Cheltenham preview: Johns Spirit handicapped to strike
David Metcalf | April 13, 2016
Course specialist Johns Spirit can bounce back
Johns Spirit disappointed last time out but looks worth another chance to cash-in on a drop in the weights in the 2m 4f handicap chase at Cheltenham today (15.35).
The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding is a three-time winner at the venue, and has also run well at the Festival to finish fourth in the 2014 running of the Byrne Group Plate off a mark of 148 and a decent sixth in last year’s Ryanair Chase off an official rating of 160.
Johns Spirit has failed to trouble the judge in six runs this season, but didn’t run too badly at the track on his penultimate outing late time out at the track when fourth to Annacotty.
Although the nine-year-old failed to build on that last time out at the Cheltenham Festival when heavily-backed and pulled-up in the Brown Advisory Plate, he lost all confidence after a couple of terrible blunders.
There is little doubt in my mind that Johns Spirit is far better than what he showed that day, and his current mark of .1045 is his lowest in over two years and 2lb less than when last victorious.
It makes him dangerously well-treated on the pick of his form, and another plus is that Johns Spirit should get the strong pave he needs to aim at with the likes of Next sensation in the line-up.
Mysteree value in handicap chase
In the 3m 4f handicap chase (14.25), the progressive Mysteree looks decent value to land the spoils.
The Lucinda Russell trained gelding has won two of his four starts over fences, with the last of those successes coming at Kelso off a mark of 119.
Mysteree has since gone on to finish a cracking fourth of 17 in the class 2 Eider Chase at Newcastle off 121, jumping well in the main and sticking to the task.
The eight-year-old is able to race in this lower grade class 3 contest off an unchanged mark, and that gives the son of Gold Well major claims from a handicapping perspective.
Mysteree also remains unexposed over fences and open to further improvement, and has the services of Grant Cockburn in the saddle who is terrific value for his 5lb claim.
13.50: Solstice Star
14.25: Mysteree (NB)
15.00: Hedley Lamaar
15.35: Johns Spirit (NAP)
16.45: Fox Norton
17.20: Simon Squirrel