Westbourne Racing Club CHELTENHAM PREVIEW – FRIDAY 13th MARCH
JCB Triumph Hurdle
The last ten winners ran between twenty and fifty-five days prior to the race. Seven of the last ten winners priced at 13/2 or lower. Last nine winners officially rated 140 or higher. Aga Khan-bred horses have a good record: 1, 3, 7, 2, 3, 1, 0.
Peace And Co TR 155p heads the market following one win in France and two UK successes. Whilst he is a fluent jumper, he can stand a way off his hurdles. This can lead to mistakes; horses that do not learn to shorten up at an obstacle can end up on the floor. Always travelling easily, he did not find as much up the hill as appeared likely approaching the final flight. His temperament will be tested to the full (Wore earplugs on that occasion) on Gold Cup day. Karezak TR 142 provides the form with a sold look. Whilst he is short of pace at a vital stage, he has the professionalism and guts to reach the first four. Petite Parisienne created something of a surprise when getting the better of Kalkir TR 145p at Leopardstown recently. However, there was no fluke about her success in a truly run race. She jumps for fun and looks sure to run well if sent in this direction. Kalkir ran just below his best looking at his RPR’s. Sure to prove suited by a strong pace, he will be thereabouts when it matters. Top Notch 145p is unbeaten and improving. Whilst he lacks the size and scope of some of his rivals, he is a game sort that tries hard. Hargam 143 ran out an easy winner at Musselburgh. He jumps and travels well though one wonders if Aintree will prove his best chance of a Grade One win. Bristol De Mai TR ran well at Sandown Park. However, he looks more of a chaser and in need of a longer trip. Pain Au Chocolat TR 137p can improve further while Dicosimo TR 132P looks an improving sort from across the water.
Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle Race
The last ten renewals have seen six winners trained in Ireland, three from Paul Nicholls, with Martin Pipe the other successful trainer. The winners’ official handicap mark has been between 128 and 139. Seven winners were on an official handicap mark between 134 and 139. Nine of the ten winners were started at 10/1 or higher, three at 20/1, and one at 50/1.
Katie T finds herself prominent at the head of the betting market. She improved to win the valuable Boylesports Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown in January. Raised 10lb for that win, she may stop in Ireland as she is reported to be a poor traveller. Activial and Bayan are likely to receive entries, as will Quick Jack third in the 2014 Boylesports Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown and a course winner in November 2013. Quick Jack’s trainer Tony Martin is likely to enter Blackmail, Thomas Edison, and Ted Veale.Others worth consideration include Hawk High, Modem, Snake Eyes, Regal Encore,and Goodwood Mirage. Calipto will improve for his staying on fourth in the Betfair Hurdle.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race
Eight of the last ten winners were officially rated 139+. Four favourites in ten-years. Only two winners longer priced than 9/1. Seven of the last ten winners had course experience. Eight winners finished first or second on their last run. Seven winners had their prep between seventeen and forty-eight days prior to the race. Six or seven-year-olds have won eight of the last ten renewals.
Irish and UK horses reportedly heading towards the Albert Bartlett Hurdle include Black Hercules TR 149p, Martello Tower TR 150, and No More Heroes TR 149, Vyta Du Roc TR 147, Thomas Brown TR 145p, Blaklion TR 144, Caracci Apache TR 144,and Tea For Two TR 153p. Black Hercules TR 149p has won twice over hurdles. He will be effective over the Neptune trip though better ground may see this as his target. A superb looking horse, he will make a smashing chaser. Value At Risk finished second to Ordo Ab Chao at Cheltenham on trial day. He is bred to stay every inch of this trip and looks sure to improve. No More Heroes TR 149 will have his chances enhanced on soft ground. He will stay and we should perhaps forgive a disappointing run last time out. Thomas Brown TR 145p is a likeable improving sort, closely matched with several other mentioned above. At Exeter, Native River,over a distance well short of his best won his second race over hurdles. He appears to save his best for the racecourse and will enjoy the step up to this trip.
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase
3m 2½ f
The most successful current jockeys are Barry Geraghty, Tony McCoy, and Ruby Walsh with two wins each. Prior to Bobs Worth’s win, the previous thirteen winners ran in either the King George or Lexus Chase. The last ten winners had previously been successful in at Grade 1 race. Bobs Worth apart, winners in the past ten-year had prep runs between thirty-four and eighty-three days prior to the race. Four of the last six winners won a race at the previous festival.
Silviniaco Conti TR 176 will enter the arena with 2014 Betfair Chase and King George Chase wins to his name. His TFR is 11lb clear of the next horse in the betting market. What dampens enthusiasm is his apparent dislike of undulating tracks. Since cheek-pieces were fitted in the Betfair Chase, Noel Fehily has made most of running, jumping well to outstay his rivals. One imagines he will try to control the pace from the front, thereby given him every chance of seeing out the trip. Many Clouds and Road To Riches are both TR 165. The former won well on Trials day with course experience a valuable asset. Last year’s winner Lord Windermere TR 161 showed more in the Irish Hennessy. However, both RPR’s and TFR’s suggest those crossing the water need to improve if Silviniaco Conti runs to his best. The one exception may be the hugely exciting Djakadam TR 160. TFR’s display he needs to improve. However, he could not have won the Thyestes Chase any easier under a big weight. Coneygree ran out an impressive winner in the Denman Chase. His RPR suggests the RSA is the safest choice in terms of achievement, though at eight-years, he is old enough to run in an open-looking renewal. Interestingly his RPR is the same as Carlingford Lough achieved in the Irish Hennessy. I am of the opinion Boston Bob, in preparation for Cheltenham and the spring festivals received a considerate ride. Not put in the race until the latter stages, he looks one sure to enjoy the extra quarter of a mile at Prestbury Park. Shutthefrontdoor is promising. However, he is facing time against him in search of a prep run. Foxrock TR 161is likely to be supplemented after his fine run in the Irish Hennessy, while Sam Winner TR 159i s expected to take his chance having reportedly improved since his run in the Lexus Chase.
Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
3m 2½ f
Irish trained horses have won five times between 2006-2014, four since 2011. Seven of the last ten winners won last time out. The last ten winners had a prep run between twenty-one and thirty-five days beforehand. Five nine-years and two, seven and eight-year-olds, won in the last ten years.
Harbour Court won a Point-To-Point at Milborne St Andrew recently, getting up on the run-in in a tight finish. His trainer was reportedly disappointed with the performance. Current Event continued winning ways in the Scottish Foxhunter Chase; part-owned by Paul Nicholls, his trainer Rose Laxton, works for Mr Nicholls. Teaforthree (needs another win or second pace to qualify), Salsify (showed all his old dash running and jumping for fun until tiring), and On the Fringe all showed distinct promise on their respective returns to the racecourse. Two Rockers, Warne, Vital Plot, Paint The Clouds, Aerial, and Pacha Du Polder remain in the mix.
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
2m 4½ f
The standard of the race has risen since 2007. The winner that year ran off an official handicap mark of 133. Last year’s winner Don Poli, trained by Willie Mullins, won off a rating of 143. Five of the six winners had an SP of 14/1 or higher. Four of the six winners were five-years-old, the other two six-years-old.
David Pipe, who is yet to win the race, has Alternatif, Baltimore Rock, Balgarry, and Knight Of Noir as likely sorts. Nicky Henderson has J P McManus owned Cup Final, Clean Sheet, and Snake Eyes housed at Seven Barrows. Morito Du Berlais is one for the team at Ditcheat along with As De Mee. Killer Crow is one of many, last year’s winning trainer considers, worthy of an entry. Returning to form recently over three-miles, Regal Encore will have an entry in this shorter race.
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
2m ½ f
One favourite has won in the last ten years. Eight of the last ten had a prep run between thirteen and forty-one days before the race. Since 2004 Nicky Henderson has sent out two winners and seven placed horses. Novices have won four of the last six renewals. Seven of the last eight British trained winners had a previous course win. Nine of the last 10 winners carried 10-13 or less.
Last year’s winner Savello ran well over hurdles behind Katie T recently. He ran well in a Grade One at Punchestown next time out and finds himself 6lb higher at present. The three that followed him home last March, Ned Buntline, Claret Cloak, and Next Sensation would be worthy of consideration on good ground. David Pipe’s Monetaire is sure to attract market support if sent for the race, as will Bellenos trained by Dan Skelton. Course winners Bold Henry and Sew On Target are likely to turn up for the fun along with the well-handicapped Eastlake with previous winner Alderwood and versatile Ted Veale likely to prove popular when entries are made. Good or good to soft would see Court Minstrel competitive.