Timeform’s Jake Pearson has been burning the midnight oil ahead of our non-runner money back offer and zones in on four horses with just one likely target at next month’s Festival.
Notebook confirmed himself the best two-mile novice chaser around when making it four wins from four in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown, again jumping impeccably and finding plenty to get the better of a protracted duel with Cash Back.
The only real blip on his CV came at Cheltenham, in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last year, but he has taken his form to an entirely new level since being switched to fences, so that is not a huge concern.
The Arkle Chase is his one and only objective on day one of the Festival so there will be no worries about him showing up in another race, and he may head to Cheltenham as one of the Irish bankers.
Champ lost only once over hurdles last season, when second in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and he struck twice at the highest level.
He made a winning start to life over fences when scoring with a bit in hand at Newbury and then overcame a few mishaps to land the Berkshire Novices’ Chase at the same venue.
He may have fallen in the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in January but he still confirmed himself as one of the very best chasing prospects on the scene as he had matters firmly under control when departing at the second-last.
He is an exciting prospect and is towards the head of the novice chase division.
Min failed to complete a hat-trick in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown but there was no disgrace in finding Chacun Pour Soi too strong, and he pulled well clear of the third.
Min has proved time and time again that he is a top-class chaser – he has won five Grade 1s – and the Ryanair Chase looks a good opportunity for him to gain that elusive Cheltenham Festival success.
He also holds an entry in the Champion Chase, but he has twice come up short against Altior in that event, and Chacun Pour Soi and Defu du Seuil are also formidable rivals, so the Ryanair Chase looks by far the most suitable target.
Thyme Hill confirmed himself one of the best bumper horses around last term – he was third to Envoi Allen at Cheltenham – and he has made an excellent start to his career over obstacles.
He passed his first test with flying colours, motoring at the line to win the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow by two lengths (beating subsequent Grade 1 winner Fiddlerontheroof) and then gained a second Grade 2 when landing the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He was asked a bigger question by a better-placed rival in the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury last time, but he always looked in control once he started to open up, and he is the best staying novice seen in Britain so far this season.
He has shown a quirk or two (flashed his tail under pressure last time) but there’s no doubt he’s an exciting prospect.