Cheltenham Festival day 4 preview: Staker Wallace value in FoxhunterPublished on: March 12, 2020Author: David Metcalf
Staker Wallace looks dcenet value to provide leading Irish owner JP McManus with another winner in the 3m 2f St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase on Cheltenham Festival day 4 this Friday (16:10).
McManus has had five winners in the first two days of the meeting at the time of writing and saw jos green and gold hooped colours carried to back-to-back successes in this race by On The Fringe in 2015 and 2016.
In Staker Wallace, he has a lightly-raced and unexposed nine-year-old trained by Enda Bolger who shaped with stacks of promise following a lengthy absence when second of 11 to Billaway ay Naas back in January.
After racing in mid-division, the son of King’s Theatre made a mistake at the 10th fence when making headway.
He then improved to dispute the lead two from home and after getting headed at the last kept on to be beaten eight lengths.
Staker Wallace was not given a hard time once it was clear he would not be winning. It was a cracking effort on his first start for 1078 days.
He has since gone on to record an easy eight-length success between the flags at Nenagh on just his sixth career start and that should have put him spot on for this.
There is undoubtedly more to come from Staker Wallace, so there is every chance that he could turn around the tables with the re-opposing Billaway – despite being worse off at the weights with Willie Mullins’ charge.
Staker Wallace also has the services in the saddle of crack amateur Jamie Codd, so – at 8/1 with Ladbrokes – looks well worth a wager in a wide-open renewal where a case can be made for plenty of the 24 runners.
Ciel De Neige weighted to collect in County Hurdle
Ciel De Neige ran a stormer when runner-up last time out, so off just 4lb higher looks to hold leading claims of going on better in the 2m Grade 3 County Handicap Hurdle (14:10).
This five-year-old shaped well in three runs in France, and was subsequently purchased for a hefy some by McManus and sent to join champion Irish trainer Mullins.
He then ran a blinder on his debut for the Closutton maestro when third of 21 to Band Of Outlaws in the Grade 3 Boodles at this meeting 12 months ago.
After being held-up, Ciel De Neige made a mistake three from home before making good late headway to be nearest at the finish and beaten about three lengths off a mark of 132.
Ciel De Neige comes into this Cheltenham Festival day 4 contest on the back of three solid runs this season.
In the first of those at Fairyhouse, he was a huge eye-catcher when finishing fourth of 15 to Janidil.
He then turned over in a maiden hurdle when sent off the 1/4 favourite, but got badly impeded two from home before flying home and failing by only a head.
Ciel De Neige was heavily-backed to land the valuable Betfair Hurdle on the back of those efforts.
He looked all over the winner when getting left in the lead at the last only to hand right and go down by just three-quarters of a length to Pic D’orhy.
It may have been that he was in front too long and arguably would have won had he kept straight, so a 4lb rise looks more than fair.
A revised rating of 139 could seriously underestimate his ability, so Ciel De Neige he makes plenty of appeal at 7/1 with Betway here.
Us And Them appeals each-way in Grand Annual
Having become potentially well-treated, Irish raider Us And Them looks weighted to go well and worth an each-way wager at 25/1 with Coral in the 2m Grade 3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (16:50).
This Joseph O’Brien trained seven-year-old ran very well over course and distance at this meeting 12 months ago when staying on from off the pace to finish a 13-length runner-up to Duc Des Genievres in the Arkle off an official rating of 151.
Us And Them backed that up with an excellent 1 3/4 lengths second to Ornua in another Grade 1 at the Aintree Grand National Festival off the same rating.
There was lots to like about his return to action this season when third to Snow Falcon in a Grade 2 at Gowran Park back in October when beaten just under seven lengths.
Us And Them has failed to build on that and trouble the judge in three subsequent outings, though.
However, that has resulted in the assessor cutting the son of Stowaway some slack and he is now able to race off a reduced rating of 148.
It gives him a big shout from a handicapping perspective on the pick of his form. O’Brien has given Us And Them a break since his last run to freshen up.
He is also a hold-up performer that is ideally suited by a string end-to-end gallop and looks sure to get that scenario here.
So, taking everything into account, Us And Them has more going for him than his odds would suggest.
Front View fancied in Cheltenham Festival day 4 finale
In the 2m 4f Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle that brings the curtain down on this year’s Cheltenham Festival (17:30), Front View looks to have got in lightly and the one to be on.
Also trained by O’Brien, this five-year-old bumper winner shaped with bags of promise on hurdles debut at Down Royal in November when second of 17 to Envoi Allen.
Although no match for the easy winner, Front View stuck to the task well without being unduly knocked about to be beaten 6 1/2 lengths.
The winner is one of the most exciting prospects seen for many a year and was ultra-impressive when landing the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle here on Wednesday off an official rating of 156.
Front View also pulled four lengths clear of the third home Entoucas who has won since and finished third in a Listed contest last time out.
That gives the form a solid look in relation to this. Front View has since landed a 24-runner maiden hurdle at Cork, before finishing a very eye-catching second last time out at Thurles under tender handling following a break.
He now makes his eagerly awaited handicap debut off a mark of 139. That looks lenient judged on his aforementioned run behind Envoi Allen.
Front View is also unexposed, open to bags more progression, and looks to have been laid out for this.
At 5/1 with BetVictor, he looks a worthy favourite to bag this valuable prize on Cheltenham Festival day 4.