It would be hard to hide my disappointment at the performance of #startracking horses at the Cheltenham Festival 2016. Now the winter ground has departed hopefully we can start to get a steady stream of winners!? Anyway in alphabetical order here is how they got on in Gloucestershire.
ARBRE de VIE 10th 8/1 A strong early fancy for the Coral Cup the vibes in the fortnight leading up to the Festival were really negative, although in the final ten minutes before the off he was backed from 11/1 to 8/1. Despite finishing 10th he was running on and beaten only five lengths! I expect he will be kept over hurdles for the rest of this season before having another go novice chasing next season. Three miles at Aintree or Punchestown would be interesting and we will stick with him. Willie Mullins had stated publicly that none of his handicappers “leapt off the page” as being well in. Once again, how right he was.
BALLY BEAUFORT PU 66/1 Since winning his first two chases, a novice and a handicap both at Class 3 level at Aintree, he has completely lost his way in G3 and Listed company. BHA Stewards Report “The Veterinary Officer reported that BALLY BEAUFORT (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, had been struck into right hind.” He currently has an OR139 and a return to Merseyside would be welcomed but the only suitable race I can see at the Grand National meeting would be the Topham over the big fences?! He needs to find his level and trip.
BLEU ET ROUGE FELL 10/1 Held up in midfield in the 3m Alfred Bartlett novice hurdle he fell at the eighth flight. Could be a player at Punchestown.
BOX OFFICE 12th 28/1 Ignored by Geraghty in the Pertemps Final, unfancied in the market, he was held up right out the back and made late progress past beaten horses. He will have better opportunities. Off OR135 the G3 handicap hurdle that opens the card on Friday at Aintree springs to mind. BUVEUR D’AIR 3rd 10/1 Another that was friendles in the market but kept on to be a solid if well beaten third behind stablemate Altior and the much hyped Min in the Supreme. Aintree is already being muttered about, supposedly the G2 novice on the Friday.
CAMPEADOR FELL 8/1 Coming with a strong challenge when he fell at the last and would have been in the frame, if not the winner’s enclosure. Wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up at Punchestown in the juvenile Championship race, if none the worse for his tumble.
CAPARD KING PU 50/1 Quite simply out of his depth in the C2 Amateur riders Kim Muir handicap chase. Ayr may be a feasible target for him.
CAROLES DESTRIER PU 14/1 Well supported in the market for the 3m 1f Ultima handicap chase which surprised me as I thought he needed further, a bit more cut in the ground and is better going right handed. Never travelling, he blundered at the 15th and was pulled up. I hope this was a blessing in disguise as he holds an entry in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday at Fairyhouse which would be ideal for him as it’s a right handed track, over a longer trip (3m5f) and probably softer ground.
CHAMPAGNE WEST PU 50/1 Oh dear! A favourite horse of mine is completely in the wilderness. He never went a yard. Roger Brookhouse had a miserable Cheltenham.
DICOSIMO FELL 16/1 The choice of Ruby Walsh in the 2m County hurdle, hence nibbled at in the ring, just like the Betfair hurdle he failed to complete.
FOX NORTON 3rd 66/1 Reads well to be third in the Arkle behind Douvan but in effect he only beat two home as Garde la Victoire and Baltimore Rock failed to complete in the seven horse field. A shrewd (£16,452) piece of placement by his trainer Neil Mulholland.
GIBRALFARO 9th 25/1 Alan King seemed to have a strong team of juveniles but in the end this was the best of them as the Irish swept the board.
IF IN DOUBT 3rd 10/1 I’m still having counselling! Lumped on at 14/1 and the horse was hampered, then stumbled, then squeezed, then carried wide and led ten yards after the paystick! I need to go and lie down again!
JOHNS SPIRIT PU 11/2JF All of his form is on the Old course and luckily that persuaded me to give him the Spanish archer! His jumping went to pieces from the ninth onwards. BHA Stewards Report “Richie McLernon, the rider of JOHNS SPIRIT (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding made two bad mistakes in the back straight and was never travelling thereafter.” He is a really well handicapped horse if he can get goodish ground over 2m 5f on Cheltenham’s OLD course. OR160(just twelve months ago)145.
MODUS 23rd 14/1 Had plenty going for him in the 2m County hurdle but was detached by the third and finished a tailed off last. BHA Stewards Report “Nick Scholfield, the rider of MODUS, unplaced, reported that the gelding was unsuited by the large field of runners.” He might just be a rogue! Get him out of your #startracker.
NORTH HILL HARVEY 9th 25/1 Thereabouts two out in a strong Supreme novices hurdle, a mistake two out did for him. Should benefit from a step up in trip.
NOBLE ENDEAVOUR FELL 15/2 Held up and just moving into contention when he fell two out in the 4m NH chase. I was surprised at the choice of race as I thought one of the shorter handicaps over fences would have been ideal. Holds an entry in the Irish National on Easter Monday.
OPEN EAGLE 8th 20/1 One of an unsuccessful gang that Willie Mullins ran in the 3m Alfred Bartlett novice hurdle. He has an OR142 which I think that is very workable in a 2m4f handicap with a bit of cut in the ground. There is just the race on the Saturday of the Punchestown Festival!
OUR KAEMPFER 5th 9/1 Went really close beaten just three lengths despite hanging left up the hill. Curious to know what the will do with him as being a son of Oscar his future may lie over fences. Has a big one in him.
PETIT MOUCHOIR 8th 20/1 Midfield mediocrity. Being owned by Gigginstown and a son of Al Namix it can’t be too long before he sees a fence.
ROAD TO RICHES 3rd 7/1 Only competes at the very highest level and this time chose to mix it with the Imperious Vautour in the RyanAir! At a dead three miles I think he is as good as it gets. BHA Stewards Report “The Veterinary Officer reported that ROAD TO RICHES (IRE), placed third, trained by Noel Meade, had lost its right fore shoe.”
ROCK THE KASBAH 22nd 15/2 Fav. Again a surprising punt, from 11/1, as the trainer had said he had to have Soft ground, which it certainly wasn’t for the 2m 5f Coral Cup handicap hurdle. BHA Stewards Report “Richard Johnson, the rider of ROCK THE KASBAH (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, revealed it to have lost its left fore shoe.” Could be an exciting novice chaser next season for Philip Hobbs and the Whateleys.
SCEAU ROYAL 12th 8/1 Another of Alan Kings juveniles to disappoint. Absolutely nothing from two out.
SOME PLAN 16th 12/1 Another one nibbled at in the market, from 16/1, but showed nothing adding to the miserable Festival for Mr Brookhouse.
STILLETTO FELL 9/2JF Remarkable plunge on this fragile jumping novice as it halved in price. Unsurprisingly in this big field he got no further than the third, adding more misery to poor Mr Brookhouse.
THREE MUSKETEERS 4th 8/1 One of the few #startracking horses to perform with credit when beaten just over five lengths by Black Hercules in the 2m 4f JLT novice chase. Good ground is the key to this talented horse.
TOMBSTONE 4th 12/1 One of the few #startracking horses to perform with credit when beaten just over twelve lengths by Altior in the 2m Supreme novices hurdle. He couldn’t go with the leaders when they quickened two out but kept on up the hill.
TOMMY SILVER 7th 25/1 A little surprised to see him in the 2m 4yo Triumph itself , where he was a staying on but never competitive seventh, as off OR138 I thought he would be really competitive, As his trainer Paul Nicholls had the first two in that contest, perhaps he knows best!
UN ACE 8th 16/1 An excellent run in the Pertemps handicap hurdle but I’m still waiting for Kim Bailey to make use of that OR149 chase mark!! . BHA Stewards Report “The Stewards noted that UN ACE (FR), ridden by David Bass, and trained by Kim Bailey, would wear earplugs.”
WAXIES DARGLE 6th 33/1 A fabulous run from Waxies Dargle stepped up in trip on ground too fast him. Another who surely can land a big handicap. I believe the trainer is keen to see him over a fence.
WHO DARES WINS 14th 10/1 Another of Alan Kings juveniles to disappoint. Absolutely nothing from two out and eased. I expect he will have a summer Flat campaign.