Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Liam’s Selections

Hopefully you’ve been following Liam’s blogs and thoughts and backed a few of these yourself. Here are Liam’s selections and reasoning so far.

Supreme Novices Hurdle 

Appreciate It @ 5/2

Appreciate It has the stamina to win over further and hopefully wins later today. This stamina is all important at Cheltenham. After suggesting he would be a great bet in the Albert Bartlett this year after his 2nd in the Champion Bumper, he has since proven himself quick enough over 2m and should be strong at the finish at Cheltenham.

Flinteur Sacre @ 16/1

Has been really disappointing and wont be running in the Supreme Novices Hurdle now. He doesn’t settle and is empty by the time they turn into the straight. He may well need a fence to settle him and he’s not one to completely give up on going forward but he wont be winning this for us this season.

Arkle Chase

Shishkin @ 10/1

Backed straight after he won the Supreme Novices Hurdle , he has once again been very impressive this season and is now the odds on favourite here. He very much reminds me of Altior who has 2m speed and 2m2f stamina. We know Shishkin will be strong at the finish and although Energumeme is a definite danger, I am still confident Shishkin will be finishing up the hill best of all.

Franco Du Port @ 20/1

Franco Du Port again ran a great race yesterday when finishing 2nd to Energumeme. I highlighted him as the biggest danger to Energumeme and whilst he was comfortably beaten, his style of running could see him surprise at Cheltenham. He’s likely to be kept out the back and not get involved until turning for home. It’s very possible that Energumeme and Shishkin get racing too early due to their high profile status and if a horse is going to take advantage and run them down late on then I think it will be Franco Du Port.

Ultima Handicap Chase (Last year 129 – 159)

Kildisart @ 25/1 

reportedly out for the season although disappointingly a lot of bookmakers are still taking bets on him.

If The Cap Fits @ 33/1 NRNB

If The Cap Fits has dropped to 152 from 160 after finishing 3rd at Kempton over 3m which is a real speed test and can now be interesting in handicaps. The same owners as Kildisart who looks like he’s out for the season so hopefully the owners want a runner in this race. A Grade 1 winner over hurdles and ran well over 3m4f last time out behind Yala Enki. Would carry a lot of weight but has the class to overcome this. NRNB just in case he is saved for Aintree or goes for the 3m6f National Hunt Chase

Discorama @  33/1

He ran a great race for 3rd last year in this race. Likely to be off same mark. Likely to run here rather than anywhere else so no need for NRNB. I can forgive him his disappointing effort last time out at Cheltenham and he is clearly aimed at Cheltenham (223 in last 3 years at the festival)

Vintage Clouds @ 33/1 NRNB

Vintage Clouds finished 2nd in this race off a mark of 144 and 3rd off 141. Last year after winning the Peter Marsh he was raised to 153 before running in this race off 151. He ran ok for 8th in a handicap that I think featured 4 Graded animals filling the front 4 places. He’s now fallen to a mark where he can be competitive in his races again and off 143 you would hope returning to his favoured Cheltenham he can run a big race even at the age of 11.

Aye Right @ 14/1 NRNB

As mentioned on the TurfTalk Podcast I appeared on, I am keen on Aye Right here as I think he’s been running huge races behind some very good horses. His only run where he was outside the places this season was in a Jumpers Bumper and that can be ignored. His 3rd in the Charlie Hall was a very good effort behind 2 Graded horses whilst his 2nd to Cloth Cap looks a great effort as Cloth Cap is now rated 26lb higher. Aye Right is rated 4lb higher after that run and another good run in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase. Richard Johnson has also been booked to ride and that can only be a positive.

Champion Hurdle

Abacadabras @ 12/1

Backed after finishing 2nd in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last year. Horses to have beaten him at Cheltenham – Envoi Allen, Blue Sari, Thyme Hill and Shishkin. Strong traveller and should get a good tow through the Champion Hurdle. Likely to be played late and I still think he can go close. Epatante vs Honeysuckle could get going too soon.  Was better yesterday when 2nd to Honeysuckle but was comfortably beaten by her.

Buveur D’Air @ 20/1 NRNB

If a fit Buveur D’Air from a couple of years ago was running then I think he would be favourite even over Honeysuckle and Epatante. He will surely have come on for his run last time after a long break and if he can get back to his best then he’s definitely overpriced. If Henderson runs him, you would imagine he’s fit enough to do himself justice. His injury was not a muscle injury so isn’t something that should prevent him from getting back to his best.

Mares Hurdle

Burning Victory @ 22/1

Has not been entered

Benie Des Dieux @ 9/2 NRNB

This looks even better now with Honeysuckle likely to run in the Champion Hurdle. It’s arguably between Concertista and Benie Des Dieux and the latter will be trying to make it 3rd time lucky. Benie Des Dieux could go over fences but Mullins already has the top 2 in the market without Benie Des Dieux. We know all about the quality of Benie Des Dieux. If she does go elsewhere then we have the NRNB concession.

Minella Melody @ 25/1 NRNB

Minella Melody was highlighted on the TurfTalk Podcast as a great e/w bet if you can forgive her run in the Mares Novice last year where she went off favourite over Concertista. She was dropping down in trip that day and has since bounced back when stepped back up in trip. She can run again here over the 2m4f trip and finishing 3 lengths behind Concertista could well be enough to finish 2nd.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Saint Sam @ 14/1

Saint Sam has now been beaten 3 times in Grade 3, Grade 2 and Grade 1 company and each time has never looked like beating the winner. Twice behind the Triumph Hurdle favourite Zanahiyr and once behind the 2nd favourite Quilixios. It would seem foolish/pointless to run in the Triumph Hurdle as surely he’s already running for 3rd at best. He’s been given a mark of 136 which looks ok and is now only available at 10/1 for this race.

Riviere D’etel @ 16/1 NRNB

This one looks interesting for Gordon Elliott. After finishing 2nd in a Fillies Listed Hurdle in France she made the move to Gordon Elliott and started her career in Ireland with a win at Punchestown in good style winning by 12 lengths. She then ran in a Novice hurdle against older horses and against geldings and wasn’t beaten too far in 3rd. The winner had previously been tried in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle and finished 5th behind Appreciate It. This race isn’t a Grade 1 and isn’t against older horses and on a couple of form lines I think the handicap mark for Riviere D’etel of 133 underestimates her.

National Hunt Challenge Chase

Lord Royal @ 16/1 NRNB

Lord Royal is clearly talented and has been highly regarded by Willie Mullins. Things haven’t quite gone to plan yet and he was a never nearer 2nd last time out over 3m. He looks a horse that needs even further and this 3m6f should suit. Knowing who runs here is always tricky so that’s why I’ve backed him with the NRNB concession.

Ballymore Novices Hurdle

I don’t currently have a bet in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle.

RSA Chase

Envoi Allen @ 12/1

I think Envoi Allen is a Gold Cup horse of the future and did after he won the Ballymore Novices Hurdle and duly backed him for the RSA Chase straight after. It looks very unlikely he will be running here and should win the Marsh Novices instead.

Coral Cup (Last Year 138 – 154)

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.

Champion Chase

Altior @ 8/1

I actually think Altior is a great bet at 8/1. He is proven at Cheltenham where Chacun Pour Soi is not. As mentioned above, Altior for me is a horse that has 2m speed and 2m2f stamina. His return this season when 2nd to Nube Negra was at Kempton. Kempton doesn’t bring his stamina into play at all and on his return this was probably a good run. I do expect to see Chacun Pour Soi get Altior off the bridle but I think nothing will be finishing as well as Altior and if he’s a length down on Chacun at the last, I think he’ll beat him up the hill.

Cross Country Chase

Easysland @ 5/2

Easysland for me wins again this year. He was very impressive last year and whilst he was beaten on his return to Cheltenham in November, it was both not the Cheltenham Festival (likely to be trained to the day again) and it was a handicap. When it’s back to level weights I think he beats all comfortably. The biggest dangers for me would be any French trained horse that makes their Cheltenham Cross Country debut. If there isn’t any, I would be surprised if Easysland doesn’t go off odds on here.

Grand Annual

Embittered @ 20/1

Embittered was highlighted in our ‘Where are they know’ blog post and I was delighted with his run in the Irish Arkle. Finishing 4th has seen the Irish Handicapper leave him on 144 which looks perfect. He should be in right near the bottom of the handicap. 1st and 2nd from the Irish Arkle are mentioned above and I think will both go close and push Shishkin in the Arkle at the festival (both given different rides) whilst the 3rd has been given a mark of 153 in Ireland. A 153 mark would see him near the top of the handicap and that could be raised further when the British Handicapper has a look as well.

Éclair De Beaufeu @ 25/1

Could be closely matched with Blackbow on their Irish Handicap marks and I think this has been the plan for Eclair De Beaufeu since finishing 2nd in this race last year. He fell in a Grade 2 chase afterwards before falling again at Fairyhouse over hurdles. He has since got his confidence back over hurdles with a 15th and 6th place finishes at Leopardstown in December and February respectively. He was rated 149 when finishing 2nd last year and currently rated 153 by the Irish Handicapper. I think this 4lb higher mark will be seen as fair by the British Handicapper and this will be the mark Eclair De Beaufeu runs off.

Duc Des Genievres @ 20/1 NRNB

I know some of you will instantly scratch Duc Des Genievres as he won a ‘weak Arkle’ which may well have been true but I think that race is better than it looked particularly when it comes to handicaps. Us And Them who ran on into 2nd that day finished a staying on 3rd in this Grand Annual last year. He raced off 148 and can race off 147 this year however although Duc Des Genievres is essentially 11lb worse off, he beat Us And Them with such ease that I think his weight is about right through Us And Them. I also think since then Duc Des Genievres has improved with his 2nd at Cheltenham in November and 3rd at Kempton in December being very good efforts. He likes to try and dominate and race close to pace but at Ascot last time they changed tactics and I think that was a plan to try and drop his mark a lb or 2. Off 158 I think he can go well back at Cheltenham.

On The Slopes @ 20/1 NRNB

I think NRNB is important here as although I think he would have a great chance, if something has been niggling him then I don’t think he will be risked. If he is fit and his wind op has sorted him out and the likely application of a tongue tie then he could go very close. I posted this last year after Simply The Betts beat him at Cheltenham.

It’s fair to say the form did work out well with Simply The Betts and Imperial Aura winning at Cheltenham whilst On The Slopes went on to win his next 2 races at Kempton. This season however his form hasn’t been anywhere near that level and he’s finished 5th twice at Cheltenham beaten 10 lengths and nearly 16 lengths. He was sent off just 11/2 and 3/1 for these races however and if he ran here he would be running off a mark of 140 which is 2lb and 3lb lower than when he was expected to go close in October and November. If the wind op does do it’s trick then he could well be one of the gambles from this race. His form in the Spring is also generally better than this Winter form.

Champion Bumper

I don’t currently have a bet in the Champion Bumper. After the weekend, I can’t see Kilcruit getting beat! Hollow Games at 20/1 interests me but I am not sure how strong the form is.

Marsh Novices Chase

I don’t currently have a bet in the Marsh Novices. If Hitman is entered in another race before hand to get his confidence back then I would be interested in him at a big price and hope I can take some NRNB at that time.

Pertemps Final (Last Year 131 – 152)

The Bosses Oscar @ 25/1

The Bosses Oscar was highlighted straight after his run last year in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle and was again highlighted on the TurfTalk Podcast where he was my horse to follow with this race in mind. He’s done everything right except maybe finishing too close on his last 2 runs and is now rated 143 in Ireland and 151 in England. He may do well to overcome this but we are on at a big price. The difference however from many who have tried off big weights is The Bosses Oscar is still lightly raced and only a 6 year old.

Mohaayed @ 25/1

Has sadly passed away.

Third Wind @ 33/1

Third Wind finished 4th in this race last year off a mark of 141 and although 5lb higher, he was beaten by Sire Du Berlais (Graded horse), The Storyteller (Graded horse) and Tout Est Permis (very well handicapped over hurdles). He was only 6 and now a 7 year old I think he will have even more to give. The 5lb higher mark I don’t think is an issue and it wasn’t a bad run last time out when running in the Grade 1 at Ascot behind some proper Grade 1 horses.

Mrs Milner @ 33/1 NRNB

Was backed with NRNB in case she didn’t get in and after falling at the weekend in a Mares Handicap Hurdle she is unlikely to get in currently. She’s rated 129 and would need to win a race very soon. If she was able to win a race and get in then I think she has a great chance. She finished 2nd to On The Blind Side at Cheltenham with the previous winner of the race back in 3rd. She then finished 4th in the Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown when given a ride surely to just qualify. Having been very good when held up, they went forward and unsurprisingly she got tired late on and faded back to 4th but I think that was perfect.

Champagne Platinum @ 16/1 

Before his qualifier his trainer suggested this was a good stepping stone for the Final. 1 he had not qualified, 2 the use of the words ‘stepping stone’ were very interesting. His 3rd behind Flash The Steel was a good effort and he only had to finish in the top 6 to qualify. James didn’t really do a lot until the race was over and he finished strongly for 2nd. He was cut by many to much shorter prices much quicker.

If Mrs Milner doesn’t make the race , Southfield Harvest is one I’m keeping a close eye on.

Ryanair Chase

Fakir D’Oudaries @ 50/1

Highlighted in our ‘Where Are They Now’ blog post. This 50/1 looks a great price now after he ran another good race for 2nd behind Chacun Pour Soi. He’s not going to win a Champion Chase and was tried over 3m which didn’t work so the obvious target looks to be the Ryanair Chase. He does have Cheltenham form as well having won a Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle Trial, finished 4th in the Supreme Novices as a Juvenile and finished 2nd in an Arkle as a 5 year old.

Saint Calvados @ 10/1

Also highlighted in our ‘Where Are They Now’ blog post. He has since contested the re-arranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown. He was still travelling ok having been held up off the pace when unseating at the 17th. There was still about 1m to go and that would have been important for connections to know whether he would have got home and could have run in the Gold Cup. Due to not knowing and with the pulled up effort from Min at Leopardstown, I think this will convince connections that they should be running in the Ryanair now.

Stayers Hurdle

Honest Vic @ 66/1

Honest Vic was highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog and although he finished last of 10 in a Jumpers Bumper, it was exactly that a Bumper. He’s a proven 3m and this race was surely as a fitness run. I still think at Cheltenham in a strongly run race where he can be ridden patiently he can run a big race here.

Ronald Pump @ 20/1

was also highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog and his close 2nd to Honeysuckle now looks very good form. He wants 3m and the step back up in trip at the Cheltenham Festival can definitely see him run a big race.

Paisley Park @ 2/1 NRNB

Paisley Park is a Grade 1 horse through and through and yet I’m not sure many of the others are. I think Sire Du Berlais and The Storyteller are just short of top Grade 1 ability and some of the others do not strike me as being as good as these. Paisley Park got beat by Thyme Hill who is a Grade 1 horse and then beat him at Ascot after stripping fitter for his return from heart issues. I really think Paisley Park should be even money here.

Paddy Power Plate (Last Year 140 – 157)

Spiritofthegames @ 25/1

Spiritofthegames is surely coming back here again after finishing 5th, 3rd and 6th in handicaps at the festival for the last 3 years. He has entry at Warwick on Saturday and that would be his 3rd run of the season which is his norm before returning to the festival. Off his current 147 mark (2lb lower than last year) you would be confident he would run another big race.

Mister Whitaker @ 33/1

Was highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog post. He’s not been seen since finishing 6th at Wetherby behind Cyrname. He wants better ground and he’s not been able to find that recently and as such hasn’t been seen on a racetrack for a while.

Janidil @ 16/1

Was highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog post. Off 148 I think he can go close in this race if allowed to take his chance. He’s ran in 3 Grade 1 races in his last 4 with the other being a beginners chase. His fall last time out at Leopardstown isn’t ideal but hopefully that convinces JP to run him in the handicap and that he may find things too tough in the Graded races.

Happy Diva @ 33/1 NRNB

Happy Diva finished 2nd in this race last year off 149 beaten 1 1/4 lengths by the handicap gamble Simply The Betts. This year she could run off 145 having been dropped 4lb for her most recent run which I think was a crazy amount. Her form at Cheltenham reads B2212F and I think she can go very close here.

Oldgrangewood @ 25/1 NRNB

4th in this race last year behind the rapidly improving Simply The Betts and my 2 other selections so I can’t ignore Oldgrangewood particularly as he is 1lb lower this year and it’s very interesting to see Dan and Harry have not entered Spiritofthegames here. I’m hoping that’s because they expect a massive run from Oldgrangewood and felt they could split the pair up. He wouldn’t need to find much to turn his 4th from last year into a 1st this year.

Mares Novice Hurdle

I don’t have any bets currently in the Mares Novice Hurdle. No Concertista @ 33/1 this year sadly.

Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Last Year 135 – 145)

Kilfilum Cross @ 33/1

Kilfilum Cross was highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog. This race could become messy as it’s normally for Amateur jockeys only but at the moment they are not allowed to ride. Alex Edwards the usual jockey for Kilfilum Cross at the festival has turned pro so he can ride. So if BHA then decided amateurs can ride and this is for amateur riders only, can Alex return to being an amateur? His 2nd and 3rd at previous festivals suggest he would have been aimed at this race again and having not been seen since pulling up at Ludlow he is back down to 3lb lower than when 2nd in this race last year. He would have just sneaked in off 135 last year.

Bob Mahler @ 33/1

Had Pulled up 3 times since finishing 3rd at the Cheltenham Festival and had dropped from 142 to 137 before running in the Edinburgh National on soft ground. He finished 3rd but was well beaten and has dropped another 2lb for that and is now on the 135 cusp from last year. Off a 7lb lower mark you would be confident of a big run if he gets in.

Big River @ 25/1

Big River has finished 4th and 5th in the Ultima Handicap Chase for the last 2 years and both times has finished strongly to be never nearer. These 2 runs have come off marks of 140 and 141 and this year could run off 139. However an easier option and a better trip for him would be this Kim Muir. I would be confident of another good run in the Ultima Handicap Chase but a very big run in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

Hold The Note @ 12/1 NRNB

Hold The Note ran a cracker last year at the Festival when 3rd behind Imperial Aura (Ryanair Bound) and Galvin (NH Chase bound). Connections have maintained that he is a National horse of the future and may now just be getting to grips with this 3m trip. The 3m2 trip will definitely be a test for him but in moderate handicap company over this trip could see that he gets it and is a class above these.

Triumph Hurdle

I don’t have any bets currently in the Triumph Hurdle. I hope the British can have a French bred impressive newcomer in the Adonis in a couple of weeks time!

County Hurdle (Last Year 133 – 150)

Buildmeupbuttercup @ 25/1

Buildmeupbuttercup was highlighted in the ‘Where Are They Now’ blog post. His 4th behind Saint Roi, Aramon and Embittered is good form and although she disappointed at Leopardstown on heavy going at the weekend this wouldn’t put me off as she probably wasn’t ‘going for it’ at Leopardstown with a return to Cheltenham more on their radar.

Tiger Tap Tap @ 25/1 NRNB

Tiger Tap Tap finished 7th beaten 13 lengths at Leopardstown. I think he’s getting very close to being well handicapped. He’s dropped another 1lb to 131 and is only 6 and I think on better going he can run a big race. I would want NRNB here as he’s not guaranteed to run off 131. If the British Handicapper gives him 2 or 3 lb he would still be 5 or 6lb lower than last year.

Mengli Khan @ 33/1 NRNB

Mengli Khan is very interesting for me and I hope connections run him in this race and not the Grand Annual. He’s got a mark of 142 over hurdles compared to 148 over fences which for a horse who has finished 3rd in a Supreme Novices Hurdle and 3rd in a JLT Novices looks very workable. LiveLoveLaugh who was 2nd when Mengli last won has since finished 2nd in a feature handicap at Leopardstown whilst Mengli Khan’s last 2 runs in Jumpers Bumpers were not bad efforts at all.

Eclair De Beaufeu @ 12/1

I backed this one for the Grand Annual and hopefully they are coming here as they are confident that Embittered goes very close in the Grand Annual. He was probably going to win on his first run over hurdles and after falling, this could well have been the plan after 2 confidence boosters. I thought he could close in the Grand Annual off 153 so running off 139 over hurdles I can’t not back him here. Unchanged: I backed this one for the Grand Annual and hopefully they are coming here as they are confident that Embittered goes very close in the Grand Annual. He was probably going to win on his first run over hurdles and after falling, this could well have been the plan after 2 confidence boosters. I thought he could close in the Grand Annual off 153 so running off 139 over hurdles I can’t not back him here.

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

Appreciate It @ 12/1

Appreciate It was highlighted by me after he finished 2nd in the Champion Bumper and I thought he would be stepped up in trip. I got that wrong and he’s shown he was good enough to win Grade 1 races over 2m.

Barbados Bucks @ 12/1 NRNB

Barbados Bucks has been improving with every run and won nicely last time out and looks a future chaser and needs all of this 3m trip. His defeat of Fantastikas looks a good bit of form and I think he’s the best British chance here and would be surprised if connections didn’t run him here. I think he can serve it up to the Irish.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Minella Indo @ 14/1

Was highlighted after he finished 2nd last year in the RSA Chase where I believe he was the best horse in the race. A fall at Leopardstown in the packed Savills Chase wasn’t really anything to worry about but his recent 4th of 5 at Leopardstown left more question marks. He did make a couple of mistakes and will need to jump better at Cheltenham to get involved at the finish.

Santini @ 10/1

Santini is now available at 14/1 and I think that’s actually a good price. He wants 3m+ at a stiff track. His 3m run at Aintree saw most of the fences taken out which meant it was a flat race whilst 3m at Kempton in the King George was for me a terrible bit of placing. It was never going to suit and he ran ok but I don’t think he should have run. At Sandown last time he ran ok but found the quick fences making him do things too quickly (he wasn’t impressive when he beat Takingrisks at Sandown before) and that doesn’t suit him. I think he can still go very close at the Cheltenham Festival where things will be more to his liking. 13212 at Cheltenham and 322 at the Cheltenham Festival demonstrates this is where he gives his best.

Mares Chase

I don’t have a bet in the Mares Chase currently.

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle (Last Year 136 – 145)

Dallas Des Pictons @ 33/1 NRNB

Dallas Des Pictons finished 2nd in this race 2 years ago behind Early Doors after the front pair were both very well backed. He ran just a few days ago in the final Pertemps Qualifier but didn’t run very well at all and didn’t qualify but I do wonder whether this was simply experience for Mr Gainford who could ride Dallas Des Pictons in this race. Gigginstown also had Milliner in the qualifier and was probably the one they wanted to get qualified (unlikely to be high enough rated after failing to win). Off 142 and back in this more suitable race I think he can run a big race.

Eglantine Du Seuil @ 33/1 NRNB

Eglantine Du Seuil beat Concertista at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019 with Black Tears and Indefatigable behind. That is a serious piece of form but she’s not hit those heights since. Arguably her best run and since moving to Paul Nicholls came when finishing 2nd to The White Mouse at Cheltenham in December. She finished 11th last year off 149 in the Coral Cup and could run this year off 143 however I think the easier Martin Pipe (145 rating limit) would make more sense particularly as it’s over a slightly shorter trip which I think would suit her more.

Night Edition @ 40/1 NRNB

Night Edition runs in the Morebattle Hurdle later today and there are a few reasons that I think he may win that race and then come to the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival. The Morebattle Hurdle this year is a bonus race meaning if you win it and then any race at Cheltenham you win a £100,000 bonus. This is similar to the bonus offered for winning the Imperial Cup at Sandown and then a race at the Cheltenham Festival. That bonus has been won 3 times, twice by Martin Pipe and once by David Pipe. Night Edition ran at the Cheltenham Festival last season (after winning in February) and finished 2nd in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap behind Aramax where both he and Aramax pulled away up the hill (6 were in the air at the last together). He’s 4lb lower at Kelso and would if he won get a 5lb penalty meaning he’s only 1lb higher at the Cheltenham Festival than his 2nd last year. He also looks like a step up in trip will suit and you can imagine David Pipe will be really keen to win a race named in honour of his father.

Mill Green @ 33/1

Mill Green finished 6th in this race last year and returns off the same mark. He ran on strongly at the finish and arguably finished as strong as The Bosses Oscar did. The Bosses Oscar has finished 2nd in the Pertemps Final this year off a much higher mark whilst the winner Indefatigable finished a good 4th in the Mares Hurdle and the 4th placed Happygolucky finished 2nd in the Ultima. The race looked like it was a strong event and whilst Mill Green hasn’t won since he hasn’t really had a race which suited. A 5th not beaten far in a Jumpers Bumper and then 4th over fences over arguably too far. That race however was a good race with the winner having competed in a Grade 1 before that, the runner up has finished 4th at the Cheltenham Festival and the 3rd has won a Novice chase (albeit at 1/12). The better ground should suit and I think he can run a decent race here under the same jockey as last year.