HORSES FROM THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2018
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A GREAT VIEW
BENIE DES DIEUX
EAMON AN CNOIC
IBIS DE RHEU
LA BAGUE AU ROI
LOOK MY WAY
MR BIG SHOT
THE MIGHTY DON
VOIX DU REVE
SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE
SUMMERVILLE BOY did well to chase down Kalashnikov from the final hurdle as he had made a bad mistake 2 out and wasn't foot perfect at the last either. The amount of ground he made up in the last 2 furlongs marks him down as a very decent horse and on soft or worse ground he will be well worth following this Winter. MENGLI KHAN travelled well throughout the race and closed up nicely at the 3rd last. He tried to stick with the eventual second but couldn't quite match his pace or that of the winner but stuck on well to hold 3rd. He should have no problem returning to winning ways. Quite a few of the horses behind were doing all their best work late on and of the also rans it was WESTERN RYDER that caught the eye staying on well up the hill to take a never nearer 6th. He looked in need of a step up in trip and is worth noting when running over 2m4f+.
FOOTPAD turned this into a one horse race and coasted home for a very impressive win. He followed up in similar fashion at the Punchestown Festival and should have no problem holding his own outside of novice company. SAINT CALVADOS did himself no favours by taking on Petit Mouchoir in an early speed duel and was beaten by the 6th fence. He was a long way behind at the finish but lessons will have been learnt. His form previous to Cheltenham had been excellent and he's worth sticking with this Season.
ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
EAMON AN CNOIC made a bold bid for home some way out in this competitive handicap and managed to stick with the eventual winner when that one headed him at the third last. He weakened between the last two and struggled up the hill but it was a good run from the bottom weight over a trip that seemed to stretch his stamina. He should be worth following in handicap chases at around 2m4f throughout the Season. I will probably be kicking myself at the end of the Season but I'm going to stick with SINGLEFARMPAYMENT as I still feel there is a big race in him. He seldom runs badly at Cheltenham but struggles to get his head in front. Hopefully this, finally, will be his year
I don't think it's worth following the winner as he hoovers up the UK Champion Hurdle Trials at long odds on before defending his title next March. It will probably be a similar story in Ireland for the runner up unless he goes novice chasing for which he'll no doubt be short prices for those contests as well. This leaves me looking at ELGIN as one to follow in hurdle races this Winter especially if he can avoid Buveur D'Air. He progressed nicely from handicapping last Season and did well on the flat in the early Spring.
BENIE DES DIEUX toughed it out to get the better of the gallant outsider Midnight Tour and the one pace odds on favourite Apples Jade. She confirmed the form in the Irish Mares Hurdle to cement her position as the Season's leading older mare. LA BAGUE AU ROI had led them down to the second last and, although headed, she still held every chance when making a right mess of the final flight. She couldn't recover and finished last but looks the best mare on this side of the Irish Sea and should be worth following in all the Mares races leading up to the Festival.
NH CHALLENGE CUP (4M)
After 4 miles in soft ground it was surprising to see the front two, Rathvinden and Ms PARFOIS, give us such a gutsy finish with the Willie Mullins horse rallying to deny the mare with 21 lengths and more back to the rest. Anthony Honeyball's 7yo will be worth noting in all the big staying chase handicaps with the Welsh National looking a perfect mid Season target.
NO COMMENT was a decent hurdler during the 2016-17 Season but injury kept the 7yo off the track until February where he contested a Grade 1 chase on his fencing debut. He wasn't disgraced that day in third and he showed up well here until his stamina gave way from the third last. Still a novice he can make up for lost time this Season.
CLOSE BROTHERS NOVICE CHASE
The runner up RATHER BE looked a little unlucky to get collared on the line having travelled well throughout the race and lead after jumping the last. Despite a rise of 6lb he looks sure to pay his way this Season. IBIS DE RHEU held every chance at the 3rd last before being left behind. After a mistake at the last he came home a creditable 5th before running a similar race in a 3m1f handicap chase at the Aintree Festival. He is somehow still a maiden over fences after 7 runs but his chase handicap mark is now the same as his rating when taking the Fred Winter Handicap at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. Still only a 7yo he looks worth noting for the handicap chases at Cheltenham in November/December. WESTERN MILLER was a massive outsider in this race and looked harshly treated off 141 but made good progress, going nicely to track the leaders approaching the 5th last. He weakened between the last two to finish 10th but has since been dropped 5lb by the handicapper and could pop up at a decent price sometime this Season.
BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE
Whether the winner Samcro sticks to hurdles or goes chasing I doubt we'll be getting any fancy prices on him and he makes limited appeal as a horse to follow. The runner up BLACK OP stuck on really well to chase home the winner before going on to win the Grade 1 Mersey Hurdle at Aintree. He'll be worth following this Season over fences. Probably the biggest mistake Willie Mullins had made at the Cheltenham Festival over the last 5 years was running NEXT DESTINATION here instead of the 3 mile Albert Bartlett on the Friday as he was doing tremendous work late on behind the winner Samcro. He showed that to be the case when taking the 3 mile novice at the Punchestown Festival and he should play a major role in staying novice chases this Season.
PRESENTING PERCY jumped well and travelled smoothly towards the rear of the field. After cutting through the field he led at the second last swinging on the bridle and drew clear to win by 7 lengths. A winner of the Pertemps Hurdle in 2017 all roads lead back to Cheltenham for the treble attempt in the 2019 Gold Cup.
VOIX DU REVE was well fancied but pulled like a train early on so did well to challenge at the second last before running out of steam. He looks just the type to pop up in a big handicap hurdle once the handicapper has relented a couple of pounds.
Although Min had travelled well and looked the likely winner between the last two it was the super classy ALTIOR who eventually showed him who was boss with a fine jump at the last and a turbo boosted sprint up the hill. DOUVAN had had an interrupted preparation but was still travelling strongly when falling 4 out. Still only an 8yo it's too early to write him off and with an injury free season he can get himself back towards the top of the 2 mile tree. And for all true race fans, a fully fit Douvan vs Altior vs Footpad would be the race of the century! POLITOLOGUE was well held both times he met Altior in the Spring but bounced back to beat Min over 2m4f at Aintree. There are plenty of decent 2 – 2½ mile chase races to be won with him throughout the Season and the Ryanair may be an interesting end of season target.
The first two home have done little for the form since having been upped in class so I'm going to look away from them to find a couple that might be worth following. Nothing was going better than the favourite NUBE BEGRA as they came to the second last where he was sent on to win the race by his jockey Harry Skelton. He shook off the challengers one by one but couldn't repel the lowly weighted Veneer of Charm who stormed passed to win well or the eventual runner up Style De Garde who powered home to finish second. It was still a good run from the third and he'll be worth watching in some of the better handicap hurdles this Winter.
LOOK MY WAY was badly hampered by a faller at the third and was always playing catch up after that but to his credit he stuck on well for a never nearer 8th. He did well on the flat in the Spring, winning the Chester Cup consolation race, and connections will be keen to send him back over hurdles where I'm sure we'll see him running over further than the 2 miles he's been competing over up to now.
The Champion Bumper is traditionally a very strong pointer to the following Season's novice hurdle races and this years race looked typically informative. I liked the look of the third TORNADO FLYER who won the Punchestown Bumper on his next start, the beaten favourite ACEY MILAN who did best of the 4yo's, Joseph O'Brien's 9TH home RHINESTONE and Nick Gifford's DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO.
The favourite TERREFORT raced prominently for most of the race before taking it up 4 out. He was joined from the second last and had no real answer to the winners extra pace after jumping the last but stuck on well. This was a great run from a 5yo giving the mares sex allowance to the winner and having won the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Aintree he's one to keep an eye on in the top chases this Season. BENATAR was with the front two approaching the second last and held every chance until getting outpaced by them coming down to the final fence. He was challenged for third on the run in but found extra to chase home the front two and was noted staying on nicely. He should be up to winning races this season. INVITATION ONLY was travelling very nicely in rear when slipping badly on landing at the fourth last. It was bad enough to end his race here but he came out 2 weeks later to run third in a Fairyhouse Grade 1 and then unseated after being hampered when challenging two out in the 3 mile Grade 1 Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival. Trained by Willie Mullins this 7yo should be up to winning good races this Winter.
PERTEMPS HURDLE FINAL
A GREAT VIEW was finishing best of all at the finish having blundered through the second last. He was given time to recover from that mistake which allowed the leaders to get away from him but showed how unlucky he was by winning a big field handicap hurdle at the Punchestown festival where he reversed form with the Pertemps runner up. Still only rated 136 (Irish) he looks capable of winning again. Nick Gifford's THE MIGHTY DON was noted making headway under pressure between the last 2 flights but a slight mistake at the last put an end to his run. He stayed on nicely up the stands rail to finish a never nearer 9th. He can win races from his current rating.
Quite a strange race with Sam Spinner setting no more than a steady pace and just about every horse in the field having some sort of chance between the last two flights. The Irish raiders PENHILL and Supasundae emerged from the pack to fight out the finish with the former showing a super turn of foot to win going away. This was his first run of the Season and he could dominate the stayers division this Season. COLIN'S SISTER was outpaced and just about last jumping the penultimate hurdle but weaved her way through and finished very strongly to snatch 5th. She was noted going on at the finish and would probably have preferred a stronger, more even gallop. She'll be a danger in the Staying Hurdle races this Winter with her mares allowance and a repeat win in the Wetherby Stayers is a distinct possibility. BACARDY'S was a top class bumper horse and Grade 1 winning novice hurdler who suffered odds on defeat in two novice chases at the start of last Season. He was brought back to hurdles for this and travelled strongly behind the leaders but was blocked behind a wall of horses when the pace lifted. He was switched and was staying on with place possibilities when over jumping at the last and came down. He's got class and whether he stays over hurdles or returns to fences he'll be worth following as he tries to get his career back on track.
PLATE HANDICAP CHASE
The David Pipe 6yo French import KINGS SOCKS travelled strongly throughout the race and was the last horse to come off the bridle. This was only his second run in the UK but his French form looked up to scratch with good form lines in 2016 with crack novice chaser Footpad. He subsequently flopped at Aintree over 2 miles but the Pipe stable have a really nice horse on their hands here and he gets to start the Season rated 1lb lower than at Aintree & Cheltenham
MARES NOVICE HURDLE
There are some really good hurdling mares on the other side of the Irish Sea and LAURINA is another from the Willie Mullins' stable to add to our list. Probably the easiest winner of the Cheltenham week she followed up in similar fashion at Punchestown and has a bright future.
I'm not sure the form of the Triumph Hurdle is worth the paper it's written on with a complete form reversal coming from the Irish runners who went on to contest the 4yo Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival. Nothing travelled stronger than REDICEAN at the top of the hill but he found very little and came home well behind. I'm prepared to forgive him than run and prefer to judge him on his Kempton win in the Adonis Hurdle.
The winner MOHAAYED had been highly tried on his previous start and seemed to enjoy this drop back to handicap company. He won nicely and despite his 7lb rise in the handicap should remain competitive. For some unknown reason he flopped in the Greatwood Handicap last Season at Cheltenham so I would imagine connections will be heading back there in November to try again. The massive gamble on FLYING TIGER went astray and the smell of burnt fingers wafted heavily over Prestbury Park throughout the afternoon but wind surgery over the Summer and a 3lb drop in the ratings should help connections get the money back this Season.
ALBERT BARTLETT HURDLE
The injection of pace from Fabulous Saga as he went clear at the top of the hill caught a lot of the runners by surprise and helped secure the race for KILBRICKEN STORM who sat closest to the runaway leader when he went for home. He quickly cut down the leaders advantage and stormed home to record a comfortable win and should make a nice staying novice chaser this Season. SANTINI was one of the runners taken by surprise but he ran on well to close down all but the winner and his stablemate who finished second. He made no mistakes at Aintree when scoring in decisive style, reversing form with the Albert Bartlett runner up in the process, and should be worth following over fences this year.
One of the best races of the meeting saw two great staying chasers totally dominate their field from the front and serve up a terrific finish from the top of the hill all the way to the line. Nothing else ever got near them and it's hard to see how any of the runners behind can reverse form with either NATIVE RIVER or MIGHT BITE. New kid on the block Presenting Percy and absent Sizing John may have something to say about the matter but from this race only the front two count.
MARTIN PIPE HURDLE
TOMMY RAPPER was noted travelling strongly just behind the leaders but was caught a bit flat footed when the pace lifted coming down the hill. He stayed about the same position for the rest of the race without ever threatening to win but certainly wasn't going backwards. He has been dropped a 1lb and should be able to get back to the winners enclosure this Season. The very lightly raced but unbeaten MR BIG SHOT was never going the pace of the leaders but was noted staying on nicely to finish a tenderly ridden, never nearer 10th. He came out again to justify favouritism at the Aintree Festival and despite a 10lb rise for that handicap win he looks sure to improve again.
The 5yo DOLOS ran a blinder in 7th keeping on nicely from just before the last. I would imagine, much like his winning stablemate this year, his entire Season will be geared around getting him ready for a fresh assault on the race next March. DOITFORTHEVILLAGE mixes hurdles with chasing but is much better over fences. He didn't have a great run through this race getting hampered a couple of times and making a bad blunder at the second last. To his credit he stayed on well up the hill and with the handicapper relenting by a couple of pounds I can see him popping up in a nice race at a nice price sometime this Season.
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