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The weights for the nine handicaps at Cheltenham were unveiled on Tuesday, and we’ve already seen strong support in a couple of races as Paddy is non runner Money Back on ALL Festival races. There’s also been a couple of movers over the weekend in both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Triumph Hurdle divisions.
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Bring On The Night rewarded favourite backers with an easy success on his debut for Willie Mullins in a maiden hurdle at Naas on Sunday, when despite a few sketchy jumps he still managed to score by eight lengths. The Carlow conjuror revealed that he hadn’t been able to run him last season after a setback and that the former Andre Fabre-trained Flat performer jumps much better at home.
He now heads straight to the Festival opener which will obviously be a much stiffer test, but his form on the level in which sphere he won two of three starts along with this creditable timber debut mean he certainly deserves to take his chance.
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Gaelic Warrior is an intriguing horse as he has yet to make his debut for Willie Mullins and leading owner Rich Ricci and despite having three runs at Auteuil in France without winning, he has been furiously backed and heads the market
On a recent media visit to Closutton, Mullins reportedly couldn’t keep a straight face when he was informed that this fellow was about 4-1 or 5-1 for this and those fancy prices have evaporated.
He’s a short enough price now for a horse making his English debut at jumps racing’s Olympics, especially as he has never raced on a surface better than very soft, but the jungle drums seem to be beating furiously about his natural ability.
Buddy Rich has been tremendously consistent over fences with four seconds and a win in novice events before a disappointing fourth on his handicap debut at Fairyhouse in November, but that reversal hasn’t stopped punters from plunging on him.
One of those seconds was to Third Time Lucki at Cheltenham in October and that’s blue-chip form as the winner has subsequently won two Grade 2s, including the From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power Meeting in November.
Third Time Lucki has also been placed at the same level and in a top-class event, both won by Arkle Chase favourite, Edwardstone, and he’s now got a mark of 153, while ‘Buddy’ could be extremely leniently weighted with a rating of just 138.
Frontal Assault has been very well supported for this 3m 2f event after keeping on really well over about half a mile less last time at Fairyhouse in January, when he forced a dead-heat for second on the line.
In fact it’s been interesting the way that he has been campaigned as despite winning both his novice hurdles, including a Grade 3 at Navan last year, over 3m, he’s not been tried over further than around 2m 6f on three starts over the bigger obstacles.
He began his career over 3m in a point-to-point so the extra distance at Cheltenham should be right up his alley.
Knight Salute was three and a quarter lengths too powerful for Teddy Blue in Saturday’s Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton and is still a shorter price than the runner-up for this, but it was Teddy Blue who was the eyecatcher and was trimmed in the market.
The second home was challenging at the final obstacle and made a complete hash of it, but if it hadn’t been for that it might have been close and the famous Cheltenham hill looks tailormade for ‘Teddy’.
On the Emerald Isle at Fairyhouse the same day Icare Allen threw his hat into the ring for the same juvenile contest with an easy seven and a half length romp in a Grade 3 juvenile hurdle. He’s still a big price which is pretty understandable, as he’ll have the formidable form of Vauban to master at Prestbury Park and it’s hard to see how he can turn around the form of a nine and a half length defeat by that rival in the top-class Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival last month.
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