We have spent the last few weeks looking back in the blog. This week we will take a look forward, to hopefully happier times ahead. There is no doubt without Aintree and Punchestown taking place it is harder to actually know how horses will kick on for next season. It also represents an opportunity to get some nice prices in the bank. Antepost betting has struggled the last few years however given the prevailing Corona Virus circumstances. I think these three horses are worth a few quid.
Fakir D'oudairies (Champion Chase 17-3-2021)
25/1 Skybet, Ladbrokes, Coral, Unibet, Betway
20/1 William Hill, Bet 365, Boylesports, Betfred
Fakir D'oudairies had a brilliant novice season over fences. The highlight being the Grade one win in the Drinmore. That was one of the races of the season with Samcro crashing out at the second last when going well. Fakir D'oudairies also defeated Melon on his chasing debut by three lengths. I know plenty of people will make the case that Fakir D'oudairies was getting the four-year-old allowance. This, of course, is true. That said in light of the result of the Marsh Novice Chase at the Cheltenham Festival with Samcro beating Melon by a nose its fair to say the collateral form for Fakir D'oudairies has worked out well.
Fakir D'oudairies was unlucky over Christmas at Leopardstown in the Grade One on 26-12-20 beaten by one and a half lengths to Notebook (who operates very well at Leopardstown). I reckon Mark Walsh would have wanted another go at the ride on Fakir D'oudairies 26-12-20, it was not Mark's best work. Fakir D'oudairies did not get to run from 26-12-20 until Cheltenham in the Arkle 10-3-20 due to ground issues. I think another run would have been a major help. Fakir D'oudairies ran very well finishing second in the Arkle missing the second last behind Put The Kettle On who won by a length and a half getting the seven pounds mares allowance. It was eighteen lengths back to the third horse Rouge Vif. The two-mile division is not anywhere near as strong as the market makes it look. Fakir D'oudairies has a record of 42 in two runs at the Cheltenham festival finishing fourth in the Supreme and second in the Arkle. Fakir D'oudairies is an excellent jumper, with JP McManus yet to win a Queen Mother. I would say there is every chance Fakir D'oudairies will be aimed at the Queen Mother. Fakir D'oudairies represents very good each-way value at 25/1 or 20/1 to take the Queen Mother in 2021.
Melon (Ryanair Chase 18-3-2021 )
20/1 Betfair, Paddy Powers
16/1 Bet365, Unibet, Boylesports
Melon was involved in the race of the season for my money in the Marsh Novice Chase with Melon a nose behind Samcro and Faugheen a length back in third. Melon jumped a spectacular round at Cheltenham under Patrick Mullins. The Ryanair is run on the same track as the Marsh. It is not hard to see Melon getting into a great rhythm again. Melon is never really at his best until the Cheltenham Festival. That said he had a decent campaign over fences in this his novice season. A second to Fakir D'oudairies at Navan was a very good debut. A winner at Leopardstown over Christmas, showing great determination after a bad mistake at the last. Melon never runs well at The Dublin Racing Festival. It clearly is being used as a springboard to Cheltenham by Willie Mullins at this point, given the amount of evidence we now have.
Melon at the Cheltenham Festival is a different proposition. In four runs at the Cheltenham Festival Melon is 2222. These four seconds include a second in the Supreme, two seconds in the Champion Hurdle and a second in the Marsh Novice Chase. A big part of winning at the Cheltenham Festival is an ability to handle the occasion. Melon has shown he can do that. The other big factor here is the Ryanair itself. It is invariably one of the smaller fields of the week at Cheltenham. In 2020, there were 8 runners, In 2019 there were 12 runners, in 2018 there were 6 runners, in 2017, there were 8 runners. I think it's very reasonable to expect Melon would start a single figure price in a single figure field. Melon is also owned by the Donnelly's who also own Al Boum Photo a step up to the Gold Cup trip is very unlikely for Melon. I think the 20/1 on Melon for the Ryanair is an outstanding price, with the 18/1 and 16/1 also likely to be ahead of the market on the day.
Minella Indo (Cheltenham Gold Cup 19-3-21)
14/1 (All Bookmakers)
Minella Indo is still very lightly raced for a seven-year-old. A dual Grade One winner over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival and the Punchestown Festival. The big factor about those Grade One Hurdles wins is that both were achieved over Three Miles. The transition from Hurdles to Fences for Minella Indo was a successful one in three races Minella Indo finished 212. Minella Indo was involved in the most dramatic finish of the season. The RSA chase Minella Indo and Allaho made most of the running disputing the contest from a long way out. Minella Indo and Allaho opened up on the home turn moving a long way clear of the eventual winner Champ. Minella Indo belted the last fence when on top losing a lot of momentum. Champ came with an unbelievable run. When you watch it back I think it was a lack of experience for Minella Indo as when Champ goes by him, Minella Indo tries to pick up again however it's too late.
To be frank it was a miracle finish from Champ and Barry Geraghty to chin Minella Indo. I think Minella Indo jumps and stays very well. A proven ability to handle the Cheltenham Festival. In two visits to the Cheltenham Festival Minella Indo has a record of 12. Those two races were stamina required races the Albert Bartlett and the RSA Chase. The other big factor in favour of Minella Indo is trainer Henry De Bromhead who is an expert at peaking horses for major targets. I think Minella Indo has a major chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2021. The 14/1 looks very fair.