Weekend review: Take note now that this 20/1 shot can Rock’ the Festival

A live one for the Albert Bartlett next March, a resurgent Brain Power and Gordon's bumper crop delivers again. It's all in a weekend's work for Timeform's boffins ...

Rockpoint-Cheltenham

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Colin Tizzard loves stayers

The last review article I wrote detailed the love affair that Colin Tizzard had developed with big races at Newbury, and, at the risk of boring everyone again, the milk farmer from Milborne Port features heavily once again.

This time it’s because of Rockpoint, who showed plenty of tenacity to fend off all rivals in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. He’s got plenty to find with the big names that have won Saturday’s race in recent years, but has improved for the step up in trip and is clearly improving quickly now.

At 20/1, he makes plenty of appeal for Cheltenham in March, a race Tizzard won last year with Kilbricken Storm.

Time your run to perfection over at PaddyPower.com

Rockpoint is yet another example of a horse owned by Heather and John Snook that has thrived since stepping up in trip. The image below shows how Tizzard’s stayers make up the largest percentage of his winners.

Thistlecrack, and to a lesser extent his half-brother West Approach, both relished being upped in distance, with Thistlecrack improving by 10 lb on Timeform’s scale when winning the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on his first crack at three miles.

Nicky Henderson used his Brain Power

Brain Power, returned to smaller obstacles, ran away with the International Hurdle, and is now 14/1 for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He was relatively unfancied on Saturday, bidding to land just his second success going left-handed, but took advantage of a weak race to run out an impressive winner, only idling late on. That was easily his best effort in five starts at Cheltenham, but it’s worth remembering that he was getting weight from most of his rivals, and with Supreme winner Summerville Boy flopping again and three-time victor The New One a light of other days, it looks a weak race for the grade.

But it was a fine piece of placing by connections, and presumably a relief for the horse after a forgettable 12 months over fences. In contrast, stablemate We Have A Dream once again paid scant regard to the obstacles, and he looks one to leave alone until reverting to a flat track.

Envoi-Allen

Gordon Elliott has a bumper crop

Sunday’s listed bumper at Navan has been won by a number of promising individuals over the last few years, including the Gordon Elliott-trained pair Samcro and Death Duty, both subsequent Grade 1 winners, and this year’s Elliott star, Envoi Allen, produced a performance that was well up to scratch with those that have gone before him.

He’s yet another Cheveley Park-owned horse to make a big impression, with the breeding operation also owning the ante-post favourite for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival: Malone Road. But, with that horse currently on the sidelines due to a knee injury, Envoi Allen looks the pick of the bunch so far.

And he should be.

The son of Muhtathir – who cost £400,000 at the sales in February following an easy point-to-point win at Ballinaboola – is part of a sizable investment in jumps racing by Cheveley Park. As most of their stallions were sprinters, it’s hard to see how the venture will have much commercial value for the operation, but it’s a clear underlining of the love that the stud’s David and Patricia Thompson – who also owned 1992 Grand National winner Party Politics – have for the sport.

One to back next time

Black Tulip has made a decent start to her chasing career and, under an attacking ride from the front, ran a very solid race at Cheltenham last Friday. She jumped well in the main, doing easily the best of those who raced prominently, and was only beaten by a well-treated Gordon Elliott-trained runner in the form of Synopsis.

Add Black Tulip to your My Timeform Tracker, with a return to tight tracks like Warwick or Stratford likely to see her to even better effect.

Time your run to perfection over at PaddyPower.com