders who appear to have got in lightly and look weighted to run huge races at a decent price. So read on to find out full details of why Any Second Now, Riders Onthe Storm and Us And Them looks worth an each-way wager with firms offering enhanced place terms of 1/5 the odds five places.
Any Second Now – Kim Muir Challenge Cup, Thursday, 14th March, 5.30pm – 10/1 William Hill
This Ted Walsh trained seven-year-old is yet to get his head in front in nine starts over the larger obstacles but has posted some solid efforts in defeat. They include when beaten six lengths into second by the now 161-rated Monalee at Punchestown and a 4 1/2 length third to Invitation Only, who is now rated 152, in a seven runner affair at Navan. Any Second Now also ran well three starts back when a neck runner-up to Mortal at Fairyhouse and backed that up with a solid 9 3/4 length fifth of 27 to Auvergnat over 3m at Leopardstown at Christmas.
There was also lots to like about his prep run for this when a not knocked about third to Chris’s Dream in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novices Chase where he traveled powerfully throughout before being beaten just four lengths.The form of those races give him solid claims in this off a mark of just 143. He is also owned by JP McManus who loves nothing more than to lay one out to land a punt and has seen his famous green and gold hooped colours carried to victory in two of the last six runnings of this contest courtesy of Sunnyhillboy (2012) and Cause Of Causes (2016).
Check Out Our Cheltenham Day 3 Betting Guide >>
Riders Onthe Storm – Close Brothers Novices, Tuesday, 12th March, 4.30pm – 8/1 Paddy Power
It’s very rare at the Cheltenham Festival to get a horse that looks potentially thrown-in at the eights, but Riders Onthe Storm could be just that. Trained by Tom Taaffe, this six-year-old has only had three starts over fences and improved on each outing. After finishing a highly promising keeping on fourth to Megli Khan at Punchestown, he shaped really well when weakening late on to finish a 22 length third of seven to Hardline in a Grade 1 at Limerick where he had too much use made of him. Hardline is now rated 151 and the runner-up Getabird 150, so the form has a solid look.
Riders Onthe Storm, then got off the mark over the larger obstacles in good style when readily beating Impact Factor by 1 1/4 lengths at Punchestown – coming from off the pace and idling when hitting the front. He was value for more than the winning margin and has been allotted an opening handicap makr of 140 on the back of those three runs. That looks lenient and the assessor could easily have given him a 10lb higher rating. This race will also suit hos run style and Riders Onthe Storm remains unexposed over fences and open to stacks more improvement. Taking everything into account, he looks to have the perfect profile for this and a handicap blot.
Check Out Our Cheltenham Day 1 Betting Guide >>
Us And Them – Grand Annual Challenge Cup, Friday, 15th March, 4.50pm – 14/1 William Hill
Us And Them has taken his form to a new level since being sent chasing this season and some rock solid form in the book. The Joseph O’Brien trained six-year-old cane good at the second time of asking over the larger obstacles when making virtually all and showing a game attitude to beat Duca De Thaix by two lengths at Navan. He then ran well when runner-up in a Grade 2 at the same venue and there has been lots to like about two subsequent runs in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown behind the very exciting and highly regarded Le Richebourg.
In the first of those he went down by 4 1/2 lengths in the Racing Post Novice Chase and has some useful rivals in behind. Us And Them was then not given a hard time when unable to match the winners turn of foot and beaten seven lengths in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase, Given that Le Richebourg is now rated 159 and has been ante post favourite for the Arkle Novice Chase at this meeting before being ruled out through injury, it makes an opening mark of `152 for Us And Them look exploitable. He does also hold an entry in the Arkle, but that is a big ask and this race looks tailor-made form him.
Check Out Our Cheltenham Day 4 Betting Guide >>