13:30 Triumph Hurdle
Strictly on ratings Bloody Destiny is 4Ibs clear. David Casey seemed quite confident every time he was asked about him on the Cheltenham Preview Night circuit. They were right about Impaire Et Passe in yesterday’s Ballymore Novices’, even though he was 9Ibs wrong with Gaelic Warrior on official ratings. Paul Townend has opted for Lossiemouth, but they do seem really sweet on Blood Destiny. He’s looked very good on both his starts and travels very strongly. There’s every chance Willie will have another 1-2-3 like in the Ballymore.
Selection: Blood Destiny
14:10 County Hurdle
We run Gin Coco here. After his fine runner-up performance in the Greatwood Hurdle we had planned to give him a break and target the Betfair Hurdle. We were quite pleased to have only gone up 4Ibs after the Greatwood, but he didn’t get to run at Newbury as the ground conditions were too quick. Missing that race hasn’t been the end of the world so although he hasn’t run since November, I actually think that’s more of a positive than a negative as he does have a really good record when fresh. I also think the ground will be ideal if it dries back too good to soft. I feel as though the handicapper has given us a chance. We’re really pleased with him. He went to Kempton for a gallop and followed Love Envoi around a few weeks back, so preparations have gone well. One big plus for us is that he’s got plenty of experience in big field handicaps at Punchestown and in the Greatwood and those runs won’t be lost on him. In a race like this you’re going to need a bit of luck in-running but granted that hopefully he’ll be there with every chance jumping the last. We’re as confident as we can be going into a 26-runner handicap hurdle. As for dangers, how many do you want! Filey Bay would be an obvious one. He went up 8Ibs after the Betfair, but the first two were a long way clear of the 3rd home. Hunters Yarn has a similar type of profile to last year’s winner State Man and hasn’t been missed in the market. Dan Skelton has won this before, so you’d have to respect Pembroke. However I’m going for our horse, I suppose if I’m not confident, than who can be, and that approach almost worked on Tuesday with Love Envoi.
Selection: Gin Coco
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
It’s not making for good reading for the English trained horses when you think that the Irish had the 1-2-3 in the Ballymore. The first eight home in the Supreme Novices’, the 1-2-3 in the Triumph at the very least and are going to probably have the 1-2-3 in this as well looking at it from a ratings perspective. When you think that one of our top novices, Hermes Allen was very firmly put in his place yesterday, it’s very hard to look beyond the Irish challengers. Corbetts Cross is very interesting. He won a Grade 2 over two miles the last day. Has won four times this season. The trip won’t pose a problem as he’s won a handicap hurdle over three miles at Fairyhouse. In many ways he reminds me of Unowhatimeanharry as he won handicaps and in novice company the season he won this race. Corbetts Cross is clearly talented, is improving and is very versatile. So it’s easy to see why he’s to the front of the market and JP’s already had one new winning purchase in the Champion Bumper yesterday and this might provide him with another.
Selection: Corbetts Cross
15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup
I like Stattler in this and hope it might be a good omen for Might I as he’s his half-brother. Stattler won the National Hunt Chase last year. He chased home Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup, but I just think this longer trip will suit him, as will the track and the nature of the Gold Cup. It’s just an end to end gallop and you got to be a real out and out stayer. That’s not to say Galopin Des Champs can’t win, because he’s hugely talented. I just thought Stattler at 12/1 represents excellent each way value, as he’s going to be doing all his best work at the end where his stamina will come to the fore. There are far more out and out stayers in the race, so I think you’ll get more of an endurance test this year. Noble Yeats is another stayer, having won the Aintree Grand National. You could put him in the Stattler category as he’ll be doing his best work at the end, but I’d just be worried about him hitting a flat spot or he might get a little outpaced. If Bravemansgame can turn up in the same form as what he showed in the King George, he’s got a big chance. They’ll be delighted with the ground drying up. However he was well fancied at the Festival last year, didn’t run and then went to Aintree and just didn’t turn up. Of course he can run a big race. Paul has been even more vocally outspoken about him, and his belief is that they’ve learned from last year. He thinks he has him absolutely spot on. And Paul knows what it takes to win a Gold Cup, having already won it four times. I think he’ll be the first British trained horse home, but whether he’s good enough to beat the Irish is another matter. However if it does turn into a race where there’s a real emphasis on stamina, I’m very firmly in the Stattler camp.
16:10 St. James’s Place Hunters’ Chase
One of our amateurs, Megan Bevan, is riding Wotzizname in this. It’s her first ever ride at Cheltenham, but the horse is the rank outsider. We wish her the very best of luck and will be watching and cheering her on. Storyteller has been a good horse, but he’s getting on a bit, but I wouldn’t rule out a big run from him. Brain Power was very good on his day. I met Warren Ewing during the week, and he was very keen on his chances. The best of the English horse would appear to be Famous Clermont. He’s won his last four for Chris Barber who trains locally to us and is grandson of Richard Barber who gave me an opportunity to do what I’m doing now. Of course Richard won the Foxhunters multiple times and I know how much Chris would dearly love to follow in his footsteps and it may well have the answer in Famous Clermont.
Selection: Famous Clermont
16:50 Mares’ Chase
I’d be very worried about Allegorie De Vassy and her tendency to jump right, especially going left handed. I think the safer option is another recently acquired JP horse in Impervious. I thought she put up a smart effort when winning at Punchestown the last day. Impervious is 3 from 3 over fences and she ran well in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle behind Love Envoi at last year’s Festival, where she ran a little bit keen. So she gets my vote in this.
17:30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
We have Might I in this race. It’s not a small field even with five non-runners! We had this race in mind after he blotted his copybook first time out at Haydock over three miles. He had finished runner-up over this trip in a Grade 1 at Aintree last April. We had hoped to come into this race via the valuable Lingfield Winter Million card, but that fixture was lost so we ended up running on trials day instead. I thought it was a good run in defeat. We went up 3Ibs which meant we were eligible to run in this off joint top weight of 145. We’ve been really happy with were he is. Lorcan being onboard is a positive as he knows him well having won a bumper and a novice hurdle and rode him when he was trying to concede 6Ibs to Constitution Hill. I think we were beaten 14 lengths that day, so that gets us within 10 lengths!! In all seriousness though we’ve always held our horse in high regard and we’re hoping that he can land a big one as he’s got solid form in the book behind some very talent horses. I’d like to think he can be right in the mix, even off top weight and make his class tell.
Selection: Might I
Best of luck,