What a festival that truly was. From Bryony Frost’s emotional win aboard Frodon to Andrew Gemmell living his dream, this year’s showcase will add its own chapter to racing history. There’s more to national hunt racing than Prestbury Park though, and this industry never sleeps.
Nor does the opportunity to make money when you carve through the cards immediately following The Festival – as some of the best value often gets overlooked. Let’s have a look at some televised races on Saturday.
Lizzie Kelly won’t have to go too far from Cheltenham to land her next book of rides and she takes to the saddle of Too Many Chiefs in the opener.
Sharon Watt’s gelding only went up 4 lbs for his impressive win at Catterick in December, and has since gone down 1lb for pulling up on his reappearance. Consider an upgrade in jockey from Ross Chapman to Kelly and you’re sitting on a pretty proposition.
Envoye Special was an interesting recruit for Paul Nicholls and his two form lines to date have seen him behind Kalashnikov and the Arkle favourite, Glen Forsa. So while his mark may have fluctuated because of how close he got or how well he was beaten, Nicholls obviously thinks a lot of him, given the company he’s kept.
If he’s up to anything, and his SPs on both those starts suggests he is – then he should be winning comfortably enough off 132.
It’s been a very busy winter for Scotchtown who is crying out for some soft ground given he has improved with each of his last four runs, a mark of 126 combined with conditions shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate. Aintree My Dream is passed over until we see how he has recovered from his fall last time out, while Lough Derg Farmer’s 5lb rise might seem lenient for a 17-length win last time out, but the race just fell apart in front of him.
Nico de Boinville should have little trouble in negotiating a 2lb rise for a neck-second behind the very smart Erick Le Rouge aboard Burrows Edge.
He was headed just as it looked as if he had it won, but a late drive from 7lb claimer Chester Williams pegged him back. Nico re-opposes plenty of claimers again here, but none of the horses here possess the same danger as the previous foil. The step-up in trip seemed to be the making of him last time out and he should be able to get his head in front this time.
Watch if any money comes for JP McManus’ Sully Doc Aa. The Anthony Honeyball-trained import is ridden by William Kennedy and his opening mark could potentially be very lenient if his back-to-back wins in Pau live up to the form levels that some say. Air Horse One might be the best-named horse in training, but carrying 11-6 is probably too much for him.
The handicapper has seen some sense in not raising the mark of Kayf Blanco for his victory at Ludlow, given that he was left clear after the would-be winner took a tumble and handed the race to him. Value at Risk is carrying quite a weight, while Vivas looks well-held for a while despite a 2lb ease in his rating. El Terremoto is probably the safe bet, then. He hasn’t gone up for finishing a narrow second last time out and he has the guidance of Daryl Jacob to boot.
The emphasis on stamina in testing conditions are paramount here. American carries top weight and would probably struggle to win off 154, but he leads the market for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily. Ms Parfois needs this distance and is a much better betting proposition, but Folsom Blue looks perfect for this trip and he ran a good race last year at Leopardstown over 3m 5f in heavy.