13.30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Baring Bingham)
- Top 2 rated according to BHA ratings, 11 of the last 13 winners
- 1st or 2nd place finish last time out, 26 of the last 27
- 2 or 3 starts over hurdles winning at least 50% of these races
- The last eleven winners had all won at least one bumper
- Last 10 winners all won on a left-handed course
All 17 Challow winners to run didn’t win but 6 from the last 8 to try were placed. Stage Star) Last 2 winners both won the Grade 1 at Naas in January (Ginto).
A good race for the Irish who have won 10 of the last 14 including 4 for Willie Mullins and 2 of the last 4 for Gordon Elliot.
Sir Gerhard will be looking to get favourite backers off to a flying start on Wednesday as he bids to secure back-to-back successes at the Festival. Last season’s Champion bumper winner has taken the switch to hurdles in his stride, being unbeaten in his 2 starts to date.
The latter of those victories came in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival, where he had Three Stripe Life 6 lengths behind. That form makes him the one to beat for sure but he does have to prove himself over this far under rules.
As mentioned, the Gordon Elliot trained Three Stripe Life finished behind the favourite last time, connections will be hoping that the step up in distance which looks likely to suit based on run style will enable him to turn that form around on this occasion.
Journey With Me is the other horse that warrants serious consideration of the Irish based runners. This point winner trained runner is unbeaten in his 3 starts under rules to date with the form of his maiden hurdle victory at Leopardstown looking particularly strong form.
His trainer Henry De Bromhead should have him spot on for this step up in grade and this progressive type looks to over some each way appeal against the short price favourite.
Of the English runners, I Am Maximus will need to show considerable improvement for the return to a sounder surface after looking to be outstayed last time by Hilcrest.
The progressive Stage Star makes more appeal of the pair, unbeaten over hurdles in 3 starts including a victory in the Challow hurdle when last seen. He’s progressive, stays this type of trip should be suited by Cheltenham and looks adaptable to underfoot conditions so a big run would not surprise.
Selection – Journey With Me
14.10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Registered As The Broadway Novices’ Chase)
- Contested a Graded Chase, last 20 winners, 14 of the last 15 1st or 2nd in at least a G2 Chase
- 7-year-olds have a strong record in recent years, 12 of the last 15
- Ran at last year’s Festival particular in the Albert Bartlett, 6 of the last 12
- Rated 150+ last 7 winners
- Key Races
- Grade 1 Novice Chase Leopardstown 5 of the last 13 winners. Winner Galopin Des Champs
Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls have won 11 of the last 18 between them.
The Paul Nicholls trained Bravemansgame is unbeaten in 5 starts over fences to date and has looked a natural over the larger obstacles this season. He put in another impressive round of jumping when giving weight all round in a Newbury handicap when last seen.
Prior to that he was winner of the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Kempton, that form makes him the one to beat here but there is a slight concern about his suitability for Cheltenham based on his third place finish here last season in the Ballymore and that’s enough to look elsewhere at likely odds.
Ahoy Senor finished behind the favourite at Kempton however this strong staying type looks the one more likely to be suited by this type of test at this stage. He’s since gone on to success at Wetherby and at double the odds makes more appeal to find the required improvement needed to reverse that form.
L’Homme Presse is unbeaten in 4 starts over fences this season and looks another progressive Chaser for the home runners. That said, all those successes have come over shorter trips than this and I’d like to have seen him proven over under these conditions given his current odds.
The same can’t be said for the likeable Threeunderthrufive. This previous course and distance winner has won his last 4 starts over fences and looks to his chances look to have been underestimated by the market. He makes each way appeal in a open race.
The Willie Mullins trained Capodanno is the shortest price runner of the Irish runners but has to bounce back from unseating his rider last time and that’s enough to put me off.
Selection Ahoy Senor – Threeunderthrufive
14.50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
- 2nd season hurdlers, 12 of the last 17
- Rated 143+ and top 8 in the weights
- No more than 4 hurdle runs this season and 10 in total, 17 of the last 20
- Not ran within the last 24 days
Ran in the Betfair or Ladbrokes Hurdle
Nicky Henderson has won 4 of the last 12 and Gordon Elliot 2 in a race where it tends to focus on the major stables.
Saint Felicen is a bit of a un original selection in such a large field handicap but the Gordon Elliot runner really does look to tick plenty of boxes.
He comes out really well on the profile of previous winners of the race and that’s also backed up by what we have seen on just his 3 starts to date which suggest he could be fairly treated still.
There still looks to be a little juice left in his price and he’s a confident pick for his trainer who has enjoyed plenty of success in this race recently.
Gordon Elliot runs plenty others in the line up and his Indigo Breeze is also of some interest. He’s another lightly raced type who looks likely to be suited by stepping up in trip.
Unexpected Party and Gowel Road finished 1-2 here in a handicap back in November last year. The both look progressive types and warrant respect but the worry is they have shown their hand to early against some seriously unexposed types.
Selection Saint Felicen – Indigo Breeze
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15.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
- Previously won at a Cheltenham Festival, last 13 winners all raced at course before
- Rated 159+, 10 of the last 11 winners
- Aged between 7 to 9, 15 of the last 21
- 19 of the last 23 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
Tingle Creek Sandown 13 of the last 21 winners. 6 of the last 10 Clarence House Chase Ascot.
Nicky Henderson has won 5 of the last 10 thanks to his dual winners Sprinter Sacre and Altior. Only 2 Irish trained winners in that time period. Henry De Bromhead 3 from 11 Willie Mullins 0-11
One of the most anticipated races of the week with Shishkin and Energumene set to do battle once more after their recent clash in Clarence House at Ascot.
The Willie Mullins trained runner looked to have Shiskin in trouble on a couple of occasions with his bold front running tactics but it was the Nicky Henderson inmate who managed to stay on the stronger of the pair where it mattered.
Tactics will no doubt play their part once more but for me it’s hard for me to see how Shishkin will not come out on top once more and he’s expected to secure his third Cheltenham Festival success.
Chacun Pour Soi is a multiple grade 1 winner over fences and at his best would give the favourite something to seriously think about. However, that’s the big issue here we are yet to see that best form on 2 occasions when running in England and I’m happy to bet against him once more.
Nube Negra could be potentially be suited by how the race plays out and makes some appeal from a place angle. Things didn’t play out as hoped in this race last season but was a good winner over course and distance early in the season.
Dual Festival winner Envoi Allen has failed to hit the same heights over the larger obstacles and needs to bounce back to his best after a recent wind op.
It would be wrong to not mention the past 2 winners of the race Put The Kettle On and Politologue but both look up against it this time around in a high class renewal.
Selection – Shishkin
16.10 Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase)
- Aged between 8-10, 9 of the last 11. Tiger Roll one of the 2 older.
- Has experience in a Graded Chase, 10 of the last 12
- Previous cross-country experience, 14 of the 17 ran on this course
Cheltenham December Cross Country Race
Irish have won 14 of the last 17 running’s with Gordon Elliot 3 of the last 5. Of the English trained Phillip Hobbs has 2 winners and multiple place runners.
This could be the final time we see five-time Cheltenham Festival winner and dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll in action and it would be a remarkable achievement if he was to go out in style by securing his fourth success in this unique race.
He’s shown very little in 2 runs this season but that’s no surprise as we know he comes alive on the big days and the noises coming out of the Elliot camp at the moment are nothing but positive.
The drying ground is a massive plus at this stage of his career and he’s going to be extremely tough to beat once again.
One of the main dangers does look to be his high class stablemate Delata Work. A multiple grade 1 winner over fences, he certainly has the class to go well here. He does however have to prove his current well being and his suitability to the banks course.
Shady Operator looks the main hope for the Enda Bolger yard whose runners always have to be respected in these events. He has some good from to his name in a couple of these at Punchestown and is fancied on this occasion to turn around the form with stable mate Midnight Maestro.
Diesel D’allier was a course and distance winner here in December, but that was handicap and he could only manage fourth in this in the past.
Selection – Tiger Roll
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16.50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
- Past festival form, 15 of the last 18 ran at a previous festival
- Novice or second season chaser, 9 of the last 13 winners
- Age between 6 or 9, 11 of the last 12
- 7 of the last 8 carried 11 stone or more
A very unique test, 8 of the last 18 winners ran in the race the season before and 15 of the last 18 at the festival before
Paul Nicholls has won 2 of the last 10, Irish runners started to fair better in recent years.
Fiercely competitive handicap which is somewhat a unique test given the large field and fast tempo the race will be ran at. Buddy Rich and Andy Dufresene both look likely to be towards the head of the market and it’s hard to split the Gordon Elliot stablemates.
Joseph O’Brien is another trainer who seems to enjoy targeting his horses at this race and he is also double handed. His Embittered was a strong fancy for this last season and was travelling well enough still when falling with 5 to go. He arrives here of a similar mark and of the Irish challenge is the only I’m keen on.
Sky Pirate won this last season off a 4lb lower mark and has held his form relatively well since then. He will find things tougher giving weight all round this season but should go well one more.
Amarillo Sky looks a progressive novice for the Colin Tizzard team. He only has the 5 starts to date over fences and should have more to come despite the rise in the weights for winning at Newbury last time up, Jockey Brendan Powell has had a good season and it’s hoped he can to add to his tally here.
The other horse I’m keen to be with is the Paul Nicholls trained Il Ridito. His trainer has a respectable record in this race and always lays something out for it.
The selection has to improve on his poor run last time but that was in dreadful conditions at Lingfield which would not have suited. Back on a sound surface and with his yard back amongst the winners, he’s fancied to out run his current odds.
Selection Amarillo Sky – Il Ridito
17.30 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper
- Won last time out and never finished out the first 3
- Aged 5 or 6, 15 of the last 16 winners
- Had a recent run last month. 5 from 6
Made their debut under rules in Ireland
Ireland based runners, 22 of the last 29, 8 of the last 11 including 5 for Willie Mullins but not his most fancied in terms of market position. Gordon Elliot 2 of the last 5
This looks another top-class renewal and it looks somewhat of a match-up between the Elliot and Mullins runners.
Facile Vega rightly heads the market after his dominant performance in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival. The son of the mighty Quevega heads a strong challenge for the Willie Mullins camp in which they run a total of 7 runners.
It’s always hard to split these unexposed types and whilst Redemption Day and James’ Gate made good impressions on their sole starts, the one I’m happy to take a chance on at fancy each prices is Viva Devito.
The son of Malinas was an impressive 16 length winner on his debut for the Mullins team and carries just as much potential for improvement as his stable companions.
Gordon Elliot has tasted success twice in this race recently and his American Mike is the main pick here. He was a pretty expensive point purchase and the form of his Listed success in Navan looks strong.
He looks a pretty uncomplicated forward type and with the excellent Jamie Codd in the saddle makes plenty of appeal against the short price favourite.
Poetic Music is unbeaten in 3 starts, the Fergal O`Brien trained runner has not hit the ceiling of his ability yet and receives a handy weight allowance here being a 4-year-old filly.
She poses an exciting turn of foot and you could easily see he out running her odds.
Selection American Mike – Viva Devito
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