Frank Hickey’s Cheltenham NRMB Picks:
Galopin Des Champs
Brown Advisory Plate:
The Dublin Racing Festival was a huge success with bumper crowds and excellent racing. That said, many of the results threw up more questions than answers but it does result in the prospect of even more competitive betting heats at the Cheltenham Festival 2023 for which Paddy is now non-runner money back on ALL markets.
The race the opens the Festival was blown wide open after Facile Vega’s lifeless run last Sunday.
We pushed Facile Vega out to 5/1 after the race, but punters are more forgiving than me and have backed him right back in. I couldn’t have him on my mind after that performance and it will be fascinating to see how the market reacts to his chances closer to the day.
Il Etait Temps was an impressive winner but with Facile Vega and Irish Point running way below form and High Definition unseating his jockey, just what Il Etait Temps achieved could easily be questioned.
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The Irish Arkle was billed as the race of the weekend and it duly delivered.
It was an outstanding performance from El Fabiolo. He made a mistake four out but jumped much better in the main, while always travelling well within himself. What he did from the back of the last was extremely impressive and you could easily argue that he should be favourite for the Arkle ahead of Jonbon who runs on Saturday at Warwick.
Dysart Dynamo is one not to give up on, as he set a strong pace and the shorter trip of the Cheltenham Arkle around a more turning track will suit him. He could be very important to how the race at Cheltenham is run.
There were no excuses for Appreciate It, who appeared to have everything set up perfectly for him but his finishing effort was disappointing. Banbridge was a huge eyecatcher running on strongly to finish second and now looks a huge player in the Turners Novices Chase provided the ground is on the decent side. He’s behind Mighty Potter in the market who was extremely impressive in winning the Novice Chase over 2m 5f last Sunday.
He has done nothing wrong over fences but there remains a small question mark about whether the track at Cheltenham truly suits. I’d be willing to risk that him being pulled up in last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle was just an off day, rather than any disliking for the track.
Galopin Des Champs didn’t impress everyone when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup by eight lengths and initially was pushed out in the market. He soon tightened back up in the interim and looks sure to divide opinion in the run up to the Blue Riband on St Patrick’s Day.
Blue Lord was turned over by Gentleman De Mee in the Dublin Chase to add further uncertainty to the market. Gentleman De Mee was slashed in price from 50/1, while Blue Lord doubled in price. With Edwardstone getting a small scare this week also, the Champion Chase really looks wide open this year. Energumene’s place at the head of the market is a little surprising to be honest after his defeat at Cheltenham.
Over at Sandown, Gerri Colombe doubled his Grade 1 tally when winning the Scilly Isles Chase in determined fashion. It is testament to his ability that he has won both his Grade 1’s this season over two and a half miles, as he will improve greatly for stepping up to three miles.
He looks a big price to me for the Brown Advisory Plate, in a race that lacks depth. I’m not convinced by the claims of Thyme Hill, The Real Whacker or Gaillard Du Mesnil. Outside of those three, perhaps Sir Gerhard could run well.
It’s hard to identify creditable dangers to Gerri Colombe among the entries.
Frank Hickey’s NRMB Cheltenham Picks:
Galopin Des Champs
Brown Advisory Plate:
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