Avenir D’Une Vie
Avenir D’Une Vie ran in 6 NHF races between November 2015 and April 2016 winning twice and finishing 2nd once. He was thought good enough to contest both the Cheltenham Champion Bumper where he finished 7 lengths 12th and finished 5th in Irish Champion Bumper at Punchestown. At Cheltenham he turned into the straight travelling ominously well but found very little and this could have been down to the ground. Lavirco progeny have just a 7% strike rate on good going which he encountered at Cheltenham compared to a 14% strike rate on soft going and an even better 28% strike rate on heavy. Lavirco progeny also generally improve for going hurdling as the likes of Arkwrisht and So Young have proved. We think he ran some great races last season despite not having conditions to suit and Gigginstown often purchase horses who are better hurdlers and even better chasers and whilst he may not be at his best until chasing, we think he will play a big part in some smart races in Ireland on the softer conditions. Gigginstown have obviously taken this away from Willie Mullins
Aux Ptits Soins
Aux Ptits Soins has only had 2 runs under rules in the UK and they were over a year apart due to injury. After winning the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015, injury meant he only returned for World Hurdle in 2016 with no runs in between. In a well run race he travelled well for a long way in the World Hurdle before getting tired late on. Whether this was fitness or he didn’t stay is unclear but what is clear is he clearly possess a lot of talent and if he can come back this year a fitter horse he could well be one who challenges for the big honours. We would probably prefer to see him sent over fences as many Saint Des Saints progeny are even better over fences than they are hurdles.
Bertie Boru is a horse I am confident is well handicapped however he does suffer from jumping issues and also gets left behind early in his races. His last win came off a mark of 129 at Newbury when running on from out of the clouds over 2m6f and since then he has run well without really troubling the winners but has been eyecatching nearly every run. If his jumping has been sorted out at home then I am convinced he will win a couple of races this year and if he can go up enough in the weights then the Bet365 Gold Cup at the end of the season would be the long term target.
Blow by Blow
Blow By Blow is another Gigginstown Horse that has been moved from Willie Mullins and is now with Gordon Elliott. Blow By Blow started off last season in December and finished a neck 2nd on Bumper debut before winning his next 3 bumpers including the Champion Bumper at Punchestown when narrowly denying Moon Racer. Bacardy’s and Avenir D’Une Vie were also behind that day. Being by Robin Des Champs he is surely going to improve for a step up in distance and seeing a hurdle and even a fence in time. He looks a thorough stayer by the way he was outpaced early before finishing well in his bumpers. If he takes to hurdling we can see him playing a big part in some of the big prizes in Ireland and even coming over to England to contest a big race at the Cheltenham Festival. I would suggest that the Albert Bartlett would be the long term target at the moment.
Jenkins was a horse that caught our eye when he was an easy at Newbury in early April so had already missed the big festivals. After winning well he was sent to Ireland for the Goffs Land Rover Bumper and despite trading at 1.03 in the run he was caught close home. He raced more prominently at Punchestown and it may be that Punchestown didn’t quite suit and he was only beaten ½ length. He looks the type and being by Azamour that should take to hurdling well with Taper Tantrum proving already this season. His bumper run at Punchestown has also already been franked this season with 3rd and 4th (who were comfortably beaten) finished 1st and 2nd in a bumper at Galway and the pair pulled well clear. He’s sure to start out at 2 miles and possibly go up to 2m4f but time will tell but wherever he goes he should be one to follow.
Karalee is the first Mare on the list and unsurprisingly it is trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Rich Ricci who has Vroum Vroum Mag, Limini and Annie Power already. Karalee has only had the one run to date in Ireland and she was a comfortable winner at Killarney. She hasn’t been since this race in early May and is likely to be aimed at the Grade 2’s and 3’s Mares Hurdle races which connections would hope she could win. In time she could be seen over a fence and it’s all down to what Rich Ricci does with his other talented mares and geldings as he also has Djakadam, Vautour and Faugheen to try and keep apart. Wherever she runs though she is one to very much keep onside.
Milsean was one of our Ante-Post selections for the 2015 Cheltenham Festival and he ran a cracker to finished 2nd to Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett. Injury meant he was unable to run last season but hopefully he will be back this season. If he is then it would be no surprise to see him sent over fences. By Milan he should improve significantly in chases as they have a 15.6% strike rate compared to a 11.8% strike rate over hurdles. He wasn’t stopping at Cheltenham in 2015 and this 3m trip or further would be ideal for him and with an injury free year the RSA Chase would probably be his target or even the 4m National Hunt Challenge Chase. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes back from injury and over what distance.
Shantou Village was one of the horses that excited us the most last season and after winning twice in easy fashion he was beaten on bottomless ground at Cheltenham on trials day. Despite this he was sent off just 7/2 for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and after travelling well for most of the race he stopped quickly and was later reported to be injured. He has since come back this year over fences and jumped nicely to win at Fontwell at a very short 2/11 price. He’s due to have his next outing over fences at the Weekend at Cheltenham and we expect him to win this and put his name already at this early stage in the frame for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. He’s currently available at 25/1 but being by Shantou should improve for going chasing and if he wins on Saturday he will be shorter already!
Which One Is Which
Which One is Which had 2 runs last year Bumpers and after winning easily on her first start she finished a good 2nd at Cheltenham behind Copper Kay when possibly given too much to do. The winner went on to run some nice races in Mares Graded events and horses who finished behind having also done well including Sunshine Corner, Morning Herald and Colin’s Sister. Being by King’s Theatre going over hurdles should really suit and they have a terrific record over all sorts of distances and at Cheltenham with The New One, Menorah, Shaneshill, L’Ami Serge and Cue Card all being by King’s Theatre. We expect her to run some big races this season and the Mares Novice Hurdle would be the obvious target at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Voix Du Reve
Voix Du Reve had 3 runs last season for Willie Mullins and despite not winning on any of these runs he went incredibly close. After a ½ length 2nd on debut at Fairyhouse he ran his 2nd race in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival and looked to still be travelling really well when coming down at the last. He returned at Sandown for a handicap hurdle and after racing keenly in a much slower race he was unable to get past the talented Wolf of Windlesham. By Voix Du Nord we are very much he goes chasing this season as we are confident this will suit and should help him settle more. If he does then he could be a live contender for the Arkle at this early stage.