Kim Muir Challenge Cup Tips: Chances given to Philip Hobbs trained Musical Slave

Kim Muir Challenge Cup Tips: Will Philip Hobbs be smiling at Cheltenham?
Kim Muir Challenge Cup Tips: Will Philip Hobbs be smiling at Cheltenham?

Kim Muir Tip

Musical Slave at 16/1 with Paddy Power.

The Kim Muir is one of the three Festival races traditionally exclusive to amateur riders, though due to the current government ban on grassroots sport, the professionals will this year get the unique chance to add this race to their CVs. Ran over a trip of 3m1f, staying is the name of the game in the Kim Muir, and the race’s recent roll of honour includes several horses who have subsequently gone well in the Grand National. The most notable of those is 2011 Aintree hero Ballabriggs, who won the Kim Muir for owner Trevor Hemmings the season before his famous triumph on Merseyside.

Hemmings’ colours will be carried again here by Deise Aba, who may well go onto Aintree himself if able to sneak his way into the top forty. He ran a solid race when fifth in this last season, possibly just lacking the pace to carry him close enough to land a telling blow on the leaders. Deise Aba bounced back to form to win the Masters Chase at Sandown for the second year running last time after two inexplicably poor runs at the beginning of the season and is now back to the exact same mark which he competed well here off last season.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Kilfilum Cross, Bob Mahler and Plan Of Attack all finished ahead of Deise Aba last season, finishing second, third and fourth respectively, and that trio re-oppose again this year. Kilfilum Cross was also runner-up in the race in 2019, though hasn’t really ran a decent race since last year’s Festival. The combined first five runs of Bob Mahler and Plan Of Attack’s seasons all ended in Ps, and neither threatened the judge on their sole completed start of the year, though I’d consider Plan Of Attack’s Paddy Power Chase eighth was a better performance than Bob Mahler’s Edinburgh National third. All three of last year’s placed horses need the return to Prestbury Park to spark some life back into them.

Hold The Note remains winless after over nine starts over fences, but has posted some decent efforts in defeat, most notably when third in the novice handicap here last season. He had seemingly gone off the boil in the early part of the season, and shaped on multiple occasions like a suspect over three miles. His close second to Enrilo at Newbury last time out, perhaps showing the benefits of a wind-op, was a step back in the right direction and he’ll arrive at Cheltenham 5lb lower in the weights than when running well in a better race at the 2020 Festival. As mentioned though, this is a race that often goes to thorough stayers, and Hold The Note’s overall record over three miles remains unconvincing.

One horse who won’t lack for stamina is Festival veteran Shantou Flyer. He’s now with Paul Nicholls, the fifth trainer for whom he’s ran for, but any suggestion that his nomadic career is due to any problematic tendencies on his behalf couldn’t be more wrong. 

Shantou Flyer is a highly admirable sort, and few horses in training can boast a better Cheltenham record than the eleven-year-old- he’s never finished any worse than fourth in eight completed starts at the course, including finishing in the placings on three occasions at the Festival. I don’t think he’s quite the force of old though, and, with Harry Cobden replacing 7lb claimer Angus Chelada in the saddle, is now on a mark 11lb higher than when meeting defeat in a poorer race at Wincanton last time. He will run his usual honest race, but I don’t think he’s the force of old and should be found wanting for win purposes against some younger, fresher legs.

I think the most interesting contender in the line-up is the Denise Foster-trained mare Mount Ida. She was a point-to-point winner over three miles, but almost all of her racing under rules has come at trips between two and two-and-half miles, and it’s fascinating that connections have decided that the Kim Muir is the race in which to step her up in trip. Outside of points, she’s yet to even take part in a race open to geldings, never mind a competitive handicap of this nature at Cheltenham Festival. Her form against her own sex is good, though, and she claimed the scalp of subsequent Grade 2 winner Scarlet And Dove in a Cork Grade 3 in December. Mount Ida would be far from a stereotypical Kim Muir winner, but her current mark of 142 looks potentially workable, and her presence in the race itself is eye-catching.

It’s fair to say the race doesn’t look as strong as it was shaping to be several weeks ago, with long-time antepost market Run Wild Fred staying at home in Ireland for the Irish National, whilst Time To Get Up, who replaced him at the top of the betting after the five-day declarations, will instead run in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

With those potentially progressive rivals absent, I’m going to take the chance that Musical Slave’s jumping holds up well enough for him to go close here, as I think he’s the best handicapped horse in this event. Now, admittedly, his jumping is a major issue but MUSICAL SLAVE has enough ability to surpass his current mark of 135, and in a race where I think the majority of his opposition are either regressive or arriving on the back of patchy spells, I think he might have enough in hand even if making his customary errors on his way around Cheltenham.

He came off best at the weights when a narrow second to the 147-rated Sam’s Adventure at Uttoxeter on his final start last season, and made a fine start to his second season as a chaser when staying on to finish within four lengths of the in-form Clondaw Castle at Newbury. His jumping deserted him in the SkyBet Chase, and he also made numerous mistakes when third in the Swinley Chase at Ascot last time out, but I think he’s worth siding with on the basis that he is one of the only horses in the field who doesn’t look well exposed and has a mark with clear potential upside.

Thu 16:50 - Kim Muir
Musical Slave silk

Musical Slave

Cheltenham Gold Cup runners
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