The Cheltenham Festival is just over a week away and we’re getting very jiggy around Power Tower at the thought of what should be a mighty four days. Paddy’s now Non Runner Money Back on ALL Races and Matt Chapman skips through who he thinks will be front and centre when the white flag is raised on day one.
Tuesday, March 14
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Provided he gets there, the reaction to FACILE VEGA‘s defeat on Sunday was crazy. He’s now a bigger price and of course if he doesn’t turn up you get your money back. Quite simply, he’s easily the most talented horse in the race and has Cheltenham form from the bumper last season. I suspect in the days leading up to the Supreme Novices Hurdle that if all is well his price will collapse. It might be worth taking what you can now with the insurance of non runner money back.
JONBON is another to take the price now as I’ll be stunned if he is not odds-on on the day. He was a very high class hurdler who has looked even better as a chaser and the relation to Douvan is clearly a machine. Aidan Coleman loves him. Due to run on Saturday at Warwick.
A very small field will go to post here and clearly Constitution Hill or State Man are set to dominate. Have a few quid each-way on SHARJAH. He’s been placed a couple of times and there might well be less than eight runners but you get the 3 places right now.
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HONEYSUCKLE only officially turned 9 in April so there is no reason why she can’t still be performing to a very high level. She ran to form first time out this season and about 5lb below last time on Sunday. That said she should still be able to win this race which gives those a chance to just get a Cheltenham win when they should be in the Champion Hurdle.
National Hunt Chase
Have to be honest I don’t really like any of these at the moment. They all have issues! GAILLIARD DO MESNIL is the obvious one to beat as he has been tackling top class horses in novice events. He’s looked very slow so should be suited to this contest.
Wednesday, March 15
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
GAELIC WARRIOR should have won the Boodles Handicap Hurdle last season. He’s done nothing wrong since then and has looked a very progressive novice hurdler. Experience in a big field will count for a lot.
Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
THYME HILL has been unlucky at Cheltenham in the past over hurdles and deserves a big race win at the track. He will never be the most slick of jumpers, but he’s pretty safe and has plenty of class. For me he is the most talented horse in the field.
It is a huge mistake that SHISHKIN has not been entered in this race. I fully appreciate he needs further, and he might win over further at Ascot next week, but it’s his stamina that makes him the bet here. Many of the others struggle in the closing stages of the top two mile events, and I know my boy will run right to the line. Obviously he has to be supplemented, and connections show no sign of doing that, but hopefully they will see the light!
Cross Country Chase
Defending champion DELTA WORK really should take all the beating once again. There are plenty who have each-way chances against him, but at the end of the day we are dealing with a Grade 1 animal who has already shown a massive liking for this type of contest. Don’t ignore the French raiders, but I suspect they will struggle against my big gun.
CHAPEAU DE SOLEIL is bred to stay well out of a Kayf Tara mare and can come on a lot for his debut defeat at Fairyhouse. My hope has always been held in high regard by connections, and I suspect is a lot better than we saw first time. He also made the running that day, and I doubt he will be doing that here.
Thursday, March 16
Turners Novices’ Chase
MIGHTY POTTER did not always jump fluently with his Grade 1 success at Leopardstown last time, but this could end up being a really weak event. He didn’t have much luck at Cheltenham last year, but can make up for it here and quite simply should outclass the field.
Ryanair Chase – French Dynamite (each-way)
Now that Allaho is out the suggestion is a few quid each-way on French Dynamite. He has good course form and likes the distance and if the field cuts up a little bit his current odds could well look big. Have a bit on each-way.
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle
FLOORING PORTER is in a race against time to make the race, but of course if he doesn’t you get your money back. So he is a perfect fit in this at the current odds. The defending champion, who comes alive at this track, will be at much shorter odds if he is in the lineup on the day.
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
LUCCIA has looked exceptional in every start so far, and in many ways seems a surprise package. As a bumper horse, she showed spectacular potential, and then at Newbury on her hurdling debut she absolutely bolted up. Clearly has a huge engine.
Friday, March 17
LOSSIEMOUTH was beaten on Saturday at Leopardstown, but everyone knows she was very unlucky. Connections have always held her in high regard and this was the only race she could run in at Cheltenham. I’ll be very surprised if she does not win.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
FAVORI DE CHAMPDOU looks a strong stayer with class. The Grade 2 success last time was impressive and there could be much more to come. If lining up he’ll be in there with a decent chance.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
Previous winner MINELLA INDO is over priced. He beat Stattler last time and that horse is half the odds. The former Gold Cup hero really should have each way claims again and until we know the final line-up I’m happy to chance him at big odds.
Aintree winner LATENIGHTPASS is the selection here for now. He looks over-priced and clearly has plenty of ability. Stamina and jumping ability are not in question.
Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase
ALLEGORIE DE VASSY has been laid out for this and will be hard to beat. Wins at Limerick and Thurles have been easy enough and she looks very good.
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