With the Cheltenham Festival on the horizon and Non-Runner No Bet available, Phill Anderson from the Racing Post has two ante-post selections for the jumps racing showpiece.
2.10 Cheltenham, Wednesday 15th March
Thyme Hill @ 6/1
3.30 Cheltenham, Wednesday 15th March
Gentleman De Mee @ 9/1
|What||Cheltenham Festival 2023|
|Where||Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||Tuesday 14th March - Friday 17th March 2023|
|How to watch||Racing TV, selected races on ITV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
I was surprised to see five potential runners ahead of THYME HILL in the antepost market for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase next month and I think there’s some juice in his NRNB price of 6/1.
A perennial Grade 1 contender over hurdles in recent seasons, Thyme Hill has switched to fences this term and he’s achieved a fair bit more than most of his rivals already.
He made a winning chase debut at Exeter back in November, before some novice jumping found him out when runner-up in a Grade 2 novice chase at Newbury a month later.
However, he put that behind him with a really impressive 15-length success in the Grade 1 Kauto Star at Kempton, posting an RPR of 160 in the process.
The nine-year-old’s jumping was much improved in that contest, perhaps helped by the first-time headgear (cheekpieces) and he seemed to give the impression that he could be even better over the larger obstacles.
His jumping will need to be just as good around Cheltenham next month, but I can’t see him being near 6/1 on the day of the race, particularly with several of his rivals potentially heading to the Turners over the intermediate trip.
The unbeaten 5/2 Gerri Colombe is an obvious danger and he showed his versatility when winning the Grade 1 Scilly Isles last weekend on ground that was probably a bit quicker than ideal for him.
However, I wouldn’t say he’s achieved much (if any) more than Thyme Hill and the price discrepancy seems too big.
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The front two in the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase are too short and I think it’s worth taking them on with GENTLEMAN DE MEE.
He had Edwardstone in behind when winning a Grade 1 at Aintree at the back end of last term. It was suggested that Edwardstone was ‘over the top’ by that point in the season, but I’m not convinced that was the case.
Gentleman De Mee has a habit of getting better as the season progresses, as seen in each of his last two campaigns and he put a few below par runs behind him when winning another Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival last week.
While he was understandably cut in price for this race after that win, odds of 9/1 still underestimate his chance with the prospect of more to come from him this term.
Last year’s winner and stablemate, Energumene (6/4), was possibly a fortunate winner of last year’s renewal, while 13/8 Edwardstone, successful in last year’s Arkle, didn’t have any excuses when runner-up to Editeur Du Gite on trials day.
The race is more open than the betting suggests. The selection has to prove himself around Cheltenham, but he ticks a lot of other boxes and his NRNB price looks a little too big.