Altior is the clear winner on this score, surely. But his odds still don’t match his back-story. And neither do Douvan’s. Taking either price is a case of Festival fever shouldering out cold, hard betting sense. By all means, do it for the thrill of ‘always being right’ about either horse but don’t tell me it was “a great bet”.
However, the fact Walsh has chosen Douvan over stablemate
Min despite all these problems is a stark display of the stable’s pecking order. It cannot be construed as anything but a negative for this column’s ante-post selection.
Yet happily, races must actually be run rather than their trophies decided beforehand by committee and even those closest to the principals can be mistaken or overtaken by events.
While it’s entirely proper given Paul Townend is second jockey at Mullins’ yard and has shouldered its chief riding responsibilities during Walsh’s enforced absence, it must have been tempting to book David Mullins after he partnered Min to an outstanding career-best in the Dublin Chase last time out.
However, that was primarily a function of
Special Tiara setting such a strong pace that Min settled rather than running away with himself. Min is unexposed in those circumstances – and the same ideal scenario will be provided here, not only (again) by the titleholder but also
Ar Mad in first-time cheekpieces (for as long as he lasts, racing left-handed).
Previously, Min only ever enjoyed a lead in the 2016 Supreme when finishing a seven-length second to Altior. That gap can be closed because Min got injured that day, has had an incomparably smoother preparation for this race and looks a far better chaser than he was a hurdler.
Of course, a strong pace will also suit Altior, whose muted performance in last year’s Arkle was probably due to the tepid fractions set by
Charbel until his fall two out. The latter hasn’t been the same horse since and this is much hotter.
Ordinary World was set to be a flattered second to Min last time until blundering through the last. He might pick up some pieces late but only if most of the big guns fail to fire for whatever reason. The same applies to
God’s Own, who can make mistakes here but shaped better than the literal form last time out behind Waiting Patiently at Kempton.
Politologue was improbably (yet plausibly, given how Paul Nicholls prepares his spring Festival horses) less fit than Altior when they met in the Game Spirit but the suspicion remains that a flat track plays to his strengths more than does Cheltenham.
Already advised 30/11/17: Min 8/1 with Paddy Power/Betfair
Source : https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/lydia-hislop:-day-two-at-cheltenham/144491503