Black Beauty. Sprinter Sacre. Black Bess. All dark horses, but only one ran at the Cheltenham Festival, though Dick Turpin impersonators have been seen on many a bookmaker’s pitch at the four-day meeting.
But what about those under-the-radar, hush hush, nod nod, wink wink horses that everyone is desperate to find but are more elusive than a passport the night before a holiday?
Never fear, Timeform’s here.
Like a cross between Superman and Carol Vorderman – though much less likely to win Rear of The Year – our friendly computer geek has run the figures to find four horses who are likely to improve for spring/better ground next week.
Two of his three best performances last season came at the Cheltenham Festival in March and Fairyhouse in April, and it’s likely that John Quinn’s runner has been a project for one of the handicaps at this meeting since finishing an unflattering sixth in the Galway Hurdle last June. He’s 25/1 for the County Hurdle and the JP McManus-owned gelding might turn into something of a gamble if making the final field.
You might not think that the consistent Barney Dwan would be an obvious candidate for this feature, however he posted his best effort yet when second in last year’s Pertemps Final at this meeting and could easily get overlooked in the novice handicap chase next week due to the sustained market move for the aptly-named De Plotting Shed. Barney Dwan is currently 8/1, which looks fair for a horse who is in good form and who may yet improve further.
I’ll never forget Nick Scholfield’s ride on Romain de Senam in the 2016 Fred Winter, where his challenge was more delayed than a South Western Railway train and it resulted in a head-defeat to stablemate Diego du Charmil. What made it even more annoying was that Scholfield had tipped the winner at a preview evening! Anyway, like the raceday stewards, I’m a forgiving sort – and it wasn’t the horse’s fault – so Romain de Senam is worth backing again this year, this time at 14/1 in the Brown Advisory Plate.
The ground – though it’s been soft and heavy for him since his reappearance – is not the only reason why Dadsintrouble has been so quiet this season, as he didn’t take to chasing, but reverting to hurdles on his latest start at Exeter certainly reinvigorated him, and the fact he traded short in-running, before folding into fifth, told the story of how he travelled compared to how he finished. The Pertemps Final, because of the trip, may be the best of his three options, and he could well put the spring in springer at 25/1.
So there we go. Undercover secret operation Project Barney De Dadsintrouble is now in full flow. And not so secret…
* All odds correct at time of posting.