Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Ghizao Primed for the Arkle but Medermit the Class Option

The Irish Independent Arkle brings together the top 2 mile novice chasers and this year’s renewal looks quite open at the front of the market. The most notable trend for this race concerns the market as all of the past 10 winners have won at a single figure SP.


Head of the market this year is Alan King’s Medermit and the grey would be a popular winner. As always, the importance of Cheltenham form springs immediately to mind and it is a fair truth that Medermit is 0-5 at Prestbury Park. That might be a blurred stat though as a narrow defeat to Go Native in the 2009 Supreme almost ticks the box. On New Year’s Day, Medermit made his debut over the Cheltenham fences and jumped and travelled supremely well. How he got beaten after looking the certain winner then was a cause for debate, especially after he had disgraced himself by refusing at Huntingdon in November. To be fair, his breeding is not for stamina and so maybe the 2m5f trip New Year was just a shade too far. Victory over Captain Chris in the Scilly Isles over Sandown’s tricky fences went some way to restoring the faith and this high class hurdler demands the utmost respect, especially over this 2m trip.

In conclusion, there are holes to be picked and worries to carry into the race but instinct tells me to include Medermit who could easily outclass these if things go right.

© Racehorse Photos

It isn’t perhaps ideal to back two of the leading three but I have to keep Ghizao on side. From the Paul Nicholls yard, this lightly-raced 7-y-o does not have the proven hurdle class usually present on the cv of the winner but he does have plenty of other positive attributes. Proven course form, having slammed Captain Chris here in November and deliberately put away for this after beating that same rival at Newbury in December. Fresh by design therefore and has the highest rating in the field. Timmy Murphy retains the ride, having been on board for both the horse’s wins.

Finian’s Rainbow isn’t really for me at the odds but that said, it would be no surprise if he were to win. This will only be the 8-y-o’s ninth race and he has won six. The problem for me is that he has only beaten a handful of horses over fences and his jumping hasn’t always been fluent. Ran a fair race here over hurdles at last year’s festival but yet to jump the steeplechase fences and looks risky enough.

Captain Chris would obviously warrant a mention if he appears in this race rather than the Jewson and Stagecoach Pearl could outrun his odds if enjoying this course.

Of the bookmaker offers available, then Boylesports are generously refunding win bets on the runner-up in the first 4 races on Tuesday and so the recommendation is to take the 7/2 about Ghizao with Boylesports, who are also offering a £20 free bet for new accounts.


Recommendation: Ghizao to win @ 7/2 Boylesports
(refund if finishing second)


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