Cheltenham Festival: Ante-Post Chat

Your Festival wagers/AP Portfolio…

The idea…

The Festival is just under 6 weeks away and excitement is building. Even I’m starting to get the buzz! It usually takes me until mid-February before I start thinking about the most exciting week of the year. During the winter jumps season I very much go from day to day and weekend to weekend. I don’t like what I call ‘premature festivalisation’ .. I find endless Festival chat, especially from November, to be boring, tiresome and pointless. It annoys me. I’m a firm believer that these great animals should be celebrated from race to race. But, that’s just my own view. Many don’t share it. But, from now on, my Festival embargo has been lifted on these pages. Talk away 🙂

The purpose of this post is to provide a space where you can chat away in the comments, discussing any ante-post fancies you have or horses you are looking forward to.

If you wish to share please state the horse, the race, and a sentence on why you fancy it. There is no point in just listing a horse (s) as that just defeats the object of the exercise. Also try and be succinct and keep comments short enough. 🙂 (a note for myself if nothing else!) That will help esp when you reply to certain comments and will allow readers to flick through with ease. This is very much a ‘horse based’ piece/comments section, NOT a general chat on Cheltenham/your approach. There will be a time for that. 

As with last year I look forward to reading your many thoughts and fancies.

I’m not a big Ante-Post player. Indeed you can count the number of AP bets i’ve had in recent years on about 3 fingers! I did throw £10 at Might Bite at 10/1 for the Gold Cup, at some point before Christmas. We shall see how that turns out. Bar it coming up testing, and bar him darting off to the right again, he should take all the beating I think. I wouldn’t touch him at his current odds.


The Festival 2018

As with last year there will be comprehensive coverage on this blog. Last year I put all content behind a paywall and will be doing so again. (members have full access as part of subscription)  That was a reflection of the amount of work I put in (10h+ days) and the fact we have done quite well in recent years. I tend to focus on 14 races.. the 10 handicaps and the other ‘marathon’ races… the NH Chase, Potato Race, RSA, Gold Cup.

I managed to find 4 winners from those races I tipped in (12/13 in the end): Tiger Roll (16s) , Tully East (10>8s), Presenting Percy (11s), Champagne Classic (20s>12s)

The week also includes the big handicap from Uttoxeter on the Saturday. Last year I added Chase The Spud (20s) to the haul of winners that week, giving any followers around +63 points or so to advised stakes (usually 1 point win, with a 25 point bank or so). Clearly I mite bite your hand off to repeat those results again! It is hard work but my unique approach has had some success. I’ll have a shocker one of these years but it’s great fun.

There will be more news in due course for those of you who wish to join me during that week. But that discussion is for another time. (it will be through ClickBank again so you can get a full refund ,no questions asked, if it gets to the end of the week and you didn’t enjoy it)

For now…

If you have any strong AP wagers or horses you are really looking forward to, then post away. Has anyone spotted a handicap plot job??

I look forward to reading your musings, and thanks for getting involved,





Post Comments

Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

62 Responses

  1. I only play at big prices Ante Post. I have two at present:

    Coney Island at 33/1 each way in the Gold Cup and Tiger Roll at 33/1 the stayers hurdle (non runner no bet), unlikely to run.

    There are so many good offers on the day that it is worth waiting in most cases.

    I said before on the blog that i knew a guy who had £20K on Buveir D’air at 5/2 as he thought Faugheen would go wrong. He will be watching Faugheen’s comeback with interest this week.

    1. Hi Martin

      I too have Coney Island backed, I’m concerned he’s not running this wknd though. Have you heard any update on next run, no chance he goes to the festival without a further prep.

      1. I think that he can have a run in February and still be OK for mid March. I would not worry too much as he is being trained for the race and they need to go steady in what is an open year.

  2. I don’t look at specific horses or races until the Monday before; Monday 12th March this year; just too many imponderables, Ground; Trainer Form, are they running; etc etc. As Martin says, there is just as much if not more value to be had on the day.

    What does intrigue me this year is the “top jockey” market. It is based on number of wins and not value of wins.

    Ruby is injured and on the wane but superb round Cheltenham
    Geraghty is also on the wane in my humble opinion
    Dicky is a bit like AP I feel ; great at winning poor run of the mill races but not enough rides on right horses at Festivals.

    The topic is compromised too by PFN having split options; Elliott having split options and Henderson also sharing the rides around. Then you have riders like Sam T-D and Tommy Scud who can cherry pick from a couple of good stables.

    You then have the handicap aces like Russell and Townend and the “amateurs” like Codd and O’Connor guaranteed to get good rides in any race but also with a built in advantage of 2-3 added races where the Pro’s can’t ride.

    Finally, you know that the Bowens; and a few of the UK and Irish girls are going to get a lot of offers to ride in handicaps with Claims and ability at a premium.

    I think this is a market best explored when we know who is fit and not fit and start to see entries but a week before may be very nice little side bet that few would consider. Far more open this year than in a long time IMHO

  3. Hi Josh

    My ante-post bets so far:

    Stayers Hurdle

    Bacardys – 16/1

    Willie Mullins recently confirmed that Bacardys would be heading to Cheltenham with the Stayers Hurdle now his target. He stays well and although he has yet to race beyond 2m 5f under rules he did win over 3m in a point-to-point and looks capable of improving for 3m at Cheltenham.

    Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase

    Coo Star Sivola – 25/12

    The 6-year-old has won over hurdles at Cheltenham but even more importantly he’s placed in big field handicap hurdles at the last two festivals. He was beaten just ¾ length into 3rd in the Fred Winter in 2016 and last year finished 4th in the Coral Cup. He has had three starts over fences this season and although he has yet to win his form figures being 522 and on his last start was 2nd to the useful Kalondra in a 2m 5f novice chase at Cheltenham.

    A sound jumper of a fence already he still has improvement in him over the larger obstacles. We already know he’s got previous festival form and big fields, as well as being seemingly ground versatile. Given his rating of 135 his likely target would seem to be the 2m 4f Close Brothers Handicap Chase on Day 1 of the Festival although he’s not certain to get into that race.

    Mister Whitaker – 20/1

    Had never run on going worse than good to soft but he showed he could be just as effective on soft ground on Saturday. Had more in hand than the official margin of victory 1 ¾ lengths suggest as he did idle – 20/1 is solid each way value and hoefully he can emulater Generous Ransom who finished 3rd in the Close Brother a couple of seasons back.

    Gold Cup –

    Saphir Du Rhu – 80/1

    Possibly my maddest ante-post bet off all time as I mentioned in my Monday Daily Punt column:

    Three of his best five Racing Post Ratings (RPR’s) have come at Cheltenham, two of those at the Festival. He was 5th in last years Gold Cup beaten just over 6 lengths by Sizing John. Looking back at the video of the race he travelled and jumped really well and was going as well as anything three out. All despite racing out widest and covering far more ground than those who finished in front of him. I would say he covered 9 lengths more than the winner.

    He will be making his seasonal reappearance next month probably in the Kelso race he won last year. In an open looking year I can see him reaching the frame this year.

  4. I should have added, if you can still get any 7/2 for Nicky Henderson to be Champion Trainer at the Festival I would a grab a bit of that too.

    1. Great stuff John, a fascinating read. I think I flicked through your DP article!

      Coo Star Sivola does interest me.. I fancied him LTO where he has run ok to a point… maybe the heavy ground has done for him, given his best previous form outside of novice company has had ‘good’ in the going description. That Festival form is worth noting. Maybe they will try and win a race in Feb, dot up, go up a few pounds, get in, and then improve even further for better going. His consistency will be rewarded at some point over fences, you can only think he will dot up in a handicap chase one day given his form.

      1. I like Bacardys at 16/1. Uknow…… is on a break now with Harry Fry and so will be fresh on the day and 10/1+ each way does not seem bad to me.

  5. Unlike many of you I am a big fan of antepost betting at Cheltenham now that NRNB is here (with Bookies like Bet365). I have nearly £1k invested so far & more will follow. Too numerous to mention but take, as an example, Mercenaire in the Fred Winter. At 20/1 NRNB with Bet365 I consider this a bet to nothing. It probably won’t run – so money back. If it does run it will go off, in my opinion, at a lot less than 20/1 so I will lay it off on Betfair – and I’ve got a “no lose” bet. Most of my antepost bets follow this same principle. With antepost betting I am looking for horses at a high price now who, if they do run, will go off at a lot lower price and can therefore be layed off, as with Mercenaire. If they don’t run, then with NRNB there is nothing lost.

  6. I backed Blaklion @130 for the Gold Cup and Wholestone today for the Stayers.
    I’ve a share in Divine Spear and will back that for the Close Bros. when we know he will run.

  7. Stayers hurdle looks good for Penhill(if he runs and is in top form)
    all the NRNB firms are going 8/1 but Ladbrokes are going 10/1
    but betfair looks the place to go if you want to back it £136 at 13/1 available

    shows the bad value of the anti post market with the bookies
    as there is a big gap 14 to back 28 to lay Penhill it suggests
    it isn’t certain he will be fit and ready to go

    1. Penhill has not run for ages and so I cannot see him coming back on the day and winning. Will he run beforehand?

      1. Good point Martin but there is one thing that interests me about the horse
        it is owned by Tony Bloom the
        mega soccer punter(runs Star LIzard and owns Brighton fc)

        Tony moved into racing with Harry Findlay and basically let Harry get on with it
        but I think he is starting to go on his own and land punts

        I thought it was very telling when he won the ces with Withold
        as the horse was laid out for all to see after the event.

        Penhill absolute thrashed Wholestone in the albert Bartlett
        beating him over 8l.
        Wholestone has a great record at Cheltenham and I think in the stayers anything finishing 8l in front of him
        will go very close.
        The way Penhill won last year also deeply impressed me settled off the pace cruised through and won how he liked.

        If you get a chance to watch the video on the race from last year I would respect your opinion
        to me he won in a canter.(josh and Ian opinion would also be much appreciated)
        If Bloom is planning a mega punt again then the fact it hasn’t run could be a positive

        1. I was there in 2017 when Penhill won and he did win well and looked progressive. I did play poker with The Lizard years ago when I played seriously. He is extremely intelligent and very astute. I was on the Witthold gamble on the flat and so have experience of his plots. The point I was trying to make but likely did not is that at the price I cannot see the value of backing a horse that has not run for quite a while and has had an actual setback. If he was 16/1 + I would be with you.

  8. Plumped for Presenting Percy and Glenloe for last years Pertemps. Luckily Percy collected but Glenloe did not run, Glenloe came from the rear to do just enough to qualify at Leopardstown so im thinking its been saved for the Pertemps this year. Im on at 25/33s. Currently 11/1 which normally means im done for!!

    Minella Rocco for the Gold Cup? Ifs and buts about a lot of the runners and one running to pick up any place money going over xmas in the grade one chase at Leopardstown imo . Festival winner in 2016 and second in Gold Cup last year. Given last two years im guessing will be 100% ready for the Gold Cup . 25/1 for me so far.

    Good luck

  9. OK 90% of these have been on the list since at least early November…and 1 or 2 well before that. So for a few the fancier prices that really made them worthwhile are long gone, but even those are still looking attractive enough in some cases……

    Championship Races/Proven Contenders – EW trebles

    Supreme – Claimantakinforgan
    Needs no words really, claim is obvious. Still a bit of 9-1 available with BF sportsbook, but actually it’s possible there might be 10-12/1 available on the day. Hot bumper form against number of horses that read like a who’s who of ‘potential big names of the next 4-5 years’ + 1 no longer with us that might have been top tree…and Claiman has done nothing wrong in 2 novices so far. One you can see running in Champion’s from 2019 onwards.

    Arkle – Sceaux Royal took what looked to be a reasonable field beforehand apart in the Henry 8th at Sandown in Dec. Was 25-1 about a week before that and that was obviously the time to be on. Generally 5s now which still looks only just about OK as a leg of an EW treble. There will of course be 1 or 2 Irish runners that could easily ruin the party.

    Stayers Hurdle – Supasundae Coral Cup winner last year, and close enough in that very hot Supreme of 2016 to be marked out as potentially top class. Subsequently has proved up to 3m Grade 1 level at Aintree, run two very nice races this season, and has had the Stayers as a target since start of the season. Highest I’ve seen Oct-Nov last year was around 16-1, now generally 6 or 7. Not seeing more than 2 or 3 that are going to give Supa much trouble if he arrives in top form, so another that could pay to place in EW treble. Entered in the Irish Champion on Sat…all evidence points to this being a ‘gentle’ prep.

    Slightly more speculative/debatably unproven….

    Albert Bartlett Dortmund Park the €230,000 price tag on DP would have been an early indicator of something potentially special, although had a stuttering start in first novice. Have to put that down to inexperience having won 2 novices since, the latest of which looked like a machine against a good field on possibly unsuitable heavy ground. Still bits of 16 available which after Cheltenham may be looked on as somewhat of an insult. Gigginstown/Elliott (need I say more!)…with Elliott saying after the last race that he looked like a graded performer. Another that looks good for EW trebles and likely worth a straight win if that price holds up.

    The ‘stick your neck out’ selection…..

    Champion Ch’tibello Gutted when withdrawn on the morning of the race last year. Think this horse is underrated and will show it this year. The field could cut up and this has been a definite target for a long time (as it has for many of course). Still bits of 33 available, was 50s at highest, and best (I’ve seen) on BF has been just under 3 figures last Oct/Nov. Yes logically he can’t beat BDA..but 33 definitely allows a play still. Will most likely run in the Kingwell mid Feb and victory there should see those odds shaved.
    Having said all this, I thought Ch’t would show The New One his hind quarters at Haydock (I mean at the line, not just for 10-20 strides after the last!)…but there are interpretations you could place on that (and the previous run) which still put Ch’t in the Champion first three. Has to win the Kingwell first or run the winner to no more than half a length.

    Some others…..

    Bit of second guessing here…given both of these have been mentioned for the Sun Alliance and the 4 miler at different times….Black Corton and Elegant Escape…very much tied together in form.

    There’s a chance that BC could develop into a Gold Cup contender next year…and the Sun Alliance does look to be the target now. Highest I can see is 16s still widely on offer…..and that looks big! Looks set to run a big race if lining up.

    Elegant Escape did BC from the front at Newbury, which prompted 4 miler talk afterwards. Subsequently seen Tizzard quotes saying that the Sun Alliance may still be a possibility. Instinct says the NH chase is the most obvious, highest 16s, can’t see EE beating BC on good ground at Cheltenham…..although could still line up for the Sun Alliance at 33s currently. Maybe Tizzard will wait to see what the weather does.


    Dell Arca – Pertemps 33 with Hills, was generally 25s last Nov. Surely will have been laid out for this since proving that around 3m was preferred distance nowadays in a few races, not least the impressive class 2 Pertemps qualifier win at Newbury last Nov following on from previous 4th in qualifier at Cheltenham. Ignore subsequent 3m 1f at Cheltenham ( ran on the worst ground all the way) and 2m Grade 2 (can’t cut it at this level at this short a distance).
    Looks like he may run in a 3m race at Sandown this coming weekend (3Feb). If he does, this might be interesting. What betting pulled up!…and then goes on to run a cracker in March.

    Ozzie The Oscar – Grand Annual Ran a stormer in last year’s very hot County, only beaten half a length. Has proven he can jump fences, although not winning impressively the one he one was only a 5 runner and beaten in two 3-runner races since. It may be that a 20 runner goodish ground fast pace Cheltenham handicap is what he really needs. 40s currently and you could see Hobbs laying him out for this since last March. Best waiting until nearer the time for this one though.

    Mick Jazz – County at the start of the season I think this was going to be the target. But when Faugheen didn’t turn up at Christmas MJ won what was arguably a weak Grade 1…and immediately they were talking Champion. We’ll find out more in the Irish Champion this weekend…but the hope is for a good run although far enough off the winner to prompt a rethink and go back to the original plan. Quoted at 20s still in County betting, so clearly some think he’ll still end up in the handicap where Max Dynamite looks sure to be well fancied and will run with obvious claims.

    1. Dortmund Park goes today in the opening Grade 1 at Leopardstown. It’s a hot looking race and a handsome win will most likely see odds tumble. Today should give a better indicator on whether DP is really Grade 1 yet.

      Still 16s now for the Albert Bartlett and some 25s for the Ballymore. Post race comments will possibly give a clue to which one’s the one.

      1. Well that is a disaster of almost unimaginable proportions!

        DP blots his copybook…and astonishingly Supa wins the Irish Champion (without a penny on it) and possibly destroys the Stayers plan. I just hope they think ‘ we can’t beat BDA, but we’ll walk the Stayers’ and still go for it.

        1. Hold the bus! Supa can’t run in the Champion right? Early closer means early closer means early closer?

          The game might still be on!

  10. This thread has encouraged me to find a Top Race with an odds on favourite with enough doubts about the favourite and other market leaders to have an educated stab.

    The Champion Hurdle looks nailed on for Buveur DAir; but behind that…..well Melon + Faugheen -: just hearing the names year after year in the lead up leaves me worn out, I’m shocked we haven’t got 24×7 webcams in their respective stables to view ad nauseam….

    Then the likes of My Tent or Yours and The New One, both great gallant warriors who deserve another go (not sure TNO won’t be aimed elsewhere).

    At 66/1 and with NRNB in place in some Bookies already; I have had a small poke on John Constable. It needs Good ground, it also needs Evan Williams yard to regain some form, but 6 weeks out there is a 50/50 chance of the former, and given his Spring profile a better than 50/50 chance of the latter.

    It finished within 4 lengths on TNO, MTOY and Melon last week in Going it would not be happy on and with the yard out of form, has got plenty of Cheltenham experience and if Good to Soft or better and if yard regain some form, a mark of 155/156 can be improved on, it would still be best part of a stone off BD’A at levels which it has to run off but I can see it running a big race on optimum ground given its background and on that ground it does travel very well and jumps well.

    Trainer is one of those not afraid to have a tilt at a big price.

    1. I backed ChTi’Bello at a three figure price before Xmas, on the basis that the CH was it’s sole target this season so I’ve added JC as a second EW bet as it seems to have a similar aim in the trainer’s mind.

      1. You did well to get in the 100s, Chris. We may well be the idiots on TV doing a robot dance at the winning post after the race!

        Can’t see JC winning a Champion myself…although I’d definitely not want to be mixing it with Ian in a ‘Champion winner selection’ contest!

        Interestingly JC is still quoted for the County and a strong run could be anticipated in that (if there’s been a reasonable amount of sunshine)..or maybe the Swinton and a couple of those listed summer races.

        1. Very promising from John Constable there. The margin flattered him a little but the ground would have done him no favours and altgough he will be 2lbs worse off with Buveur ib Champion Hurdle on today, if he finishes within 3-4 lengths of B D’A in Champion Hurdle he will beat the rest in my humble opinion, happy to be on at 66/1 NRNB and I think they will wait and wait, if its a Good to Soft Cheltenham (will never be Good as clamour for water will be deafening) and been dry, I think they will go for the big one.

          1. Yep JC was close enough there to make the 66-1 EW look inspired. Think some actual sunshine will help the cause too.

  11. I watched Kalishnikov this last weekend and if the ground has give in it I cannot see him being beat in the Supreme novices chase, he won like a champion, at the moment 7-1 with Ladbrokes better elsewhere I think.
    Good Luck

    1. Hi William,
      Assume you mean Supreme novices hurdle 🙂 (although he has all the makings of a fine chaser in time!) … he will be a much better on on better ground! He has been winning despite conditions really… Sandown was sticky heavy where he struggled to get his feet out, Newbury he has got through it…but Jack was pushing along from miles out, just keeping him going, due to him hating the ground again. He is an aeroplane and I can’t wait to see what he does on better ground- well, Amy thinks he should be much better on a decent surface. class and a very lenient handicap mark has seen him through on Saturday. He is exciting and he knows he’s good.

    2. Surely if you like him you must love Summerville Boy who beat him off level weights at Sandown despite Fehily saying he hated the ground particularly at twice the price. Just a question of whether he transfers that form to Cheltenham but that goes for a lot of the field.

      1. Good point. It is all about value (price) at the Festival as it is so competitive and something comes from nowhere every now and again. Lots of value on the morning of the race online whereas on course they squeeze it all up and the value goes at the front of the fields. However the internet usually works at the Festival and so you should be looking to bet the fancied horses online.

      2. Kalashnikov would be a massive stats buster. The last 62 horses that ran in a non novice hurdle last time out got beat.

  12. Couldn’t help but be impressed with Harry Whittington’s new star Saint Calvados at Warwick on Saturday. If he jumps that well at Cheltenham he will ensure a good test for Footpad and is surely worth a stab for the Arkle.

    1. I dont see any value in Footpad at present. I would have a go at 2/1+ and Saint Calvados 6/1+. I do like course form although the stats tell us that it is not necessary at the festival in most races. It is so up and down that you do need a horse that can cope with the undulations.

  13. Kalishnikov would be a massive stats buster. Last 62 runners that ran in a non novice hurdle last time out got beaten.

    1. The Arkle looks a more open contest now that Saint Calvados has thrown his hat in the ring
      but the one that really interests me is Petit Mouchoir who looked as if he was a
      shade underdone when tiring in the home straight against Footpad

      I think he will be a lot straighter come Cheltenham and I have a feeling St Calvados
      and Footpad may take each other on early doors at Cheltenham
      and scupper each others chances.

      Petit Mouchoir had the beating of Footpad over hurdles and although he got well beat
      by him last time I thought he jumped well

      At Cheltenham he will be able to tack in behind the two front runners
      and should get a nice view of the fences
      while Footpad and St Calvados may be rushed into jumping errors

      1. I would say that Petit Mouchoir would need to improve its jumping to be in with a chance of winning it? What price would I get involved at present 6/1+.

  14. Cyrname in the Arkle (25/1 nrnb Bet365) is another example of my antepost approach. Again, he might not run (money back) but if he does then I am pretty sure that he will be much less than 25/1 on the day, so I can lay him off on Betfair.

    1. Hi Phil,
      Would penhill come into that bracket for the stayers
      10/1 nrnb( Ladbrokes paddy p Corals) Willie reckons they are touch and go for Cheltenham
      would he be shorter than 10/1 if he makes it

  15. Phil – you’ll have to excuse me but every time I see your name I start humming Whitesnake songs (sorry)

    Anyhow, a few NRNB markets beginning to form now and some big Irish meetings in next 2 weeks, plots should become clearer. Plenty of Cheltenham (and Aintree) entries are being “pulled up” at the moment, they must think we and the handicapper are daft!

    Waiting for a huge explosion of hot air from County Meath later as the GN weights are announced…the barometer is sure to be affected in those parts LOL…

    probably best to watch Irish meeting until around 25th of this month and then picture should be much clearer! (even though it may seem foggy!)

  16. Lookout for where Project Bluebook and Divin Bere turn up for at The Festival. Both of them were never given any kind of a race in the Betfair Hurdle and they are decent horses. They both look a bit “plotty” to me, especially the McManus one.

  17. I’m not a big ante post player but I have had 3 bets so far

    Firstly, I have Might Bite 8/1 ante post for the Gold Cup. Bet struck around 15th November. I have a pdf explaining that and will share if anyone wants / if Josh allows me to post the link. Covers a lot of stats & dosage info

    Second I bet Getabird 12/1 nrnb for the Supreme right before he won the Moscow Flyer. I’d done the trends for the SNH at that point and reasoned he would be 3/1 fav if he won that trial. DEcent bet too so fingers crossed.

    Third bet was Mr Whipped 33/1 NRNB for the Ballymore Hurdle before he won the Leamington Novices hurdle. Again expected him to win that day and then shorten which he did.

  18. Ian – David Coverdale is no relation I’m afraid to say, but you keep on humming those Whitesnake songs!!

    Another antepost bet I’ve got is on Doing Fine (16/1 NRNB bet365) in the Kim Muir. Same principle as the others.

  19. my two suggestions

    Ordinary World e/w 50/1 NRNB or without Altior around 20/1 e/w

    With all the hype over Min i think it’s got lost that Ordinary World was only a length down at the last, and closing, when he tried to take the last fence with him, having made up loads of ground over the previous quarter mile. Not saying he would have beaten Min, but would definitely have been second. Despite that, given a RP of 153, which was a career best over fences. Simply Ned, who i’m convinced he would have beaten, got 159. Had he jumped the last, then the progress from Christmas to then, behind the same two horses, would have been more apparent. He seems to run best races in the Spring, has got Festival experience when finishing third behind Altior in last year’s Arkle, and is versatile in regards to ground. Altior and Min aside (and first they both have to get there and then they have to jump the fences), i can’t see much else to lose any sleep over.

    Douvan: can’t see it turning up. I think they will save for Punchestown if it does ever run again (Mullins has previous for this kind of thing). I can’t believe he will risk going up against Altior and potentially get the horse beaten out of sight. If i was Mullins, i think Altior’s performance on Saturday would have sealed the deal in regards to harbouring any CC hopes. Beating Altior is nigh impossible, trying to do it with a year’s break and a broken pelvis isn’t showing the horse the respect and consideration it deserves. 4/1 is a ridiculous price, i’d want at least that just for turning up!

    Politologue: Has had his limitations exposed, and whilst still has the beating of OW, i can’t say i was overly impressed with his jumping on Saturday, and i’m not sure it will hold up at the pace this will be run at.

    Fox Norton: Think it much more likely he will go Ryanair. If he couldn’t win a weak affair last year, he hasn’t got a prayer this year. Dropping a mile in trip from previous run won’t help in this kind of company, nor will the absence.

    Un de Sceaux: Ryanair the likely target for him

    Great Field: The potential fly in the ointment. However, no entries in the near future, so either he will try and win it first time up, a huge ask after a setback, or run in the next couple of weeks and be a candidate for the “bounce”. Mullins has indicated on ATR stable tour if he makes it he will go straight to Cheltenham. At 14/1 best price, absolutely no value in that.

    Special Tiara: Given the quality of this year’s field, against last year, it will need to set off tomorrow to win this.! Had it’s day in the sun last year.

    Yorkhill: After last week, No way will it run in this, if it runs in anything.

    Top Notch: Should be going to the Ryanair. No reason to think it has the pace for this, and 20/1 for this versus 4/1 for Ryanair says everything.

    Charbel: Having backed this in last year’s Arkle for a fair few quid at big prices with or without Altior, David Bass wasn’t the only person throwing his whip on the floor in disgust after the second last! Has been brought along quietly this year, a career best last time, but needs an easy lead as in 2017 Arkle to perform at best and likely won’t get that here.

    And then you are into the 33/1+ list, and there is nothing there to be frightened of at all. Bottom line is I’m not convinced there are 4 horses, who are likely runners, to kick OW out of the First 4, and the 20/1 without Altior looks very fair as he will likely be picking up the bits late on as they won’t be hanging around in this to say the least. Similarly had a bit of the 50s outright as well, as like i said above, Altior and Min have to hold up their side of the bargain which isn’t guaranteed.

    My only concern is OW reported finishing lame so hopefully he has recovered, but as it’s NRNB not unduly concerned.

    My other poke is Merie Devie at around 25/1 for the Coral Cup (my preference) or the County Hurdle.

    Whilst everyone was watching Alletrix bolt up at Leopardstown last week, my eye was drawn to the horse that finished fifth, given a very, ahem, “considerate, sympathetic and understanding” ride by young Master Mullins. Despite that, it equalled a career best, the handicap mark has been left unchanged, (so hopefully not too much tinkering from the English handicapper), and i’ve no doubt this horse is significantly better than what it has shown so far. Got bogged down in the mud when last of four the previous run having ran a never nearer second first time up. All the signs are it will be better over further, and this was 2m 2f, so the Coral Cup would likely be my choice over the County. The Dublin festival run looked the proverbial “prep race” and this one is very near the top of my Cheltenham list, especially if it goes for the Coral Cup in preference to the County.

    Best of Luck to All


  20. AP betting pointless now. Trials all but over. Only way in is seeing what marks the irish get when hcap listing revealed end of the month. And then be quick. Only bet ive had since Christmas is Debuchet/Supreme after its running at Leop. Ridiculous over reaction and will be 1/3 price if ground no worse than g/s. Cant beleive Kalashnikov talk after saturday, people fall for recency bias all the time. Seem to forgotten the horse that beat it at sandown which also hated the ground that day.

  21. Pete
    Cannot see Merie Devie for OLG Mares Hurdle 2M 4F (entered) though a poor race last year, quality is up.
    Nor is she is quick enough for the County, but her run over 2M 2F at Leopardstown leads me to the same conclusion as you, that the Coral Cup will be the target.
    Accepting the 3F further she is on par with last year’s winner Supasundae.

    OLG Mares Hurdle, run on Tuesday, first day, the ground will have some S, looks to me that Harry Fry has laid out DESERT QUEEN, distance, speed and price!

    1. Desert Queen
      Now going for
      Thursday, 22 February 2018 – 4:05
      (Four day) at Huntingdon Smarkets Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase (Listed Race) (2m4f)
      No longer registered for the early closer at Cheltenham.

  22. Champion Bumper 14/3
    I’ve learnt from a fellow punter that the stable of N Gifford, regard Didtheyleaveooutto as unbeatable! My friend has a relative who works in the yard. Owned by JP and has won two bumpers easily so far (last time a listed event at Ascot) and remains unbeaten. 8/1
    Obviously, one should not take that opinion literally, but does offer a reliable bet for an EW multiple over the Festival.

  23. I’ve decided to have 0.5pt e/w on Black Corton for the RSA NRNB. Looks to be between him Monalee and Presenting Percy and whilst the other two have festival form (although both on the new course) he is the only one with experience of the Cheltenham fences and I expect him to go off closer to the other two on the day and cant see him being an e/w price.

    1. Now that Sky are NRNB, BOG and as of Friday are giving you up to £50 back on the win part if your first bet in the Supreme loses have had 1pt e/w on Summerville Boy


    Perhaps hoping for heavy watering Wednesday night?

    Wednesday, 14 March 2018 – 2:10
    (Early closer) at Cheltenham RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (3m½f)

    Thursday, 15 March 2018 – 1:30
    (Early closer) at Cheltenham JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller) (2m4f)
    Month: January 2018

    There was one other chase on the card, run over 3m1f, but Sutton Place clocked a time of nearly 7s quicker, despite carrying 26lbs more in weight. This points to a figure of 163, in line with some of the numbers he was getting over hurdles and marks this down as an excellent start over fences.

    What was most impressive is how effortlessly he put away the runner-up in the latter stages, and he is capable of better than this as he progresses over the larger obstacles. He has been a fragile horse, this was just the 8th of his life, and it would seem that soft ground is a necessity for him – he pulled up on the one time he ran on ground with good in the description.

    This raises concerns regarding the festival, but he is one of the classiest novice chasers around – I only have Invitation Only and Footpad ahead of him on my numbers. This was over 2m5f, and he showed that this sort of trip is suitable so the JLT would look a logical target should they elect to come over to Cheltenham. Last year saw plenty of overnight watering on the Wednesday night in order to preserve the ground, and should they do so again the Thursday of the JLT could be the perfect distance and time for him to land the pot he deserves.

  25. Does anybody know where I can get my hands on a basic excel/csv file with this years current Cheltenham entries on? Just the runners and race name with date and time is the bare minimum I’m after.

  26. I felt that Valseur Lido was the forgotten horse in the Gold Cup and have backed him EW.
    Ignore this season’s runs, for the new stable on bad going, and remember W Mullins opinion that he was an ideal type for the race. If the going is around g/s then we will see better form and 50/1, in a weaker year, tempts – just the worry that there might be some mud around (still) in a fortnight’s time after the snow gets into the course.
    His win in 11/16 in a G1 by 11 lengths, on good, gives some idea as to his chance.

  27. Mullins says

    NEXT DESTINATION going for Ballymore Novice Hurdle 1.30 Wed.
    Mind your bets if taking on the Cleeve Yankee.

    Almost everything you’d want to know about Willie Mullins and the 2018 Festival
    by Steeplechasing

    Courtesy of my friends at Racenews, who attended the Mullins press day, here’s an appetite whetter for the Cheltenham Festival.

    Please see the trainer’s comments below:-

    Augusta Kate: “She was second to Presenting Percy last time and I thought that run was good enough to let her take her chance in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.

    “We will look at that, with the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle as backup.”

    Bacardys: “He will go for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle. We want to keep his novice status over fences for another season.”

    Bachasson: “Connections of Bachasson are keen to go to Cheltenham for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is fantastic jumper but whether he can carry that weight over that trip – it will be a tough ask.”

    Benie Des Dieux: “I would imagine she will go for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

    “Everything we ask her to do, she does, although I thought she would win easier than she did at Naas last time. I think David [Mullins] was easy enough on her.

    “She has plenty of hurdling experience in France and schools over hurdles at home.”

    Bonbon Au Miel: “I think Bonbon Au Miel is an RSA type, whereas Al Boum Photo could go for the JLT Novices’ Chase.

    “I am not sure if I will divide them or they can both go for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, but Bonbon definitely goes for the RSA.”

    Brahma Bull: “He is pencilled in for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

    “He has only had one run over hurdles but won well and he jumps well. He had a little setback but I think he is in real good form since.”

    Carter McKay: “He could go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, depending on which way the races are going to cut up.

    “He ran all right in Leopardstown and deserves to take his chance. I think he can do better.”

    Douvan: “He has been pleasing me and doing everything right. He has a few good bits of work to do this week. He has to go for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, all being well.

    “Not so long ago we were being told we could not train him for a year. It was a huge disappointment when it looked like he would miss the whole season but within a week or 10 days he was sound when we thought he should not have been sound. We started reinvestigating and revaluating some of the findings we got, then we said ‘right, he is sound, let’s do a bit more.’ We kept upping his work and he was good and sound, and stayed sound.

    “We went back and did more tests on him. I think vets are like doctors in that they are over cautious. You would end up running a hospital rather than a training yard – you just have to kick on. There was obviously something there, maybe something he can live with. Maybe when he runs, it will come up again.

    “I remember the morning that he got the injury. He did a bit of work and I remember saying ‘this is awesome,’ but of course he was lame the next morning. I can’t remember what he worked against but he flew. It was the fastest bit of work I had ever seen him do. I said to my team I do not want to see him do a piece of work like that again – save it for the racecourse! I thought it was frightening and I said to myself if he reproduces that on the track, he will be very hard to beat. Whether he will ever get back to that, I don’t know, but his work at the moment is certainly good enough.

    “He has been away a couple of times already but it is day to day with him. I just hope I can get him back to the level he was at in November. Unless we are happy with him, he won’t go.

    “Altior was very good in Newbury and he looked great as well. It could be a race to savour but we have got to get there first.”

    Djakadam: “He has been disappointing this season, but this year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup could be the most open he has competed in.

    “There is a lot of feeling that he should go back for the Ryanair Chase, and that might happen, but I feel he should go for the Gold Cup.

    “He doesn’t look the same horse this season on the track. His form is not good enough, although it wasn’t a bad run in the Irish Gold Cup to be third. He certainly has not fired like he has in previous seasons.”

    Duc Des Genievres: “He is entered in everything from novices’ hurdles to handicaps. Noel [Fehily] rode him the last day and is happy that he wants to go a trip. I would say it could be the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

    “Fabulous Saga in the same colours will go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, I’d imagine.”

    Faugheen: “He is on course for the Unibet Champion Hurdle along with Melon and Wicklow Brave.

    “I don’t think Melon faced the hood on his last start, so we will take all the gear off at Cheltenham – he has run well there before.

    “Faugheen worked well enough to run the last day and ran a grand race. But he will have to up his game to try and win in Cheltenham. He might not need to be as good as he once was. I still think he is competitive.

    “We had plenty of time to get better from Leopardstown to the middle of March and we haven’t gone downhill at home. He is improving all the time.

    “I would be delighted if he could come back to what he was but age is not on his side. He loves Cheltenham and hopefully that will reignite him a little bit.”

    Footpad: “All is well with Footpad ahead of the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase.

    “He has a beautiful method of jumping fences and was good enough to run in a Champion Hurdle. He always had ability and his method of jumping has catapulted him right to the top.

    “He could be a Gold Cup horse one day. We don’t have any problem with him staying, although with his method of jumping, could he be a Champion Chase horse? It is so much easier to keep them sound and right running over two miles than running over three and a quarter. Gold Cup racing is very tough.”

    Getabird: “He is 100 per cent and was out there this morning. He goes for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

    “His win at Punchestown shows he is improving all the time. He is not flashy at home, whereas a horse like Douvan is always flashy at home. Even working him the other day, I was not impressed but Sonny who rides him says he is in great order and he knows him better than anyone.”

    Hollowgraphic: “The bumper horses are looking very good. I always thought Hollowgraphic was a fair sort and Blackbow has galloped himself into the picture.

    “Squadron Commander and Tornado Flyer won well first time and then we put them away. Carefully Selected put himself in the mix yesterday at Naas, although Cheltenham may come too soon.

    “To me, what Hollowgraphic did at Punchestown was a huge performance. We have been minding him to go to Cheltenham.

    “Blackbow’s performances have been very good. He improved a good bit from his first to his second run, which has been the feature of a lot of our bumper horses this season. Their second runs have been better, which is encouraging.

    “Blackbow is owned by Archie O’Leary’s family, so it is nice to have nearly Florida Pearl’s colours – different cap – going back to Cheltenham.”

    Invitation Only: “He is another one who could go for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase or the JLT Novices’ Chase.”

    Killultagh Vic: “He goes for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

    “He looked in a very good position in the Irish Gold Cup and I would not have been betting against him jumping the last. He had the momentum and looked like he was pulling away.

    “I always think your first thought is your best thought. When you look at it after you see the other horses coming from behind, but they weren’t in the picture when you’re watching it live. I thought he had a really good chance going to the last.

    “We were worried when he fell but he has schooled well since. It looked like he was too careful at Leopardstown. Hopefully, he will have learned and will be all right on the day.

    “I would have no stamina concerns, not with his pedigree. He beat Thistlecrack in a three-mile novice hurdle.”

    Laurina: “She goes for the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

    “She is top-class and if they ever have a mares’ chase in Cheltenham, she is one you would be aiming for it. She is a big, scopey filly.”

    Let’s Dance: “I would imagine it will either be the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle or the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle for Let’s Dance. She hasn’t fired at all this season, but at home she is getting there.”

    Meri Devie: “She won the other day and has entries in a good few handicaps. We will see what the English handicapper makes of her and then make a decision.”

    Min: “Everything has gone well and I could not see him going anywhere other than the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

    “He is unbeaten this season, even though he was disqualified, and he is doing all the right things.

    “Altior beat him in the Supreme – it will be hard to turn him over I think.”

    Mr Ajudicator: “He will go for the JCB Triumph Hurdle along with Saldier and Stormy Ireland.

    “Mr Ajudicator had a little bit of a cold last week but seems fine. He is as fit as a flea, so the fact he missed a couple of bits of work should not be a problem.

    “Saldier did everything right the other day in Gowran Park. Perhaps he didn’t beat an awful lot but he did it well.

    “Stormy Ireland missed a few engagements with a dirty nose. With her style of running, I did not want to chance it.

    “Mr Ajudicator has gone out and done it, and is an ex-Flat horse as well, which I like, whereas Stormy Ireland and Saldier would not have the same experience – even race experience, never mind jump experience.

    “Stormy Ireland produced a huge run at Fairyhouse. I don’t know what she beat but she just kept galloping. People thought she would pull up three out but she pulled out more again. It was awesome.”

    Next Destination: “I have been aiming him at the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. That is probably where he should go along with Real Steel.

    “A lot of people thought Next Destination wasn’t impressive as Naas but I thought the race itself did not work out like a championship race, given the early pace and middle pace of the race. It will be a different ball game in Cheltenham and that will suit him.”

    Penhill: “All his work has been good and he will go for the Sun Bets’ Stayers’ Hurdle. The aim all season was to try and get him to Cheltenham and Punchestown.

    “We sort of knew there would not be enough time for a prep race. It is a tough ask to try and win the Stayers’ Hurdle, perhaps more than any other, without a run.”

    Rathvinden: “He could go any trip. I’m wondering whether to go for the National Hunt Chase or the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. I think the four-miler might be the way we decide to go with him.”

    Sharjah: “He will go for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. I think the ground was the reason he ran badly last time.

    “Certainly at home when the ground is soft, he is not able to put one leg in front of the other but when it dries out, he is a different horse.”

    Total Recall: “Our aim has been the Grand National but he probably needs to go for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. We were going to go for the Bobbyjo but it came too soon after Leopardstown.

    “I think the Gold Cup gives us a good chance. He is a relaxed horse who jumps economically and that would suit him around Cheltenham in a Gold Cup. He will be switched off and won’t be using too much energy.

    “It looks a fairly open Gold Cup and he deserves to have a crack at it.”

    Un De Sceaux: “He has done tremendously well all season, although he has only had two runs. I think he is the ultimate iron horse.

    “He is in great condition and we have plenty to work on still for Cheltenham, which is surprising because you see him there this morning – he could not wait to get going. He is always very strong in his work in the mornings.

    “We are aiming for the Ryanair Chase. That is the target as far as we are concerned and I have not got any other plans unless something stupid happens to one of the other horses.”

    Vroum Vroum Mag: “She will go for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. I did not think we would have her back, but from what I can see she is in great shape.

    “We may cover her later on – we will have plenty of time after Cheltenham.”

    Yorkhill: “I suppose the Unibet Champion Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase are the options for Yorkhill.

    “We will have to see because he is not a great workhorse at home. He is very lazy and, as you have seen at the racetrack when he idles in front, he is a bit like that at home.

    “I have always thought that he should maybe have a crack at the Champion Hurdle. But he would be a nice one to have along with Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair. I am not going to make that decision yet.

    “He never fired in the Dublin Chase. You could see going down to the second or third fence that he wasn’t jumping like a two-mile chaser, on that day anyway. Yet you look at him at Christmas time, you would think he needs to come back to two miles because his jumping was so electric.

    “He won the JLT Novices’ Chase last year which makes you think he should go for the Ryanair Chase, but he did not jump well the other day. That is the reason I’m wondering if he should go back over hurdles. We know in a Champion Hurdle that there will be plenty of pace to bring his stamina into play.

    “I think he would be a lot easier to ride in a Champion Hurdle than a Ryanair Chase. We will leave the decision until much later but I would say it is 60-40 in favour of the Champion Hurdle at the moment.”

  28. On a slight tangent does anyone have details of the various Preview Evenings which can be either streamed online or watched on TV or a link that shows this information?

  29. Jessica Harrington talks about her Festival Runners
    by Steeplechasing

    Trainer Jessica Harrington is delighted with defending champion Sizing John and stablemate Our Duke as they gear up for the highlight of The Festival, the £625,000 G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 16.

    Sizing John could not have been more impressive on his reappearance in the G1 John Durkan Memorial Chase (2m 4f) at Punchestown on December 10, when he defeated Djakadam by seven lengths, but the eight-year-old chaser has a point to prove after finishing seventh in the G1 Leopardstown Christmas Chase (3m) 18 days later.

    Runaway 2017 Irish Grand National hero Our Duke, also an eight-year-old, was treated for a kissing spine after being well beaten at Down Royal in November on his reappearance this season. Owned by the Cooper Family Syndicate, he was not disgraced on his return earlier this month in the G1 Irish Gold Cup (3m) at Leopardstown, staying on to finish fourth after a significant mistake, and looked right back to his best when repelling top novice Presenting Percy by a length under a 7lb penalty in the G2 Red Mills Chase (2m 4f) at Gowran Park on February 17.

    Speaking today at a media visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse, Harrington said: “We had a hiccup with Sizing John over Christmas, but since then we have been chugging along and haven’t done anything very quickly.

    “You saw him go up the gallop this morning. He tanked away and all he wanted to do was get past Supasundae. His weight is coming down towards the racing weight we like him at, especially this week as he did a bit more, and we have still got another two weeks to go on Friday.

    “He may exercise at Leopardstown, all being well, either after racing on Monday or on Tuesday morning. He might jump a couple of fences there or we will gallop him on the Flat. We will see what the weather does as the reason we worked him yesterday is because we aren’t sure what is happening for the rest of the week.

    “All being well, we are on song with him and the only thing we can do is get him there in one piece and hope for the best. But he seems to be in good form – he is shaking his head and doing his little bits and pieces.

    “He overheated a bit at Leopardstown. Was that a slight tying up episode? I don’t know as they never really found a reason. He has been fine since. We let him right down afterwards and then built him back up again.

    “The race probably came a bit soon after the John Durkan, while he and Djakadam maybe had a harder race than any of us realised. It is one of those things. We started off the season great and then this scuppered things, but if it was all plain sailing, it would be much too easy.

    “Once that had happened at Christmas, we were never going to run him again before Cheltenham because it would have been very rushed to get him to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup.

    “We have not really put the gun to his head properly. He did a good breeze yesterday and did one there this morning. He will do one racecourse gallop and if he does it all on the bridle, I will be very happy. I am not going to put too much pressure on him because I want him on the day, not the day before. I do not want to be leaving anything behind.

    “We have been thinking about the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup for Our Duke since he won the Grade One at Leopardstown last season. The owners said to me that they did not want to go to Cheltenham last season – they wanted to wait and go for the Gold Cup this year.

    “He won the Irish Grand National and then had a bad start to the season, after which we discovered the problem of the kissing spine. He came back and looked very good in Gowran the other day.

    “He would never have run in Gowran if he hadn’t have made the mistake in Leopardstown because he would have finished out that race under pressure and might have ended up having a hard race. He made the mistake and Robert [Power] gave him a chance to recover, then he pinged the last and galloped all the way to the line. In a way, the decision to go to Gowran was easy really because I knew he hadn’t had a hard race.

    “I wanted him to run again because has not had a lot of chase starts. He had four last season and three this year. Most horses have that many races in one season – he has done it in two.

    “He decided to hoof one fence out of the way in Gowran, but he jumped the last three very well. I think he lacks a bit of concentration when they are not going quickly enough. When they went a good gallop in the Irish Grand National, he never put a foot wrong. Robert says he has a cruising speed and when he is just below that, he doesn’t concentrate.

    “He has won around Leopardstown left-handed, the Irish Grand National right-handed and right-handed in Gowran, which is a bit like Cheltenham the other way round as you are going up and down, and he seemed to cope with that fine.

    “He does like good ground. He is by Oscar and most of them do like a bit of nice ground. He hated the ground in Gowran which was the other extreme. Good horses are meant to go on all ground.

    “Sizing John and Our Duke are two strong horses who stay very well. It is probably an open Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, as it was last year, but it will be a very competitive race if all the horses turn up. The one who has not blotted his copybook this year is Might Bite. He looks the young, improving horse. You have got Edwulf there, he put up a good performance at Leopardstown. There are a lot of horses in there with a chance and it will depend on who performs on the day.”

    Asked about Robbie Power’s decision to ride Sizing John over Our Duke, who will be partnered by Noel Fehily, Harrington commented: “This is a complete non-story. Robbie is contracted by Alan and Ann Potts to ride their horses. Provided they both get there, he rides Sizing John. You all made a big story of it, but there was never a story there because he rides their horses, especially if they are trained by me.”

    Harrington’s small but select team for The Festival also includes 2017 Coral Cup victor Supasundae, also owned by Ann & Alan Potts Limited. The eight-year-old took the scalp of Faugheen in the G1 Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles on February 3.

    The trainer added: “Supasundae is very good ahead of the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (3m). I would not complain about him. He is always very laidback and is a much better horse this season than he was last season.

    “Last year, you used to have to kick him on to get him to go down towards the gallop. Everything was about making him do it, whereas this year he is doing everything easily and within himself. He is travelling much better in his races and is jumping much better.

    “He is a horse who really wants good ground. The spring of the year does suit him as he hates pulling himself out of very soft ground. That is why he has not done much running this winter.

    “Can he reverse form with Yanworth? I think so because when he went to Aintree last year he was a tired horse. He was off the bridle the whole way and he did well to stay on and put it up to Yanworth jumping the last.

    “The great thing is that he won’t have to make his own running like he did at Christmas. He was upsides Faugheen last time, but over three miles you can drop him in a bit and he will pick up.

    “There is no temptation to supplement for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, especially with Buveur D’Air there who is a proper two-miler. Supasundae is probably not a proper two-miler. I am pretty certain he will stay in the Stayers’ Hurdle. I don’t think the three miles will be a problem.”

    Last year’s winner, 10-year-old Rock The World, and eight-year-old Don’t Touch It, both owned by J P McManus, are on target for the final race of the four-day meeting, the £110,000 G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase over two miles.

    “Don’t Touch It has more class than Rock The World. He has won a Grade One hurdle at Punchestown. He is a funny horse who needs good ground. He will have cheekpieces or maybe even blinkers on to help him concentrate.

    “He is coming to himself and is better this week than he was last week. He doesn’t like the cold weather.

    “I could not predict anything with him. If he can get into a rhythm and get jumping, he will be grand. He is a good jumper, but can be a bit spooky at times.

    “Rock The World is Rock The World and he is in great order. I know he will probably have top-weight, but he did it well last year. He is a big horse so the weight should not trouble him.

    “I suppose Rock The World has been there and done it, while the other fella is younger and if he puts his best foot forward, he has a bit more class.”

    The trainer had her best time at The Festival last year, saddling three winners. Her total at The Festival, staged this year between Tuesday, March 13 and Friday, March 16, is 11 successes.

  30. I hope that this may be of help to some, as I have read some questions regarding the current cold spell and the impact on Cheltenham and horses arriving fit and ready.

    Firstly; I have noted on Twitter and retweeted a number on to the SP2A Twitter feed examples of a number of Trainers who have their gallops fully open and ready to use. I think the basic fact is that if you have a 4-5 furlong uphill gallop, you really only need an 6-8ft strip harrowed and regularly worked by a tractor through the night to keep it open. Most trainers now use the human equivalent of what we used to call “fartlek” a series of fast strenuous sprints; walk/canter; then another strenuous sprint, so provided they can keep gallops open, they are fine, so far I can;t find any significant Trainer complaining they cant work.

    That applies to the big yards in Ireland and those further west seem to have been less affected. I have also had a chat with 1 trainer I have a share in a horse with and the Assistant at another big yard where i am a Member of the Racing Club. Both have been able to work horses so far and both have explained how the “horse walkers” and “swimming pools” can be used any way of they can’t access the gallops, I’m told 20 mins in the equine pool is as good as any gallop, as the muscle strengthening and cardiac work is the same but there is far less weight/stress on limbs. Both indicated no issues with them.

    The only caveat I think, and i asked the question and it was agreed, are any horses who have not run for a few months of longer (90 days seems to be the minimum benchmark) whose training “may” have included some strong final work this coming weekend and the longer the absence, the more important this final hard workout may be. Both yards indicated that ideally you have a week from the last “hard blow” to race day – so that later in the week horses are entered, the more scope to get the final work in.

    The other aspect i suppose we would have to consider only if the issues continued late in to next week; would be the possibility of delayed travel for some Irish Horses; some come up to 7 days at least in advance and “settle in” others come later (whatever suits horse and trainer) but there is not an infinite number of planes/transport options, so Irish Trainers will seek I would think to get horses to Cheltenham as and when they can, rather than play russian roulette with travelling.

    Finally, may seem strange but the logic makes sense, Cheltenham have taken frost covers off, they think the snow melt is the best form of long term watering and also snow cover is better frost protection than the covers, they expect 5-6 inches in next few days and forecast indicates showers later next week and likely therefore meeting will start of soft going….yippee!…

    Hopefully this will help a few with any early betting thoughts – as for me/us….I won’t look at anything now until Monday 12th March after confirmation of actual runners, as an old fashioned pure form analyst, that is what works best for us. Have to say though that as systems/trends go, and I’m sure that floats the boat of 99.99% of you, (why else would you be here) that some of Josh’s work is truly outstanding #respect, we will come at it from an entirely different angle, be interesting to see when and if we concur on the same horse(s)

    Good Luck and Stay warm!

  31. 13/3 last race: Trainer confidence and money behind, Rather Be, it appears. I’ve heard nothing from the yard (Nicky H) and I’ve a share in the stable’s other entry, Divine Spear.
    Just picking up on preview info and markets.

  32. NTD will be feeling sick this w/e as the rain pours – and realises the going will be soft for the Champion Hurdle.

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