Cheltenham Festival 2019: National Hunt Chase Preview
A change of the race order for The Festival this year means the four mile novice chase in which amateur riders compete is now the curtain call for day one. This race in recent years has seen some quality animals emerge, Minella Rocco was victorious beating subsequent Gold Cup winner Native River just a few years ago.
The horses towards the top end of the market tend to have their price driven by a couple of factors. Firstly and obviously that they have the form in the book both at Cheltenham and in other graded novice chases, but also because of who is going to ride them. Ok Corral will be ridden by Derek O’Connor, and is undoubtedly in my mind the best horse in the race. He can take quite a pull in his races which could stop him getting the trip, I personally think he would go close in either the JLT or the RSA. Also when you add in that Nicky Henderson, for all his training talents is not associated with training winners of marathon races it puts me off Ok Corral.
Ballyward looked really good last time out when accounting for Chris’s Dream – who subsequently beat Champagne Classic who re-opposes here. Ballyward looks like a definite stayer and Patrick Mullins will ride, but his lack of experience over fences would put me off him.
Being against the top two in the market means I am going to approach this race with an each way bet. Discorama was only a length down to Ballyward last time out when looking like he was going to put up a good fight to the Willie Mullins gelding. Discorama placed in the Martin Pipe last year as a novice hurdler so is no stranger to the atmosphere of The Festival and clearly handles the course, I can’t help but feel if he was trained by a bigger name he would be vying for second favouritism as he seemed to enjoy the step up in trip before falling at the final flight last time.
Selection - Discorama @ 8/1 with William Hill