MELISSA JONES WRITES: Let's hope for some Modus magic
7:39am Wednesday 12th March 2014 in Sport
TAKE a deep breath and wish for a little luck in readiness for Modus magic at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The fate of Gwent’s best Festival representative this year will be played out in front of throngs of racing fans in the last race of the day (5.15).
The action may be a little blurred by then for some but hopefully Modus’ blue and white colours will emerge in front against a strong Irish contingent.
It’s a tough race for a four-year-old to win- crackerjack The New One failed to succeed but the Gwent bred Cue Card did manage the feat.
To compensate, Modus receives a handy weight allowance of 8lb and trainer Robert Stephens, remarkably looking for his first Festival winner in his first season training, reports the gelding to be in great heart.
The thing about our challenger is that maturity should not be a problem, as he was in training with Roger Charlton for a Flat career and despite winning in the mud on his two starts, Stephens thinks he might be better on quicker.
His Irish rivals are the potential stumbling block- the dominant Willie Mullins has a terrific record in this race and is compatriot Dermot Weld saddles an interesting contender in Vigil.
I’m keeping my betting slip with Modus’ name written on it however in the hope he can fend them all off at around 10-1.
Le Fin Bois is another interesting Welsh challenger on an afternoon which will warm the hearts of racing fans after yesterday’s wonderful start.
Purchased for a six figure sum through Select Bloodstock, Tim Vaughan’s youngster has earned his rating of 137 in the 4.40.
The trainer suggests the four-year-old might find this too hot on his first English start as he has only been in the yard three weeks but added: “We think he’s the real deal.”
Sire De Grugy, the favourite for the day’s feature the Champion Chase, can’t seem to win around Cheltenham so his passed over in favour of his conqueror here in 2012, Captain Conan.
The score between them is one apiece after the Captain disappointed in the Tingle Creek, but given time to come back by Henderson, he reopposes as a fresher horse.
His reigning champion Sprinter Sacre is on the sidelines but this raider is an ample substitute and may have the most to fear from Ireland’s Baily Green.
Old timer Wishfull Thinking also has potential having looked a happier horse this term.
The unbeaten Red Sherlock (1.30) has the ability to take race one, while Wales’ O Faolains Boy has potential to outrun his odds in the RSA.
Quiet trainer Rebecca Curtis was unusually keen on this one’s chances when speaking at Chepstow Racecourse’s Cheltenham preview at the weekend and the hint should be taken.
SELECTIONS: 1.30 Red Sherlock, 2.05 O Faolains Boy, 2.40 Calculated Risk (e/w), 3.20 Captain Conan (NB), 4.00 Diamond Harry, 4.40 Le Fin Bois (e/w), 5.15 Modus (NAP)