Having been well beaten in both his runs this season Cinders And Ashes might not seem an obvious selection for this year’s Champion Hurdle but I putting him up for three reasons; past Cheltenham Festival form, likely better ground and value.
Last season Cinders And Ashes stormed up the hill fending off strong challengers to win the Festival opener; the Supreme Novices Hurdle. This was despite coming under pressure at the top of the hill and some sloppy jumping on the way round. As has often the case in recent years the race was considered weak by some and it’s true that not many winners have come out of it. However, the ill-fated Darlan was beaten fair and square into second. As stated on many occasions there is nothing like Cheltenham Festival form as a guide to Festival races.
This season Cinders And Ashes has only run twice; both times on very bad ground. First up at Newcastle on ground officially described as heavy he was beaten by Triumph winner Countrywide Flame. His trainer Donald McCain was noticeably upbeat after the race stating “to my eye he was hating every minute of it on the ground and I think he probably did well to get as close as he did.” Then at Kempton Park in the Christmas Hurdle on a foul day (believe me, I was there) he finished 5th of 7 behind Darlan. Surely this was not the same horse we saw in the Supreme? The explanation is the ground. Given that he won two races on heavy at Haydock before the Supreme, you might think I’m talking nonsense but those were small field weak affairs. The fact is the better going at Cheltenham brought about a massive improvement in form with a win a hugely competitive race. Granted better going in a months time at Cheltenham 2013
I’m sure we’ll see a massive improvement on his efforts this season at a time of year and course that suits. His trainer hasn’t lost is faith in him and neither have I.
The third reason to back Cinders And Ashes is his price given the shape of the betting market. There are just four horses ahead of him in the betting yet he can be backed at a generous 16/1. Granted the right conditions I think he can be crowned Champion Hurdler 2013 so this is a great each way price.
1 pt each way Cinders And Ashes – Stan James Champion Hurdle – 16/1 with BetVictor (non-runner, free bet).
I’d be very interested to hear your tips and thoughts on the Champion Hurdle. Please post in the Comments below or tweet me @JPFestival. Thank you.