Past Winners » Smad Place


It is great that Cheltenham goes ahead after its 10.00am inspection.  They had twice as much rain as they had anticipated overnight, so you can be sure that conditions are going to be testing.

That is not a negative for Djakadam, but it is not a negative for Smad Place either.  Alan King’s horse proved that he could handle soft ground and that he could stay three miles and two furlongs on it when he danced in in the Hennessy at Newbury last month.

He was a revelation that day.  It was a career-best performance by some way.  His trapped epiglottis sorted, he appeared to really enjoy the switch to bold aggressive tactics.

It was disappointing that those tactics were not repeated in the King George – and that is still a head-scratcher – but hopefully they will be adopted again today.  Newbury and Cheltenham are very different in terms of configuration, but, while Smad Place has never won at Cheltenham, he has run some big races there, including when beaten a neck by O’Faolains Boy in the RSA Chase in 2014, and when second in this race last year.

He has a length and a quarter to find with Many Clouds on their running here 12 months ago, and he meets Oliver Sherwood’s horse on 4lb worse terms, but there is every reason to expect that he can reverse placings.

For starters, he is a different horse this year, since he has had his operation.

Also, that was a strange race last year.  They went a really slow pace and Many Clouds kicked from the top of the short home straight as Smad Place grappled with Dynaste for position.  He seemed to finish full of running.  He should be seen to much better effect today if they allow him stride on.  Hopefully they will.

Of course, Djakadam is going to be difficult to beat.  It is difficult to find chinks, other than the fact that this is a bad race for favourites, and that Willie Mullins might have let him down a little after the John Durkan Chase, and that this may be just his first step back on the road to the Gold Cup.

Many Clouds is also a danger, as is O’Faolains boy, but I think that Smad Place should be a shorter price than both of them.  I think that he should be clear second favourite, and that he should be closer to Djakadam in the betting than he is.  With the dead eight runners, he is an each-way bet.