BIDDING TO GO BACK-TO-BACK IN THE NATIONAL HUNT CHASE
It’s great to be back at Cheltenham where I will be hoping to add to my nine festival victories.
I am really looking forward to riding him. He ran in the Troytown Chase and fell six or seven out which was too far out to know how he would have got on.
But before that he ran behind Poker Party in the Kerry National and he was only beaten ten and a half lengths by Borice in the Galway Plate over two miles six.
He is going to be a good ride if he handles the ground well and stays the trip. I think he will be bang there.
Looking at the others, Carefully Selected will be the one to beat.
I think Springfield Fox, who won a few point-to-points in Ireland, has been very impressive since he joined Tom George. He can finish in the first three.
The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30) looks a very exciting race with Joe Donnelly declaring both Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge, both for different trainers. It’s interesting that they didn’t separate them.
They both look very good. Asterion Forlonge won a Grade 1 in Leopardstown, beating Easy Work, at the Dublin Festival so he has proven class.
He is by Coastal Path so you would imagine he will stay as well, which you are going to need with the ground making it a bit of a test over two miles.
The only time he has been beaten over hurdles this year is by Envoi Allen so he has done nothing wrong and if he brings his A-game to Cheltenham it would be hard to see him not in the first three.
But there is a horse called CHANTRY HOUSE who I won a point-to-point on and I would love to see him winning.
He has been kept under the radar but he is unbeaten since he went to England. He won at Warwick, Cheltenham so acts round the track, and won a competitive race at Newbury and I am going to side with him.
The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (2.10) looks a very exciting race with the horses coming over from Ireland like Notebook. It’s very interesting to see Joseph O’Brien has declared Fakir D'oudairies.
On their form in Leopardstown Notebook was giving Fakir D'oudairies 7lb and he beat him a length and a half. They are off level weights this time so it’s hard to see Fakir turning it around.
It’s hard to look past NOTEBOOK on what he has done. He can be a bit of a handful so he has to get through the preliminaries and get down to the start in one piece and if he does he is probably going to take a lot of beating.
I suppose Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm is coming under the radar. He was second to Reserve Tank at Aintree and only beaten five or six lengths behind City Island in last year’s Ballymore.
He’s had two lovely runs over fences but beat nothing. If he doesn’t get caught out by inexperience he has a great chance.
Paul Nolan’s horses are in good form. This horse had a run over hurdles the last day when he was well beaten at Christmas, but is coming here a fresh horse.
He likes Cheltenham obviously and he is off a nice weight with 11st 1lb on his back. We also knows he stays, handles soft ground and he’s had a wind op.
Elwood has a very good weight. He’s had four runs over fences and was beaten six lengths the last day by Captain Cee Jay around Navan and he is probably going to be a good fancy for the Irish Grand National.
It’s hard to know how he will act around the track but off that weight he has a chance but he is inexperienced over fences for a competitive handicap like this.
It’s a big field for the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (3.30) and there are probably a lot of trainers thinking they have a great chance.
Epatante is declared. They said she was coughing a week or ten days ago and if she is over that all right she is probably going to go off favourite.
She has been very impressive in what she has done this year but she was well beaten at Cheltenham last year in the mares’ novice hurdle so I wouldn’t mind taking her on.
I think Supasundae, a ten-year-old, is going to be bang there. He has Aintree Hurdle-winning form where he beat Buveur D’Air. He is a hardy horse who won’t be inconvenienced by the soft ground.
You would have to give the two of them very live chances. Supasundae could be in the first three but I do think the Triumph Hurdle form might come to the fore so one of the two could be winning it.
Honeysuckle has been fantastic for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead and Benie Des Dieux was very unlucky when she fell last year. She was going to win really easily. She went back to Punchestown and she did win easily, went to Auteuil and won and had a lovely run around Gowran where she beat Penhill who is a previous Stayers’ Hurdle winner by the guts of 20 lengths.
It’s hard to call but I would love to see HONEYSUCKLE win here. She is an amazing mare and it would be great for the connections as well.
She has won three Grade 1 races this season and that is hard to knock.
The Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase (4.50) is a real ‘stick a pin in it’ race to be honest with loads of horses with chance.
I really like BEAKSTOWN here. He’s been relatively disappointing over fences, but he has been beaten by some really decent horses.
The only issue is that he was beaten by City Island when he pulled up last year, but there was obviously something wrong with him.
He is in here off a light weight of 11st. Dan and Harry Skelton can get one there for the day and I would be very interested to see how he goes.
He finished ten and a half lengths behind Champ, who is favourite for the RSA, in Newbury in November. He is a graded horse stepping back into handicap company.
Galvin is a tough, hardy horse who was beaten 15 lengths in the Ballymore. Beakstown was in the same race. He could be well handicapped in this, but he has only had three runs over fences and he fell in one of them. His inexperience will be the key thing but if he gets a clear passage he could sneak a place.