#startracking Saturday March 5th 12noon

#Cheltenham News

THE 10th running of the Woodlands Hotel Cheltenham preview night in Waterford attracted a good crowd and a good panel of experts, John Francome, Mick Fitzgerald, Nick Luck, David Casey, Davy Russell, Noel O’Brien, Hayley O’Connor, Jim McGrath, Tom Segal, Henry de Bromhead, Brian Gleeson (MC) (Sponsored by Ladbrokes)’

In the Supreme Novices Hurdle there was widespread opposition to Min, apart from Willie Mullins’ assistant David Casey. Francome felt that he would get lit up by the occasion and run freely: “He would need to be some horse to not get a breather into and still win.”

There is widespread opposition to Annie Power at the price, with many questioning the accuracy of her jumping at speed. Her stablemate Nichols Canyon is popular, with Casey explaining that he scoped dirty after his recent run. He would be happier to see soft ground for Annie Power.

 

#startracking whose been a busy bunny?

It’s been all about those Cheltenham handicaps for me this week. I am not putting any selections up yet, although I see Paddy Power is NRNB ALL RACES as of today plus Money Back as A Free Bet if selection finishes 2nd!

Talking of bookmakers check out SkyBet NOW. They are NRNB every race, Guaranteed Best Odds every race PLUS if your horse loses in the first race on each day Money back as a Free Bet up to £25. That’s crazy! Put three separate singles on each race, Supreme, Neptune, JLT and Triumph NOW!

Back to the handicaps. Messrs Mullins and Elliott and most of the Irish entries have been stuffed by the British handicapper. Look at the sexy fancied horses such Blue Hell, Blazer, Great Field!

Sandra Hughes seems to have escaped the wrath of the British handicapper and here are three entries that may sneak in at the bottom of the weights and the first two could be interesting if attracting star claimers Jack Kennedy or Jonathon Moore? Keep an eye on the markets?

17Mar16 2:10 All Hell Let Loose CHELTENHAM (Early closer), Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle) (Listed Race) OR135

18Mar16 2:10 Art Of Payroll CHELTENHAM (Early closer), Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) OR133

18Mar16 5:30 Guitar Pete CHELTENHAM (Early closer), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Handicap) (Grade 3) OR135

 

So here are my musings so far for the Ultima Chase and the CHAPS Novice Chase on the Tuesday and Wednesdays nigh on impossible Coral Cup. As always any feedback is most welcome on email simonmoore57@gmail.com or message via twitter on @mooresthepity.

Cheltenham Tuesday Handicaps 2016

Overview   Love watching the Championship races but the financial fun of all four days is the dastardly handicaps. Find a couple of winners and you are ahead for the week.

Where do you start with these massive fields? I think to win a Cheltenham handicap you need 10lbs in hand so I am keen on younger, progressive animals. I like a horse that has been to the Festival before and those with Cheltenham form. I don’t like horses off the course for a long while although this year may be different as with such a wet winter and a good ground Festival some selections may have been off since late November-ish. I like my horses to be in good recent form and from a stable in form. Price doesn’t bother me.

 

Tues. 2.40 Ultima 3m1f Handicap Chase

“Will be aged either 9 or 10 and have run before at the Festival or will be 7 or 8 yrs and improving i.e. with a rising handicap rating. Beware more than 4 chase starts this season.  Will have been 1st or 2nd sometime this season. 4 of the last 15 were not from the first 4 in the market but only one favourite has won.  Wichita Lineman 2009 first winning fav since Antonin 1994. Only 2 in the last 30 yrs.

25 beaten favourites last time ran since start of century.  One 5/1 winner, Bensalem.” Gault Stats

OUT SAM                                7yo      OR139 Ex Nicky Henderson, just 12/1 when falling in last years Alf.Bartlett. Three goes at chasing, 2nd to Le Mercurey at Ascot, winning at Catterick and last time out hacking up in a three horse affair at Newbury. Improving type but it’s a big ask for Warren Greatrex’s novice on his first go in a handicap.

KRUZHLININ                           9yo      OR148 Quickened away at the second last when seeing off Le Reve at Kempton in a 3m c2 handicap and is now on a career high mark. On only visit to Cheltenham he pulled up when an outsider in the Monday novices handicap three years ago. One of those that the Rooney’s moved from Donald McCain with Philip Hobbs taking over. The Aintree Grand National is the target.

HOLYWELL                              9yo      OR153 Out of form but massive class dropper. Won this race two years ago off 145 and returns off 8lbs higher. If he turns up in the form that saw him fourth in last year’s Gold Cup he could be thrown in. Clearly blossoms in the Spring but to my eyes he has looked to have fallen out of love with the game with his fragile jumping falling apart when under any pressure. Mind you he is only a 9yo and he is trained by Jonjo O’Neill!!

THE YOUNG MASTER                         7yo      OR149 One of last season’s rising stars and partly acquired by the Waley-Cohens last November. Unseated Sam at the first when well fancied in the Hennessey. A solid staying on fourth to Wakanda at Ascot and then given a run in the Cleeve Hurdle which statistically is a positive and supposedly looked after his competitive mark. Earmarked for the Scottish National.

THEATRE GUIDE                     9yo      OR150 3lbs higher than when eleventh in this race last year. Very consistent this season with a third at Wetherby, second in the Hennessey, third in the G” Cotswold and most recently hacking up in the Betbright Chase at Kempton for which he was raised 11lb. The Tizzard yard are having an excellent season with their all new airy barns!

DOCTOR HARPER                   8yo      OR141 Another of the novices coming into top handicap chases for the first time. First time out this season he was backed off the boards in the 2m6f Pertemps hurdle qualifier at Sandown and he was a miserable ninth of ten! Sent chasing he has form of 221and was a comfortable winner of a C3 event at Leicester having been second to Garde La Victoire and L’Ami Serge in his two other novice chases all over the minimum trip. Being a son of Presenting suggests better ground will help and as well as winning his two bumpers he won four times over hurdles the last of which was the G3 3m handicap at the Grand National meeting off OR138. David Pipe has had a fairly miserable season but Cheltenham is a family forte. Also holds entries in the Kim Muir and the Brown Advisory Plate.

BEG TO DIFFER                       6yo      OR143 A very interesting son of Flemensfirth not least because he is owned by Mrs John Magnier, D Smith & M Tabor!! Ran up a sequence of three over hurdles last winter and this season was third to both Aubusson and Southfield Royale in 3m novice chases, then second to Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham on handicap debut and last time out he comfortably won a C3 3m handicap at Sandown in a first time visor. Beg to Differ has stamina in spades but has never run with the word “Good” in the going.

UN TEMPS POUR TOUT         7yo      OR148 Just hasn’t lived up to his enormous £450K price tag well not in this country at least, he won a G1 hurdle last year at Auteuil! I saw him in the flesh at Cheltenham in November when he was second to Vicente at the Paddy Power meeting and felt he lacked size and scope. His winning form has been on a French Good to Soft and thrice on heavy. Welsh Grand National possibly, Cheltenham in March, no. Just can’t see him as a Pipe plot.

SAUSALITO SUNRISE              8yo      OR163 Arkle is about the last horse I remember running in a chase off this sort of mark! However it seems that it is a choice of supplementing him for the Gold Cup or giving weight here as the owners want to run at the Festival. The horse is in bristling form and adores the course (36221) and if they do go Gold Cup route this one will go up the hill!

MORNING ASSEMBLY                        9yo      OR150 In 2014 Morning Assembly was 3rd in the RSA at Cheltenham and has always stuck in my mind as in a Willie Mullins interview he was asked what horse that he didn’t currently train would he like in his yard? The answer “Morning Assembly”. Irish Field correspondent Donn McClean makes a strong case “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.”

 

Tues. 5.15 CHAPS 2m5f Novices Handicap Chase (0-140)

“Oppose those older than 7.  At least 3 runs over fences.  Last run was in a h’cap chase within the last 60 days   Not worse than 3rd last time unless Henderson trained. Did not win first chase attempted.  May have already won two chases and has not previously fallen when running over fences.  Not running under a penalty.  Rated between 124 and 142 over hurdles.” Gault Stats

ALOOMOMO              6yo OR140 Rapidly improving young chaser who rattled off a sequence of three wins rising from OR108 to current mark. Last time ran with promise in a C2 hurdle behind Yala Enki supposedly to protect his mark with this race in mind. Trainer Warren Greatrex reports “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.”

KILLER CROW             7yo OR134 Gigginstown owned and moved from Willie Mullins to Gordon Elliott at the start of the season. Already had seven runs this season but starting to find some form. Second on his last two runs in strong races he has form on decent ground and this is probably his best trip. His trainer gave an upbeat report “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.”

WILLOWS SAVIOUR   9yo OR138 Last seen winning a match race at Fakenham on first attempt at the trip, previously run off his feet behind Ar Mad over Sandown’s minimum trip having won on chasing debut at Warwick. Was classy enough to have won a Ladbroke hurdle and this race has always been on the agenda.

THOMAS CRAPPER    9yo OR135 Second in this race last year you would have to be concerned he is back in a novice handicap twelve months later! Excellent Cheltenham form, indeed he was second to Don Poli in the Martin Pipe two years ago but Robin Dickin’s under-achiever hasn’t won since November 2013.

BOUVREUIL                 5yo OR139 Looked good when lowering the colours of Vyta du Roc at Doncaster but outclassed when lowered in trip over the same course in the G2 Lightning novices chase. Second in the Fred Winter last March suggests neither the course or the ground should be an issue. Opinions seemingly shared by his trainer Paul Nicholls “His most likely target is the Novices’ Handicap Chase on the Tuesday. He ran well to beat Vyta Du Roc at Doncaster and then didn’t run up to his best in a Grade 2 over two miles at that track. He was second in the Fred Winter last year and the longer trip at Cheltenham will suit him better.”

DOUBLE SHUFFLE       6yo OR138 Tom George’s progressive son of Milan has had three runs over fences. The first two were at Cheltenham when 2nd to Art Mauresque and fourth to the classy More of That and then won a C3 novices handicap at Ludlow. Still prone to the occasional jumping error he is improving and although not seen since the 16th December his second run at Cheltenham bears the closest scrutiny.

FULL SHIFT                  7yo OR135 Has run in the Martin Pipe for the last two seasons. 11th to Don Poli when 9/2F and 8th to Killultagh Vic at 10/1 without a run in between! Having beaten Bekkinsfirth at Kempton on his second chasing run he looked to be plotted up for this race. However you will have to forgive his run last time out when he was Pulled Up at Musselburgh and “The Stewards noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding was unsuited by the soft ground on this occasion.” Fits many of the trends, it’s just the ground?

JAVERT                        7yo OR139 Not seen since the 12th December when recording his second win from three starts over fences in a C3 handicap at Doncaster having previously won on debut at Chepstow and unseating at Newbury in-between. I expect his owners, Axom, saw this opportunity and have deliberately kept him off the course.

MCKINLEY                   6yo OR139 Owned by Gigginstown and trained by Willie Mullins McKinley is an odd beast! Bred to be a miler he has a G1 hurdle win on his CV, indeed he has frequently ran at G1 level, last time out he was an 81L 6th to Outlander in the G1 Flogas at Leopardstown. Very hard to gauge but if Cooper rides Killer Crow he could have the services of Davy Russell or indeed Ruby Walsh?

BALLYALTON              9yo OR140 A large dot on my radar until he took a horrible fall at Ascot last time in the Reynoldstown Chase. He was second to Faugheen in the Neptune two years ago, has won round Cheltenham and after a while off with injury was progressing as a novice chaser. But oh that fall….

DOMESDAY BOOK     6yo OR135 Now here is a curious horse! Bred by The Queen out of Street Cry he is owned by MRS Brookhouse (as in wife of Roger Brookhouse/Poor House) and has always been in Ireland trained by Henry de Bromhead. If Mrs is anything like Mr this will turn up and it has a bit of form. A winning hurdler he was third on Chasing debut to Walk to Freedom when Edwulf came down at the last, won comfortably at Limerick and was then an outclassed third of three to Douvan in the Irish Arkle. Even his trainer has some doubts “The plan is to run him in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase on the Tuesday. I think he just got lost in the Irish Arkle, they just went too quick for him and he was always out of his comfort zone. Better ground is an unknown for him, but he should be OK on it I think.”

MINELLA PRESENT     7yo OR134 Rated a pound higher over hurdles this son of Presenting has been very consistent in his chase career with form of 23122. Although this race represents a step up in trip and in class his unlucky running on second over 2m at Cheltenham justifies his place in the field. Despite being off the course since the 13th November his trainer Neil Mulholland is bullish, “We’ve been happy with him and wanted to give him a break as he’s another one by Presenting that wants the better ground. He’s done well and his last run was very good when he finished second at Cheltenham over two miles. From that day onwards we said we’d put him away for the Grand Annual. He had a racecourse gallop around Chepstow on Saturday and that went according to plan.”

PAIROFBROWNEYES  7yo OR133 Wherever Killer Crow is this fellow can’t be far away based on their last run, indeed Pairofbrowneyes may be the more progressive of the two! One run in an Irish PtP, then three failures in novice chases, then a moderate hurdling career, things have really taken off this season sent back over fences in three handicaps. He was a well fancied third first time and won his last two, beating Killer Crow by 4.5L getting 5lbs. Little known connections, it would be interesting if he makes the trip!

KILLALA QUAY                        9yo OR139 Back to winning ways at Kempton recently in a G2 novice chase that rather fell in his lap with market leaders, The Saint James and Mon Successeur, falling. Pulled up in this race last year and 4th to Faugheen in the Neptune in 2014.

REZORBI                      5yo OR138 Twice a winner in France and just the one run in Britain. However that one run was at Cheltenham when travelling well before falling three out and he went into many notebooks! He is currently on a “French” mark so could be thrown in BUT has to overcome that killer stat of one winner from 103 runners who fell last time out! But it is Jonjo O’Neill and it is Cheltenham…. Shall we say unexposed!

GOLDEN DOYEN         5yo OR136 No mention from Mr Hobbs in his Racing Post Weekender tour last week but I’ve had this one on the radar for this race for a while. Opened his chasing career with two seconds in C3 novice chases behind Fox Norton and Ar Mad and most recently fourth to tea for Two at Exeter in a C2 on ground he hated. He won the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham as a juvenile hurdler and was just 12/1 when he fell in last years Fred Winter off 5lbs higher. Will like the trip, the ground and the course but no word that he’s running! Philip Hobbs to ATR “He has been in good form and he is likely to run in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase on the Tuesday but we might wait for a lesser chase somewhere else.”

ORBASA                      5yo OR132 Unlikely to get a run at Cheltenham but would set a few alarm bells ringing if he did. Owned by Portensis, trained by Paul Nicholls Orbasa has never run in Britain so that is a “French” handicap mark! Also entered in the Brown Advisory Plate, the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe! On French form ($Timeform squiggle) he doesn’t look anything special. His trainer commented “He won over fences in France for Guillaume Macaire and hasn’t been with us very long. He has a mark of 132 in the Novices’ Handicap Chase and from what I’ve seen from him at home he’s not exactly thrown in off that mark.”

KATGARY                    6yu OR137 An almost horse who just hasn’t gone on from his first run in this country when a hampered second in the Fred Winter to Hawk High. Won comfortably on chasing debut at Fakenham and most recently was third to Volnay de Thaix. His trainer Paul Nicholls says “He will probably run in the Novices’ Handicap Chase and is capable of running well there off a mark of 137. He won well at Fakenham in October and wasn’t disgraced behind Volnay De Thaix at Doncaster last time.”

 

Cheltenham WednesdayHandicaps 2016

Overview

Love watching the Championship races but the financial fun of all four days is the dastardly handicaps. Find a couple of winners and you are ahead for the week.

Where do you start with these massive fields? I think to win a Cheltenham handicap you need 10lbs in hand so I am keen on younger, progressive animals. I like a horse that has been to the Festival before and those with Cheltenham form. I don’t like horses off the course for a long while although this year may be different as with such a wet winter and a good ground Festival some selections may have been off since late November-ish. I like my horses to be in good recent form and from a stable in form. Price doesn’t bother me.

 

Tues. 3.20 Coral Cup 2m5f Handicap Hurdle

“5 yr olds and last time out winners punch above their numbers.  Will be aged 5 to 7 unless 16s or under.  No 8 yr olds or above placed unless achieved previous Festival place.  Nothing placed above an 10 yr old unless previous Festival winner.   Winner rated at least 139.   If not a compressed handicap will carry less than 11st 3lb or is Irish trained.  Will have won somewhere a race between 2m 1f and 2m 6f.  If not successful over a minimum of 2m 4f will be aged 7 or under and have been placed in graded company on won a £20k hurdle in France.  Will have won at Class 3 or higher.  Has not won more than one handicap.  Check Betfair Hurdle form.   Hasn’t been seen for a month and hasn’t ran more than 4 times this season.  If Irish placed, hasn’t been seen since January.   Will not be more than seven pounds out of the handicap (including jockeys allowances).  Either no more than 10 runs over hurdles or returned 16/1 and under.   Clear favourite is overdue.  Respect JP McManus owned and Irish trained.  Shouldn’t be a course winner or beaten favourite last time unless trained by N Henderson.  Has won sometime this season or was placed in last year’s festival.   Second season hurdler.  Not a novice.  Only consider first time blinkered. Maximum number of runners dropped to 26 from 28”. GAULT STATS

154 entries! 85 horses OR137 and above. Have to narrow it down somehow so looked at leading trainers, leading owners and the front of the market.

J P McManus

GREAT FIELD               5yo OR147 ££ Has been hammered by the British handicapper for recently winning at Leopardstown on his first run outside his native France. He pulled his way to the front, continually over raced and still had enough to hold off Draco by four lengths. He is totally unexposed but OR147? He also has an entry in the County Hurdle.

SAINT CHARLES

BLAZER                       5yo OR141 Easily won a Leopardstown handicap off an OR126 (had to be based on French form) and then turned out under a 5lb penalty when midfield in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. Tightened up on the first bend and never competitive. Willie Mullins has indicated a preference for running in the Martin Pipe. SQUOUATEUR            5yo OR141 Another rapidly improving hurdler who stepping up in trip has impressively won his last two handicaps off Irish marks of OR120 and OR137. The British handicapper has taken no chances! Gordon Elliott observes “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.”

The Whateley’s

DIAMOND KING         8yo OR149 An ex-Donald McCain inmate who ran 9th at Cheltenham off OR135 a year ago but seems to have been re-invigorated in Ireland. Second to Blue Hell in that winner producing handicap at Fairyhouse and then beating Jennies Jewel at Fairyhouse over 2m 4f sees him at the top of the market. Trainer Gordon elliott said “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” and his owner added “

We are hoping to have secured (jockey) Davy Russell for Diamond King and he is right up there with the favourites.”

ROCK THE KASBAH    6yo OR152 In form improver but now at the top of the handicap. Been there, done it and has a collection of T-shirts but as the owner points out “..I’d really fancy his chances if the ground came up soft. He is a chaser in the making and is very progressive.” Nor does his trainer see him as a lost cause, “I think the handicapper was pretty harsh in putting him up another 8lb as he only won by half a length and his new mark of 152 is as high as I would want. However he’s progressing and we know he doesn’t mind the hustle and bustle of big fields so he could be interesting in the Coral Cup.” PH to ATR “He will run in the Coral Cup that is very much what we are aiming for. He has been good since he won at Ascot the other day and that is what we will do with him.”

Willie Mullins

ARBRE DE VIE                         6yo OR150 ££ Fourth in last seasons Alfred Bartlett and less than five lengths off the winner. In debrief he was top of my list of “Horses to back in Cheltenham 2016” but we have seen little of him since. He was an excellent second to Sort it Out in the G2 2m4f Setanta handicap hurdle at the Punchestown festival in May 2015 and a disappointing 2nd in a novice chase in January and after a clumsy round of jumping I’m guessing they have decided to preserve his novice status for another season and are back hurdling in big handicaps and perhaps better. Mullins was quite clear, “The Coral Cup would look the job for Arbre De Vie.” CHILDRENS LIST         6yo OR139 Nothing in the form book to suggest he will win a race of this nature. Never run in Graded company and beaten in two three mile handicaps most recently. Being a son of Presenting better ground should help but he looks like a staying chaser waiting to happen. CLONDAW WARRIOR            9yo OR134 Well known to punters this side of the Irish Sea but more so for his Flat exploits. He won the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting, 12th in The Ebor and second in the Doncaster Cup. Owned by Ruby Walsh’s wife and a few of their buddies he has been their ticket to many big meetings. May just squeeze into the County.

PETIT PARISIENNE     5yo OR142 This is much more typical of a Mullins Cheltenham handicapper except she is a mare. Fifth in last season’s Triumph hurdle at Cheltenham she beat Buiseness Sivola in the Champion 4yo at the Punchestown Festival. She struggled at Auteuil in June and has basically run like a drain in Listed company against her own sex this season but that hasn’t done her Official Rating any harm.

Nicky Henderson

KILCREA VALE                        6yo OR145 ££ Big reputation but just hasn’t got the hang of hurdling yet. Hacked up at Market Rasen last season in a C4 and would have done the same first time out this year but came down two out. Ran better behind Rock the Kasbah until fading from the last. For what he has achieved he has a dreadful mark but trainer Nicky Henderson has always held him in high regard. Trainer tells sportinglife.com “He’ll run in the County.”

DIFFERENT GRAVEY   6yo OR160 Class act, son of High Chapparel, that has won four out of five under rules. Pulled right away from a C2 field at Ascot last time out and was put up 11lbs to current mark. If he has 10lbs in hand he should be in the Champion Hurdle (The New One is OR161, Old Guard is 157) or wait for the Aintree Hurdle? Nicky Henderson told ATR “We may wait for Aintree but I haven’t ruled out the World Hurdle and I haven’t ruled out the Coral Cup yet because we haven’t seen what weight he’ll get. It will cost us £15,000 to supplement for the World Hurdle but we don’t have to decide anything until five days before. It was very exciting the way he came back at Ascot and we will see how he comes out of the race.”

BIVOUAC                    5yo OR141 Had a progressive profile until pulled up last time in the Lanzarote when apparently the rain softened ground went against him. Looked to be cantering three out and when asked, nothing!

HUNTERS HOOF         7yo OR139 Just the sort that might sneak in. Comfortable winner of an Aintree C2 2m 4f handicap on Good ground, put up 9lbs when weakening three out on unsuitable softening ground at Haydock. Is ground dependent and Aintree is probably more likely.

CARDINAL WALTER   7yo OR140 Owned by Fitri Hay and 90 rated off the flat. Won two novice hurdles last season both at Doncaster and was 5th in the G2 novice at Aintree. Just the one run this season when Henderson sent a bus full up to Musselburgh and the Scottish trials primarily for the better ground but sadly the rain came. Cardinal Walter ran in the Listed 2m handicap hurdle was bang there at the last but failed to quicken. The handicapper put him up a pound and that may well have been a job well done!? Placed at York and Goodwood on the Flat, Festivals and big fields shouldn’t bother him. A longer trip and better ground are both positives. (55/1 on the exchanges!)

Paul Nicholls

POLITOLOGUE            5yo OR142 ££ Easy to see why he is towards the top of the market. French form of 21 and debuted in hot company at Cheltenham when looking to come to win the race he jinked and dumped Master Twiston-Davies on the turf. He was then a respectable second to Barters Hill in the 3 runner G1 Challow at Newbury before hacking up in a heavy ground Listed event at Exeter. Trainer Paul Nicholls told ATR “He is a progressive horse and won a listed hurdle at Exeter having previously finished second to Barters Hill in the Challow Hurdle. I’ve kept him in the Neptune but it’s almost certain we will run him in the Coral Cup which we won last year with Aux Ptits Soins. We confident Aux Ptits Soins was much better than his mark but Politologue is more exposed and not as well handicapped. However, he a big fine horse who runs off 142 and whatever happens he’ll make a fine chaser next season.” Fairly pessimistic?

BAOULETE DELAROQUE        5yo OR140 Strong staying improver. Last two wins have been handicaps. Trainer Paul Nicholls told ATR “The Coral Cup would be his option at the Festival and he could find it tougher off a mark of 140. He’s a novice who has won his last three races and he could run in the Neptune but if he was to finish fifth or sixth there that would be a waste of a run and we will find out how good he is in the Coral Cup.”

MR MIX                                   5yo OR138 Has caught my eye on more than one occasion. Clearly an embryonic chaser it’s the way he travels strongly though a race makes me wonder if there could be more to come. He’s been third to Charbel and to Vieux Lille, stormed home from Mountain Eagle and was second in a C2 at Ascot behind Yala Enki. Might just be suited by a big field, a strong gallop and a hill to finish!

LONG HOUSE HALL                8yo OR144 Only a moderate animal in Ireland but once transferred to the Skeltons they have unlocked some real talent winning handicaps at Market Rasen and Cheltenham off 119 and 125 and then a novice chase at Bangor. Last seen in October at Cheltenham he unseated in a C2 novice chase. Trainer Dan Skelton says “Long House Hall goes for the Coral Cup” and there is money for it today (Fri. 4th Mar. 25/1-20/1 PP & WH).

BENTELIMAR                          7yo OR144 Ex-Philip Fenton trained son of Beneficial was 9th in last season’s Supreme. Has been knocking on the door in some of Irelands best handicaps. Entered in this, the Martin Pipe and what would look the best fit, the County Hurdle.

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