With just over a month to go, it’s time we went through the feature races in depth analysing which horses are probably going to have a say in the finishes of these races. In the first part we are going to look at the Novice Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.
Supreme Novices Hurdle
The Supreme Novices Hurdle currently has a short priced favourite in Min for Willie Mullins and Mr Rich Ricci. Having won this race for the last 3 years with Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan anything that proved to be their number 1 for this race was going to be a short priced however his form has looked very strong.
Coming over from France he was already being talked about and there were whispers that he was class when he was as big as 12/1 for this race and he made his debut in Ireland at Punchestown where always going well he eased clear in impressive fashion to win by 14 lengths from Gurteen (1 NHF and 1 hurdle win since from 2 runs). The rest of the field have failed to impress but these were a long way behind. Returning to Punchestown he won the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle by 9 ½ lengths again unextended with the 3rd that day since winning a Listed event. In winning the Moscow Flyer hurdle he has followed in the footsteps of Vautour and Douvan who both won this on the way to Cheltenham Festival glory. Being by Walk in the Park, he is a half brother to Douvan who was an impressive winner at Cheltenham and therefore the course shouldn’t be a problem. It probably comes down to whether the English Form or Irish Form is stronger which is unclear at the moment.
Altior is 2nd in the betting and trained by Nicky Henderson who was responsible for the 2nd favourite last year and has been the biggest threat to Willie Mullins in this race for the last 3 years despite not winning it since 1992. My Tent Or Yours, Vaniteux, Josses Hill and L’Ami Serge have all run well (the latter was hampered when only 4th) and looks to be the chief threat again to Willie Mullins. Altior won once in NHF races before being beaten at Newbury and Punchestown in hot races but has been a revelation since going hurdling. Winning his first hurdle race by 34 lengths he has improved with every run and was last seen winning at Kempton beating Open Eagle by 13 lengths (since finished 2nd in a Grade 2). He has a win over hurdles at Cheltenham to his name when beating the ill-fated Maputo and this course experience will have done him good. This race at Cheltenham hasn’t produced a winner of the Supreme Novices in a while however some do run well including Cue Card (4th in the Supreme) although this years race hasn’t worked out that well yet.
Buveur D’Air is the 2nd of the Henderson team to be looking threatening to Willie Mullins and Min and will likely be coming into this with 2 wins under his belt over hurdles from 2 races. His first effort at Newbury was very impressive with a 11 length defeat of Wait For Me (2 wins from 2 hurdles since) before winning easily enough at Huntingdon. His win at Newbury has been really well franked with 2nd (twice),3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th all winning since with a further 4 placed efforts from just 18 runners. His subsequent win at Huntingdon didn’t really show anything as he was far too good and sauntered clear after turning into the straight. It could well be that Buveur D’Air ends up being the Henderson first string but both should be able to serve it up to Min and give him a run for his money.
Yorkhill is next in for Willie Mullins and after proving to be a high class NHF performer he has been impressive in his 2 hurdle victories at Punchestown over 2m4f before dropping back to 2m at Sandown for the Tolworth Hurdle. His hurdles debut at Punchestown hasn’t worked out too bad with the 3rd winning since and his Tolworth Hurdle win has only been tested once with 5th placed Cyrus Moriviere winning a Novices hurdle very easily. Both his wins have come on heavy going and better going shouldn’t be that much of an issue as Presenting progeny can act on all going types however whether the course will suit isn’t as clear. Yorkhill will probably be a strong horse having raced on heavy going and will be finishing fast if he can keep up as he’s probably bred for a bit further and he would probably go closer in the Neptune Novices Hurdle. Chasing is surely his game in the future although he certainly has the ability to run a good race here.
Gordon Elliott could run Tombstone in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and he has been reported as saying he’s not scared of Min however having won over hurdles and two NHF races he has been beaten over hurdles by Long Dog but may have been unfortunate that day and lacked the experience of the winner who had won his last 5 hurdle races coming into that race. The race hasn’t really been tested yet but being by Robin Des Champs you know he should have plenty of ability. Being a half-brother to Quevega and Vautour you would imagine he will be able to handle the course and with speed and stamina in abundance he should be able to run a big race if this is the race that he runs in.
Supasundae ran in the Cheltenham Bumper last year and finished 6th behind Moon Racer with Modus, Wait For Me and Yanworth all in front of him. Beaten on hurdles debut he stepped up on that to win at the 2nd time of asking, winning impressively from Silver Concorde who hasn’t really shown himself to be a hurdler having now been beaten 3 times. His form on the flat and in NHF races reads much better and it may be that hurdles just catch him out a bit. Supasundae will need to step up on that win and is flat bred so may struggle to get close to those who are likely to be involved.
Bellshill is also entered here but is likely to be stepped up to the Neptune Novices Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett.
Silver Concorde has been mentioned above and his form over hurdles doesn’t look as strong as it should be to get involved here. Beaten on all 3 hurdle runs to date, he was 2nd to Blair Perrone who is only rated 137, 4th beaten 15 lengths by Nichols Canyon and then comfortably beaten by Supasundae and it would be a surprise if he were able to reverse that form at the Cheltenham Festival.
Modus finished 2nd in the Champion Bumper last year having finished 8th the year before. His experience probably helped him here and after winning his first 2 hurdle races at Taunton and Newbury he was beaten fair and square at Taunton by Miles to Milan who has been beaten since. His main aim may well be the Betfair Hurdle before-hand now that he has got a handicap mark.
Moon Racer won the Champion Bumper last year despite not getting away cleanly and having to make up ground gradually along the inside. He was going clear at the finish and his form looked very strong. An early setback this season meant he has yet to make his hurdles debut and if he runs at the festival he is likely to go straight there and it would take a very good horse to win on hurdles debut in this race. He wouldn’t be completely outclassed but the lack of experience may find him out.
Long Dog has won his last 6 hurdle races including 2 Grade 1 races at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown. Owned by Mr Rich Ricci it would be a surprise if he ran in the Supreme Novices Hurdle against Min and is likely to be seen if at all in the Neptune Novices Hurdle.
Wait for Me is an interesting runner in the Supreme Novices having finished 2nd in the really well franked Novice Hurdle against Buveur D’Air and finished 2nd despite jumping really poorly. He since went on to win a Novice Hurdle at Newbury in a race again that has been well franked with 2nd winning since and both 6th and 8th winning twice each since from 2 races. He didn’t jump well again at Kempton but if Querry Horse turns out to be a smart horse then his defeat of him giving him 16lb could be a very good run. The tight track at Kempton may not have suited as his form had all come at Newbury and Cheltenham and Ascot. If he hurdles more fluently on better going then he could well get involved with those at the head of the market.
Whilst Min could be a future star the form of Buveur D’Air can’t be knocked and Altior has also won well whilst if Wait for Me jumps better then he may be overpriced at his odds of 33/1. The short price of Min means we have to look elsewhere in a race where until we have formlines to prove whether the Irish form is stronger than the English Form you can’t be backing an 11/8 favourite.
Neptune Novices Hurdle
The Neptune Novice Hurdle now has a clear favourite after a very impressive display at the weekend from Yanworth at Cheltenham when beating Shantou Village by 7 lengths.
Yanworth won 2 NHF races last year before finishing 2nd at Ascot behind Supasundae and then 4th in the Champion Bumper and has continued progressing over hurdles with 4 wins to his name. His first 2 wins came at Exeter and Warwick where the runners up have since won with Le Prezien who he beat at Warwick also finishing a close 2nd in a Supreme Novices Trial at Warwick. A win at Ascot followed for Yanworth but the margins of his defeats were nothing special. It wasn’t until he was stepped up in distance for the Neptune Novices Trial at Cheltenham where he really impressed. Always travelling well he pulled away after the last from Shantou Village who had looked really impressive up to then. Being by Norse Dancer it’s not clear if this improvement came from the step up in distance or the heavy going and if it was the latter then this could be a worry as it’s unlikely to be heavy at Cheltenham. All this said, the way he travels in his races should mean he can cruise through the race at the festival and should be there or thereabouts.
Bellshill is entered here as well as the Supreme Novices however this is his more likely option after Willie Mullins suggested he wouldn’t be dropped back in distance. After finishing 10th in the Cheltenham Bumper he was much better and finished a good 2nd behind Barters Hill at Aintree before ending his NHF career with a win at Punchestown in the Grade 1 where Modus, Altior and Supasundae were behind. After winning on Hurdles debut at Cork he beat a subsequent winner in Hurry Henry. He stepped up to 2m4f at Navan in a Grade 2 where he comfortably beat Tycoon Prince in a race that had previously been won by Boston Bob, Pont Alexandre and Briar Hill. He then came out again and won at Naas beating Last Encounter and Anibale Fly. Anibale Fly had previously shown some very smart form and this form may prove to be a decent bit of form. Despite only finishing 10th in the Bumper last year he should improve on this in the Neptune Novices Hurdle or Albert Bartlett as King’s Theatre progeny have a great record here when sent hurdling. The highest rated King’s Theatre progeny in recent years are Cue Card, The New One, Menorah, Voler La Vedette, Fingal Bay, Wichita Lineman, Shaneshill and L’Ami Serge all of whom have smart form at the Cheltenham Festival.
Yorkhill is also entered here however having recently dropped back to 2m for the Tolworth Hurdle it probably indicates that he is going to run in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
A Toi Phil is also entered in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and Neptune Novices Hurdle however having raced over 2m2f and 2m4f you imagine that he is going to run in this race. His win at Leopardstown on his first completion after running out on his first run has been well franked with the runner up Don’t Touch It winning since at Leopardstown easily beating Beau Mome. 6th place Master Ruffit who was beaten 109 lengths has also run and won since. A Toi Phil then went on to run in a Grade 2 hurdle at Leopardstown where he won impressively and comfortably beating the 2nd and 3rd favourite and thus probably showing this was a race run at a proper tempo. This race had previously been won by Boston Bob, Pont Alexandre and Outlander all of whom ran well at the festival whilst last years renewal was responsible for 3 Cheltenham winners and 1 placed runner. A Toi Phil isn’t being raved about however he’s done nothing wrong and his form looks strong and he may be a dark horse in this race.
Long Dog was in sensational form before his winter break winning his last 6 races including 2 Grade 1 races and has to be respected. His most recent win came when beating Tombstone at Leopardstown over 2m but with Min already entered in the Supreme Novices it’s likely that Long Dog steps back up in distance having won over 2m5f before. A concern would be that in his 6 races only Three Stars and After Rain have won since with the latter also being beaten in a handicap off a mark of 123. Three Stars however was winning a Grade 3 hurdle but this looks behind the form shown by Yanworth and Bellshill.
Shantou Village was very impressive winning a NHF race and Novice Hurdle and then a Grade 2 hurdle at Cheltenham before not running up to his best when only 2nd at Cheltenham behind Yanworth on heavy going. Connections have said that he hated the ground and won’t be running on it again. Should he get his preferred better going at the festival which is the norm at the festival then he is likely to be heading for the 3 mile Albert Bartlett Hurdle. On better going we think he could serve it up to Yanworth and others however the Albert Bartlett Hurdle would suit him more.
Tombstone, Barters Hill and Min are unlikely to run in this race.
Penglai Pavilion was disappointing last time out when beaten by Shantou Village however in a bigger field where the likely stronger pace will allow him to settle he may run a better race.
Yanworth looked impressive at the weekend and should play a big hand in the finish of this race whilst Shantou Village would surely be closer on better going but hopefully he’ll go for the Albert Bartlett. Bellshill has all the credentials to get involved here whilst A Toi Phil could be the dark horse of the race.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Barters Hill is the favourite for this race and is currently unbeaten in his 7 runs with 4 NHF races under his belt and 3 hurdles runs. He never looks the type that wants to put it all in and win easily without coming off the bridle but some of his form looks very strong. Defeats of Buveur D’Air, Altior and Bellshill in some of his NHF races was very good and although he’s unbeaten in hurdle races he has never looked comfortable and has to be ridden along out front from a long way out. His most recent win when beating Ballydine doesn’t look the best of form as this one had previously been beaten by Fingerontheswitch who has been beaten twice in handicaps. Barters Hill is also by Kalanisi and they are 0/37 at Cheltenham since 2010 and Kalanisi progeny form at the Cheltenham Festival reads 000327609P900 which is very poor and would be real worry.
Shantou Village was beaten in the Neptune Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham by Yanworth on heavy going however connections are convinced it was the ground that was responsible for a relatively poor show. Despite it being a poor run from him, he was still there jumping the last and still finished 2nd and back on better going he is likely to come back to his best. After winning a NHF race at Wetherby he made his hurdles debut over 2m4f on good going where he comfortably beat Delusionofgrandeur by 19 lengths. He has since won twice and finished 3rd to Ballydine (who was 2nd to Barters Hill). On a strict formline via Ballydine, Shantou Village may be about 7 lengths clear of Barters Hill. He is probably a chaser in the making and his action and style is very similar to RSA Chase favourite No More Heroes. If he ends up running here on going better than heavy then he is likely to run a very big race.
Up For Review was only 18th in the Champion Bumper last year once again disappointed when coming over to England when only 4th at Doncaster behind Barters Hill. His maiden hurdle win has been well franked with 3 wins and 5 placed subsequent efforts from his rivals with one of these placed efforts being in a Grade 2 hurdle. He was then stepped up to 3 miles where he comfortably beat Jetstream Jack and Nambour and he looked very impressive. Being by Presenting it may have been the better going that was the reason for a poor display and with Cheltenham likely to be of a similar good going this may not suit as well as the course not suiting which may have been the reason for him finishing just 18th in last years Bumper.
Gangster has won 3 times from 4 races over hurdles winning at 2m, 2m4f and 3m and therefore showed he has the speed and stamina to go well in any of the races at the festival. His most recent win came over 3m and this was probably his best bit of form and therefore this race looks the most suitable. He beat Last Encounter by 10 lengths on heavy going when showing a smart turn of foot in heavy conditions and Last Encounter went on to finish 2nd on his next start to Bellshill and beat Anibale Fly. He could be a dark horse in this race and may be one to get involved at a price.
Ballydine was beaten in a NHF race before being beaten on hurdles debut by Fingerontheswitch (since beaten twice in handicaps). Ballydine won over hurdles on his 2nd attempt beating Hawkhurst and then again at Newbury beatin Jonniesofa. Both of these were decent wins and the runners up have won but are not considered Cheltenham Festival hopes. His best run came last time out when finishing 2nd to Barters Hill at Doncaster. Finishing just ¾ length behind Barters Hill he has put himself in the running considering the winner is just 11/4 for the Albert Bartlett. On a strict formline with Delusionofgrandeur he would struggle to beat Shantou Village but deserves his place in this race.
Unowhatimeanharry has been a revelation since joining Harry Fry who he is unbeaten for with 2 easy wins in handicaps before winning a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in an Albert Bartlett trial back in December where he just beat Final Nudge. Final Nudge has since been well beaten into 5th at Warwick by Thomas Hobson although had run some good races before on better going including 4th to Barters Hill and 4th to Supasundae in NHF Races. Unowhatimeanharry would need to improve again but having won twice at Cheltenham already this season could be a place prospect.
With negatives about Barters Hill and Up For Review, Shantou Village looks a good selection here and was advised in the Premium Members forum at 14/1 for this race earlier this season. Gangster is certainly of interest in this race with some strong form whilst Unowhatimeanharry may run himself into a place.
Mares Novices Hurdle
Limini is a short priced favourite for the first running of this Mares Novice Hurdle and after winning on hurdles debut by ½ length from Sandymount Duke (won 4 times since and finished 3rd in a Grade 2 Hurdle) she was then sent to Fairyhouse where she beat her own sex in a Grade 3 hurdle by 11 lengths without coming off the bridle. Whether she could be as good as Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag in the future is something to look forward to but for now this would be a good stepping stone. A slight concern would be that she is flat bred and if the race is run at a fast pace this may not suit her. She probably will be the one to beat still.
Smart Talk put herself in the picture for this race after winning 4 of her 6 races including a Listed hurdle by 8 lengths beating a subsequent winner and then Smart Talk won a Grade 2 hurdle at Doncaster beating some much more experienced rivals including Pass The Time (6th in the Mares Hurdle last year). The novice event will mean she is kept away from Annie Power or Vroum Vroum Mag depending on which , if any of these turn up. The Mares Novice event is also over 2m1f compared to the 2m5f which the Mares Hurdle is run over and the shorter distance should suit Smart Talk more.
Myska won her first 3 races in a very impressive fashion but was very disappointing when last of 5 at Punchestown recently. She was however found to be coughing after the race and how much this would have taken out of her is unknown. If she can bounce back from this then she could well be a challenger for Limini should they both run as they are both trained by Willie Mullins. She too is by Presenting similar to Up For Review she may not appreciate the undulations of Cheltenham as much as some of her rivals and might not be worth risking unless she gets a confidence booster into her before going to the Mares Novice Hurdle.
Listen Dear is another Mare trained by Willie Mullins and this one is owned by the same owners as Myska and it would be a surprise if they were both to run. Listen Dear was only moderate in NHF races but has improved for a switch to hurdles and has improved for every run with the drop in distance also looking to suit. After being run down late on hurdles debut she stepped up on that when winning at Clonmel in very easy fashion although this does look like it was a weak race based on the rivals subsequent form. She then ran in a Grade 3 hurdle at Down Royal where she made light work of her rivals winning by 16 lengths when making all. The runner up went on to win a handicap and finish 2nd in a Listed race so she may not have beaten much but beat them how was expected. By Robin Des Champs she should cope with the course conditions at Cheltenham and if she is entered here then a big race should be expected.
Bloody Mary has been winning in Point to Points before making her rules debut at Taunton. Sent off a short priced favourite she tracked the leaders and was always travelling well before knuckling down late on to beat the more experienced Banyu. This was a good start and will obviously stay further in time having won in point to points. Being by Fragrant Mix chasing is surely her game and she won’t be at her best until then. She might run well but not likely to be able to beat a genuine hurdler.
Chocca Wocca has only had 2 runs in NHF races and was due to make her hurdling debut earlier this week however was pulled out on the day of the race. Having won her first NHF race by 4 lengths beating Wabnaki who went on to win her subsequent NHF race. Chocca Wocca then went on to run in a Mares Listed event at Aintree where she ran well to finish 2nd to Hollies Pearl. This race has worked out well with 8 subsequent winners in the race including Whistle Dixie who has since finished 3rd to Limini. Chocca Wocca is by Kayf Tara who have a very good record in NHF races but don’t do as well over hurdles and very often struggle at Cheltenham with just an 8% strike rate. She will probably need to run over hurdles before she can be considered a contender for this race.
Theatre Territory has only run once under rules in her career so far when finishing 3rd in a Mares Listed bumper at Cheltenham behind Copper Kay and Which One Is Which. Being a 3 mile point to point winner already she is sure to improve for when tackling hurdles and even fences and over further. Being by King’s Theatre her future looks promising and if she can have a spin over hurdles and impress then she would have to be considered for this race.
Which One Is Which stayed on well in the race won by Copper Kay to finish 2nd having been shuffled back at a crucial time. Having won on NHF debut beating Midnight Gem comfortably she stepped up to a Listed event and finished 2nd. Also by King’s Theatre she should also appreciate running over hurdles and they have a very good record at Cheltenham. If she can also have a spin before the festival then she would have to be considered for this race.
Limini has the strongest form to date and is probably going to take all the beating. Listen Dear could be her biggest danger if she is allowed to take her part whilst either of Theatre Territory or Which One Is Which could be interesting if she runs here.
Ivanovich Gorbatov is the short priced favourite for this race and puts his credentials on the line this weekend at Leopardstown. A flat bred horse he started life finishing 3rd in a maiden at Tipperary behind Vilman. His next 2 runs on the flat resulted in victories including in a handicap off a mark of 97 over 1m7f. It was therefore a surprise to see him sent hurdling but was very impressive when beating Let’s Dance from the Willie Mullins camp. The race has worked out well with 3rd, 4th and 9th all winning since. A concern would be that he is by Montjeu who have only had Hurricane Fly (twice) and Noble Prince win at Cheltenham since 2008 with a further 71 beat.
Fixe Le Kap won on British debut beating Tommy Silver where despite only winning by 1 length, he was always looking like the most likely winner and Jeremiah McGrath looked confident down the final straight. They pulled well clear of Kasakh Noir who had previously impressed over CD. Tommy Silver is due to run this weekend and this will be interesting to watch to see if he franks the form. Fixe Le Kap then went to Warwick and although he was meant to win hence his 10/300 price he won in the style of a very smart horse. He pulled clear late on to win by 28 lengths and deserves his place towards the head of the Triumph Hurdle market. Being by Kapgarde does however mean he has similar question marks to Ivanovich Gorbatov as since 2008 they have had just 4 wins from 52 runners of which 3 of these were Garde La Victoire.
Sceau Royal would be one of the most experienced in this race should he run as he has already had 5 runs over hurdles. His British debut was somewhat controversial as despite passing the post first he was disqualified and placed 2nd. He then finished a nose 2nd to Leoncavallo at Wetherby which again was good form before breaking his maiden tag at Warwick winning a poor race. With this confidence booster under his belt he went to Cheltenham and had a rematch with Adrien Du Pont and Leoncavallo. With the 3 all coming to the last together, Leoncavallo unseated and it left Sceau Royal and Adrien Du Pont to battle it out up the hill with Sceau Royal coming out on top. A subsequent win at Huntingdon was another experience gaining performance and he won comfortable as he should do. His win at Cheltenham was won in a good time and knowing he acts at the course he looks an interesting contender.
Let’s Dance has only had 1 run in Britain and this was when 2nd behind Ivanovich Gorbatov and although she may have grown over the winter it will be interesting to see if she has improved enough to challenge Ivanovich Gorbatov in their re-match this weekend. Being a Poliglote Filly she is highly likely to be able to cope with the Cheltenham course as previous Poliglote progeny include Spirit River, Don Poli, Far West and Hinterland all of whom won at Cheltenham whilst others who have run well at Cheltenham include Spirit Son (2nd in Supreme Novices), Top Notch (2nd in Triumph Hurdle) and Roi Des Francs (3rd in handicap at Cheltenham Festival). If Ivanovich Gorbatov again beats Lets Dance at the weekend, it will be interesting to see what prices they are respectively changed to.
Gibralfaro came over to England and joined the Alan King camp where he had his first run at Kempton and beat the then highly rated Duke of Medina who has since finished 5th in a Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham. After winning well enough he went to Ascot where once again he won by a short margin. That said he didn’t jump well, had to make his own running and was carrying a penalty. He looks like a horse that needs a lead and with the Triumph Hurdle likely to be run at a fast pace he should be able to settle better and this should help his jumping. He’s going to run in the Adonis hurdle first before going for the Triumph Hurdle and this extra experience should stand him in good stead. Dalakhani progeny have yet to trouble the judge since 2008 and this would be a concern as these flat bred horses seem to struggle on this NH bred favoured course.
Protek Des Flos hadn’t shown a great deal in France before making his British debut just last weekend. In a Grade 2 Triumph hurdle trial he was sent off 25/1 with plenty of Triumph hurdle potential horses in the race and coming down the hill he looked in a bit of trouble with Who Dares Wins and Clan Des Obeaux kicked on. They may have gone a bit early however and both came back to Protek Des Flos and Consul Des Thaix late on. Protek Des Flos finished best of all stayed on well up the hill to win by 1 ½ lengths. He obviously needs a strong pace which he got but was in receipt of 4lb from the runner up, and 7lb from the 4th placed horse who probably went too early. He’s sure to improve for the run but the fact that a Nicky Henderson horse won at 25/1 would be a concern that the horses in front emptied rapidly as opposed to this one staying on well.
Apples Jade won a 2m hurdle in France before being purchased by Gigginstown and sent to Willie Mullins. Pitched in a Grade 2 on British debut she was sent off 12/1 in a hot looking race. Despite racing a bit keen she moved into the race well and picked up well after the last to win narrowly beating the previously unbeaten Jer’s Girl by a head. Footpad who was 8 lengths back in 3rd has won since and had previously beaten Lagostovegas by 6 lengths and she had previously been beaten 9 lengths by Ivanovich Gorbatov and strictly on this formline then Apples Jade would have to be a serious contender to turn over Ivanovich Gorbatov should they meet in the Triumph Hurdle. Saddle Maker was responsible for last years Fred Winter runner up Bouvreuil and so if Apples Jade handles the course as expected then she could well be overpriced.
Jers Girl was only just beaten by Apples Jade at Leopardstown when attempting to make all. This forceful tactic beat all of her other rivals impressively with only Apples Jade able to reel her in. Her previous form of 2 wins had been very impressive and she deserved her place in the Grade 2 trial. Being by Jeremy the better going that she is likely to encounter at Cheltenham should suit her more and she may not get quite as tired late on. A half-brother to Our Conor she should handle the course and is probably overpriced as well and it could well be that this trial was the better in quality.
Who Dares Wins was a good winner on hurdles debut at Ludlow when knuckling down after jumping the last before going to Doncaster to run in Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial won last year by Peace and Co. Travelling well throughout he kicked clear late on to win by 20 lengths. He then came to Cheltenham again in a Grade 2 trial but was giving 4lb and 7lb away to his rivals for winning the Grade 2 at Doncaster. Racing keenly for most of the race he then kicked on with Clan Des Obeaux quite early and was eventually worn down. He faded slightly back into 4th but this was still a very good effort considering nothing really went right for him. Off level weights in the Triumph and with a pace to run against to help him settle he could well bounce back and reverse the form with his rivals here. Another one by Jeremy he has Our Conor in his list of relatives and looks overpriced based on that defeat.
Seven Kingdoms is one that could be overpriced and ignored in this race having won his only hurdle race to date. He was a very easy winner at Kempton having previously been trained in France where he had raced in Listed races. Before running in a Listed race he had beaten Tommy Silver over 1m4f by 8 ¼ lengths. If they have both progressed as well over hurdles then Seven Kingdoms is very much underrated as Tommy Silver had previously run the 2nd favourite for the Triumph Hurdle Fixe Le Kap to a length at Newbury. Seven Kingdoms has another run at the weekend in what looks a winnable race but will need to win to have any aspirations of competing with the best in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Unsure whether Ivanonvich Gorbatov will appreciate the Cheltenham course would be a concern and the form of Fixe Le Kap and Sceau Royal looks good. Apples Jade should improve for the run and could well have the race run to suit whilst Who Dares Wins now looked overpriced again as nothing went right for him at the weekend.
Our selections for our Cheltenham Festival Portfolio can be found in the Premium Members Forum.