Timeform’s Jake Pearson highlights three favourites at the Cheltenham Festival who deserve their position at the head of the market.
Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook has taken his form to another level since being sent chasing, and he confirmed his status as the best in the division when making it four from four over fences in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown last time.
Notebook jumped impeccably as he has done throughout his burgeoning chase career, and he showed an excellent attitude to get the better of Cash Back, digging deep to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
It’s worth noting he ran well below his best in the Ballymore at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, but he appears to be a different proposition since being sent chasing and looks sure to give a good account in the Arkle.
Last year’s Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen has made a seamless transition to hurdling and he produced the best performance in the novice division this season when beating Abacadabras – also trained by Gordon Elliott – in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in December.
He then had little trouble making it seven from seven under Rules, comfortably landing the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novices’ Hurdle with a performance that reinforced the view he is at the head of the division
Envoi Allen travels smoothly, jumps slickly and has already proved himself around Cheltenham so should prove difficult to beat in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Paisley Park experienced a flawless campaign last season, winning all five outings, including the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. That victory confirmed his status as the dominant force in the division, and he has not shown a chink in his armour this season.
He was an authoritative winner of the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, beating Thistlecrack by a length, and he had little trouble extending his winning sequence to seven when landing the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January.
The Cleeve Hurdle was run at a slow pace, which ought to have left the strong-staying Paisley Park vulnerable, but he showed plenty of pace and was well on top at the last. He looked to have plenty in the tank, simply idling on the run-in, and it’s difficult to see him losing out in the Stayers’ Hurdle, around a course which plays to his strengths so well.
*Prices and entries are correct at time of publishing but are subject to change. All odds quoted are part of Paddy Power’s pre-Festival non runner money back offer.