Grand Annual Chase Tips – Day 4 – Cheltenham 2015
Grand Annual Chase
Named in honour of Tony McCoy this year, the Grand Annual Chase (5.15) offers punters one last chance of glory before Cheltenham 2015 comes to an end for another year – the question is: will there be a fairytale ending with McCoy riding the winner on his last ever Cheltenham ride?
McCoy Fairytale End?
At this stage, McCoy’s riding plans in the race remain unclear, so do check the runners ahead of race time, while another fact worth checking is the horse’s official rating, as those rated 147 or lower did best down the years…
Of the last 10 Grand Annual winners…
10 were officially rated 147 or lower
9 carried 10st13lb or less
9 raced at Cheltenham previously
9 were non-favourites
9 were non-winners last time out
8 were 7-9yo’s
8 were Irish or French-bred
8 had never won a handicap chase
N Henderson won it twice
Buntline Back For More
One who fits nicely within the ideal ratings band is the current 5/1 clear favourite, Ned Buntline. Noel Meade’s 7yo was also punted in to favoritism in this race 12 months ago, when beaten just over 1l into second. Given only one race this season, in a bid to possibly keep his rating down, he returns to go one better from a 4lb higher mark.
Ned Buntline’s chance is there for all to see, as is Michael Scudamore’s, Next Sensation (10/1), who was only 1/2l behind Ned Buntline in fourth and is 3lb better off with that rival on Friday. The only concern is that his form has been very average this season – unlike last year when he won prior to Cheltenham – and he will need to bounce back.
Another from the ideal ratings band is Jonjo O’Neill’s 10/1 shot, Eastlake, off a mark of 145. He too ran in last year’s renewal when sixth (beaten 14l), but is 2lb lower this time around. He has won a similar handicap over C&D in December 2013 under Tony McCoy, who may be aboard for his final ride here.
Trust Cheltenham Form
Previous winning form at Cheltenham is always a bonus, and Ted Veale (14/1) has such credentials having won over hurdles at the 2013 festival.
He ran a cracking third in the Boylesports Hurdle when last seen in January and Tony Martin has put him aside for this.
One lacking Cheltenham experience is Dan Skelton’s, Bellenos (16/1), who hasn’t shown the same sparkle this winter as last season, though Paul Nicholls’, Solar Impulse (16/1), was beaten only 1/4l in a Grade 2 novice last time (2m, good to soft). He almost fell here in December when pulled up but would have a chance if putting that behind him.
Mullins To Have Last Say?
But, what of Willie Mullins, who has Blood Cotil entered at 10/1?
Well, this 6yo recorded a career best in getting off the mark at the fifth attempt over fences last time (2m, soft), and was a creditable sixth (of 24) in the 2013 Fred Winter here. Quicker ground would be an unknown, but who could right off Mullins having the last say at Cheltenham 2015?
As for those with bigger ratings and weights, then Gordon Elliott’s, Clarcam (10/1), may reappear quickly having been outclassed in the Arkle on Tuesday (beaten 32l), while Emma Lavelle’s, Claret Cloak (12/1), was third in this race last year when a neck behind Ned Buntline, but is 11lb higher on Friday following a second in a valuable Ascot handicap when last seen in November.
Plenty in with chances, including Ted Veale (14/1), a festival winner over hurdles in 2013 who handles these conditions and looks to have been lined up by To