Benson @ 25/1
Benson originally caught my eye when falling in the Tolworth Hurdle last year at 66/1 before winning a handicap for us back at Sandown in December. He ran just 2 weeks later at Ascot and couldn’t keep up before running on strongly. Eventually priced up for the Coral Cup, this is surely where he runs.
The Shunter @ 16/1 NRNB
The Shunter looks like he’s been saved for the feature races having won the Greatwood Hurdle and then finished 3rd at Leopardstown. He is down to run at the weekend and needs to win probably to get in any of the races he is entered in. If he does win at the weekend, he would be eligible for a £100,000 bonus and I think connections have in their mind that he has more to come when stepped up in trip and this Coral Cup will be where he runs.
Tout Est Permis @ 33/1 NRNB
Tout Est Permis at 33/1 looks a big price if he runs which is why the NRNB is important here. Last year he ran in the Pertemps Final off a mark of 136 and this year would run off just 137 over hurdles. He arguably finished 3rd with 2 Graded horses in front and at least 1 behind with the talented but fragile Relegate back in 5th. That looked a really hot Pertemps to me and with Tout Est Permis not qualifying this year, this Coral Cup would be his only option over hurdles. Considering he went off just 5/1 for the feature race at Navan in December , if he did run here, then he definitely won’t be 33/1!
Alfa Mix @ 18/1 NRNB
Alfa Mix looks a handicap plot from JP but for what race it’s unclear. He was purchased by JP after finishing 2nd to his own Kilfenora and then ran at the Cheltenham Festival in this race last year off a mark of 142. He finished a credible 7th considering he was forcing the pace for most of the way alongside Top Moon. He was still in with a shout jumping the last but paid for his early exertions up the hill fading back to 7th. However Top Moon who also went forward dropped back to 20th and although Top Moon had disappointed before that at Leopardstown his previous form was good and demonstrated that this was probably a good Coral Cup. The likes of Black Tears, Bachasson, Honest Vic, Coko Beach, Protektorat & Franco Du Port also featured in this race. JP doesn’t have anything at the head of the market this year and it looks like Alfa Mix could be his number 1 hope.
Botox Has @ 12/1
I actually thought there wasn’t a lot between Botox Has last year and…..Goshen. I was obviously wrong there but I do think Botox Has is a very good 5 year old and he came back this season winning at Cheltenham in October with Allmankind back in 3rd. That looks strong form and his only defeat at Cheltenham came behind Allmankind when I think he was given too much to do. After winning at Cheltenham at the beginning of the season Botox Has has disappointed at Newbury & Ascot the last twice but I think he’s been aimed at this race for a long time. He was a never nearer 6th at Ascot and always looked like this trip at Cheltenham would suit more than the 2m he had been running over. I think this is a plot from Gary Moore.
Blue Sari @ 16/1
Blue Sari has been declared for this race and that was very important as although he has not shown anything in her last 2 runs, his best effort came at Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper a couple of years ago. He finished 2nd to Envoi Allen with Thyme Hill and Abacadabras back in 3rd and 4th. She started her hurdles career at Punchestown beating The Bosses Oscar over 2m4f with Brinkley in 3rd and Ashdale Bob in 4th. These mentioned horses are rated 164, 162, 158, 151, 148 & 146. Blue Sari is rated just 138, gets a tongue tie to help and steps back up in trip having disappointed back over 2m. If he shows his true colours at Cheltenham then he goes very very close here.