Today it’s Gordon Elliott, Warren Greatrex, Ben Pauling and Charlie Longsdon plus six potential Irish handicappers from a favourite correspondent of mine, Donn McClean. ENJOY.
Anyone spotted a handicap plot yet?
Gordon Elliott By: Ben Linfoot March 1 2016, 15:34 GMT
Ben Linfoot provides us with a comprehensive guide to Gordon Elliott’s large and powerful Cheltenham Festival team.
He’s a good looking horse, he does everything well and hasn’t done much wrong in the last couple of years apart from falling in the King George and getting third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham. That’s the only time he’s been beaten in the last two years. You could arguably say he’s been unlucky both times, but we’re looking forward to Cheltenham and hoping the ground dries out a bit. The drier the ground the better chance he has. When he was a bumper horse we always thought he wanted soft ground, but that shows how wrong I was and maybe that’s why his novice hurdle season wasn’t what we hoped it would be. He got a bad fall one day at Navan behind Pont Alexandre and he lost his way a bit, but he’s been brilliant for the last few years, so roll on Cheltenham. I was delighted with his school at Leopardstown the other day. I was frightened looking at it, but he jumped fence to fence and I couldn’t have been happier. He’ll have one more, nice piece of work, he’ll canter away at home and he’ll have one more day away from home. I don’t know if Bryan Cooper’s going to ride him. I hope Bryan rides, but if he doesn’t he’s a big part of our team – he might ride Don Poli, Road To Riches or Valseur Lido, I don’t know, but the Willie Mullins factor is bigger than the Gordon Elliott factor. If Willie bounces out with three winners on Tuesday, that’s going to be at the back of your mind. If the ground came up soft I think he’d definitely ride Don Poli. If he doesn’t ride him Davy Russell is there. Barry Geraghty is there, Richard Johnson. All of those lads haven’t got rides in the Gold Cup, but Cheltenham is a long way away, I’d love Bryan to ride him but if he doesn’t there will be plenty of good lads ready to ride him. That was why Davy Russell rode him (in work at Leopardstown), there wasn’t much to it. I’m 99.9 per cent certain he won’t wear headgear. He worked without it at Leopardstown and I was very happy with him. If the ground came up on the better said he definitely wouldn’t wear any. Softer, perhaps. I thought going to Thurles that he might as I’d worked him in it and he worked well, but I don’t think he will.
No More Heroes
I thought he was very good when he schooled with Don Cossack the other day. He jumped big over the first one or two – that’s why we took him up there as he hasn’t raced since Christmas – but he was going with the highest-rated Gold Cup horse and I’ll think he’ll have learnt more there than he probably did in his two previous runs. We’re getting there with him and hopefully we’ll get him there in one piece. He’s favourite and I’m not sure he should be, More Of That is a stayers’ winner and five from five at Cheltenham, but when there’s a horse like that in the race it takes a bit of the pressure off me. The ground wouldn’t be an excuse for him, I’m sure the ground at Cheltenham will be in beautiful condition as it always is. He’s not the biggest horse in the world but he’s big enough. Sometimes with the big horses it’s hard to keep them sound, but he’s just the perfect size, he’s a little ball and he jumped beautifully at Leopardstown bang, bang, bang. He’s a stayer but he’s not slow either, jumping is his game and I think Cheltenham will suit him.
He’s in the Supreme Novices’ and the handicaps (County Hurdle and Martin Pipe Conditionals) and we’ll see what mark he gets before we go. We’ll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) about it. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season with him and, again, I’d say good ground will be key for him. He’s been very good on his last two runs and he’ll be some horse jumping a fence next year.
Bless The Wings
He’s been placed around the Cross Country track twice, he’s wrong at the weights with a lot of horses but we’ll let him take his chance. The owners sponsor the yard, they are good fellows and he’s been second in a Kim Muir, so he likes the place. If he finished in the first four or five it would be a great run.
Bright New Dawn
He’ll run in the Grand Annual. He’s a bit of a boyo. He’s hit and miss and is either very good or very bad. I think the race will suit him and he’s a horse you can drop in, which is good as they’ll go flat out. If I was given a fiver I might not have it on him. But, Felix Yonger has finished a length either side of him on two of his last three runs, I just couldn’t rely on him. He’ll love the ground at Cheltenham.
He ran too keen in Leopardstown and won very well in France. He’s been working very well at home and it will be interesting to see what mark he gets. We like him. He’s a nice horse. I haven’t got a clue whose been backing him. He’s a good horse, he’s in good form, he’s well. He’ll have to improve an awful lot from Leopardstown to be winning the Fred Winter, but hopefully he will. I’ll have to discuss it with the owner, but he’ll probably wear a hood.
Cause Of Causes
He’s been some horse for us. He’s won the Ladbroke, been second in a Galway Hurdle, he was just beaten in the Kim Muir and probably would’ve won that had he jumped the last and he won the four-miler. He’ll either go for the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase or the Kim Muir. We’re thrilled with him. This morning he was pulling the arms out of Jamie Codd. I’d love to go for the Kim Muir with Jamie riding him. On good ground he’s very good, the Kim Muir will suit him. We know he’s been there twice and he likes the place.
She’s been to Cheltenham and been placed a few times, but I’m not sure she’ll even get in the Kim Muir. If she gets in she’ll go and if she runs well I’ll be happy.
He won at Punchestown and the plan is to go for the Coral Cup definitely. It’s been the plan since he came here really. He’s in really good form so we’re really looking forward to running him.
He was a bit unlucky last time, he missed the start but flew home on just his second run for us. He’s got a mark of 137 so we won’t run him again and he’ll go straight for the County Hurdle. He’s come out of Leopardstown really well and he looks great, I’m really happy with him.
He won three or four for us last year and he won at York on the Flat. We took him to America and he was second in the American Grand National. I’ve given him a nice break and he’s working very, very well at home. I think he’ll be going to the Martin Pipe with Luke Dempsey riding him. If the ground is good he goes there with an each-way chance.
We went to Musselburgh the last day and just got beat by O O Seven. I thought that was a very good run. We’ll be running him in the Albert Bartlett for owner, Ronnie Bartlett, who sponsors the race. He won’t disgrace himself, he could run into the first four or five. I wouldn’t send him if I thought he’d be tailed off, he’s 33/1 and we’ll drop him in and follow them round. He’s a good price, we could sneak into a place definitely.
He’s in the Martin Pipe and the Coral Cup as well. I’ll have to speak with the owners and see. He’s a nice horse and my preference would be the Martin Pipe. I could have two or three runners in the race at least.
He’ll go for the novice handicap on the first day. He was second in a Leopardstown chase last time behind Empire Of Dirt and I think he’s a mark of 136 in England, with the ceiling for the race 140. It will be a tight, compressed handicap. He should have a good each-way chance when you look at the horses that have been finishing around him. He travels, this looks his ideal trip and I think the race is made for him.
She finished second in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse and I was disappointed with her. She’s back now in good form and she’s working well, so all being well she’ll be going for the Fred Winter.
He just got beat by Killultagh Vic last year and he’s been around horses like Roi Des Francs in beginners’ chases in very soft ground. Killultagh Vic came out and beat Thistlecrack at Punchestown so his form is solid and it’s always a help when you’ve been to Cheltenham and done it. I think Cheltenham and four miles will be right up his alley and Jamie Codd will ride him if he runs in it. He’s obviously in a few of the handicap chases as well and I’ll have to speak to the owners and see what he’s handicapped, but if I get my way he’ll be running in the four-miler. If you’ve got Jamie Codd or Nina Carberry or Derek O’Connor in these sort of races it’s worth a stone straight away.
Everyone knows about Our Father. He seems to run well fresh so he’ll be going straight for the Kim Muir. If he’d have got in the Grand National we’d have gone straight there. He’s still owned by the Johnsons and Irvines that obviously still have a lot of horses with the Pipes, they wanted to give him a change of scenery. Obviously I’m good friends with David and everyone so it’s better that he comes to me than go somewhere else I suppose. He’s had his fair share of problems and David’s done a wonderful job with him. I wouldn’t dream for a second that we could improve one from the Pipes, but I think he’s good fresh and he’s just down to a mark now that can see him do well in the Kim Muir. Nina Carberry’s going to ride him all being well and that will be a massive help. He works very, very well, but he’s probably always done that judging by the prices he’s been going off in his races. He’s fit and he’s well and he’s in good form.
Prince Of Scars
I’ve said a lot of my horses want better ground, but if it did come up soft he wouldn’t be without a chance in the Ryanair World Hurdle. He’s a 155-rated hurdler and has beaten Alpha Des Obeaux and beat them well at Leopardstown. The ground is key, if it’s not on the easy side I won’t run him. I’ll take the shoes off him and he’ll go chasing next year. He’ll be a proper staying chaser next year. He’s three from three for us and I can’t say anything bad about him.
He’s done nothing wrong this year. He’s won at Leopardstown, Fairyhouse and obviously he’s an improving horse for JP McManus. He’s in the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe. I think the Martin Pipe would suit him with Jack Kennedy riding him, but obviously they have so many horses they’ll have to weigh everything up. They might want to keep him for Aintree, Fairyhouse or Punchestown, but I’d love to go to the Martin Pipe with him.
He was just beaten in the Coral Cup last year and he was just beaten at Musselburgh under top weight in the Pertemps qualifier. If he’d jumped the second last Richard Johnson said he would’ve won. Jack Kennedy will ride him and take a couple of pounds off him and I bet you he’ll run well.
If he gets in the County Hurdle he’ll run. He’s another one that would have a better chance on better ground, we’ll see how he’s handicapped before deciding whether to go to Cheltenham or wait for Aintree.
The Game Changer
He’ll go for the Arkle all being well and the better the ground the better chance he’d have. Douvan will be very hard to beat, but if the ground dries out he’d have an each-way chance. He’s had a wind operation since the last day and we’re really looking forward to it. He was bleeding, so we moved him outside and he lives there now. He seems to be a different horse since we moved him outside. The ground is the key to him, if it came up softish on the first day we wouldn’t go with him and we’d wait for Fairyhouse or Aintree.
At the moment I’d say we’re leaning towards the Supreme with him. He’s been very good, just getting beaten in two Grade Ones. He was a bit unlucky the first day and then last time there was no excuse, he just got out-stayed by a better horse on the day. I think Cheltenham will suit him and I think better ground will suit him. He didn’t settle at Leopardstown but he was much better in the hood and we’ll leave that on him at Cheltenham. He’s not a slow horse.
He works like a machine at home. Some day he’s going to win one of those big handicap hurdles. He works so well, he just doesn’t do it when he goes to the track, unfortunately that happens with a lot of horses. He ran well in the Ladbroke at Ascot when he finished seventh, so something like the County Hurdle should suit him.
With him we’re leaning more towards the Martin Pipe than the Coral Cup. We’ll see what he’s handicapped. He’s done nothing wrong, he got beat in a Grade 2, the ground was horrible and gluey and he hated it, never went a yard, and did well to finish where he finished. Young Jack Kennedy rode him at Down Royal and he never missed a beat, and then Barry rode him at Thurles and he just said when he was out on his own he was very lackadaisical, where as when he came inside horses he winged them, so I’m not really worried about his jumping.
She was third to Willie Mullins’ mare that they say can’t be beaten, Limini, and we came home with a few problems. If we can iron those out I’m not saying we’ll beat her, but she’s a good mare. She hasn’t been easy to train, but if we get her to the track she’ll have a good each-way chance. She’s a full sister to Kicking King.
If you haven’t come across Donn McClean before I recommend a visit to his website www.donnmcclean.com. Informative, intelligent writing. Found this on sportinglife.com
Six Irish handicappers to follow By: Donn McClean March 1 2016, 9:14 GMT
Donn McClean nominates six Irish handicappers to look out for the when the Cheltenham Festival weights are published on Wednesday.
Velvet Maker (Alan Fleming) Velvet Maker was a good novice hurdler last season, he won his maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse by 10 lengths and he was thought good enough for connections to allow him take his chance in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he is already a better chaser.
Barry Connell’s horse jumped super on his debut over fences, in a beginners’ chase at Naas in November, making all and coming home 11 lengths clear of Dysios, who won a good handicap chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival two runs later off a mark of 126.
Velvet Maker has taken on Douvan in both his runs since and, while he was no match for Willie Mullins’ horse (not many are), he ran well for a long way in the Irish Arkle on his most recent outing, and he finished well clear of his other rival, the useful Domesday Book.
A handicap rating of 143 is fair for now. As a seven-year-old who has raced just three times over fences, he has the potential to go a fair way beyond that rating. The Grand Annual is his likely target at Cheltenham, he should appreciate the better ground that he should get there, and his accurate jumping will be a big asset in a competitive handicap like that.
Leave At Dawn (Charles Byrnes) Leave At Dawn proved that he could operate at Cheltenham when he won a decent handicap hurdle at the November meeting over two miles and five furlongs. He travelled well through his race that day, and he stayed on well up the hill to win going nicely.
He qualified for the Pertemps Final by running well to finish fifth in the Leopardstown qualifier at the Christmas Festival. The ground was softer than ideal for him that day, but he kept on well enough on his first attempt at three miles to suggest that he would have no problem with the trip at the Cheltenham Festival.
His Irish rating of 132 is 8lb higher than the rating off which he won in November, but that is fair. Hopefully his British rating will high enough to get him into the Pertemps. He is only six, so he still has significant potential for progression as a staying hurdler and, by Presenting, he should be happier on the better ground that he should get at the Festival. Trainer Charles Byrnes is top notch at preparing a horse for a big day, and it is not surprising that the Pertemps Final is Leave At Dawn’s only Cheltenham entry.
Morning Assembly (Pat Fahy) Morning Assembly is nine years old now, but he proved in his two runs this season that he retains lots of ability, and he will be an interesting contender in the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Pat Fahy’s horse was one of the top staying novice chasers two seasons ago among a highly talented crop of staying novice chasers. A Grade 1 winner as a novice hurdler, he beat Don Cossack in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Chase in 2013, and he was only beaten a length and a half by subsequent dual Irish Gold Cup winner Carlingford Lough in the Grade 1 Topaz Chase, before going to Cheltenham and finishing third behind O’Faolains Boy and Gold Cup contender Smad Place in the RSA Chase.
After missing all of last season, the Shantou gelding returned over two miles and five furlongs at Fairyhouse in January and ran a cracker to run Bridgets Pet to a head. He was no match for Smashing at Gowran Park last time, but that was over two and a half miles, Smashing’s optimum and a trip that is too short for Morning Assembly, and he ran well to finish second, four lengths ahead of Ballycasey.
The fact that his second run back was a step up on his first is a positive, and he should be able to improve from that again. He should appreciate the step back up in trip, a handicap rating of 149 gives him a chance, and Pat Fahy has had his horses in tremendous form all season.
Our Father (Gordon Elliott) Our Father is a really interesting addition to Gordon Elliott’s team. The Shantou gelding was a talented horse for David Pipe as a younger horse, and he rounded off his time at Nicholashayne by finishing a close second to Mon Parrain in a good handicap chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day last year.
He is 10 years old now, he is not a young horse with potential any more, but his handicap rating over fences of 139 makes him interesting. That is 3lb lower than his mark over hurdles, and it is 15lb lower than his peak over fences.
It is not a concern that he hasn’t run for Elliott yet. He is at his best when he is fresh. His record after a break of five months or more reads 11179, with his two defeats coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Becher Chase.
He is entered in the Ultima Chase and the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate, but it might be that the Kim Muir is the race for him. He was beaten in the race in 2014, but that was less than a month after he had run in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. He should do better after a break of over a year, and it is likely that he will have the assistance of one of the top Irish amateurs.
Blazer (Willie Mullins)
Blazer was beaten on his first two runs for Willie Mullins, but both were over fences, and he put up a really impressive performance when switched back to hurdles at Leopardstown in early February. He jumped his hurdles well, he travelled well, and he won easily without really being extended.
It was disappointing on the face of it that he could only finish ninth in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his next run, given how well-in he was, racing under just a 7lb penalty, but that race came up just a week after the Leopardstown race. The chance was worth taking, given how well-handicapped he was on paper, but you can easily allow him that. And Willie Mullins said afterwards that a step up in trip should be the way to go with him.
It appears that he is going to step up in trip now at Cheltenham, that he is going to run in either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe Hurdle over two and a half miles, and he will be of interest in either. He is back up to a mark of 137, but that is a mark that he could surpass by a fair way. He is only five and he has run just four times over hurdles in his life. He has bags of scope for progression, and he is a much better jumper of hurdles than fences, at least for now.
Noble Endeavor (Gordon Elliott)
Noble Endeavor ran a cracker to finish second to Killultagh Vic in the Martin Pipe Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 140. He looked a likely winner that day, he travelled well through his race and he arrived there at the final flight apparently travelling better than the ultimate winner. However, he just came out second best in the battle up the hill, going down by a head in the end to the highly talented Killultagh Vic, with the pair of them pulling over four lengths clear of the third horse, the talented Roi Des Francs.
Sent chasing this season, Gordon Elliott’s horse ran well on his seasonal debut at Down Royal in October, then he got off the mark in his beginners’ chase back at Down Royal on St Stephen’s Day. He beat Marlbrook into second place that day, and Marlbrook has won both his subsequent races, earning a chase rating of 143 in the process.
Noble Endeavor has myriad entries at Cheltenham, but his Irish chase rating of 140 – 6lb lower than his hurdles rating – would make him very interesting in one of the handicaps. He is quirky, but he is hugely talented, and the fact that he ran so well in a big handicap at the Festival last year is obviously a significant asset to take back there this year.
Warren Greatrex provides the inside track to all of his Cheltenham Festival plans. Oddschecker.com
Cole primed to defend World Hurdle crown
Monday 29th February 2016 / 09:57
HURDLERS Cole Harden is absolutely bouncing after his trip to Kempton on Saturday, his second and final racecourse gallop before the festival. He’s a horse who thrives on racing but I didn’t want to bottom him by running him on testing ground again, as he really doesn’t like it. The key to the racecourse gallop at Kempon on Saturday was that it was just before racing, so there was quite a big crowd, and that got him revved up in a similar way to being in a race. Graham Baines, my Head Lad, who does all the work on him, knows him inside out and he was very pleased with his work. Most of his prep work is done now and it’s just a case of keeping him ticking over in the run up to the meeting. He’s in as good a shape as he was at this stage last year. I don’t think this year’s race is particularly stronger than last year’s given high-class horses like Saphir Du Rheu were fancied 12 months ago, but I do respect Thistlecrack and if he beats us fair and square then he’s clearly the real deal. However, he is going to be tested like he’s not been tested in any of his races this season and we’ll find out just how good he is. I wouldn’t swap Cole for anything in the race and providing the ground is no worse than good to soft, we will not let go of our crown lightly. Missed Approach worked brilliantly with Cole Harden at Kempton on Saturday and it’s all systems go with him for the Pertemps Final on the Thursday. He’s been bumped up a total of 20lb for his Newbury win but the form of that race has worked out quite well and this fellow is one of my best chances of the week. He is improving all the time and I’ve got a feeling he might turn out to be an even better horse on goodish ground, although he’ll need to be to win the Pertemps. As I’ve said before, he’s not a horse who shows us a great deal at home so it’s hard for us to gauge exactly what we have, but I think he’s got all the attributes to win a race like the Pertemps, not least because he jumps so well, and it’s exciting to think about how far this fella might go. Remember, he’s only had three runs over hurdles so he’s still learning his trade but he’s already rated 143 and the sky could be the limit with him. I’ve made no secret of how highly I rate Chef D’Oeuvre and we’ve got a few options with him but the key to him is soft ground, so, whilst drying ground would be a help for a few of my big guns, it would spell trouble for Chef. He’s in the Coral Cup, the Albert Bartlett and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle on the final day (where he would be ridden by Harry Bannister), and it’s the latter of the three that interests me the most given it will be run over the same course and distance that he ran over when fourth to Yanworth in January. I’ll be disappointed if he’s not better than his current mark of 135 but if the ground isn’t right we’ll just wait, possibly for Punchestown, as we are in no rush with him and he’s going to be a cracking horse next year. Ma Du Fou is almost certainly going to go to Aintree.
CHASERS We haven’t confirmed running plans for our two smart novice chasers yet, but I’m leaning towards the Close Brother Chase on the opening day for Aloomomo, while Out Sam will probably also run on the opening day, in the 3m 1f Ultima Handicap which is the third race on the card. Aloomomo has been a revelation this season, winning three handicap chases on the spin, rocketing up 32lb in the process. We’ve purposely looked after his chase mark since the Newbury win in November but we wanted to get a run into him hence the spin over hurdles at Ascot on Feb 20. I was delighted with how he ran that day and he is now exactly where we want him heading into the festival. He’s got a few entries but the 2m 4f novices’ chase looks the best race for him as it’s quite a stiff jumping test and his biggest asset is his fencing. His jumping will keep him in the race no matter how fast they go and if Gavin [Sheehan] can get him into a nice rhythm I’m sure we’ll be able to finish strongly up the hill given we now he stays much further. I’m really keen on him. Out Sam is potentially very well handicapped off 139 given what he did at Newbury and rather than go for the RSA I would be stupid not to try and take advantage of his mark by running him in one of the handicaps. The form of that Newbury race took a big boost last week when the runner-up Milansbar came out and won a handicap chase by eight lengths at Exeter. We also had the 149-rated Activial 16 lengths behind us that day. I had been waiting to step him up to 3m for a while so it was pleasing to see him improve significantly on what he had done previously. He’s a really classy horse, so much so that I wouldn’t have any problem running him in the RSA Chase, but, given his mark, the Ultima Handicap looks too inviting an opportunity. Ballyculla and Warrantor are entered in the four-mile National Hunt Chase but the plan with Ballyculla is get his confidence back after his fall in the Eider, possibly by running him in a small-field novice chase. Gavin [Sheehan] said he was still cantering when he came down – he felt he was going better than Shotgun Paddy who was alongside him and eventually finished second. We can’t go to Cheltenham with Warrantor now, given what’s happened to him on his last couple of starts. Paint The Clouds barely had more than an exercise canter when winning at Doncaster last week and he’s in great form as we build up to another tilt at the Foxhunter Chase. He really deserves to win a big one but his chance will once again be compromised if the ground turns soft, as it did 12 months ago. He’s a much better horse on goodish ground and, if he gets it, he will almost certainly run a huge race. If the ground goes against him it’s likely we will swerve the race and wait for the Foxhunter at Aintree instead. Dolatulo is going to be my first runner in the Cross Country Chase and he really enjoyed a schooling session over the Cross Country fences at Prestbury Park last week. He’s a mid 140’s horse which means he should be very competitive in a race like this and his preparation has gone very well. It’s always going to be hard against the Irish horses in these races but it’s the sort of race that could bring out the best in him and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he put up a big show.
A little dated but could be helpful!? Trainers eyeing up Cheltenham
BALLYDINE 6 ch g Stowaway – Bealaha Essie Winner of two of his 4 starts. Scored by three quarters of a length from Jonniesofa when gaining latest win in a novice hurdle at Newcastle (2m 6f) in November. Currently rated 132 over hurdles. “He goes to Doncaster on Saturday for the River Don Novices Hurdle. He has done nothing wrong and won two novice hurdles including a good one at Newcastle at the end of November. He is a big raw horse and whatever he does this season will be a bonus for next season. He is still weak and I am not going to overface him this year. If he runs well at Doncaster we might give him a decent entry and if he struggles we will just take our time. He will be a lovely chaser in time.”
GERMANY CALLING 7 b g Germany – Markir Winner of four of his 13 starts. Scored by three lengths from Relic Rock off a mark of 134 at Carlisle in October. Currently rated 140. “He’s a nice horse and 140 rated. He is another who likes better ground and we have given him a break and will fetch him back in the Spring. He has done nothing wrong and he may go to Cheltenham in March.”
KILLALA QUAY 9 b g Karinga Bay – Madam Bijou Winner of five of his 16 starts. Scored by four and a half lengths from Souriyan in a beginners chase at Uttoxeter (2m 4f) in October. Currently rated 136 over fences. “He won very nicely first time out at Uttoxeter and got a little stuck in the ground at Ascot last time. He will be out once the ground dries, and I will look for a nice handicap for him on better ground from 2m 6f to three miles.”
OUR KAEMPFER 7 b g Oscar – Gra-Bri Winner of three of his 12 starts. Runner-up, beaten five lengths, to Broxbourne in a handicap hurdle at Aintree (3m 1/2f) in November off current mark of 140 over hurdles. “He has been unlucky this season having finished fourth in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow and was then unlucky in a Pertemps Qualifer at Aintree where it turned into a sprint whereas he would have preferred a true run race. He was brought down when going well in a fixed-brush hurdle at Haydock in November and will go straight to Cheltenham for either the Coral Cup or the Pertemps Final. He has a nice looking handicap mark.”
PENDRA 8 ch g Old Vic – Mariah Rollins Winner of six of his 14 starts. Impressive three and a quarter length victor from Double Ross in a Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Ascot (3m) in October off a mark of 140. Subsequently finished fifth again at Ascot on it’s last start having clouted the last fence. Currently rated 147 over fences. “He is another who is in extremely good form. He has had a little bit of a break since his last Ascot run where he was a bit unlucky. We are looking for better ground for him and we don’t know yet whether to wait for the English or Irish Nationals. The options are wide open and we will see how he is.”
BARTERS HILL 6 b g Kalanisi – Circle The Wagons Unbeaten in six starts. Winner of four bumpers including when beating Bellshill a length and a quarter in the Grade 2 Champion Bumper at Aintree in April. Scored by 14 lengths from North Hill Harvey on his hurdling bow at Huntingdon (2m 3 1/2f) in November and followed up with a 12 length victory from Politologue in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury (2m 4 1/2f) at the end of December. Currently rated 150 over hurdles. “He will probably go to either Cheltenham or Doncaster on January 30 for the Neptune Trial. That will tell us where he goes at the Festival and he is in great form. He will be entered for the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett and he is a super horse to have in the stable.”
CYRIUS MORIVIERE found the 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle too hot on his last outing but he made amends for that disappointing effort with a facile success at Doncaster on Friday in the Skybet Novices’ Hurdle over two miles. Ridden handily by Maurice Linehan, Ben Pauling’s 6yo gelding took up the run-in with four to jump and after jumping the second last he bounded six lengths clear of the field before pulling further clear after the final obstacle to record a very impressive 19 length victory. Although his performance here was easy on the eye, I didn’t think that the race had a lot of depth to it and for that reason, I hope that the handicapper isn’t too harsh when re-assessing him. There is no doubt that his future lies in handicaps over timber but he has plenty of potential to progress further and the fact that he is a strong traveller will help him when he runs in fiercely competitive handicap hurdles that are often run at a good gallop. OR136h Final Flight Notebook Grant Copson
CYRIUS MORIVIERE 6 b g Vendangeur – Sagesse Moriviere Winner of one of his five starts. Scored by a length and a half from Waterlord at Huntingdon (2m) in December. Currently rated 130 over hurdles. “He won well at Huntingdon beating a nice horse in Waterlord and didn’t handle the ground in a Grade 1 event at Sandown next time. He will go back for an ordinary novice with a penalty and then we may look for a bigger target with him towards the end of the season.”
DRUMACOO 7 b g Oscar – My Native Winner of four of his seven starts. Progressive in Ireland last season when trained by Michael Hourigan and made a winning debut for new connections in a novices chase at Huntingdon (2m 7 1/2f) last week when beating Fletcher’s Flyer 38 lengths. Currently rated 132 over hurdles. “I was delighted with what we saw at Huntingdon and he is a lovely individual. He jumped brilliantly and Huntingdon last week and we will probably go for the Reynoldstown at Ascot this month. . If he comes out of that alright then we might go for the RSA.”
LOCAL SHOW 8 br g Oscar – Loughaderra Rose Winner of two of his seven starts. Made a winning reappearance off a mark of 125 when beating Wuff 13 lengths in a novices’ handicap chase at Newbury (2m 7 1/2f) in December. Currently rated 138 over fences. “I am very pleased with this lad and he went up 13lb for winning at Newbury. His jumping has improved dramatically and we will look at a novice chase at the end of the month and then possibly the four miler at Cheltenham.”
RAVEN’S TOWER 6 b g Raven’s Pass – Tizdubai Winner of four of his 24 starts. Returned to winning form in impressive fashion in a novices’ handicap chase at Huntingdon (2m 1/2f) in November when beating Notnowsam 11 lengths off a mark of 127. Currently rated 137 over fences. “He had a nasty cut after his win at Huntingdon and has just come back into full work. He looks great and whether he will have a run or not before the Johnny Henderson I don’t know but that would be his main aim.”
SILVERGROVE 8 b g Old Vic – Classic Gale Winner of two of his 15 starts. Landed the Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury (3m 2f) at the end of December by three quarters of a length from Amidon off a mark of 124. Currently rated 130 over fences. “I was obviously thrilled with his win in the Mandarin and obviously gutted the time before when he unseated Tom David after the last. He will run once more before but could potentially be a horse for the Kim Muir.”