Cheltenham International Hurdle Meeting – Weekend Review Dec.8th – 13th

Monday 14th 5.30pm

Tuesday Dec. 8th

Aubusson won his novice chase at Uttoxeter jumping well but I think he is ground dependent, needs it V.Soft-Heavy, and if he was mine I’d be looking at a 3m Chase/Hurdle in Auteuil not Cheltenham in the spring.

Thurs. Dec. 10th

It was all about MIN. He probably beat trees but he was electric between the last two flights and hurdled cleanly. Thomas Hobson could be a handicap player at the Spring Festivals.

I was very taken by the C4 2m 5f maiden hurdle at Warwick on Soft (heavy in places) ground. I really like the winner BORN SURVIVOR, from the Skelton yard, and he will be a #startracking entrant. Mention also for the second, Alan King’s Minella Charmer, who was the only one to give Born Survivor a race. Meanwhile at Taunton Harry Fry introduced another two smart horses in Whataknight, who won the C4 3m hurdle (…in time he will make a chaser. He appreciated the better going at Taunton as almost all his winning form in points was on good ground. Harry Fry Website) and DRUMCLIFF, who won the bumper and will also be a new #startracking entrant.

Fri. Dec. 11th

I have already covered #startracking horses who ran at Cheltenham, Fletchers Flyer, Anightinvienna, Some Buckle & Fingerontheswitch in Saturday’s blog. Nicky Henderson introduced two novice chasers who both won. At Bangor Vyta Du Roc, a big, old fashioned chasing type but I’d be more interested in the horse he beat, The Saint James, in 2m6f/3m handicaps off his current mark of OR142. Volnay de Thaix at Doncaster came up well at the last when he needed to but there isn’t a lot of the horse. Respected paddock watcher Adam Norman blogged Volnay De Thaix looks a proper horse but was very novicey. However, he met the last two on a good stride and that helped him seal the win. I wouldn’t be that confident if they took him to a Grade 1 track next.”

Also at Bangor Warren Greatrex’s Ma Du Fou hacked up and defied a penalty and is one to keep onside.

Sat. Dec. 12th

I have to start by talking about the weather. Plenty of Good ground horse went to Doncaster which did catch the rain and the going went from Soft (GS in places) to Soft after race 1 to Heavy after race 4!! Meanwhile loads of Soft ground horses ran at Cheltenham that missed most of the rain and was Soft (Good to Soft in places) and rode better. Those at Cheltenham who threw their hats into Festival ring included Sceau Royal (very neat at his flights and must be a Triumph contender) and More of That (continues on course for the RSA but Village Vic ran the same trip 9 seconds quicker winning the handicap). As for the International Hurdle they might as well not bother running the Champion Hurdle in March and just ask Willie Mullins what the 1-2-3 will be and we can have the Charity race back!!

Form from Doncaster has to be taken with a fairly large pinch of salt. Holly Bush Henry is an improver and his trainer Graeme McPherson is in rude form. Sego Success put himself in the Skybet Chase picture, Robertstown was disappointing and apparently Who Dares Wins will win the Ebor!

Warren Greatrex had another interesting winner at Lingfield, Chef D’Ouvre, who handled the heavy ground much better than the well thought of Krugermac. The winner may be a #startracking entrant when I’ve decided if he is ground dependent and heard what Warren Greatrex has to say about him. On debut he was 4th to Born Survivor in an Irish PtP and has won both his races on heavy ground.

Sun. Dec. 13th

Losing the Cork fixture was a blow but plenty of good action at Navan and Carlisle. Outstanding at Navan was Bellshill who was another of the Mullins artillery to stake a Cheltenham Festival claim. He hurdled fluently, travelled strongly before quickening between the last two. He is currently quoted best price Supreme 16/1 PP, Neptune 8/1 fav general, Alfred Bartlett 12/1 Betfred and any race 5/1 general. Stone Hard had already clipped the top of a couple of flights when he unseated his rider and Tycoon Prince could need better ground to show that acceleration he possesses. Fine Rightly won the Grade C 2m 4f handicap chase in the style of a horse going places. Death Duty was good in the Listed bumper and his progress needs to be closely monitored, although he has chaser written all over and a damned good one at that!

At Carlisle Tullamore Dew and Pineau de Re rolled back the years, Suit Yourself didn’t come off the bridle in the 2m 1f Novice hurdle and Billy Billy (probably up for sale) won the bumper as he wished but for me the race of the day was Western Rules beating BRONCO BILLY in the 2m4f C4 novices hurdle. In the future I would want to take the winner on as his hurdling lacked fluency whereas the runner up is going to come on for his first run in over a year and we will put him in #startracking (details to follow).

Mon Dec. 14th

Corks two Listed races were moved to Navan 24 hours later (take note BHA) and although the G3 mares novice chase was a muddling affair the Hilly Way was worth the entry money on its own and the chance to see Ruby Walsh give another master class as he got Felix Yonger home on ground that was clearly too deep for him. Walsh was also on board another of the Mullins Cheltenham ‘A’ team when giving Black Hercules a perfect introduction to chasing. “Meanwhile Black Hercules is likely to run again over 2m 4f some time next month. “He has RSA written all over him” remarked Mullins” The Irish Field ‏@TheIrishField Mon. 14th Dec. Yes!! But it begs the question “where is Pont Alexandre going?”

Black Hercules  JLT 25/1 PP,                  RSA 25/1 Betfred,            NH 4miler 12/1 PP,          any race 10/1 WH

Pont Alexandre JLT 25/1 Stan James,      RSA 10/1 General,           NH 4miler      –     ,            any race 7/1 Skybet

There wasn’t enough mud at Plumpton for Zamdy Man, who is built for chasing, but JP McManus’s Regal Encore looked tidy in taking the prize. “Regal Encore scores at Plumpton to set up 60k bonus – which hcap at the Festival will he be aimed for?” matt tombs ‏@thespieler 14th Dec. 1pm 


“To lose one …. may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Friday “The Stewards held an enquiry into the fall of Sam Twiston-Davies, the rider of POLITOLOGUE (FR), approaching the final hurdle. They interviewed Twiston-Davies. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the incident the Stewards found that the fall was caused by the gelding jinking right and unseating the rider.”

Sunday “The Stewards held an enquiry into the fall of Sam Twiston-Davies, the rider of HAWKHURST (IRE), after the final flight of hurdles. They interviewed Twiston-Davies and having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the incident the Stewards found that the fall was caused by HAWKHURST (IRE) attempting to buck and jinking right after jumping the final flight, causing the rider to be unseated.”



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