Cheltenham (14/4/21)

2pt win Coole Cody in the 2.05 Cheltenham at 9/2

1.5pts each-way Captain Tom Cat in the 2.40 Cheltenham at 7/1

1pt each-way Aaron Lad in the 3.50 Cheltenham at 10/1

1.5pts each-way The Mighty Don in the 4.25 Cheltenham at 11/1

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COOLE CODY built upon a solid runner-up effort at Cheltenham in October when landing the Paddy Power Gold Cup three weeks later. He also placed sixth in December’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and again ran well when placing fourth in last month’s Paddy Power Plate, chasing home subsequent Grade 1 runner-up The Shunter and and Grand National fifth Farclas.

The latter two efforts came over this course and distance and Evan Williams’ ten-year-old will compete off the very same mark from which he placed fourth last month.

Coole Cody appreciates decent ground and will receive weight from his two main market rivals. This therefore looks a good opportunity to land another decent prize.

CAPTAIN TOM CAT won three of his first four starts over hurdles on good ground, including a comfortable 2.5L success over 2m5f at Cheltenham in October, and can return to winning ways on a suitable surface.

Dr Richard Newland’s six-year-old placed third on soft ground at Cheltenham in November and sixth in similar conditions at Aintree in December. The son of Dylan Thomas is just 5lbs higher than when victorious at Cheltenham in October, and he could easily continue his progression on better ground.

Captain Tom Cat defeated a subsequent dual scorer at Uttoxeter in July and did the same again in August. Cillin Leonard, whom was on board at Prestbury Park in the autumn, will take a handy 7lbs off his back and he remains open to further improvement over this trip.

AARON LAD ran well for a long way on his return from a 391 day absence at Newbury last month and, given connections, it’s possible that this race has been the plan.

The experienced ten-year-old is now 1lbs lower than when scoring over this course and distance in December 2018 and 9lbs lower than when placing sixth in this race in April 2019, and two of his 5 career victories – including his aforementioned Prestbury Park success – have been achieved on good ground.

Charlie Hammond was in the saddle at Newbury last month and Cillin Leonard will take a handy 7lbs off his back on this occasion, which naturally enhances his prospects.

Track, trip, ground and his current rating all look favourable. Aaron Lad is therefore a tempting each-way proposition.

THE MIGHTY DON beat a subsequent dual scorer on his chasing debut at Chepstow in October, and he ran a mighty race to place second, beaten just 3.75L, behind Saturday’s easy handicap scorer Happygolucky, whom readily defied a rating of 149 and now boasts a rating of 157, over this course and distance in December.

The runner-up at Chepstow, Enrilo, in now rated 143, while the 140 rated Hold The Note, whom placed third at Cheltenham in December, has placed second in competitive handicap company at Newbury and fourth in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival since.

It’s easy to make a case that The Mighty Don is well handicapped off a mark of 140 in view of that form, and he gained further experience of Cheltenham when placing sixth in a good renewal of the National Hunt Chase at the Festival last month.

Nick Gifford’s nine-year-old achieved one of his two hurdling victories at Prestbury Park and he will be well suited by the decent ground. While he also has scope for improvement on just his sixth start in this sphere.

Aintree Selections (Saturday)

1pt each-way Barnaviddaun in the 1.45 Aintree at 12/1 (5 Places)

1pt win Ballyadam in the 2.25 Aintree at 3/1

2pt win Thyme Hill in the 3.35 Aintree at 5/2

2pt win Happygolucky in the 4.15 Aintree at 3/1

1pt each-way Charlie’s Glance in the 6.20 Aintree at 18/1 (4 Places)

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My Randox Grand National selections (at 10/1, 11/1, 22/1, and 33/1 respectively) can be found via this link;

https://www.oddschecker.com/tips/horse-racing/20210409-grand-national-2021-tips-prediction

Aintree Selections (Friday)

0.5pts each-way Master Debonair in the 1.45 Aintree at 14/1 (7 Places)

0.5pts each-way Jacamar in the 1.45 Aintree at 25/1

2pt win Dusart in the 2.20 Aintree at 9/4

1pt win Notebook in the 3.25 Aintree at 15/2

0.5pts each-way Nuts Well in the 3.25 Aintree at 9/1

1.5pts each-way Huntsman Son in the 4.05 Aintree at 16/1 (6 Places)

1.5pts each-way Caribean Boy in the 4.05 Aintree at 11/1 (5 Places)

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Write-up’s to follow.

Melling Chase

Marsh Chase (Registered As The Melling Chase) (Grade 1) 2m3f200y

This race has been won by some of racing brightest stars over the last ten years, with champion chasers Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre preceding subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack, whom defeated fan-favourite Cue Card in 2015.

Paul Nicholls’ saddled the former of that top-class trio and the master of Ditcheat holds the record for the most winners (3) in this Grade 1 contest alongside long-term adversary Nicky Henderson.

The eleven time champion trainer will launch a three-pronged attack tomorrow spearheaded by his former champion chaser Politologue, whom plundered this prize in 2018 before placing second 12 months later.

The classy grey will bid to become just the sixth horse in history to land this race on more than one occasion, following in the footsteps of former greats such as Viking Flagship, Direct Route, Native Upmanship, Moscow Flyer and Voy Por Ustedes.

However, Politologue will have plenty of competition in this open looking contest and the ‘freshness angle’ may not be the way to play this race given that each of the last 18 winners had competed at the previous month’s Cheltenham Festival, with 12 lining up in the Champion Chase and 6 taking part in the Ryanair Chase.

That statistic would whittle this race down to just Ryanair Chase runner-up Fakir D’Oudaries and Champion Chase seventh Notebook, although Duc Du Genievres would warrant a small mention given that he is the only other contender in the field whom took his chance at Cheltenham last month (Grand Annual).

That said, all eight contenders are worthy of closer scrutiny before jumping to any conclusions. So let’s run the microscope over each in market order.

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FAKIR D’OUDARIES:

Fakir D’oudaries chased home the hugely impressive Allaho in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, and he is arguably the form pick as a result. However, that race was contested at a frenetic gallop and he has only had three weeks to recover.

Furthermore, three of his four career victories have been achieved on testing ground and the form of Joseph O’Brien’s string leaves much to be desired. Indeed, many of his inmates ran below form at Cheltenham and, at the time of writing, he is 0-37 in the last 14 days, which has to be a concern given Fakir D’oudaries’ price heading into a Grade 1 contest.

On a more positive note, the Kapgarde gelding was only beaten a neck by Pentland Hills in the 2019 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle on his only previous visit to Aintree and his solitary Grade 1 success was achieved over two-and-a-half-miles in the 2019 Drinmore Novice Chase. While it is also worth remembering that the last 18 winners of this race had all run at the Cheltenham Festival, 6 of whom contested the Ryanair Chase.

However, I would be happy to look elsewhere given his short price and list of negatives.

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POLITOLOGUE:

Politologue won this race in 2018 before chasing home a bang-in-form Min 12 months later, and he has arguably took his form to a higher level in the meantime given his runaway Champion Chase success in 2020.

John Hales classy grey looked every bit as good on his seasonal reappearance in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and, like at Cheltenham last March, Paul Nicholls was quick to attribute that success to the various changes that were made to his training regime and the significant gap between races.

With that in mind, it may be a blessing in disguise that Politologue was an eleventh hour absentee at Cheltenham last month, which means that he has had 76 days to recover from his runner-up effort in January’s Clarence House Chase.

The Poliglote gelding boasts form-figures of U1114211 following a break of 52 days or more and clearly enjoys this course and distance. Therefore another solid run looks likely.

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MASTER TOMMYTUCKER:

Master Tommytucker has developed into a solid graded chaser over the course of this season, building upon a smooth success in the Grade 2 Silvinaco Conti Chase at Kempton with a narrow defeat in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase.

The lightly raced son of Kayf Tara fell in three of his first four starts over fences and has displayed a tendency to make at least one significant mistake during his races. However, he has successfully completed the course on all six of his outings this season and he is clearly well suited by small field contest, with five of his six career victories coming in single-figure fields (the exception being a ten runner race).

Three of those six victories were achieved on decent ground and Sam Twiston-Davies guided the imposing ten-year-old to success at Haydock in November, which is clearly advantageous given that he isn’t the easiest of rides.

Master Tommytucker is another contender whom may benefit from sidestepping last month’s Cheltenham Festival and his official mark of 160 puts him firmly in the mix.

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DASHEL DRASHER:

Dashel Drasher has improved out of all recognition this season and arrives on the crest of a wave following a maiden Grade 1 success in the 1 Betfair Ascot Chase, when battling on bravely to see off the aforementioned Master Tommytucker in a slow motion charge to the line.

Jeremy Scott’s homebred has won his last three starts over that same course and distance climbing 19lbs in the handicap to a rating of 162, which makes him the joint-second highest rated horse in this contest.

All three of those victories have been achieved on testing ground, however, four of his five career triumphs have come on decent ground and, like his aforementioned rivals Politologue and Master Tommytucker, he will arrive here fresh after sidestepping last months Cheltenham Festival.

Going left-handed should not be an issue given that he has previously been successful at Cheltenham, Haydock, Chepstow and Newbury, and the progressive son of Passing Glance is clearly thriving at present, which makes him a fascinating contender.

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NOTEBOOK:

Dual Grade 1 winning novice Notebook kicked off his second season over fences with a decisive success over the aforementioned Fakir D’Oudaries in the Grade 2 Poplar Chase at Naas in November. However, he proved no match for the classy Chacun Pour Soi on his next two visits the racetrack and he only beat two rivals home in the Champion Chase last month.

This will be the first time that the scopey son of Samum has competed over a trip in excess of two-miles-and-one-furlong over fences, and he could easily improve for the extra yardage. While the decent ground is certainly a positive and he will be assisted by regular rider Rachael Blackmore.

There is perhaps a question mark hanging over his ability to travel, although that may be slightly harsh given that he has contested Grade 1 heats at each of the last three Cheltenham Festivals, and it is perhaps worth nothing the impressive record of those whom competed in the previous month’s Champion Chase (12 winners in the last 18 renewals).

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NUTS WELL:

Nuts Well hasn’t been sighted since defeating subsequent Grade 3 scorer Clondaw Castle in a warm renewal of the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase over this course and distance in October. However, that absence may well be a positive given that he boasts form-figures of 2122151 following a break of 84 days or more.

Ann Hamilton’s stable stable posted a brace of career best efforts during the autumn, successfully conceding 3lbs to subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy and Sky Bet Chase runner-up Aye Right on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso, before following-up in the aforementioned Old Roan Chase at Aintree three weeks later.

Those efforts suggest that the lightly raced ten-year-old is well and truly at the peak of his powers at present, and the decent ground that he will encounter tomorrow will also be in his favour.

Ann Hamilton has saddled two winners from as many runners in the last two weeks and Nuts Well has been targeted at this meeting for some time following a succession of small setbacks – both physical and ground related – during the winter months.

That may have been a blessing in disguise given both his preference for better ground and record when fresh, and he is certainly an intriguing contender whom should not be underestimated.

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ITCHY FEET:

Itchy Feet placed third behind the aforementioned Nuts Well and subsequent Grade 3 scorer Clondaw Castle in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October before chasing home Imperial Aura in Grade 2 company at Ascot and the rapidly progressive Dashel Drasher over the same course and distance in December.

Olly Murphy’s Grade 1 winning novice chaser didn’t appear to stay the 3 mile trip when reverting to the smaller obstacles in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock in February, however, dropping back to two-and-a-half-miles on better ground could easily see him return to form.

Indeed, his chasing form has been boosted since he was last sighted over fences and Olly Murphy has his string in fine form at present. Therefore Itchy Feet could easily outperform market expectations.

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DUC DES GENIEVRES:

Duc Des Genievres made last months Champion Chase heroine Put The Kettle On pull out all of the stops in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November and he was far from disgraced in placing seventh under 11-9 in the ultra competitive Grand Annual in the Cotswolds last month.

However, Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old has failed to kick-on since his Arkle success in 2019 and his solitary success over this trip was achieved in a beginners chase. The decent ground may also be against him, and he makes little appeal in this grade.

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VERDICT:

2018 hero Politologue clearly goes well over this course and distance and is seen to best effect when fresh, which makes him a likely contender tomorrow. While stablemate Master Tommytucker is improving with every start and could easily go well if putting in a clear round.

Fakir D’Oudaries has plenty of potential over this trip and could easily go close if at the peak of his powers. However, he does have questions to answer and his short price hardly reflects that. While NOTEBOOK, whom will represent the Cheltenham Festival dream team of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, will attempt to enhance the already impressive record of those whom competed in the previous month’s Champion Chase.

Indeed, both Irish raiders qualify on the aforementioned statistic regarding the last 18 winners of this contest, however, preference would be for the latter, whom successfully conceded 7lbs to the former as a novice last season (Grade 1) and again had his measure at Naas in November.

Henry De Bromhead’s charge has twice bumped into a top class rival, namely Chacun Pour Soi, over two-miles-and-one-furlong this season – finishing in advance of stablemate and subsequent champion chaser Put The Kettle On at Christmas – and he was only beaten a shade over 9 lengths in last month’s Champion Chase, which is perhaps a better run than the bare form would suggest.

Stepping-up to two-and-a-half-miles on decent ground could easily suit and Aintree may play to his strengths more than Cheltenham. He is therefore a interesting contender.

Dashel Drasher is clearly thriving at present and could easily go close if fully recovered from his Grade 1 success in the Betfair Ascot Chase. However, he will need to be equally as effective both on decent ground and going left-handed – which doesn’t look to be an issue judged on his historical form.

Nuts Well has had anything but a clear run this season, however, he posted a career best effort when defying top-weight in a competitive renewal of the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase over this course and distance in October and his record when fresh (2122151 after a break of 84 days or more) makes him a tempting each-way proposition.

Ann Hamilton has sent out two winners from as many runners in the last two weeks and the ground will be perfect for her stable star, whom is lightly raced for his age and is seemingly peaking at present.

No horse has defied double digits since the mighty Moscow Flyer landed back-to-back renewals in 2004 and 2005. However, while this is a competitive renewal, there is no superstar lurking and Nuts Well could easily outperform market expectations.

1pt win Notebook

0.5pt each-way Nuts Well

Aintree Selections (Thursday)

1pt win Clondaw Castle in the 2.50 Aintree at 9/1

1pt win Mister Fisher in the 2.50 Aintree at 17/2

1pt win Abacadabras in the 3.25 Aintree at 7/2

1.5pts each-way Dashing Perk in the 4.05 Aintree at 12/1 (5 Places)

1.5pts each-way Sully DOc AA in the 4.40 Aintree at 16/1 (4 Places)

1pt each-way Moon Over Germany in the 4.40 Aintree at 10/1 (4 Places)

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CLONDAW CASTLE seemingly relished the step-up to 3 miles when landing the traditionally competitive Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton (under 11-8) in February and Tom George was quick to nominate this race as a future target in the immediate aftermath of that success.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Tom George has saddled a horse in that Kempton contest prior to lining-up in this Grade 1 heat, as he saddled his galant grey Nacarat to place third in that same Kempton contest prior to plundering this Grade 1 prize in 2011.

It’s fair to say that Clondaw Castle appears to be improving with age and seven of his nine victories – including his second point-to-point – have come on decent ground, including his success at Kempton in February.

That was Clondaw Castle’s first outing over 3 miles under rules (also won a good ground 3 mile point-to-point) and he remains completely unexposed over staying trips, which renders him a fascinating contender given the exposed status of those towards the head of the betting.

An official rating of 160 puts him firmly in the mix and he demonstrated his liking for the track when placing second in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase (2m4f) on soft ground in October. He is therefore a very lively contender.

MISTER FISHER ran far better than the bare form would suggest when pulling-up in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month, and both and trainer, Nicky Henderson, and jockey, Nico De Boinville, were quick to suggest that 3 miles may see him to better effect.

Indeed, De Boinville remarked that Mister Fisher was on his limit throughout – which may explain a few sketchy jumps – given the ferocious pace set by Rachael Blackmore on the hugely impressive victor Allaho, and Mister Fisher briefly looked as though he may give the eventual winner some level of competition prior to a significant mistake at three from home.

It was a wise move to pull-up when his chance was gone as he was spared a slog up the gruelling Cheltenham hill which may well pay dividends tomorrow, especially as he will have ideal ground conditions on his first foray over 3 miles.

Thirteenth in the Grade 2 bumper at this meeting in 2018 on his only previous visit to Aintree, Mister Fisher will have the tactical speed to lay up in the early exchanges and could easily be ready to pounce if those in front go to hard, and his Grade 2 success in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase in December suggested that he was just beginning to fulfil the potential that he has always hinted at.

Indeed, it’s entirely possible that he is just beginning to hit the peak of his powers at the age of seven, and it’s worth nothing that he gave the aforementioned Clondaw Castle 3lbs and a 7 lengths beating on at Cheltenham in December, and that form is obviously solid given what Tom George’s charge has achieved subsequently.

There a plenty of positives regarding the Seven Barrows inmate.

ABACADABRAS was spared a hard race when falling at the third in last month’s Champion Hurdle and he looks a fascinating contender over two-and-a-half-miles.

The decent ground will be to his liking and he is one of just two contenders whom have triumphed in Grade 1 company this season – the other being Silver Streak, whom was beaten 43 lengths in this race in 2019.

The strong travelling seven-year-old bumped into Shishkin and Envoi Allen as a novice last season and was no match for Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle. However, he is clearly a very talented horse and he may find this trip to his liking on a flat track.

DASHING PERK could only place third on his Hunter Chase debut at Wincanton last month month, however, that was his first start of the calendar year and I suspect that this race was very much at the forefront of connections minds.

Lightly raced for his age, Dashing Perk ran respectably over two-and-a-half-miles at Aintree in both November and December before being pulled-up over 3 miles at Doncaster. Intermediate trips on decent ground clearly suit, and he should be cherry ripe for this contest.

Dr Richard Newland expertly prepared Pineau De Re to land the 2014 Grand National, and jockey Sam Whaley-Cohen has a fine record over Aintree’s famous spruce fences, including three previous victories in this race courtesy of Katarino in 2005 and 2006, and Warne in 2014.

Dashing Perk remains open to improvement after just 8 starts in this sphere, which isn’t necessarily the case for many of his exposed rivals, and his official rating doesn’t leave him with too much to find with those ahead of him in the betting.

SULLY D’OC AA made a successful seasonal reappearance at Ascot in October beating no fewer than 6 subsequent scorers, and he may have followed-up at Newbury in November had he not made a momentum checking mistake at the final fence.

That too looked a decent contest given that the winner, Clondaw Castle, has since defied a mark of 154, and Anthony Honeyball’s seven-year-old looks fairly treated off a 1lb higher mark.

Both of those efforts, and his subsequent eighth placed finish at the Cheltenham Festival last month, came on decent ground over trips in the region of two-and-a-half-miles, and this drop back to 2 miles could suit him well given the likely string gallop.

The fact that connections elected to save him for Cheltenham post Newbury perhaps indicates that they felt that he was well handicapped, and he remains open to further progress on just his eighth start in this sphere.

MOON OVER GERMANY ran out a 10 lengths winner of this race in 2019 and the booking of Cheltenham Festival winning 7lbs cleaner Jordan Gainford suggests the hat connections are taking aim once more.

Henry De Bromhead’s ten-year-old has mixed fences and hurdles in recent times, and he ran a screamer to place sixth in the County Hurdle last year.

The son of Germany got his eye in over fences when placing fourth behind Any Second Now in Grade 2 company at Navan last month, and he should appreciate the decent ground that he will encounter tomorrow.

Jordan Gainford’s claim puts him firmly in the mix and a clearly relishes a strongly run, competitive handicap. Therefore he is another big player.

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Fairyhouse (4/4/21)

2pt win Thedevilscoachman in the 2.50 Fairyhouse at 9/4

1.5pts each-way Gabynako in the 3.50 Fairyhouse at 6/1

1.5pt win Andy Dufresne in the 5.00 Fairyhouse at 4/1

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THEDEVILSCOACHMAN ran out a ready winner in Listed company at Punchestown in February and arrives here fresh after sidestepping the Cheltenham Festival last month.

It’s easy to crab the form of that Punchestown contest as it was a slowly run affair in which he picked-up best of all. However, he successfully conceded weight to all but one of his rivals and his penultimate outing at Navan was a truly run contest, and that also resulted in an impressive success.

Thedevilscoachmen was pushed clear of previous scorers Visionarian and Riviere D’etel, whom received 5lbs and 11lbs respectively, at Navan and has only tasted defeat once in five career starts – when placing fifth behind runaway Supreme Novices’ Hurdle scorer Appreciate It in Grade 1 company at Christmas.

He was keen in the early stages of that Leopardstown contest and appeared to get lit-up after making a slight mistake when jumping the first hurdle down the back, therefore he expended plenty of energy in the early and indeed middle parts of the race, which perhaps explains why he couldn’t make up his ground when the race began in earnest. And it’s fair to say that he wasn’t given a hard time when his chance was gone.

The form of Thedevilscoachman’s easy maiden success at Cork was rubber-stamped when the runner-up went one place better next time out, and I was very taken by his slick hurdling and swift turn of foot off a strong gallop at Navan – which bodes well given the likely pace tomorrow.

Thedevilscoachman won a bumper on good to yielding ground and Mark Walsh has been in the saddle for his last three starts and clearly gets on with him well, which is obviously advantageous.

Held in high regard by Noel Meade, Thedevilscoachman is clearly improving at a rate of knots and was expected to run well in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last month. Therefore he must go close in this Grade 2 contest.

February’s Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle is working out very week indeed as the winner, Bob Olinger, bolted-up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last month and the runner-up, Blue Lord, would have been a good second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle had he not fallen at the final flight of hurdles. GABYNAKO was the third home on that occasion, and he could easily play a big role in this Grade 2 contest.

Gavin Cromwell’s six-year-old was sent off a well supported 9/2 shot for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle last month, however, he failed to make it further than the first flight of hurdles where he was badly hampered and unseated his jockey.

Narrowly defeated by Eskylane and then Fakiera on his first two starts over hurdles, Gabynako ran out a ready winner at Naas in November and again ran well when chasing home Ashdale Bob and old adversary Fakiera in Grade 2 company at Navan in December, which is another piece of solid graded form.

This two-and-a-half-mile trip looks ideal and his runner-up effort behind the aforementioned Eskylane was achieved on yielding ground, therefore conditions should not pose a problem.

Gentlemangame, whom looks a staying chaser in the making, and Grand Paradis, whom arrives in search of a hat-trick, command plenty of respect. However, Gabynako has plenty of solid form in the book and Gavin Cromwell, whom saddled the Stayers Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winners at Cheltenham last month, has his string in fine form at present, therefore Gabynako makes significant each-way appeal.

The Grade 1 Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase perhaps looks more solid than spectacular as neither Envoi Allen nor Monkfish were declared on Friday.

Asterion Forlonge should enjoy going right-handed and arrives on the back of a solid third placed effort in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last month. However, that was a strongly run race following the departure of Envoi Allen and Harry Skelton’s injection of pace on Shan Blue, and he’s only had 17 days to recover from that effort.

Grade 1 winner Franco De Port was taken off his feet in the Arkle when failing to beat a single rival home, and Conflated looks much more at home on left-handed tracks. While Scarlet And Dove was running well against Cheltenham Festival winners Colreevy and Mount Ida prior to falling in January and has won both of her subsequent starts. However, this contest will naturally demand much more.

That leaves ANDY DUFRESNE, whom finished one place ahead of Asterion Forlonges when placing third in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, and tomorrow’s slight drop in trip (1.5f shorter) and better ground should be in his favour.

The JP McManus owned seven-year-old scored at this trip over hurdles before bumping into subsequent Grade 1 winner Latest Exhibition in Grade 2 company at Navan. He demonstrated his gears when defeating the classy Captain Guinness in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January 2020, and he has continued to progress since sent over fences, defeating subsequent scorer Exit Poll on his chasing debut at Wexford, before comfortably defeating Grand Annual favourite Embittered at Navan in December.

The smart son of Doyen will arrive here fresh and has scope for improvement both in this sphere and over this trip. His form looks solid and his price is fair, he is therefore worthy of support.

2021 Cheltenham Festival: Profit/Loss

First of all thank you to everyone who follows this blog and to those whom put their faith in the selections. Thank you for the interest, support, likes, retweets, comments and much more over the last few months and, for some, years. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces doing all of the above, as it suggests that I must be doing something right!

I’ve always enjoyed the blogging and have been encouraged by the support that I’ve received. However, times are changing and I’m not sure the written word carries as much sway as it once did, which means there’s a summer of contemplation ahead.

Getting back to the point, I’m pleased to say that we enjoyed yet another profitable Cheltenham Festival with an overall profit of +42pts (+283.65pts since Cheltenham 2019) with on the days losses of -22.5pts wiped out by antepost profits of 64.5pts, thanks mainly to the victories of Bob Olinger (25/1 & 16/1) in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Sir Gerhard (20/1) in the Champion Bumper, Chantry House (25/1) in the Marsh Novices’ Chase and Minella Indo (14/1) in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

We also hit the woodwork with The Bosses Oscar (20/1 place), Nube Negra (9/1), Ballyadam (14/1) and A Plus Tard (7/1), all of the whom placed second.

The Bosses Oscar ran a fine race under promising conditional jockey Jordan Gainford. While the Skelton brothers were arguably a shade unlucky with Nube Negra, whom may well have triumphed had he not encountered traffic problems up the hill.

Ballyadam lost any chance when making a significant error at the penultimate flight of hurdles – although it’s hard to imagine that he would have beaten Appreciate It regardless – and A Plus Tard ran a mighty race but couldn’t reel in his stablemate Minella Indo, whom thankfully was also running for us.

Blue Lord (33/1) would have claimed place money had he safely negotiated the final hurdle in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. While One For The Team (20/1) The Storyteller (10/1) and The Glancing Queen (10/1) all finished fifth in their respective races, narrowly missing out on a place.

Embittered (25/1 & 16/1) was supported into 9/2 favouritism for the Grand Annual and was still travelling strongly when falling at the ninth, and it was frustrating that connections decided to sidestep the Cheltenham Festival with fellow handicap selections Conflated (14/1 into 8/1) and Time To Get Up (14/1 into 4/1), whom were backed for the Paddy Power Plate and Kim Muir respectively.

The former won at Naas on the Sunday before Cheltenham. While the latter landed the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on Saturday. However, it may well have been a blessing in disguise as Conflated didn’t jump with too much fluency at Naas and Time To Get Up needed every yard of the 4m2f trip at Uttoxeter, therefore getting our money back (NRNB) may well have been the best result.

It was slightly painful to watch Black Tears land the Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle having advised her at 33/1 for the Coral Cup. And we also lost a 12/1 ticket on Ferny Hollow for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which looks a massive price in hindsight given how stablemate Appreciate It boosted his Champion Bumper form and Bob Olinger advertised his maiden hurdle form last week!

Indeed, we were certainly unlucky on the injury front as Thyme Hill (20/1 into 10/3) and Lieutenant Rocco (18/1 into 11/2) were ruled out of their intended targets (Stayers Hurdle and Ultima Handicap Chase) just days before the Festival began and, given how those races shaped-up, I’m convinced that both would have had very strong chances.

Such are the perils of antepost punting!

I was amazed to see just how many people have followed the antepost selections this year and I was pleased to hear from many followers whom showed profits as a result. I love antepost punting and it’s certainly proved lucrative over the last three years with profits of +107.75pts in 2019, +67.5pts in 2020 and +64.5pts in 2021.

I have already advised 7 horses for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, you can discover whom and why by clicking this link; https://t.co/zdTy25OB4x (Antepost Punting: 2022 Cheltenham Festival).

I would just like add my congratulations to Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, whom both made history in the Cotswolds last week.

Henry landed the ‘Holy Trinity’ consisting of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup (on the same week). I was lucky enough to meet Henry at Cheltenham a few years ago and he was a true gentleman. I couldn’t be happier for him personally and his hard working team at home.

Rachael became the first female jockey to become the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival, and whilst I much prefer to address Rachael as a top class jockey irrespective of gender – which she undoubtedly is – I do want to stress what a phenomenal role-model and inspiration she is to girls whom aspire to have a career in sport.

Rachael, whom is also the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle, displayed her mental strength, physical strength and brilliant tactical brain time-and-time-again over the four day festival – something that won’t come as a surprise to very many any more.

De Bromhead and Blackmore are undoubtedly a partnership whom strike fear into their opposition, and I hope they continue to flourish going forwards.

Thank you again for taking the time to read/follow this blog and I hope that you find it useful in some way or another.

Fingers crossed for another magical week in March 2022.

Stay safe and be lucky,

Stu (@Jimbo_JumpsMan)

Antepost Punting: 2022 Cheltenham Festival

Bravemansgame could develop into a leading contender for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Cheltenham Festival Antepost Profit/Loss:

2019, +107.75pts

2020, +67.5pts

2021, +64.50

TOTAL: +239.75

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2pt win Ferny Hollow in the Champion Hurdle at 16/1

2pt win Quilixios in the Sporting Life Arkle at 12/1

1pt win Shewearsitwell in the Mares’ Hurdle at 20/1

2pt win Bravemansgame in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at 14/1

0.5pts each-way Captain Guinness in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 66/1

2pt win Classic Getaway in the Champion Bumper at 14/1

1pt win Energumene in the Ryanair Chase at 16/1

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FERNY HOLLOW was available at 50/1 for the 2022 Champion Hurdle prior to last week’s Cheltenham Festival and he is understandably much shorter after Appreciate It boosted the form of his Champion Bumper success courtesy of a 24 lengths romp on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and Bob Olinger advertised the strength of his maiden hurdle success at Gowran Park by virtue of a seven-and-a-half-lengths success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Appreciate It and Bob Olinger have won all seven of their combined subsequent starts including no fewer than five Grade 1 contests, which naturally poses the question of just how good is Ferny Hollow?

The Cheveley Park stud owned six-year-old displayed significant gears when defeating those high class rivals and he simply could be anything at this stage. Obviously he missed Cheltenham after failing to show the right signs at home prior to Christmas, but he is reportedly back in training and could still line-up at Punchestown.

If he does make that meeting and indeed plunders a Grade 1 prize of his own then he will undoubtedly find himself in the upper echelons of the betting for the Champion Hurdle, and the fact that Willie Mullins is light on genuine Champion Hurdle contenders – for all that Sharjah has been flying the flag admirably in recent years – may play a factor in what Ferny Hollow does next season.

There is also the argument concerning a lack of experience, which is obviously valid given that he has only had one start over hurdles thus far. However, that clearly didn’t bother connections of Energumene whom had just one start over hurdles before developing into a top class novice chaser this winter. It is worth noting, however, that Ferny Hollow was exceptionally keen on his first two starts in bumpers and may be type whom would benefit from more experience over hurdles.

I would also suggest that Cheveley Park Stud would be more than happy to support any decision that Willie Mullins made and would be keen to win a Championship race at the Cheltenham Festival given that they have no intention off adding to their National Hunt string – in the near future at least – following the passing of David Thompson.

Indeed, they intend to have some fun with the horses that are currently in their ownership and what better way to do that than winning championship races on the biggest stage of all?

QUILIXIOS ran out a ready winner of the Triumph Hurdle last week, improving his record to five victories from as many career starts. The Cheveley Park Stud owned four-year-old could easily remain over hurdles and go down the Champion Hurdle route next season. However, he has always been considered a chaser in the making and is in the right place to make a seamless transition.

Indeed, it certainly did his new stablemate A Plus Tard no harm to going chasing at four years of age, as he ran out a ready winner of the now defunct Novices’ Handicap Chase in March 2019 and boasts Grade 1 victories at 2m and 3m subsequently – in addition to placing second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last week.

The weight allowance prior to Christmas would undoubtedly aid his education and Fakir D’oudaries, whom landed the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase in 2019, is a further recent example of four-year-old’s being competitive at the top level in novice chase company.

Four five-year-old’s have won the Arkle in the last 23 years – namely Champleve (1998), Flagship Uberalles (1999), Well Chief (2004) and Voy Por Ustedes (2006) – and there aren’t many, if any, better trainers of a 2 mile chaser than Henry De Bromhead – as proven by his 2 Arkle victories and 3 Champion Chase successes in the last 12 years. Therefore Quilixios could easily develop into a serious Arkle contender if aimed in that direction.

The mares division looks solid if unspectacular judged on Black Tears’ victory last week and it’s possible that a few of this year’s novices’ can ruffle some feathers next season, with impressive Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle scorer Telmesomethinggirl a likely contender. However, I suspect that SHEWEARSITWELL would have given Henry de Bromhead’s mare a run for her money had she not been sidelined, and she could easily make up for lost time next season.

The exciting daughter of Shirocco won a Galway bumper before making a successful hurdling debut at Sligo in August. Both of those victories suggested that she was brimming to with potential, and she further confirmed that theory when readily kicking aside the boys in Grade 3 company at Tipperary in October.

Shewearsitwell clocked a 9 seconds quicker time than her 155 rated stablemate Saint Roi, whom landed the Grade 3 Horse & Jockey Hotel Hurdle over the same course and distance 35 minutes later, on that occasion and was promoted to the head of the betting for the Mares’ Novices Hurdle as a result. However, she met with a setback shortly after that contest and has not been sighted since.

Shewearsitwell has reportedly recovered from that unfortunate injury and will hopefully be back in action during the autumn, and she could easily develop into a serious contender for next year’s Mares’ Hurdle if picking up from where she left off.

Grade 1 Challow Hurdle victor BRAVEMANSGAME could only place third behind Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Ballymore last week, however, he has always looked like an embryonic chaser and should also appreciate stepping up to 3 miles next season.

There was certainly no shame in finding fellow Grade 1 winners Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil too speedy last week and Paul Nicholls has done little to hide his excitement about the six-year-old going forwards. The comparisons regarding the mighty Denman have probably been blown out of proportion for obvious reasons. However, it’s still significant that the eleven-time champion trainer would mention them in the same breath, and his career path to this point is clearly similar.

The form of his hurdling debut defeat was given a boost when Soaring Glory landed the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. While his 10 lengths defeat of easy Grade 2 scorer Star Gate in the aforementioned Challow Hurdle also rates a solid piece of form.

If the imposing son of Brave Mansonnien shows the expected improvement for both fences and staying trips then he could easily develop into a leading player for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Therefore it’s worth taking some of the 14/1 currently available.

Shishkin already looks like he’ll take all of the beating in the Champion Chase next year and is priced up accordingly. However, CAPTAIN GUINNESS could represent fair each-way value at the huge price of 66/1.

Henry de Bromhead’s six-year-old jumped for fun and ran into traffic when rounding the turn for home in last weeks Arkle, and I’m convinced that he would have been a good second to Shishkin had he settled better in the early stages and not got embroiled in a fist-fight with Allmankind for the majority of the contest.

It was to his credit that he battled on to claim third place after Eldorado Allen picked-up the pieces for second, and he is fully entitled to improve both mentally and physically for another summer at grass given both his age and lightly raced profile.

It is also worth remembering that Captain Guinness was still travelling well in red-hot Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when being brought-down last year – further demonstrating his ability in the Cotswolds.

A strong showing at Punchestown would undoubtedly see his price shorten significantly, and the established 2 milers don’t look rock solid at this stage. Therefore he is definitely worth chancing at a monstrous price – especially given his trainers record in the race (3 winners in the last 11 years).

Finding the Champion Bumper winner has become a fairly simple task – work out whom Cheveley Park have set aside and back them early doors! I jest, of course, but the fact remains that the prominent owner/breeders have won the last three renewals of this contest with high-class prospects – Envoi Allen (2019), Ferny Hollow (2020) and Sir Gerhard (2021) – and CLASSIC GETAWAY could bid to make it a fantastic four-timer in 2022.

I had wondered whether connections may be tempted to let the £570,000 purchase contest some of the better spring bumpers with a view to going hurdling next season. However, it has been their modus operandi to save a good horse for a Champion Bumper campaign and Chris Richardson virtually confirmed that this was the plan when discussing the Cheveley Park Stud horses yesterday, which is enough to garner my support given how impressive the striking son of Getaway was at Borris House in November.

The exciting five-year-old made stealthy headway and jumped to the front over the fourth last fence. He had all of his rivals off the bridle when sauntering clear over the third last fence and was allowed to coast home on the bridle, scoring by a facile 8 lengths.

It was a performance that simply oozed class and Classic Getaway could prove to be yet another top class performer to don the famous red, white and blue silks of Cheveley Park Stud.

It is also worth remembering that he will be six years of age by the time the Champion Bumper rolls around and will have a maturity advantage over many of his rivals, which should not be underestimated.

I’m not a fan of second guessing Willie Mullins as you can read on the lines, between the lines, left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top and still get things completely and utterly wrong. However, the Irish champion trainer does seem keen to try last weeks hugely impressive Ryanair Chase scorer Allaho over 2 miles and, if he proves effective, he is likely to partner Chacun Pour Soi in next year’s Champion Chase, which could conceivably have a knock-on effect for the hugely exciting ENERGUMENE.

The imposing son of Denham Road was an eleventh hour absentee from the Arkle last week and he could easily go down the Champion Chase route as a first string, second string or indeed third string next March. However, he was savagely impressive over two-and-a-half-miles on his chasing debut at Gowran Park and Paul Townend has seemingly been keen to make the running on each of his two subsequent starts – ensuring a strong gallop in doing so.

Whilst clearly fully effective over the minimum distance, Energumene seemingly possesses all of the attributes that made his aforementioned stablemate Allaho so impressive last week, as he jumps well, possesses a high cruising speed and likes to race prominently. Those tactics can often be utilised to best effect over further and – should the ground come up decent as it did this year – he may be better suited by going out in trip.

This is a race that can often cut up and Allaho (current Champion Chase 2nd fav), A Plus Tard (Cheltenham Gold Cup), Shishkin (Champion Chase fav) and Envoi Allen (Cheltenham Gold Cup 2nd fav), whom are the four horses currently ahead of Energumene in the betting, may all be headed elsewhere. Therefore it may be worth taking a small punt on Energumene lining-up here.

2021 Cheltenham Festival: Friday

Frodon landed the 2019 Cotswolds Chase over the Cheltenham Gold Cup course and distance.

Friday Selection:

2pt win Zanahiyr in the 1.20 Cheltenham at 5/4

1pt each-way Champagne Gold in the 1.55 Cheltenham at 7/1 (6 Places)

0.5pts each-way Fifty Ball in the 1.55 Cheltenham at 14/1 (7 Places)

0.5pts each-way Gowel Road in the 1.55 Cheltenham at 16/1 (7 Places)

1pt win Torygraph in the 2.30 Cheltenham at 6/1

1pt win Streets Of Doyen in the 2.30 Cheltenham at 7/1

2pt win Bob And Co in the 3.40 Cheltenham at 5/1

2pt win Gabynako in the 4.50 Cheltenham at 11/2

1pt win Galopin Des Champs in the 4.50 Cheltenham at 8/1

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Live Antepost Bet’s:

2pt win Minella Indo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 14/1

2.5pt win A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 7/1

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1.20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m179y

Zanahiyr has been warm order for this contest ever since his smooth 14 lengths romp in the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November.

The Noel and Valerie Moran owned juvenile was extremely impressive on the clock at Fairyhouse, and he proved his tactical versatility when equally impressive in the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas.

The chestnut son of Nathaniel won on decent ground on the flat and has been given plenty of time to freshen up following his three successful hurdle starts between October and December.

Jack Kennedy has elected to ride Zanahiyr over the well fancied Quilixios and 2 miles on Cheltenham’s new course should suit him well given that won over 2m2f at Ballinrobe in October.

The British charge will be lead by recent Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle victor Tritonic, whom is rated 99 on the level and is already 2-2 in this sphere.

Alan King’s four-year-old left it late on his hurdling debut at Ascot in January and took a giant leap forwards when scooting clear of eight rivals at Kempton in the manner of a very smart juvenile.

Those looking for crab the form will readily point out that Tritonic wasn’t overly impressive on the clock at Kempton and has beat the same rival home on both on his hurdles starts. However, he didn’t need to be overly extended when storming clear at Kempton and he can only beat those whom are put before him.

There is certainly room for improvement in the jumping department but it is well known that Cheltenham’s new course, which only has two flights of hurdles in the last 7 furlongs, places more emphasis on stamina than it does on fluent hurdling, which should suit this exciting son of Sea The Moon very well.

The unbeaten Quilixios is another big player in this contest judged on his hugely impressive victory in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month – a contest that has gone the way of smart horses such as Our Conor, Footpad and Sir Erec in the last nine years.

The Cheveley Park Stud owned four-year-old has won his four starts over hurdles by a combined distance of 50.5 lengths, and he proved a cut above Tuesday’s Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle runner-up Saint Sam at Leopardstown last month.

The well-build son of Maxios looks a chaser in the making and seemingly possesses both speed and stamina, which should see him run a big race under Rachael Blackmore tomorrow.

David Pipe has enjoyed a fantastic season thus far and a Cheltenham Festival winner would be the cherry on the top. The master of Pond House looks to have a lively contender for this contest in the form of Adagio, whom landed the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow when last sighted in January.

Rated 87 on the flat in France – Adagio made a successful hurdling debut at Warwick in November before chasing home the unbeaten Duffle Coat at Cheltenham two weeks later. He returned to Prestbury Park to score over this course and distance at the International Meeting in December, and that experience will stand too him in the heat of battle tomorrow.

David Pipe recently revealed that the gelded son of Wiener Walzer suffered a bout of colic following his Grade 1 success at Chepstow in January and missed a week of work as a result. However, he hasn’t missed a beat since that untimely setback and could easily launch a bold bid given his solid course form.

Haut En Couleurs won his solitary start in France and will debut for Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins and prominent owner Joe Donnelly.

The runner-up at Auteuil in October has not been seen since. However, the third placed Magic Dream, who was beaten a shade over 15 lengths, has won twice and placed second in three subsequent outings over fences, which is naturally encouraging.

Clearly connections feel that he is worthy of his place in this field and the market may prove the best guide as to how he will perform.

Tax For Max competed in both Group 1 and Group 2 company on the flat in Germany and is a half-brother to stablemate Tiger Tap Tap, whom placed ninth in this race in 2019.

The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned juvenile pulled like the proverbial train on his hurdling debut Fairyhouse last month when chasing home the unbeaten Teahupoo in receipt of 4lbs.

The Maxios colt did well to finish within 7 lengths of that rival given the way in which he travelled, and there is clearly potential there. However, he will need to settle much better here to stand any chance whatsoever of lasting home.

Historic Heart placed second behind the aforementioned subsequent Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle scorer Adagio, whom received 3lbs, over this course and distance at Cheltenham in December and could potentially outrun his huge price if replicating that form.

Talking About You has been successful four times from her ten starts over hurdles and she rattled-up a quick-fire hat-trick before succumbing to subsequent Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle thirteenth Her Indoors when last sighted in January.

Clearly improvement is required tomorrow, which seems unlikely given her exposed status.

VERDICT:

Quilixios ran out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month and will likely prove warm order given the success that Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead have already enjoyed this week. Tritonic was equally impressive when landing the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton and his flat form also make him a huge player in this contest. However, ZANAHIYR looked like a potential superstar when hammering Tuesday’s Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle runner-up Saint Sam at Fairyhouse in November, and he confirmed that promise when landing the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in December. The Nathaniel gelding was extremely impressive on the clock at Fairyhouse and proved his tactical versatility when triumphing in a slowly run race at Christmas. Therefore he looks very solid and can get favourite backers off to the perfect start on Gold Cup day.

1. Zanahiyr 2. Tritonic 3. Quilixios

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1.55 – McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m179y

CHAMPAGNE GOLD defeated two subsequent scorers when getting off the mark at the second time of asking and he ran a fine race to place third in the Grace 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan in November.

Henry de Bromhead’s six-year-old ran a mighty race to place second in the hugely competitive Ladbrokes Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, and he is naturally entitled to improve with that experience under his belt, which makes him an interesting contender in this tricky contest.

Fifty Ball ran a fine race to place second in the Betfair Hurdle last month and he looks sure to go well off a 4lbs higher mark. While Gowel Road was successful on the very same card and looks to be progressing at a rate of knots.

Both sets of connections elected to sidestep the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with this race in mind, and both hold sound each-way claims for their very shrewd handlers.

1. Champagne Gold 2. Fifty Ball 3. Gowel Road

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2.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m7f213y

Ronnie Bartlett is yet to win the race that he sponsors but seems to have his best chance to date with the promising Stattler, whom shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking and was far from disgraced when placing third in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.

That race was contested over 2m6f and Danny Mullins was keen to ensure that it was good test of stamina by jumping off sharply and attempting to make all. However, he couldn’t run the sting of out of stablemate Gaillard Du Mesnil, whom chased home Bob Olinger in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday, and was headed by the promising grey Gentlemansgame in the shadows of the post.

Stattler defeated yesterday’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle sixth Glens Of Antrim when successful at Leopardstown in December and he shapes as though the extra yardage tomorrow will be right up his street.

Willie Mullins has bagged this Grade 1 contest twice in the last four years, firstly with subsequent Stayers Hurdle hero Penhill and latterly with the hugely exciting Monkfish, whom landed a stellar renewal 12 months ago. Therefore the Irish champion trainer knows exactly what is required.

Fakiera has shaped as though trip will suit on many occasions this winter, and his vast experience should stand too him a race that often goes the way of a battle-hardened campaigner.

Indeed, the promising son of Cokoriko tends to do his best work in the finish and again ran on strongly when placing fourth in the aforementioned Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, finishing just 2 lengths adrift of the above mentioned Stattler in spite of being one of the first off the bridle.

Fakiera’s defeat of Fire Attack, Champagne Gold and Farouk D’Alene in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle looks like a decent piece of form and his pleasing profile has not gone unnoticed by the masses, with his price for this contest slowly contracting over the course of the last few months.

Decent ground should not be an issue and he looks tailor made for the demands of Cheltenham’s new course, which has a nice long straight in which he will be able to reach top gear.

Paul Nicholls and Andy Stewart teamed up to land 4 Stayers Hurdle crowns with the legendary Big Bucks, and the pair look to have another promising young stayer on their hands in the form of Barbados Buck’s, whom is out of a half-sister to the champion stayer.

The promising son of Getaway split stablemate Skatman (whom made a successful hurdling debut at Musselburgh two weeks ago) and smart novice chaser Lieutenant Rocco when placing second on his solitary start between the flags before disappointing in a brace of heavy ground bumpers at Cheltenham and Wincanton respectively. However, he improved to place second behind an experienced rival on his hurdling debut at Stratford in October, and he has won his three subsequent starts in very taking fashion.

Barbados Buck’s comfortably reversed that form when stepping up to 3 miles next time out and the runner-up of that contest has also won since. Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old successfully conceded a penalty to another subsequent scorer – namely Fantastikas – at Southwell in December, when displaying a good attitude and plenty of stamina.

Barbados Buck’s successfully conceded a double penalty on his latest outing at Kempton when again jumping well and picking-up nicely on the run-in. His form, experience, neat jumping, reserves of stamina and his ability to handle decent ground makes him a solid proposition. He therefore holds leading claims.

Stablemate Threeunderthrufive is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and also brings solid form to the table.

The McNeil Family owned six-year-old bumped into the 140 rated hurdler Kid Commando on his bumper debut at Fontwell in 2019, but duly obliged on his next outing at Chepstow two months later. However, he always looked to type to improve for jumping, and his record this season speaks for itself.

The promising son of Shantou won his first two starts over intermediate trips before stepping-up to 3 miles at Musselburgh last month, when successfully conceding 8lbs to subsequent scorer Fantastikas, whom had finished second behind the aforementioned Barbados Buck’s on his previous start at Southwell.

Threeunderthrufive could be anything at this stage and is naturally open to further improvement over staying trips. Therefore he could easily outperform market expectations.

Torygraph defeated a subsequent dual scorer when stepping-up to 3 miles at Fairyhouse in December, and he improved his record over the trip when successful at Thurles in January.

The Gigginstown House Stud owned six-year-old is clearly improving over staying trips and his four runs in bumpers should stand to him in this contest. Therefore he is an intriguing contender whom may be well suited by the demands of this race.

Fergal O’Brien is enjoying a fantastic season to date and a maiden Cheltenham Festival success would be the icing on the cake. Alaphilippe will attempt to provide the local handler with his breakthrough success in this open looking Grade 1 contest, and connections will be encouraged by his runaway success in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock last month.

The rapidly progressive seven-year-old seemingly relished the step-up to 3 miles at Haydock last month and is now 4-5 under rules, with his solitary defeat coming against a similarly promising rival whom received 4lbs and had won his solitary point-to-point and only previous run on the racetrack.

Brindisi Breeze (2012) is the only horse to have completed the Prestige Novices’ Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle double, suggesting that winning the these two races in such quick succession is no mean feat. Indeed, last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle hero Lisnagar Oscar could only finish fifth in this contest after tasting victory at Haydock in 2019, which further supports that suspicion.

On a more positive note, Alaphilippe had five runs in Irish point-to-point’s and will therefore arrive a Prestbury Park with 10 runs under his belt which, as alluded to previously, I’d be beneficial in a race that often rewards experience.

Yet to encounter good ground, the Morozov gelding’s solitary success between the flags came on yielding ground, which provides hope that he will handle conditions.

Adrimel shaped like a stayer when landing the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick in January and he will put his unbeaten hurdling record on the line in this Grade 1 contest.

Indeed, the promising six-year-old’s solitary defeat to date came in the Champion Bumper last March, and the form of his penultimate outing at Haydock reads well as the runner-up, namely Grumpy Charley, won three of his next four starts before placing sixth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday.

The form of his Warwick success also looks solid as the fourth and fifth won next time out. However, there are questions marks hanging over the current form of his yard (0-31 over the last 47 days at the time of writing) and his ability to handle decent ground, as he is yet to encounter a surface quicker than soft.

The Cob was supplemented for this Grade 2 contest after running out an easy 9 lengths winner of the Grade 2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster in January, and he could get involved if handing these quicker conditions.

Ben Pauling’s seven-year-old has won three of his last four starts and remains unexposed over staying trips. Therefore he could easily outperform market expectations.

Vanillier had the aforementioned Stattler back in third when shedding his maiden tag at Naas in November and he appeared to relish the step-up in trip when staying-on doggedly behind the well regarded Farouk D’Alene in Grade 2 company at Limerick in December – beaten just three-quarters-of-a-length.

The grey son of Martaline could only place tenth of thirteen in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, however, he could easily run well here if bouncing back to form.

N’golo has won three of his seven starts over hurdles thus far and placed third in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November. However, he has failed to beat a solitary rival home in two subsequent starts (9/9 & 13/13).

The Rich Ricci owned grey has often shaped as though he will be suited by a sterner test of stamina, however, it’s quite a leap going straight from 2 miles to 3 miles, therefore he isn’t a certain stayer.

The progressive Streets Of Doyen landed 4 consecutive races within 26 days before being put away for his winter break. The final success in that sequence came at Cheltenham in October when staying-on well to secure a three-and-a-half-lengths verdict under Richard Johnson.

John McConnell’s seven-year-old enjoyed a pipe-opener over 2 miles at Naas three weeks ago and will appreciate the decent ground that he will encounter tomorrow given that all five of his previous career victories have been achieved on a sound surface. While his vast experience is often an advantage in this contest.

Oscar Elite was successful on his first two starts over hurdles before proving no match for the aforementioned Adrimel in the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (2m5f) at Warwick in January. While Champagnesuperover, whom looks a chaser in the making, could improve for this distance but may want the ground a touch softer.

Castle Robin was successful over 2m5f at Cheltenham in November and again ran well when placing second, conceding 11lbs to the winner, over the same trip at Ascot in December.

The intriguing son of Robin Des Champs ran a fine race to place sixth in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and was far from disgraced when placing third behind The Cob at Doncaster in January. Better ground will be in his favour and he boasts experience as a second season novice, which is often advantageous in this race.

Charlie Longsdon’s six-year-old has something to find on official ratings, but he could easily outperform market expectations given his solid form/experience.

Pat’s Fancy placed second in Grade 2 company over this course and distance in December and is perhaps a touch overpriced.

The Rebecca Curtis trained six-year-old was pulled-up behind The Cob at Doncaster in January and clearly needs to bounce back to the form of his Cheltenham effort. He handled good ground when placing second in his solitary point-to-point and can call upon the assistance of top jockey Rachael Blackmore, which is clearly a positive.

Ask A Honey Bee was one-and-a-half-lengths behind Pat’s Fancy at Cheltenham in December and also pulled-up at Doncaster in January, therefore they boast a very similar profiles. While Beatthebullet defeated a subsequent scorer at Hereford in November before placing sixth behind the aforementioned Alaphilippe in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock, and he may struggle to reverse that form.

VERDICT:

Stablemates Barbados Buck’s and Threeunderthrufive have the potential to improve further and may well be up to this grade. While Stattler and Fakiera are closely matched on their form in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. However, it may pay to side with TORYGRAPH, whom has solid form in the book and looks a thorough in the making, and STREETS OF DOYEN, whom defeated yesterday’s Stayers Hurdle hero Flooring Porter at Gowran park in October. The former remains open to significant improvement and seemingly possess the physical and mental attributes required to land this prize. While the latter proved his effectiveness at Cheltenham when defeating two subsequent scorers at the Showcase Meetings in October, and his vast experience – and indeed the decent ground – should see him run well.

1. Torygraph 2. Streets Of Doyen 3. Barbados Bucks

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3.05 – Wellchild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m2f70y

The hat-trick seeking Al Boum Photo had the chance to create history, and it’s very much a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ when it’s comes to his Gold Cup preparation.

Al Boum Photo kick-started the new year with a victory at his beloved Tramore and will arrive at Prestbury Park fresh and well once again. His first success was achieved in a truly run race, and he overcame a distinct lack of pace when triumphing 12 months. Therefore he is tactically versatile and, unlike many Gold Cup winners, has very few miles on the clock, which means plenty when competing at this level over fences.

If being named in honour 20 time champion jockey AP McCoy wasn’t enough, Champ further enhanced his already lofty reputation when flying home from a seemingly impossible position in last year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, and he made a hugely encouraging belated seasonal reappearance in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on four weeks ago.

I’m fairly confident in saying that no horse has ever undergone a Cheltenham Gold Cup preparation consisting of a 3 mile simulated race and a spin over 2 miles at Newbury. However, the of the two confirmed both his well-being and form and will have put him spot-on for this contest.

That said, it does raise slight concerns over whether Champ will be able settle sufficiently in the early stages of the race given that he was allowed to bowl along from the outset at Newbury. However, the presence of Native River, Frodon and Minella Indo virtually guarantees a strong gallop from the outset, and that will undoubtedly aid Nico De Boinville in his quest to bottle Champ’s enthusiasm.

A Plus Tard may well go off favourite following the exploits of Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead this week, and last year’s Ryanair Chase third look a big danger to Al Boum Photo’s crown following his impressive success in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December.

A Plus Tard stayed-on powerfully to chin Kemboy and Melon in the shadows of the post at Christmas, and that form was franked when Kemboy landed the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.

The Cheveley Park Stud owned seven-year-old hit the line hard on that occasion giving the impression that another 2 furlongs would be right up his street, which is very impressive when you consider that he had the gears to defeat red-hot Champion Chase third Chacun Pour Soi over two-miles-and-one-furlong at the corresponding meeting in 2019. And let’s not forget that he also ran out a 16 lengths winner of the now defunct Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m4f) in 2019, demonstrating his class and ability from 2 miles to 3 miles.

Indeed, Henry De Bromhead’s charge has plenty in common with 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John, who was also accomplished over shorter trips before gaining his crowing glory over three-miles-and-two-furlongs in the Cotswolds. Like Sizing John, A Plus Tard has solid form at Cheltenham and is completely unexposed over staying trips, and he too could prove to be the new kid on the block in the staying division tomorrow.

Like Al Boum Photo, A Plus Tard has been given plenty of time to recover from his exertions at Christmas and will arrive at Prestbury Park a fresh horse, which can only be positive. While his current rating is superior to many Gold Cup winners prior to landing Cheltenham’s prestigious main event.

Connections have rolled the dice with the hugely progressive Royal Pagaille, whom could have run in the National Hunt Chase on Tuesday. The Rich Ricci owned seven-year-old is 3-3 this season and turned what is traditionally a very competitive Haydock Grade 2 handicap into a procession when last sighted January.

The scopey son of Blue Bresil is a novice in name only, as he’s actually been jumping fences since March 2018 and already has 11 starts to his name. Therefore he possesses sufficient experience to contest a race of this nature and his rating of 166 puts him firmly in the mix. 

Royale Pagaille undoubtedly needs to progress again in order to feature in a race of this nature, and his low-slung way of jumping can lead to one or two heart-stopping errors on the way around. However, he is clearly at the peak of his powers at present and has earned the right to take his chance.

Santini ran a mighty race to place second in this race last year given that he would have been one the worst effected by the obvious lack of pace.

The presence of genuine front-runners this year will undoubtedly be in his favour. However, it is impossible to ignore that fact that he has been disappointing on each of his three visits to the racecourse this season and he is far from the easiest of rides, therefore Aidan Coleman, whom rode him for the first time in the rescheduled Cotswolds Chase at Sandown last month, will have his work cut out.

That said, Nicky Henderson’s stout staying nine-year-old has placed second at the last two Festival’s and will undoubtedly be coming home well when with a wet set when many are flagging up the gruelling Cheltenham hill. Therefore it would be far from a surprise were he to run into a place now sporting a first time visor.

2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River rolled back the years in the aforementioned Cotswolds Chase at Sandown and could easily run well again with that confidence boosting success under his belt. However, his victory in this race was achieved on hock deep ground which placed an increased emphasis on stamina, and tomorrow’s conditions may leave the stout-staying chestnut vulnerable.

That said, Richard Johnson has been very complementary about Native River in the build-up to this race and you can never discount a horse whom possesses the heart of a lion.

King George VI Chase hero Frodon is arguably seen to best effect at Prestbury Park and is certainly more than worthy of his place in this field. However, the 2019 Ryanair Chase winner was allowed to dictate matters at Kempton and his trusty partner Bryony Frost was able to slow the race down and indeed re-inject the pace as and when she liked – something that will not be possible tomorrow.

Clearly Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old stays three miles, however, his best form is arguably over intermediate trips and three-miles-and-two-furlongs at Gold Cup pace will certainly take plenty of getting – especially with a horse like Native River injecting pace from flag-fall. Therefore, others make greater appeal.

Minella Indo was a single figure price for this contest prior to falling in the Savills Chase at Christmas and failing to justify favouritism in the Irish Gold Cup last month, and although that can hardly be considered an ideal preparation, he is a horse whom appears to spark at Cheltenham and he may find further improvement over this stamina-sapping trip.

Henry De Bromhead’s talented eight-year-old caused a 50/1 surprise in the 2019 Albert Bartlett and almost doubled his tally of Cheltenham Festival victories in last year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, when falling victim to the late rattle of the aforementioned Champ.

Minella Indo perhaps paid the price for taking on yesterday’s hugely impressive Ryanair Chase scorer Allaho a long way from home on that occasion, and he may still have triumphed had he jumped the last with any degree of fluency whatsoever. A combination of those factors is almost certainly to blame for his agonising defeat, however, it is also worth noting that he did pick-up again when Champ came surging past up the hill, suggesting that he was idling in the closing stages and was no spent force.

The Beat Hollow gelding won his first two starts this season, defeating last season’s impressive Kim Muir Challenge Cup hero Milan Native, whom received 5lbs and a 25 lengths beating at Wexford in October, before cruising to a Grade 2 victory at Navan in November. Those victories were sufficiently impressive to see him sent off favourite for his two subsequent Grade 1 assignments at Leopardstown, therefore it’s far too soon to write him off and he could represent good each-way value with Jack Kennedy in the saddle.

Minella Indo is returning to a track that he likes, and indeed plays to his strengths, and he may well have finished much closer at the Dublin Racing Festival had he not made a momentum checking error at the penultimate obstacle. Henry De Bromhead has suggested that more forceful tactics may be deployed tomorrow, and I would suggest that those whom pass him will know that they’ve had a race.

Kemboy was allowed to dictate in the Irish Gold Cup last month and he didn’t seem to enjoy his experience in this race 12 months ago. While Lostintranslation blew up after shaping promisingly in the Denman Chase last month and it’s hard to know what to expect of him tomorrow.

Both have questions to answer and are opposable given the strength of opposition.

The admirable Aso may struggle to truly see out the 3m2f trip. While Black Op has failed to fire in three starts this season and looks very unlikely to feature.

VERDICT:

Al Boum Photo will cement his place in racing folklore if he can land a third Cheltenham Gold Cup tomorrow, and he is clearly the one to beat on all known form. Last season’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase hero Champ made an encouraging reappearance in the rescheduled Game Spirit Chase at Newbury and he is undoubtedly a big player if his jumping holds up. However, A PLUS TARD was hugely impressive in the Savills Chase at Christmas and he is completely unexposed over staying trips. The Cheveley Park Stud owned seven-year-old bolted up in the now defunct Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2019, and he again displayed his liking for the track when placing third in the Ryanair Chase 12 months ago. A Plus Tard hit the line hard at Leopardstown and he had the speed to defeat Chacun Pour Soi over 2 miles in December 2019, therefore he possesses a potent blend of speed and stamina not dissimilar to 2017 Gold Cup hero Sizing John. Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead are already enjoying a fantastic week in this Cotswolds, and they have yet another opportunity to make history in racing’s blue riband contest.

1. A Plus Tard 2. Minella Indo 3. Al Boum Photo

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3.40 – St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters Chase (Class 2) 3m2f70y

BOB AND CO looked better than ever when making a successful seasonal reappearance at Haydock last month, and he could prove hard to beat if in the same form tomorrow.

The vastly experienced ten-year-old readily kicked aside the consistent Wishing And Hoping and formerly smart The Worlds End on that occasion, and it’s a huge bonus that Sean Bowen can continue in the saddle.

Bob And Co underwent wind surgery prior to that success, and it’s fair to presume that it was a worthwhile procedure. The decent ground should not be an issue given that he won of good ground in France, and it’s worth remembering that Paul Nicholls has won this race twice in the last four years and four times in total, therefore we know that’s it’s a race that the eleven time champion trainer likes to target.

1. Bob And Co 2. It Came To Pass 3. Stayer Wallace

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4.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m4f127y

Elimay was a mere fourth string (on prices) for the Irish champion trainer when placing sixth behind Roksana in the 2019 Mares’ Hurdle. However, she is very much Willie Mullins’ first string in tomorrow’s inaugural running of the Grade 2 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, and understandably so given that she is 3-4 over fences and ran out a smart winner of the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase at Naas last month.

The JP McManus own grey won both of her starts in novice company last season – at Grade 3 and Grade 2 level respectively – and she again displayed her ability over fences when chasing home stablemate Allaho in the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles in January, when beaten 3 lengths in receipt of 2lbs.

Willie Mullins is well renowned for targeting mares contests at Cheltenham having plundered 10 of the 14 renewals of the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle and all five renewals of the Grade 2 Mares’ Novice Hurdle. Therefore this contest has most likely been Elimay’s target for quite some time.

Stablemate Colreevy is 3-3 over fences and booked her ticket for this contest when cantering to a facile 12 lengths success in Grade 2 company at Thurles in January.

The scopey daughter of Flemensfirth has always looked a chaser in the making and ran with great credit when palcing fifth in the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over a trip short of her best last March. She well and truly displayed her ability when landing the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick in December, and it’s easy to see why connections have bypassed a much easier Grade 2 target at that same track in favour of this newly formed contest.

That said, Willie Mullins eight-year-old is undoubtedly seen to best effect on testing ground and quite possibly on right-handed tracks. Indeed, all three of her chase starts have come at right-handed courses, and she also has to concede a 5lbs penalty to all barring Elimay, whom will receive 2lbs, as a result of her Grade 1 success at Christmas, which will naturally make her task that much harder.

Shattered Love landed the 2018 Marsh Novices’ Chase over this course and (near) distance and will appreciate this return to two-and-a-half-miles following recent spins over 3 miles and 2 miles respectively.

The Gigginstown House stud owned ten-year-old chased home the aforementioned Elimay in the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase at Naas last month and will be 2lbs worse off at the weights tomorrow, which is clearly a slight negative.

The decent ground is also a small cause for concern given that the daughter of Yeats hasn’t encountered anything quicker than soft ground since October 2019, and she is obviously vulnerable to improving young rivals. However, she clearly possesses plenty of back-class and could easily run well on a track that suits.

This trip may prove on the short side for 2019 Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light, however, she looked as good as ever when scoring at Newbury in December and was far from disgraced when chasing home a peak Roksana over hurdles at Ascot.

Softer conditions would perhaps be preferable, but she has won on decent ground and possesses the class to run well.

Zambella boasted a perfect 3-3 record over fences prior prior to chasing home smart mare Annie Mc in Listed company at Warwick last month, and she is clearly open to further progression in this sphere. However, all five of her previous career victories have been achieved on testing ground, which is an obvious concern given the conditions that she will encounter tomorrow.

Moyhenna, Cabaret Queen and Salsaretta placed second and third and fifth respectively over this trip at Fairyhouse in January.

The former has since placed third in the Punchestown Grand National Trial but may prove vulnerable over this trip on better ground. While Cabaret Queen was the last of eight finishers in the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park in January, however, she could bounce back on better ground if rediscovering the form that saw her place third in last year’s Galway Plate.

The latter, whom is arguably seen to best effect on testing ground, won her first 4 starts over fences before falling on her seasonal reappearance at Punchestown in November. She failed to beat a single rival home when beaten 46 lengths at Fairyhouse and now has something to prove.

Really Super landed the Grade 3 Summer Plate at Market Rasen last July and warmed up for this contest with a cosy victory in a ‘jumpers bumper’ at Lingfield last month.

Amy Murphy’s seven-year-old has something to find on official ratings but is clearly a smart mare on her day. She will appreciate the decent ground that she will encounter tomorrow and could easily give her owners, the White Diamond Racing Partnership 1, something to cheer about.

Cut The Mustard has placed second, beaten 16 lengths, behind Annie Mc at Doncaster, second, beaten 2.5 lengths, behind the aforementioned Zambella at Leicester, and third, beaten 7.25 lengths, behind Midnight Tune and My Old Gold at Uttoxeter in three starts for Paul Nicholls this season, and she will need to improve upon that form in order to feature in this contest.

Chilli Filli had Really Super back in third when scoring over 3 miles at Market Rasen in November and was far from disgraced when attempting, and narrowly failing, to concede 4lbs to Nicky Richards’ talented mare My Old Gold at Carlisle next time out.

Henry Daly’s seven-year-old is another capable mare on her day and she could easily outperform market expectations if non the worse for her fall behind the aforementioned Annie Mc at Doncaster in December.

VERDICT:

Shattered Love landed the 2018 Marsh Novices’ Chase over this course and distance and has been in good form of late. While 2019 Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light could easily run well on ground that will suit. However, it’s very hard to oppose ELIMAY after Allaho boosted her form in such commanding fashion yesterday. The JP McManus owned grey was in receipt of 2lbs when chasing home Allaho at Thurles in January and she made light work of Shattered Love in the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase at Naas last month. Willie Mullins has won 14 of the 20 mares races that have been contested at the Cheltenham Festival, and he can take the inaugural running of this Grade 2 contest.

1. Elimay 2. Shattered Love 3. Magic Of Light

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4.50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 2m4f56y

This is always a tricky puzzle to solve and there are many form lines of interest. However, the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle may prove the best line to follow given that the winner, Bob Olinger, bolted-up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday, and the runner-up, Blue Lord, would have been a good second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday had he not fallen at the final flight of hurdles.

GABYNAKO was the third home on that occasion and and it’s interesting that connections elected to drop him back to 2 miles on his handicap debut at Leopardstown last month, which possibly suggests that they wanted their charge to gain valuable handicap experience without risking his mark in the process.

A bad mistake at the second ensured that Gabynako wasn’t going to trouble the judge and he was allowed to coast around thereafter. He remains unexposed after just two outings over this trip and the drying ground may also be in his favour.

Narrowly defeated by Eskylane and then Fakiera on his first two starts over hurdles, Gavin Cromwell’s six-year-old ran out a ready winner at Naas in November and again ran well when chasing home Ashdale Bob and old adversary Fakiera in Grade 2 company at Navan in December, which is another piece of valuable graded form.

The talented Conor McNamara will be in charge of the steering and a mark of 141 may be fair judged on his promising effort behind Bob Olinger and Blue Lord at Naas. Therefore he makes plenty of appeal.

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS was turned over at a shade of odds-on on his Irish debut at Gowran Park in November and was found to have a fibrillating heart when pulled-up on his penultimate outing at Limerick, when sent off an even money favourite in Grade 2 company.

However, he shaped with distinct promise when placing sixth behind stablemate and subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle scorer Appreciate It in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, and he looks sure to improve for this step-up in trip. Therefore he is worthy of support too.

1. Gabynako 2. Galopin Des Champs 3. Gentlemen De Mee

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