From Pipe dreams to the Anglo-Irish clash of the Festival
10 runners which show why previous form can be key
Looks like he has been held back to protect his handicap rating by David Pipe to go one better in the Plate than last season having not run since November. It was off a similar break that he was only beaten 1¼ lengths in last season’s race despite a slow start losing a few lengths after being the subject of a big gamble into favouritism. He will race off a very similar handicap mark this time and the stable target the race having won it three times since 2010 since David took over from Martin. Pond House have won it on seven occasions in total.
More Of That
Seeyouatmidnight and Blaklion will have their supporters but, for many, the RSA is the big Anglo-Irish clash of this season’s Festival in which the 2014 World Hurdle winner goes head to head against No More Heroes who has impressed in three chase starts in Ireland including winning to Grade 1s. More Of That has had one less chance to impress over fences but both his chase wins were at Cheltenham and he appears to be fully over the problems that forced him to run just once the previous campaign. His jumping looks assured and we know stays the trip and has the class so this could be a question of who wants it most and More Of That puts his head down in very honest fashion when he meets the Cheltenham hill.
Was as low as 5/1 for the new mares’ novices’ hurdle until she ran deplorably in her trial finishing last of five when fully expected to win at odds of 8/13. However, she was subsequently found to be coughing so, if you can throw that run out, then she could offer some each-way value against her skinny-priced stablemate, Limini. On her previous start Myska was sent to Taunton and beat Jessber’s Dream who has subsequently finished a good second in a Grade 2 Mares Hurdle at Warwick so she has decent claims on that run and, being by Presenting, there is a fair chance that she will also improve for spring ground having raced on soft or heavy on all four of her starts thus far.
New To This Town
Jessica Harrington is no stranger to Champion Bumper success having won it with Cork All Star and her five-year-old by Milan can be expected to improve for better ground on breeding so his two wins from as many starts should be marked up having been recorded on a very testing surface. After causing a surprise on his debut after which his trainer commented that he felt he would be too raw to win first time up, the form of his second victory was boosted when the runner-up, Avenir D’Une Vie, then hacked up on his next start and he showed a particularly willing attitude on that occasion at Gowran Park. The runner-up on that occasion would be near enough favourite if he ran here.
Last season’s Grand Annual winner will bid to defend his title via a racecourse gallop having not run since mid-December. Last season he had not run since late-November before his Festival success so don’t let that put you off. He hasn’t got within 28 lengths of a win in five subsequent starts but he was unplaced in all four starts between when he was fourth in the 2014 Grand Annual and winning last year’s renewal so his season was all about one race last season and that looks the case again. It looks like he will only be about a couple of pounds higher this season.
Third and fifth in handicaps at the last two Cheltenham Festivals for Charlie Longsdon and J P McManus, he could be heading back to the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase on Day 1 in which he was only beaten 8¾l last March after which his trainer reported he went lame on the run-in having also stated that he had been on the back foot regards his preparation but has had a clear run this season. A £100,000 handicap winner at Ascot in the autumn under Barry Geraghty who his trainer has suggested suits Pendra better than McCoy did, he certainly has travelled better in his races for him and that Day 1 staying handicap chase has a habit of throwing up winners who ran in it the previous year. He goes well fresh and enjoys spring ground.
Those looking for an alternative to Willie Mullins in the Mares Hurdle could do a lot worse than with last season’s runner-up who was only beaten a nose despite having to swerve around the stricken Annie Power at the final flight and who also enters this race in much better form arriving off a win at Sandown rather than being pulled up like 12 months ago. She loves Cheltenham in the spring having also won here in April 2014 and has been bought into by the Racecourse Chairman for one last hurrah before she is sent to the paddocks. Hard to see her not running very well.
Paul Nicholls has had the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in mind for last season’s winner of the Fred Winter and has been waiting for decent ground to run him. He was the least fancied of the Nicholls trio according to the betting before he won that four-year-old handicap hurdle here last March but his trainer commented later that he was the one he was keenest on. He is clearly held in high regard and, as such, has the look of a potentially well-handicapped horse ahead of a race in which second-season hurdlers have won six of the seven runnings and the stable have a good win and place record in.
Rule The World
Those who can’t have the Mouse Morris-trained nine-year-old for the National Hunt Chase on the basis that he is 0-12 over fences at the time of writing should cast their minds back to last season when Cause Of Causes won entering the race 0-10 with a very similar profile and not just for that reason. Like Cause Of Causes, Rule The World is a second-season chaser who has placed at the Festival before (second to The New One in the Neptune) and ran in the previous season’s Irish Grand National where he finished second. His nine lengths’ second to No More Heroes at Christmas looks very good form in the context of this race and he has yet to have the combination of a marathon trip and good ground this season which are likely to be his optimum conditions.
Saphir Du Rheu
Paul Nicholls’ runner-up in last season’s World Hurdle when still a relative baby can be argued to be each-way value in the hope that the wind operation that worked wonders for Cole Harden before he won last year’s race has a similar effect on the horse that his trainer still views as the apple of his eye. A year older and stronger and arriving here fresh having not run since the Long Walk Hurdle in December, he was also given a Gold Cup entry which underlines the faith they have in him and he was reported to have “turned the corner” by his trainer in mid-February.