The hurdling highlight of the day and the last race on ITV's (modern) debut as FTA racing broadcaster is the Relkeel Hurdle. What state the Prestbury Park track will be by that stage is anyone's guess with plenty of rain forecast. Stepping in to analyse this race in detail is Richard from Bet Catalyst, @betcatalyst.
Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
Grade 2, £40,000, 2m4f56yds
1510 local, 0210 AEDT
Form: Green = last time out finish is a positive trend
Horse: Green = C&D winner, Orange = Course winner
Age: Green = positive age trend
Trainer: Green = won the race before, Orange = placed in the race before
Adjusted OR: Green = positive, Red = negative
Master Rating: is the master speed rating, top three rated are in Yellow in descending order and is the main way they are rated for this race
A + B: is speed indicators, Green = one of the top three on each indicator
MySpeed Rating: is the secondary speed rating, top three rated are in Yellow
W + Y: is the performance indicators, Green = put in a positive performance on my figures last last time
Trainer In Form: Green = positive
Verdict: Red = negative + reason, Orange = unsure plus reason, no colour means they've made the shortlist
Strictly on adjusted ratings only four horses can reasonably win this race: Cole Harden 167, Lil Rockerfeller 160, L'Ami Serge 160 and Camping Ground 157. The rest of the field are at least 4lb or more adrift of Camping Ground and have it all to do.
The big factor for this race is likely to be the ground. It is forecast to rain heavily all morning at Cheltenham on Sunday and that has to at least make the ground soft if not heavier as the forecast has it raining into the afternoon too. This would be a big worry for LIL ROCKERFELLER who on genuine good-to-soft ground would have been the pick. He has good form on soft it's just that all his best form is on faster ground than what he's likely to encounter on Sunday. Throw in the fact he's had three hard races in a short space of time and may be it could pay to look elsewhere for the winner.
The worry for L'AMI SERGE is his stamina on the ground at the trip in a truly run race. He'll love the ground and has won on heavy ground over 2m3.5f at Wetherby in an uncompetitive affair. Wetherby is a flat and sharpish track and a million miles away from 2m4.5f around Cheltenham which in this likely well run race will ride like 2m6f+ on a flatter track. In his most recent races, which provide good form by the way, he has never been one for running on strongly at the finish and the infamous Cheltenham hill might really find him out especially on this ground. Could well be one to trade short in-running before blwoing out up the hill.
COLE HARDEN is 7lb clear on the adjusted ratings but the worry would be from his comeback run over fences is whether or not he's the same horse? Its'afreebee is a decent animal but shouldn't have beaten Cole Harden as well as he did last time at Wetherby and that is a big worry moving forward. He of course won the World Hurdle back in 2015 but he benefitted that day from being an unknown quantity and was allowed an easy lead and was able to capitalise. He was smashed out of sight in this race last year by Camping Ground and was then beaten out of sight in the World Hurdle by Thistlecrack. Right back to his best he'd be in with a shout but his ability to rekindle that form has to be a big question mark. Also a slight worry is the fact that both his Graded wins have come over 3m+ and both on good ground.
That leaves us CAMPING GROUND who strolled through this race last year to beat Lil Rockerfeller (giving 4lb) by 11L and Cole Harden (giving 8lb) by 20L. He should have very similar conditions come Sunday afternoon but this time he meets the improved Lil Rockerfeller on level weights and has to give 8lb to Cole Harden. I cannot see given the conditions either of those horses reversing the form. This season he's been running over fences and ran Josses Hill, who ran so well in the King George, to 9L at his opponent's favoured Kempton Park and on Camping Ground's unfavoured good ground. That performance in light of the conditions suggests to me that he retains all his ability and he looked like winning last time before falling at Newbury over 3m. Back at Cheltenham on this ground he must be banker place material at the very least and the 6-1 for him looks value too. He'll love the ground and stays the trip well in the conditions, is top-rated on Master Ratings and second top-rated on MySpeed Ratings. All in all he must go very close!
1 point win Camping Ground @ 6-1 generally bog
0.5 point place only bet @ 2.20 or better as a cover bet