Festival Notebook - 24 February 2012

Chris Sleep and Will Lattimore have their third batch of horses to follow ahead of the Festival.

Print this page

Festival Notebook

You'll find plenty of analysis of the leading contenders for the feature races at the Cheltenham Festival elsewhere on our MEGAsite, but in our Festival Notebook we're aiming to highlight those horses that have gone under the radar so far for the big races and those that are being targeted at the races outside of the Grade 1s at the big meeting. This section will be updated every week in the run up to the Festival to build up into an index of horses to watch out for at the big meeting.

Trained by Ferdy Murphy | Submitted by Chris Sleep
Grand Annual Chase
This horse went into many notebooks when third at Musselburgh last time behind Tara Royal. That was a promising run and he was doing all his best work late on. His target is likely to be the Grand Annual, which he finished fourth in 12 months ago off a mark of 137. His trainer Ferdy Murphy is excellent at lining horses up for Festival Handicaps and this one is well worth an investment at around the 16-1 mark.

Trained by Keiran Burke | Submitted by Chris Sleep
Any Festival Handicap
He has been enjoying a tremendous season winning 5 of his last 6 races and that winning spree started off a mark of 69 Folkestone. He is a rapidly improving horse who stayed on well to defeat Flaming Gorge by 2 1/4 lengths at Wincanton last time out off a mark of 117. Following that fifth win of the season he has been raised to a mark of 127. Despite rocketing up in the weights he may still not be high enough to get a run at Cheltenham but if he did get into a race he will be a danger to all. It's also worth baring in mind connections performed a similar feat with Holmwood Legend 12months ago.

Trained by John Ferguson | Submitted by Chris Sleep
Champion Bumper
A very well bred horse who is related to Midnight Game (one of the favourites for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) and West With The Wind (Grade 3 winner over fences). Unbeaten in two starts he showed a good turn of foot to score in a steadily run race at Ludlow before following up in equally impressive style at Market Rasen. Although his overall level of form is not as good as some of the market leaders for the Champion Bumper he has been visually impressive and there is every chance he can outrun his double figure odds on the big day at Cheltenham for his capable trainer John Ferguson.

Trained by Noel Meade | Submitted by Will Lattimore
Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase
It will be difficult for connections to choose which race he will go for, personally I would prefer him to line-up in the Ryanair . This son of Beneficial was third to Captain Chris in last year`s Arkle, the question mark on everyone`s mind going into that race was the quicker ground, he handle it well but 2 miles on good ground wouldn`t have suited.
At this stage you would have to say a small field will contest the Champion Chase and without a doubt he would need the likes of Sizing Europe and Big Zeb to run way below-par to have any chance of winning and has only place prospects, whereas the Ryanair is wide-open and the 2m4f trip will be more to his liking. I`m not worried that he will be making his seasonal debut he has won going fresh in the past and is another to keep in the notebook.

Trained by Jonjo O'Neill | Submitted by Chris Sleep
Pertemps Final
A winner of a Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick in early January where he was completing a hat-trick having won back to back handicaps at Huntingdon and Uttoxeter. He possibly found the very heavy ground at Haydock against him in Graded company at Haydock when last seen. He has a mark of 138 ( scored off 101 in his first handicap) which will ensure he gets a run in the Pertemps and being a lightly raced sort he could improve again and run a big race on better ground for his shrewd trainer.