I'm sending my strongest team over to Cheltenham but even to get one winner there would be fantastic. The Co. Waterford trainer breaks it down on the PP Blog.
All Hell Let Loose
We could have All Hell Let Loose in the Closer Bros Handicap Chase along with Killiney Court and Deans Road.
They’re fair enough treated to the Irish mark in England – if they were rated any less they wouldn’t get in.
It’s a very condensed handicap. It’s nearly like a conditions race. There’ll be about a 3lb swing between them all. It’s bizzare how close the weights are in a handicap.
Balko Des Flos
He’ll run in the opening race on Thursday, the JLT Novice Chase. ‘He was third behind Disko last time at Leopardstown and I think we’ll ride him a bit more prominently this time. He’d have an each-way chance.
He’s a big outsider in the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the opening day, but we’ll let him take his chance.
Davy Russell will ride him. His first run was a very good run when he was just chinned by RunforDave. He looked like he was going to win well at Leopardstown over 2m 2f but just emptied out on the run to the line. The end-to-end gallop of the Supreme Novices should suit him so we’ll see how we go at a big price. The better the ground – the better his chances.
He seems in mighty form ahead of a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I’m very pleased with him. It seems a very open race this year with a lot of horses rated close to each other.
We’ll take our chance and see how we go – once the ground is safe. We wouldn’t want it to be real quick ground, so we’ll monitor that.
But Cheltenham is normally watered ground and normal Festival going should be fine for him. The Irish have a very strong representation this year with our lad, Sizing John, Djakadam and Outlander.
We’ll be going there hoping to hit the frame. Anything after that is a great bonus.
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He has a few entries over the four days but I’m leaning towards the RSA. Heron Heights won there in October on good ground and the better the ground, the better his chance.
His other option could be the Kim Muir on Thursday. We’re trying to finalise a rider for that and we’re just struggling to get one of the more experienced ones. So I’d say we’ll end up going for the RSA and Phillip Enright will more than likely ride him as he’s already won three chases on him including that contest in October.
Also a likely runner in the RSA and was second to Thistlecrack at Cheltenham last November. The ground went very soft that day and he’ll appreciate better ground. It’s a very open race and I would give both of mine each-way chances in it.
We’ll probably leave Monalee in the Neptune Hurdle on Wednesday, but he’s almost certain to go for Friday’s Albert Bartlett. He was beaten by Death Duty before but I think we have to play to our horses’ strengths. We think he’s a real three-miler and also think he’ll improve a lot for the extra half mile step up in trip.
If we ran him in the 2m 5f Neptune Hurdle and then got beaten by a quicker horse, you’d be raging. We know our horse stays well but there’s a few in the Albert Bartlett who are not yet proven stayers. Even Death Duty, he hasn’t actually done it yet. So we’ll see.
Monalee seems to handle any ground. He’s proven he can get three miles on very heavy ground at Clonmel, but his best run in bumpers was on good ground, so he is versatile like that. He’s definitely got a good each-way chance.
The form of her win at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day is rock solid, a lot of the others that were behind her have come out and won since. She was very disappointing at Punchestown however on heavier ground. Since then we’ve given her a minor wind-operation.
She seems in great form so we’ll take our chance in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle on the Thursday.
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He’s our Champion Hurdle hope on Tuesday and seems in great form. He’s had a good season so far. I’d hope Festival ground should suit him though he probably wouldn’t want either extreme of fast or heavy ground.
He’s done all his homework so it’s just ticking him over at home now. Bryan Cooper rides him and says he’s one of his best chances at the Festival. I hope he’s right!
David Mullins will ride him in the Arkle and he could be joined by stablemates Ordinary World and Three Stars. Obviously, Altior is the one to beat and has been immense all season.
Some Plan is probably proven to handle softer ground better than the other two, so he might have more of a chance than them if the ground had plenty of cut in it.
But if it’s a good jumping ground, I think they all have equal chances. Davy Russell rides Ordinary World, and Three Stars will more than likely be ridden by Robert Power.
He’ll run in the Champion Chase and is in great form. He needs good ground to show his best. Douvan is the one to beat but we’ve a good each-way cahnce as he’s been second in the last two Champion Chases. The plan is that Noel Fehily will ride as usual.
He’s had a great season so far and will run in the Ryanair Chase. David Mullins will ride him as Bryan Cooper will ride Empire of Dirt in the same race.
He goes on all ground but is probably marginally better on a sounder surface. He was beaten by Sizing John at Thurles and he’s certainly franked the form since.
However, we were out in front for a long time as the final fence was omitted and he stayed on stronger than us on the run to the line. You’d have hoped that the final fence would have helped us but who knows?
We were beaten by a very good horse on the day and in fairness he beat us before over hurdles as well. But we’ve as good a chance as any.
Three Stars is in the Grand Annual Chase on the Friday but it’s very unlikely he’ll go for it. It’s highly likely he’ll go to the Arkle but we’ve left him in it just in case.