14:25 Cheltenham — Shloer Chase (Garde 2)
Sunday’s meeting is all geared around the 14:25, the Shloer Chase. A Grade 2, 2m chase which in recent years has been won by the likes of Uxizandre, Sprinter Sacre and Fox Norton.
The race in recent years has seen depleting field sizes, in the past 3 years they have been as big as 6 and as small as 4. This year looks no different with only 7 runners currently lining up.
Here is a runner-by-runner guide to the Shloer Chase, please note that although I will try my best to find the winner. This is an ante-post look at the race and I cannot guarantee that the horse selected will turn up.
Put The Kettle On — Henry De Bromhead — 6yr old (m)
Last season, to put it simply was a season to savour for anyone connected with Put The Kettle On. Starting her season in a handicap hurdle off 111, she went from strength to strength notably with a switch to fences. She competed 8 times, winning 6 of them including last seasons Arkle.
It's very hard to pick holes in her form, her jumping’s electric and she even has form over further which I see as a positive round Cheltenham.
There is plenty to like about her profile, firstly she hits the trend of being a 6yr old. 6yr olds have had plenty of joy in recent years with 4 of the last 6 winners. She also gets weight from all rivals for being a mare.
I saw the 4/1 earlier this week and my eyes lit up. Unfortunately, in the past 24 hours, her price has been slashed into 2/1 favourite. This is not the sort of price I would want to be getting involved in.
Rouge Vif — Harry Whittington — 6yr old (g)
On paper, Rouge Vif has a mountain to climb with the market leader. Beaten by Put The Kettle On twice last season, both times around Cheltenham. The first being in a trial race finishing 8L behind and the second being in the Arkle finishing 18L behind.
I like many thought that he didn't handle Cheltenham but he put those worries to bet with an emphatic win on his most recent start. Albeit in a handicap, he put 7L between himself and 2nd which has given him a mark of 164.
This does leave you wondering why he underperformed on those occasions, I now believe he’s ground dependant. There are very notable differences in his performances when tackling a softer surface and when on quick ground. With the ground looking like it will good to soft you would imagine this would be perfect for him.
He hits the 6yr old trend and providing the rain stays away I give him a great chance.
Defi Du Seuil — Phillip Hobbs — 7yr old (g)
Last years winner Defi Du Seuil put himself firmly in the mix for Champion Chase. It was a stunning season from the two-time festival winner who managed a Grade 2 win and two Garde 1 wins.
Something was quite clearly a miss with him in Champion Chase, fans expected a rollover with the main market rivals Altior and Chacun Pour Soi being withdrawn. He went off the 2/5 favourite and simply didn't go a yard.
On his day, you would expect him to run away with this race. He loves the track, he has a potent turn of foot and is a genuine Grade 1 performer.
He is coming up against some unexposed rivals and the yard form leaves plenty to be desired. Come 14:30 on Sunday we might be feeling very stupid for letting this horse go off at such a big price. Right now though there is enough reason to take him on.
Sceau Royal — Alan King — 8yr old (g)
Currently not jocked up and if betting markets are anything to go by then there's a chance he won't be turning up here.
He does bring a high level of form into the race though, he won this race back in 2018 and went on to finish 3rd in the Champion Chase that year.
He will appreciate quick conditions, he’s put up some really good efforts when met with it. Albeit not winning, you can forgive him this as he’s been coming up against Altior.
He looks to be in very good form this season, picking up two wins out of two. These were over hurdles but he’s always looked fairly good over a fence so I wouldn't be worried about that.
Riders Onthe Storm — Nigel Twiston-Davies — 7yr old (g)
Here’s another who I don't think will line up. It would make no sense for him to turn up, all his improvement came when stepping up to 2m4f+ and he loves a bog which Cheltenham won't be.
A horse to scratch from your list whether he turns up or not.
Duc Des Genievres — Paul Nicholls — 7yr old (g)
An interesting runner. The 2019 Arkle winner has been religiously campaigned on soft or worse. If turning up at Cheltenham this weekend we can expect he won't be getting that.
Duc Des Genievres clearly has plenty of ability and Paul Nicholls has got his team in terrific form this season. I can't say with any level of confidence that I think he will win but I have a feeling he could outrun expectations.
He’s been to Cheltenham three times, finishing 5th in the Ballymore, winning the Arkle and finishing 5th in the Ryanair. I think its a course that really suites him and with some potential NR’s I think it could pay to back him E/W on the Ante-post.
Forest Bihan — Brian Ellison — 9yr old (g)
Here’s another horse to scratch off the list. He hasn't won a 2-mile jumps race since 2017, he carries top weight despite being the second-lowest rated in the field. Another negative is the horse hasn't been seen of over a year and I wouldn't be surprised if this was simply just a spin round.
7 horses are currently in the race, I think we are likely to see 2 NR’s being Sceau Royal and Riders Onthe Storm. I’m willing to write off Forest Bihan which leaves us with 4 runners.
Put The Kettle On, Rouge Vif, Defi Du Seuil and Duc Des Genievres. from an Ante-post angle I would playing Duc Des Genievres E/W 2 places and if all turned up on the day I would be looking to play Rouge Vif providing the rain stays away.