Monday February 1st 12noon
Was last Saturday the day the Brit’s fought back?
YANWORTH really put the cat among the Closutton pigeons with an “on the bridle” victory in the Neptune Trial at Cheltenham and no one got a better view of the winner than Ruby Walsh who was aboard the much touted but stuffed second, Shantou Village. With Up for Review running a stinker at Doncaster in the Alfred Bartlett trial this could see a major reshuffle amongst the Mullins novice hurdlers. On Thursday at Clonmel is the Grade 3 “Surehaul Mercedes Benz” Novice hurdle over the convenient 2m 6f trip, i.e a Neptune/Alfred Bartlett trial and entries include Arkwrisht, Stone Hard, Nambour and Townshend for Mullins plus four for Elliott including Westend Star. Then on Saturday Leopardstown have their big trials day including the massively influential Grade 1 Deloittte Novices Hurdle over the ticklish trip of 2m 2f and supposedly is a Supreme/Neptune trial. Mullins has his complete ‘A’ team entered especially Bellshill, Yorkhill, Petit Mouchoir and Long Dog the more likely runners. Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone will give them all something to think about.
BARTERS HILL ground his way to victory in the Alfred Bartlett Trial and as the commentator said he really does have a “thou shalt not pass” attitude. He’s all guts and stamina and nothing flashy but he has Grade 2 winning bumper form and is three from three over hurdles and ground and trip are no worries. Two niggling concerns, firstly he’s never been to Cheltenham before and all his wins have been on flat tracks and secondly how hard a race did he have on Saturday? The second on Saturday, Ballydine, was only three-quarters of a length off Barters Hill yet is four times the price, 12’s compared to 3’s? Will either Yorkhill or Bellshill step up to 3m or could Nambour or Stone Hard force themselves into the picture with a convincing win on Thursday?
DJAKADAM fell at Cheltenham. For the second time in three visits! Smad Place made every yard jumping impeccably and if he adopts the same tactics in March he won’t be far away but he will ask some serious questions of any Gold Cup aspirant. Djakadam, Don Cossack it’s jumping, Cue Card it’s the hill, Vautour it’s stamina. Don Poli and Road to Riches meet this weekend in the Irish Gold Cup and the market is all for the latter but the handicapper says they have to find 7-10lbs to trouble the King George form.
THISTLECRACK looks the real deal. Any other winner will have to be pretty left field?
Time to talk Royal Ascot? How many of you like a big bet in the Queen Mary, the 5F race for 2yo fillies? Not many I suspect and the new Mares Novice hurdle at Cheltenham this year is the NH equivalent? These young ladies could find a stone between runs, boil over with the hullabaloo of a festival or just have an “off” day! LIMINI was impressive in victory but even money for Cheltenham!! SMART TALK put Morning Run and the rest in their place at Doncaster. She will be really exciting when she jumps a fence!!
As for the 4yo Juvenile hurdlers? Hold all your bets until we have seen the Grade 1 Spring hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday, the Victor Ludorum at Haydock on Feb. 20th and the Adonis at Kempton on Feb. 27th.
Maybe it won’t all be emerald green this March!