1pt win Fusil Raffles w/o Envoi Allen in the 1.20 Cheltenham at 6/1
1pt win Mister Fisher in the 2.30 Cheltenham at 8/1
2pts each-way Sully D’Oc AA in the 3.40 Cheltenham at 14/1 (6 Places)
0.5pts each-way Huntsman Son in the 3.40 Cheltenham at 40/1 (6 Places)
1pt win Glens Of Antrim in the 4.15 Cheltenham at 7/1
1pt win Plan Of Attack in the 4.50 Cheltenham at 17/2
1pt each-way Sizing At Midnight in the 4.50 Cheltenham at 33/1 (6 Places)
Live Antepost Bets:
1pt win Chantry House in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at 25/1
1.5pts each-way The Bosses Oscar in the Pertemps Final at 20/1
1pt each-way The Storyteller in the Stayers Hurdle at 10/1
0.5pts each-way Fury Road in the Stayers Hurdle at 12/1
2pts each-way The Glancing Queen in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at 10/1 (NRNB)
1.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m3f168y
The unbeaten Envoi Allen is odds-on to land a third straight Cheltenham Festival success following on from victories in the 2019 Champion Bumper and 2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and it will take a much improved performance from one of his rivals, and indeed an under par performance from the high-class seven-year-old, to see his colours lowered tomorrow.
The Cheveley Park Stud owned gelding is 3-3 over fences and simply oozed class when sauntering to a facile success in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in November. His other two successes were little to write home about, however, you can only beat what is put before you and he has done so with consummate ease.
Envoi Allen displayed his professionalism when paying no attention whatsoever to the loose horses in the Grade 3 Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown in January, and his effortless, accurate jumping is simply a joy to watch. A recent switch of yards is the only slight concern, however, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue given that 99% of the work would have already been done by that stage.
Shan Blue landed the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton in December and will arrive at Cheltenham on the back of a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown last month.
The slick jumping seven-year-old did too much too soon on very testing ground in Esher last month, leaving himself vulnerable to the stout-staying Sporting John, whom was almost detached in the early exchanges as a result of the frantic pace at the front.
Shan Blue has undoubtedly improved dramatically for jumping fences this winter and he will likely get much closer to Envoi Allen this year than he did in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago.
It is likely that Harry Skelton will jump off prominently and attempt to draw the sting out of his potentially top-class rival. However, those tactics didn’t work at Sandown last month and he faces even sterner opposition tomorrow.
Chantry House was treated for kissing spines following a disappointing effort at Cheltenham in December, and he bounced back to form when easily scoring at Huntington four weeks ago.
The JP McManus owned seven-year-old was a good third behind stablemate Shishkin and subsequent Grade 1 winner Abacadabras in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago, and he made a successful chasing debut at Ascot in November when powering clear to record a commanding 26 lengths success.
The promising son of Yeats has always been held in high regard and does boast some solid novice hurdle form on the New Course at Cheltenham. Last month’s confidence boosting success will have done Chantry House the world of good, and he could easily prove the biggest threat to Envoi Allen if on song.
Grade 1 winning juvenile hurdler Fusil Raffles made hay while the sun was shining during the autumn, landing three of his four starts over fences culminating in a course and (near) distance success at the International Meeting in December, when successfully conceding 8lbs to the 147 rated Lieutenant Rocco and 3lbs to stablemate Chantry House on unsuitably soft ground.
The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned six-year-old failed to progress following his reappearance success in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last season and was perhaps always going to make a better chaser. He hinted that he may be better suited by intermediate trips when getting up late on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter, and he confirmed that theory when pulling-up in Grade 2 company at Prestbury Park in November.
Five of his seven previous career victories were achieved on decent ground and his form-figures following a break of 70 days or more read 111101 (including his racecourse debut in France). Therefore he may be primed to run a very big race on his first start for 96 days.
Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Asterion Forlonges caused carnage when jumping out to the left in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it’s hardly been plain sailing since heading over fences – as indicated by form-figures of 1FF4.
The grey son of Coastal Path placed fourth behind his Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase winning stablemate Monkfish at the Dublin Racing Festival last month and connections will be hoping that he can build on that performance.
Chatham Street Lad ran out a facile winner of the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup over this course and distance in December and a rating of 156 puts him firmly in the mix.
Michael Winter’s nine-year-old could only place third in the competitive Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase on his only subsequent outing and he does seemingly have a preference for softer ground. However, it would be foolish to right him off given how impressive he was in December and he remains open to improvement in this sphere.
Darver Star paid the price for helping to push at an unsustainable gallop when chasing home Franco De Port at Leopardstown over Christmas, and he arguably did well to finish as close as he did under such circumstances.
Last year’s Champion Hurdle third only beat one rival home in the Grade 1 Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown last month and looks ready for this step-up in trip. The decent ground will be to his liking.
Blackbow made a successful chasing debut at Navan in November before falling in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Willie Mullins’ talented, but inconsistent, eight-year-old was no match for Energumene and Captain Guinness at Naas in January, however, he did show slightly more promise when placing third behind Energumene and Franco De Port in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, which offers some encouragement.
This longer trip may suit.
It’s incredibly difficult to oppose dual Cheltenham Festival scorer ENVOI ALLEN on all known form given that no horse has yet found a chink in his armour. He jumps well, travels strongly, possesses a turn of foot and has plenty of stamina, therefore it will take a very good performance to lower his colours. Chantry House made a successful return to action following a back operation last month and could easily run well judged on his third placed finish in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Whole Grade 1 winner Shan Blue is a fine jumper and could also run well. However, course and distance winner Fusil Raffles will appreciate the decent ground and has a fine record when fresh. Therefore he may be able to follow the selection home.
1. Envoi Allen 2. Fusil Raffles 3. Chantry House
1.55 – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m7f213y
THE BOSSES OSCAR has been trained with this race in mind and the presence of talented 7lbs claimer Jordan Gainford in the saddle will negate the 8lbs rise that the British handicapper saw fit to hand out.
Last year’s Martin Pipe fifth chased home subsequent Grade 1 scorer Flooring Porter on his penultimate outing at Navan and filled the same position when qualifying for this race at Leopardstown in December – in a Pertemps Qualifier that was run in a quicker time than Flooring Porter’s aforementioned course and distance Grade 1 success 35 minutes later.
The smart son of Oscar boasts form-figures of 32121 on decent ground and he remains unexposed over 3 miles. While his staying-on effort at this meeting last year confirms his ability to handle the track and his scope for improvement at the trip.
The presence of Jordon Gainford means that he will only have to concede 5lbs to Champagne Platinum and will receive 3lbs from Imperial Alcazar – whom have been his chief market rivals in this build up to this race. Therefore a big run looks likely.
1. The Bosses Oscar 2. Imperial Alcazar 3. Spiritofthegames
2.30 – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f127y
Allaho placed third in both 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the 2020 Brown Advisory Novives’ Chase on his two previous visits to the Cotswolds, and he now gets his opportunity to compete over two-and-a-half-miles, which may prove ideal on this more stamina demanding new course.
The Cheveley Park Stud owned seven-year-old failed to land a blow on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown, and he failed to truly see out the 3 mile trip in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. However, he got back to winning ways in the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles in January, and the runner-up – current Mares’ Chase favourite Elimay – franked that form in the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase at Naas.
It is perhaps worth nothing that Allaho boasts form figures of 243234 on left-handed tracks compared to 12161 on right-handed tracks. However, he has kept good company when going left-handed and that may not be the most damning of statistics.
Min earned a much deserved first Cheltenham Festival success in this contest 12 months ago, and he kick-started his 2020/21 campaign with a a third consecutive victory in the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown.
Rich Ricci’s top-class ten-year-old may have broken his duck sooner had he not bumped into a peak Altior on all three of his previous visits to the Cotswolds. However, for all of his exploits at the minimum trip, he has also proven himself to be top-class over two-and-half-miles, boasting form-figures of 1211111 over such distances.
The classy son of Walk In The Park has very few negatives and is clearly a big player in defence of his crown. However, he does need to bounce back from a below par outing in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last month when jumping uncharacteristically poorly and pulling-up mid race, which may have simply been a result of dropping back in trip against sharp two-milers, but does pose questions regarding his current form.
Imperial Aura landed the final running of the Listed Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase at this meeting last year and has continued his progression in open company this season.
Kim Bailey’s progressive eight-year-old made a successful seasonal reappearance in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle before announcing his arrival in this division with a smooth defeat of Itchy Feet and Real Steel in the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.
A momentary lapse of concentration led to Imperial Aura unseating David Bass at the second fence in the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on his only subsequent outing, and connections were unable to find another suitable race that would have slotted in perfectly prior to Cheltenham. However, it was far from a bad mistake and should not have effected his confidence too much.
Imperial Commander carried the readily recognisable black and white silks of the Imperial Racing Partnership to success in this contest in 2009 before landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup 12 months later. Connections will be hoping and dreaming that lightening can strike twice!
Melon will bid to secure a first Cheltenham success following four consecutive runner-up efforts at the Festival.
The Joe Donnelly owned nine-year-old has gone close in Supreme Novices Hurdle (2017), two Champion Hurdles (2018 & 2019) and the Marsh Novices’ Chase over this course and distance 12 months ago, when coming out second best in a tight photo finish. It’s fair to say that he hasn’t won as much as his talent deserves, however, he’s spent a career competing at the highest level and clearly goes well in the Cotswolds.
Melon’s best run this season came in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December when being allowed to stride on and make the most of his fluent jumping. Those tactics could easily pay dividends tomorrow, especially with his stamina assured.
Saint Calvados split Min and Cheltenham Gold Cup contender A Plus Tard when placing second in this contest 12 months ago, and he could easily go close once again if none the worse for his unseat at Sandown last month.
Harry Whittington’s classy eight-year-old placed fourth in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase on his belated seasonal reappearance and was sent to the rescheduled Cotswolds Chase at Sandown to whether he would stay 3 miles. However, he unseated Gavin Sheehan at the seventeenth fence and connections have decided that they should stick to the trip over which he is proven at present.
Saint Calvados seemingly handled decent ground well in the King George but does have a preference for softer conditions. Therefore the quickening ground is perhaps a slight cause for concern ahead of this competitive contest.
Fakir D’Oudaries ran a big race to place second in the Arkle Challenge Trophy over 2 miles last March. However, his crowing success as a novice came over two-and-a-half-miles in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase, and he shaped as though this trip would be ideal when running a big race behind Champion Chase third Chacun Pour Soi at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
The JP McManus owned six-year-old was pulled-up in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December and seeming lacks the gears to be truly competitive at the top level over 2 miles. Therefore this intermediate trip may see him to best effect and we know that he handles the track (form-figures of 142).
Fakir D’Oudaries jumps well and has scope for further improvement at the age of six. While it’s easy to make the case that many of his rivals have already reached, or indeed passed, their peak.
Mister Fisher is 2-3 over this course and distance (slightly shorter trip in the Peterborough Chase) with his solitary defeat coming in last year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase behind Samcro, Melon and the mighty Faugheen.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old got stuck in the mud when pulling-up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November. However, he bounced back to winning ways when switched to the new course on slightly better ground one month later, and that success in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase suggested that he is a horse whom is still on the up.
Tomorrow’s decent ground will suit him ideally and he seemingly possesses the ideal blend of speed and stamina for this trip, which makes him a solid contender.
Samcro could only place third behind stablemate Battleoverdoyen on his seasonal reappearance before failing to stay in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The 2018 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner managed to chin the aforementioned Melon in the Marsh Novices’ Chase following a somewhat underwhelming preparation 12 months ago, therefore it would come as no surprise were he to bounce back to something like his best form tomorrow, which would be enough to make him a player.
Dashel Drasher has been a revelation this season and he earned a glorious Grade 1 victory in last months Betfair Ascot Chase, which naturally warrants his inclusion in this contest.
Jeremy Scott’s eight-year-old is clearly thriving at present and he boasts plenty of form on decent ground. He does perhaps need to prove that he is equally effective away from Ascot given that his last three victories – which are obviously career best efforts – have all come at the Berkshire track. However, he did win a novice hurdle at Cheltenham in 2019 and also boasts winning form elsewhere, which is obviously encouraging.
Real Steel turned for home full of running in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup before the petrol tank ran empty when push came to shove. Therefore he is an intriguing contender over this distance.
Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old again failed to stay 3 miles in the King George at Kempton and will arrive here fresh having not run since. He does have something to find with the aforementioned Imperial Aura on their running at Ascot in November. However, this has been the big target all season long and he could easily outperform market expectations.
Chris’s Dream was narrowly touched off in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in October and goes particularly well when fresh. While Kalashnikov has something to find with the aforementioned Mister Fisher on their running in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase over this course and distance in December.
Both possesses plenty of quality but may struggle in such a competitive renewal.
Fanion D’estruval, whom will represent the bang-in-form Venetia Williams, was still travelling well when falling at three from home in that same Peterborough Chase and is well worth another try at this trip. While Tornado Flyer was only beaten a length by Min in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and could easily outperform market expectations if bouncing back to that form.
This is a hugely competitive renewal in which many hold sound claims. Last year’s winner Min could run well once again if bouncing back to form following a below par effort at the Dublin Racing Festival last month. While four-time Cheltenham Festival runner-up Melon could go close if allowed to stride on and make use of his extremely fluent fencing. However, MISTER FISHER also boasts solid course form and will appreciate the drying ground. He arguably has more scope for progression than many in opposition and he could be good enough to plunder the main prize.
1. Mister Fisher 2. Melon 3. Min
3.05 – Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m7f213y
This contest has a history of producing reoccurring winners having gone the way of the Francois Doumen trained Baracouda in 2003 and 2004, Inglis Drever three times between 2005 and 2008, and the mighty Big Bucks four times between 2009 and 2012.
Lisnagar Oscar, whom returned to form in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last month, and his predecessor on the thrown Paisley Park, whom suffered a fibrillating heart when placing seventh 12 months ago but bounced back to something like his best when landing the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, have the opportunity to further strengthen those statistics tomorrow.
Much of the talk had revolved around Thyme Hill and Paisley Park following their respective victories at Newbury and Ascot prior to Christmas, and understandably so given that this race had been billed as the decider ever since the latter evened up the score. However, a minor setback for Thyme Hill has robbed us of that clash, leaving Paisley Park a short priced favourite in his absence.
The former champion clearly progressed from his seasonal reappearance at Newbury when gaining his revenge in jaw-dropping fashion at Ascot in December, and that power-packed finish confirmed that Andrew Gemmell’s nine-year-old still possesses the requisite guts and gritty will to win when embroiled in the heat of a battle.
Indeed, the manner in which he rolled-up his sleeves and ran down Thyme Hill from a less than ideal track position clearly indicates that his troubles of last March are well and truly behind him and that he still possesses all of the attributes that have made him nigh-on unbeatable since October 2018.
Paisley Park is 3-5 over this course and distance, is effective on all types of ground and has upwards of 3lbs in hand over all of his rivals, therefore it’s hard to find a negative in relation to his prospects. It is perhaps worth noting that he is also relatively lightly raced for his age, which counts for plenty in this division.
The only slight negative may be his lack of a ‘prep’ run following the abandonment of Cheltenham’s Trial’s Day card in January. However, Emma Lavelle mentioned that she was keen to go for a racecourse gallop last month, which should be a sufficient preparation.
No horse has regained this title since Inglis Drever wrestled back his crown in 2007 after missing the race 12 months earlier, and victory for Paisley Park would certainly cement his place in the history of this championship contest.
Stablemates Sire Du Berlais and The Storyteller placed first and second in a classy renewal of the Pertemps Final last year, and guru’s of the stopwatch will be quick to point out that Sire Du Berlais clocked a 3 seconds quicker time than Lisnagar Oscar over the same course and distance 80 minutes later, which certainly provides food for thought.
The former was doubling-up in the race off a mark of 152, and he actually carried 2lbs more than the Stayers’ Hurdle winner. His successful return to action in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan demonstrated that he possesses the gears to hold a position at this level, and his rating isn’t too far shy of those ahead of him in the betting.
I wouldn’t be overly perturbed by his third placed finish in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown given that Flooring Porter was allowed to dictate matters from the front at a pedestrian pace and simply slipped the field as a result. Sire Du Berlais’ victories at the last two Cheltenham Festival’s clearly demonstrate that he is seen to effect in a truly run race, and there was danger of him being fully tuned-up for a race at that time of the season.
The JP McManus owned nine-year-old is 2-2 over this course and distance and seemingly comes to the boil at this time of year. He therefore holds sound claims in spite of his exposed status.
However, the latter also boasts a wealth of Cheltenham Festival experience and has arguably taken his form to a whole new level this season, which makes him a tempting proposition at more than double the price of his stablemate.
Official ratings would certainly support that theory as The Storyteller currently boasts career high ratings over both hurdles and fences as a result of his exploits in both disciplines this season.
The 2018 Paddy Power Plate winner won over both hurdles and fences at Galway in the summer before plundering the Grade 3 Irish Daily Star Chase and Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Punchestown and Down Royal respectively. He then stayed on well to claim second place behind Flooring Porter at Leopardstown in December before switching back to fences and placing second, beaten just 2 lengths, in the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
Keith Donoghue has struck up a fantastic relationship with The Storyteller, which may go some way to explaining why the likeable chestnut is still seemingly improving in spite of his age and exposed status.
Taking on a rejuvenated Paisley Park won’t be easy and it’s hard to envisage the popular ten-year-old improving further than he has already this winter. However, he is clearly thriving at present and can outrun his price.
Flooring Porter was beaten off a mark of 131 at Gowran Park in October before finding huge improvement on his last two starts at Navan and Leopardstown respectively.
Gavin Cromwell’s progressive six-year-old proved 12 lengths too good for long-time Pertemps Final favourite The Bossess Oscar in competitive handicap company at Navan, and he clearly took another giant leap forwards when tasting Grade 1 success at Leopardstown over Christmas, albeit he was given free reign at the head of affairs and received a very good ride from Jonathan Moore.
Dandy Mag, whom won the Pertemps Qualifier run over the same course and distance 35 minutes earlier, clocked a 2 seconds quicker time than Flooring Porter but did carry 13lbs less.
It’s entirely possible that Flooring Porter could have more to offer given his rate of progression and tender years. However, he has displayed a quirk or two and hung badly to his left after jumping the final flight of hurdles at Christmas, which does bring into question his maturity heading into the heat of a championship contest.
There are also question marks hanging over how he handle both the travelling and the track. However, they can’t necessarily be thrown at him as negatives given that they may have no bearing whatsoever.
There are obviously no such concerns over the reigning champion Lisnagar Oscar, whom bounced back from two underwhelming efforts during the autumn when chasing home Third Wind, whom received 6lbs, in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last month.
Sean Bowen was keen to ensure that it was a true test of stamina on that occasion and took up the running after the eighth flight of hurdles. It was encouraging to see battling-back all the way to the line, and he may well have got back up with another half-furlong.
Lisnagar Oscar underwent wind surgery prior to Haydock and that run would certainly suggest that it was a fruitful procedure. Therefore he could easily run a massive race in defence of his crown, providing that he didn’t leave his race behind on Merseyside last month.
Vinndication is a fascinating contender given that he is 3-3 over hurdles including a neck success over Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Champ, whom was in receipt of 6lbs.
There is plenty of a evidence to support the theory that Kim Bailey’s classy eight-year-old is a significantly better horse on right-handed tracks. However, that didn’t stop him from carrying top weight into fourth place in the Ultima Handicap Chase 12 months ago and he also ran well when chasing home Cyrname in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby – albeit that form is now slightly suspect.
Decent ground would not be an issue and, unlike last year, Vinndication has had a racecourse gallop in preparation for this content, which could easily make a massive difference.
Kim Bailey hasn’t hidden the fact they he considers the eight-year-old to be a Gold Cup horse, which is obviously high praise indeed. And although he’s seems to have been around forever, he remains lightly raced with just 12 career starts to his name.
Stablemate Younevercall was far from disgraced when placing fourth behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, but he clearly needs to improve upon that effort now that he has the best of Ireland to contend with too.
Fury Road would have a good chance if rediscovering the level of form that saw him finish third behind Monkfish in last year’s Albert Bartlett, and he was only two-and-a-half-lengths behind second favourite Sire Du Berlais at Christmas.
Monkfish, Lastest Exhibition and Thyme Hill have advertised the Albert Bartlett form time and time again this winter and Fury Road has done little wrong given that he scoped badly after failing to justify favouritism at Christmas and was chinned by a 154 rated rival whom got within a length of Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle in the Hattons Grace Hurdle when placing second in the Boyne Hurdle last month.
Stepping back-up to 3 miles could eke out improvement judged on his performance in the Cotswolds 12 months ago, and the last three winners of this race had all contested the previous year’s Albert Bartlett – suggesting that there may have been a power shift towards the less exposed horses in this division.
It is perhaps worth nothing that he landed his point-to-point and solitary bumper success on good ground, therefore conditions may prove favourable.
Fellow Gigginstown House Stud inmate Beacon Edge, whom got the better of Fury Road in the aforementioned Boyne Hurdle last month, could easily run a big race if seeing out this longer trip.
Noel Meade has always held the smart son of Doyen in high regard and he was beaten less than a length by Champiom Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, which demonstrates the ability that he possesses.
Decent ground hasn’t posed an issue in the past and he could conceivably improve for it given that he boasts form-figures of 14311 on ground officially described as yielding or quicker. Therefore he wouldn’t be without a chance if his stamina holds out.
Main Fact won nine consecutive races including the valuable Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Stayers Handicap Hurdle at Haydock before being found out in Grade 1 company at Ascot and Grade 2 company at Haydock. While If The Cap Fits defeated Roksana and Apple’s Jade in the 2019 Liverpool Hurdle and will return to hurdling after an indifferent spell over fences.
The former clearly needs to take another step forwards and may prefer softer ground than he will encounter. While the latter only has 7lbs to find with Paisley Park on official ratings and will appreciate some nice spring ground.
Sam Spinner chased home Paisley Park two years ago but has failed to beat a single rival home in two starts this season. While last year’s third Bacardys should not be ignored but does have a tendency to be the bridesmaid and not the bride, which makes little appeal from a win perspective.
The good ground loving Reserve Tank won a brace of Grade 1 novice hurdles in the spring of 2019. While the ever consistent Lil Rockerfeller placed second in this contest in 2017 and has run with credit twice this season.
Both possess the ability to outperform market expectations if rolling back the years.
Paisley Park sets a very high standard and has few, if any, negatives heading into this contest. While dual Pertemps scorer Sire Du Berlais was impressive on the clock 12 months ago and a reproduction of that effort would put him firmly in the mix. His Christmastime conquerer Flooring Porter should not be readily passed aside given his scope for further improvement. While defending champion Lisnagar Oscar shaped encouragingly at Haydock last month and could easily run well on his second start since undergoing wind surgery. However, THE STORYTELLER has walked every walk and danced every dance yet still seems to have taken his form to a new level this winter. His last two runs over fences have seen him land the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal and place second in the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup last month, and he did well to claim second place behind Flooring Porter at Christmas given that he was settled in rear off a slow pace. The popular ten-year-old made up plenty of ground after the final flight of hurdles and clearly gets on well with Keith Donoghue. We know that he loves Cheltenham and his runner-up effort last year puts him on a par with Sire Du Berlais, whom is currently half the price of the The Storyteller. He therefore represents fantastic each-way value. FURY ROAD meets the recent trend of having run in the previous year’s Albert Bartlett and he could easily run well if rediscovering that form. Monkfish, Lastest Exhibition and Thyme Hill have advertised that form time and time again this winter and Fury Road has done little wrong given that he scoped badly after failing to justify favouritism at Christmas and was chinned by a 154 rated rival whom got within a length of Champion Hurdle favourite Honeysuckle in the Grade 1 Hattons Grace Hurdle when placing second over two-and-a-half-miles at Navan last month. He arguably ran a career best over this course and distance 12 months ago and he remains open to further improvement, which isn’t necessarily the case with some of those ahead of him in the betting.
1. Fury Road 2. The Storyteller 3. Paisley Park
3.40 – Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m4f127y
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 2lbs higher mark.
Both of those efforts came on decent ground over trips just shy of today’s, and he remains open to further progress on just his seventh start in this sphere.
The fact that he hasn’t run since Newbury perhaps indicates that connections were keen to protect his mark with this contest in mind, and he will compete off a lovely racing weight of 10-9, which will only aid his prospects.
HUNTSMAN SON is also worthy of small each-way support at a huge double figure price.
It’s hard to argue that an eleven-year-old is capable of defying a career high mark in a Cheltenham Festival handicap. However, Alex Hales’ charge is lightly raced for his age and the form of his five-and-a-half-length triumph over subsequent scorer Two For Gold at Wetherby in October suggests that he may be capable of running well in this contest.
Huntsman Son boasts form-figures of 1321122121 on decent ground, and his record following a break of 60 days or more (including his PTP debut) reads 122121, which also bodes well.
The Millenary gelding placed ninth in the now defunct Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2019 and was pulled-up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup over this course and distance in December. However, both of those efforts came on unsuitably soft ground and he did finish second at Prestbury Park over hurdles, which demonstrates his ability to handle the track.
Alex Hales saddled For Pleasure to place third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 40/1 and there are enough positives about Huntsman Son to believe that he too could outrun his price.
1. Sully D’Oc AA 2. Huntsman Son 3. Caribean Boy
4.15 – Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m179y
Roseys Hollow, Royal Kahala and Gauloise are closely matched on their running in the Grade Grade 3 Solerina Mares’ Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month. While Hook Up makes obvious appeal judged on her fifth placed finish behind Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Appreciate It in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, however, her jumping leaves much to be desired. Telmesomethinggirl will appreciate this better ground and had the form of her third placed effort at Leopardstown last month boosted by Coral Cup heroine Heaven Help Us yesterday. The Glancing Queen has run well in two red-hot Champion Bumpers and was deemed good enough to contest the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle in December. While Skyace displayed a progressive profile in the autumn and could easily step forwards once again. However, GLENS OF ANTRIM has run well against the boys this season and may be suited by dropping back on trip on better ground again her own sex. Willie Mullins has won 14 of the 18 mares races at run at the Cheltenham Festival including all five of the previous renewals of this race, and the JP McManus owned six-year-old, whom is a half-sister to the smart Minella Melody, could easily improve that record.
1. Glens Of Antrim 2. Hook Up 3. The Glancing Queen
4.50 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Class 2) 3m2f
PLAN OF ATTACK is 2lbs lower than when placing fourth in this contest 12 months ago and he will be much more at home this sounder surface, therefore he makes of appeal for the bang-in-form partnership of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.
The Court Cave gelding placed third in the hugely competitive Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last season and he was in the process of making up ground in that same contest in December prior to making a mistake and losing any small chance he had.
Clearly connections feel that he has unfinished business with this race and it doesn’t look to be the strongest contest on paper. He therefore makes sufficient appeal.
SIZING AT MIDNIGHT was pulled-up on heavy ground at Wincanton last month, however, he was dropped 2lbs for that outing and could easily bounce back on decent ground today.
Colin Tizzard’s nine-year-old was travelling ominously well when falling at three-out in the Listed Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton in November, and he will line-up off the very same mark of 133 tomorrow.
The form of his success at Ffos Las in October was boosted by the runner-up on his only subsequent start. While Bermeo, whom chased home Sizing At Midnight at Newton Abbot in August, was successfull at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting in October before placing second in the Cotswolds in November.
All four of Sizing At Midnight’s previous career victories have been achieved on decent ground and he remains relatively lightly raced for his age. While three of his four victories came in double-figure fields.
Colin Tizzard’s horses have been running well this week with Eldorado Allen placing second at 33/1 in the Arkle and Fiddlerontheroof filling the same position in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at 40/1, which indicates that the yard have turned a corner.
1. Plan Of Attack 2. Sizing At Midnight 3. Mount Ida