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Racing Post David Carr 12:14PM, MAR 11 2017 Finian’s Oscar has become the latest high-profile casualty for next week’s Cheltenham Festival, and is another big absentee from Colin Tizzard’s team for the meeting. However, the Ann and Alan Potts-owned hurdler will not be at Cheltenham, though it is hoped he will run at Aintree next month. Colin Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said on Saturday: “Unfortunately Finian’s Oscar will miss Cheltenham due to a minor setback. It’s only a minor issue and all being well he will run at Aintree.”
With just three days to go to this seasons Cheltenham Festival the excitement is cranked up a level but are you ready? How does the Ante Post portfolio look? Do you have one? This time of the year always reminds me of blokes Christmas shopping. Not a clue and panic is starting to set in! Well for what it’s worth this blog is all about Cheltenham 2017 and how I see it right now. Hopefully give you some food for thought.
1.30 Supreme Nov Hurd Positives (+) Ballyandy, Moon Racer, River Wylde. Negatives (-) Melon
2.10 Arkle Nov Ch Forest Bihan e/w in the without Altior market.
2.50 Ultima Hcp Ch Positives (+) Noble Endeavour, Holywell, The Druids Nephew (Lucky 15)
3.30 Champion Hurd Positives (+) Brain Power, Buveur D’Air (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Yanworth, Vroum Vroum Mag
4.10 Mares Hurd No firm opinion.
4.50 4m NH Ch Positives (+) Beware the Bear (Lucky 15), Haymount
5.30 Close Bros Nov Hcp Ch Positives (+) Value at Risk (Lucky 15), It’s a Freebie
1.30 Neptune Nov Hurd No firm opinion. Negatives (-) Finians Oscar
2.10 RSA Nov Ch No firm opinion.
2.50 Coral Cup Hcp Hurd Positives (+) Peregrine Run, Runfordave, Supasundae (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Modus
3.30 Champion Ch No firm opinion.
4.10 Cross Country Positives (+) Cause of Causes (Lucky 15)
4.50 Fred Winter 4yo Hcp Hurd Positives (+) Prospectus (Lucky 15), Dreamcatching, Fidux
5.30 Champion Bumper Positives (+) Someday (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Carter Mackay
1.30 JLT Nov Ch Positives (+) Top Notch, Disko (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Yorkhill
2.10 Pertemps Hcp Hurd Positives (+) Presenting Percy, Rocklander (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) ToBeFair
2.50 RyanAir Chase Positives (+) Empire of Dirt
3.30 Stayers Hurd Positives (+) Unowhatimeanharry (lumpy single)
4.10 Brown Plate Hcp Ch No firm opinion. Positives (+) Bouvreuil (Lucky 15)
4.50 Mares Nov. Hurd Positives (+) La Bague Au Roi (Lucky 15)
5.30 Kim Muir Hcp Ch Positives (+) Potters Legend (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Carter Mackay
1.30 Triumph 4yo Hurd No firm opinion.
2.10 County Hurdle No firm opinion.
2.50 Alf Bart Nov Hurd Positives (+) Death Duty (lumpy single) The Worlds End (sneaky e/w)
3.30 Gold Cup Positives (+) Djakadam (Lucky 15) Negatives (-) Cue Card
4.10 Foxhunters No firm opinion.
4.50 Martin Pipe Hcp. Hurd Positives (+) Thomas Campbell, The Storyteller (Lucky 15)
5.30 Grand Annual Hcp Hurd No firm opinion
There are blogs on simplesimonsays49.wordpress.com covering the Supreme Novice hurdle (Tuesday 1.30pm), the Champion Hurdle (Tuesday 4.10) and the JLT (Thursday 1.30pm).
Cheltenham News starts right here!
GRAHAM WYLIE ON HIS CHELTENHAM RUNNERS:
AUGUSTA KATE “She goes in the Albert Bartlett and we think she’s all about stamina. Ruby is convinced she would have beaten Death Duty on that last day, so we’re happy to re-oppose. Her schooling has been great and she’s been jumping fine – I think she’s got a really big run in her because she just keeps trying.”
BATTLEFORD “He was runner-up in both Festival bumpers last year, but to be honest, he’s disappointed a bit this season. His form hasn’t been great and he hasn’t really sparkled yet, but as a result of that, he’s on a good mark. He’s in the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett, but if he gets in, he’ll probably run in the Martin Pipe. He could be really interesting in that race.”
BELLSHILL “He’s in the RSA. He was a very good jumper first and second time out, but things didn’t really go to script in the next race. He clouted the first, and was beaten by the time he was trying to get back into the race. We’ve run him in the wrong races at the last two Festivals, but this is the right race for him this time. He’s a three-mile horse and things should be in his favour for once.”
CRACK MOME “He’ll run in the Supreme. He’s been first and second this year, and it would have been two firsts if he hadn’t bunny-hopped the last. I think he prefers good ground, and I think he’ll like the strongly-run nature of the Supreme. It looks a really hot race this year with some really good horses in it, but I wouldn’t put anyone off an each-way interest in him.”
INVITATION ONLY “A week ago, he was off the team. He was third to Death Duty and Monalee, and Ruby just said he didn’t sparkle. He didn’t feel like the same horse he was last season, but in his last two or three training runs, the sparkle has returned. We still don’t know what to do, but if he turns up at Cheltenham, it’s because he’s ready to run. If he runs anywhere, it’ll probably be in the Neptune.”
IVAN GROZNY “He’s going to carry top weight in the County Hurdle, and that’s a big ask. He’s very high in the handicap because he’s won two graded races, but is just not quite at the level where you’d look to run him in a championship race. He’s been the victim of his own success really, but he has to run somewhere and if he has to carry top weight, so be it.”
NICHOLS CANYON “He was being campaigned as a two miler, but he wasn’t really able to land a blow on Petit Mouchoir, and that made us have a bit of a rethink. He’s in the Stayers Hurdle. At the start of the season, we wouldn’t have expected him to be there, but I can’t see stamina being a problem. He’s got seven Grade One victories and I think that sometimes gets ignored. He could give Uknowwhatimeanharry something to think about.”
SHANESHILL “He goes in the Stayers Hurdle too. He’s been second in a bumper, second in a Supreme and second in an RSA so we know he loves Cheltenham to bits. I keep telling people that he’s been second three times now, and he’s probably going to finish second again. Hopefully, that’s not the case. Of all my horses, he’s the one that deserves a moment in the limelight.”
SURE REEF “He’s 50-50. We thought a lot of him, but then he got injured. To be totally honest, he’s not been showing quite what he was before he got injured, but he could be waiting for the better ground and that could make a difference. He’s in the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe. If he runs, it’ll be because he’s ready.”
YORKHILL “He has to be my best chance of a winner. If you watched him in his schooling session last week, he was a bit novicey at the first two jumps, and then he stood off the next one a mile. That seemed to frighten him, and he was effortless after that. Ruby was saying he was hurting his hands he was pulling so much – he couldn’t hold him back. I think if he jumps, he wins. His Neptune form from last year looks rock solid and I can’t wait to see him run.”
Stable Talk with Neil Mulholland The Cheltenham Festival is just a few days away, and as you would expect the whole yard is looking forward to it. It is always an exciting build-up, and that is certainly the case this year with our team in great form at home. All the trainers will be keeping their fingers crossed for a winner next week, and we are of course no different. We were lucky enough to pick up a Festival winner two years ago, with The Druids Nephew, and it would be lovely to think we can add to that tally. We have been having a brilliant season so far, and we will go to Cheltenham with our strongest team yet. We have several promising contenders in the handicap races, and we are hopeful that we will see a number of them perform very well…
Baltimore Rock Baltimore Rock has disappointed over fences this season so we are sending him back over hurdles for the County Hurdle. He has been looking good at home so hopefully we can see him return to form over the smaller obstacles.
Hygrove Percy Holds an entry for the Fred Winter but goes to Sandown this weekend, and we will see how he performs there before making a final decision on his participation.
Impulsive Star Three wins from four this season, and the form of his only defeat at Cheltenham has worked out well. He has improved with every run, and we are very happy with him ahead of the Pertemps Final.
Indian Stream Indian Stream has been off since October but she is in great order at the minute, and goes to the Mares’ Hurdle on day one. It will obviously be a tough race but this has been the plan for a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she nicked some place money.
Kalondra The Coral Cup looks as competitive as ever but Kalondra has been excellent this season, and should have some sort of chance. He has gone up 11lbs for his last win which is a big ask, but good ground will help him and Noel will take the ride.
Pass The Time Pass The Time has finished 6th and 4th in the Mares’ Hurdle in the last couple of years, and she is likely to be going back for a 3rd attempt. Her performances at Cheltenham are always strong, and her form at the Festival has been rock solid.
Peter The Mayo Man If he goes to Cheltenham he will go for the Martin Pipe on the final day. He stays galloping in his races so we are expecting the step up in trip to suit, and there is no reason why he can’t put in a strong display.
Pilgrims Bay Provided he gets in, Pilgrims Bay will go to the Ultima Handicap Chase on day one. The way the race is likely to be played out should suit him well with a guaranteed big field, and he will be ridden in the same fashion he was last time, with James Best back on-board.
Pinkie Brown Pinkie Brown is another one in top order and he goes to the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase. It looks like an ultra competitive race but we are hopeful that he is continuing to improve, and his jumping has been impressive at home.
Shantou Village Unfortunately, Shantou Village is one that won’t be going to the Festival. He is just a couple of weeks behind which means we will aim him at races later in the spring.
Sleep Easy Impressive winner last time out and he looks set to go to the Martin Pipe race on the final day, along with Peter The Mayo Man. He has been in good form since that recent success so hopefully he makes the cut.
Southfield Royale We are very pleased with Southfield Royale, and we are keeping our fingers crossed he has a good chance in the Kim Muir. Preparations have been going well since his comeback run, and it looks as though James King will take the ride. Along with The Druids Nephew, our best chance of the week.
Solomn Grundy Won his Pertemps qualifier at Newbury in November and the Final has been the aim ever since. He has been schooling well ahead of this which is pleasing, and he goes into the race fresh and well.
The Druids Nephew The Druids Nephew goes to the Ultima on day one and it is all systems go. He won this race off the same mark (146) two years ago so we are hopeful of another big run, with Noel booked for the ride.
The Young Master The Grand National remains the main aim for The Young Master but he finished 3rd in the Ultima Handicap last season, and there is no reason why he can’t run well in the same race once again.
FESTIVAL GOING Good to soft (GoingStick: 6.7 on Tuesday at 13:00) Last updated @Fri 10 Mar 3:23pm
RP Lee Mottershead 5:13PM, MAR 10 2017 Cheltenham’s weather forecaster John Kettley believes Simon Claisse may have to water over the coming days but the man himself insists it is too soon to be making irrigation predictions. Former BBC regular Kettley is employed by Jockey Club Racecourses, whose flagship jumps venue remained good to soft on Friday on the Old and New Courses with the cross-country track additionally having some good places. Kettley said: “There should be a little rain on Sunday but not much. Realistically, we should now only have small amounts of rain prior to the meeting. I would have thought for that reason Simon must be thinking of having to turn on the taps. There is a batch of rain coming in on Thursday night into Friday. I’ve told Simon at this stage we could be looking at 5mm to 6mm, so that would be ground-changing, especially if they have watered. Friday looks like being the wettest day of the week.” Asked about watering, Claisse said it is “too far out to be making any predictions”, adding: “Nothing has changed today. We’ve had a dry, overcast day, one that was cooler than Thursday, and the going description remains the same.”
Claisse revealed Jonjo O’Neill was out on the track on Friday and supported the good to soft description.