Smaoineamh Alainn – 25-1 Sportingbet. 2.10pm Cheltenham Friday 16th March.
The Robert Walford-trained Smaoineamh Alainn may win the prize for the most unpronounceable name of any horse in training but that may not stop the improving six-year-old from winning this valuable handicap for connections off what could prove a lenient mark of 137.
The daughter of Shantou joined his current stable from Ireland after finishing second in a Limerick National Hunt Flat race in December 2016. Sent straight over hurdles by Walford the mare made a winning debut at Chepstow last March in a soft ground novice hurdle, easily beating her nine rivals without coming off the bridle.
Smaoineamh Alainn wins the third race under James Best for trainer Robert Walford pic.twitter.com/VMoOQzD07e— Francesca Altoft (@FranAltoftPhoto) December 17, 2017
Not seen again for seven months until proving too good for hot favourite Storm Home at Wincanton the mount of James Best had her first attempt at handicap company in the Catesby Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in December and kept her 100% record over the smaller obstacles with a victory over the subsequent Betfair Hurdle fifth Remiluc and favourite Champagne City.
The mare handled the soft ground conditions well on that occasion and with connections keen to maintain an attractive rating looks sure to have been primed to perfection for her first start in three months. At the 25-1 available with sportingbet Smaoineamh Alainn appeals as a decent each-way Cheltenham bet to make it four from four in the race worth £56,950 to the winner.
Delight for in-form trainer Robert Walford as Smaoineamh Alainn strikes under James Best at #TheInternational @CheltenhamRaces. Getting black type the aim now.— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) December 15, 2017
All of today's results ➡️ https://t.co/7iJOPsvjqx pic.twitter.com/He6z1RLam5
As you would expect in such a competitive contest there are plenty of dangers. Betfair Hurdle runner-up Bleu Et Rouge will try to go one better but is shouldered with top weight of 11st 12lb and lightly-raced stablemate Sandsend may turn out to be the main hope of trainer Willie Mullins. Flying Tiger has a good record at the festival and should go well at the 14-1 offered by Coral while the consistent Spiritofthegames looks overpriced at the 25-1 quoted by bet365.