Thursday 6.30pm You simply have to doff your cap to Messrs Mullins and Walsh. I will have more to say on the subject in my Cheltenham review at the beginning of next week. Fantastic days racing today and another seven spectacles tomorrow.
GOING:- Good, good to soft in places. (GoingStick: 7.3 on Thursday at 09:00) Rails:New Course. Distances as advertised. WEATHER Friday is expected to remain largely dry with bright spells and temperatures of around 9C.
Fridays Lucky 15
Cheltenham 2.10 NORTH HILL HARVEY 8/1 general
Cheltenham 2.50 DEATH DUTY 9/4 general
Cheltenham 3.30 DJAKADAM 3/1 general
Cheltenham 5.30 LE PREZIEN 7/1 BetFred 6/1 general
and hopefully this is why
1.30 Triumph 4yo hurdle 2m Big rating for Defi du Seuil of OR155 which should be more than enough but these are rapidly improving 4yo’s so its DdS in the place pot with two outsiders. The Mullins French bred Dandy Mag who could be special and the ex-flat horse Soldier in Action from the Henderson yard. Both impressed me
2.10 County Handicap Hurdle 2m You could make a case for half the field but I’m going to fire just the three darts! This ground may not be as quick as first thought.
SONG LIGHT – Third in the Greatwood, 4th in the Betfair, with regular jockey Kevin Jones claiming 5lbs he will carry only 9st 12lb. goes on ground, form at Cheltenham this lightly raced 8yo has to be an each way play.
NORTH HILL HARVEY – Groundhog Day with the Skeltons laying this one out since his victory over course and distance in the Greatwood back in November. His last two runs as a novice were 9th in that red hot Supreme and would have been placed but for a mistake two out and then fourth to Buveur D’Air at Aintree both in Grade 1’s. This is no handicapper.
DE NAME ESCAPE ME – I just can’t let him go unbacked. With the talented Jonathon Moore claiming three pounds he runs off just OR131 and he showed enough in the Betfair to tell me this could be the plan. Could easily be the morning market springer!
2.50 Alfred Bartlett Novice Hurdle 2m 5f This is the deepest of the three novice hurdles at this year’s Festival in my opinion. However in Death Duty I think we may have a superstar for the future. He travels, jumps and I’m sure he will be last off the bridle. Trainer Gordon Elliott raves about him and I just have to hope that Bryan Cooper gets this one right. Solid opposition in the likes of Wholestone, whose form is rock solid, the mare Augusta Kate with the allowance for Mullins/Walsh who has a score to settle with the selection and three really promising improvers Monalee, Constantine Day and one I will have a very close eye on, The Worlds End for the McNeill family.
3.30 Gold Cup 3m 2f I will keep this simple as you will be able to read millions of words about the Gold Cup elsewhere. In the last two runnings of the Gold Cup Djakadam has finished second both times to Coneygree and Don Cossack neither of whom neither turn up in 2017. It’s his turn and Willie Mullins finally gets his Gold Cup. The vibes from Closutton have been more positive than all the others.
4.10 Foxhunters Chase 3m 2f This isn’t my cup of tea but a 12yo at 6/4? Wonderful Charms a class act. Tiffin time!
4.50 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f Great race and I’m running out of time again. Three against the field.
Runfordave replacing The Storyteller for the same owners with Donagh Myler in the saddle and two of Nicky Hendersons. Thomas Campbell who has run in the right races, ground and trip should suit and Rather Be who could be graded class in time and Charlie Deutsch does the steering.
5.30 Grand Annual Handicap Chase 2m JP loves this race and he and Paul Nicholls can have the final say at Cheltenham 2017 with Le Prezien. An improving novice with Graded form.
2.10 Song Light One star* e/w 25/1 WH + BetFred
2.10 North Hill Harvey Two Stars ** win 8/1 general
2.10 De Name Escapes Me One star* e/w 25/1 general
2.50 Death Duty Four Stars**** win NB of the meeting 9/4 general
3.30 Djakadam Two Stars** win 3/1 general BetFred push?
4.50 Runfordave One star* win 9/1 general
4.50 Thomas Campbell One star* win 18/1 PP + Coral
4.50 Rather Be Two stars** e/w 14/1 Betfred + WH
5.30 Le Prezien Three Stars*** win 7/1 BetFred 6/1 general
Total 21 stars
1.30 Credit where credit is due. Yorkhill was flawless in his jumping, athletic and seems destined for next seasons Gold Cup. I would have loved Disko to have kicked on when Balko des Flos fell to get Yorkhill racing a bit earlier but I don’t think it would have changed the result.
2.10 Thought Jury Duty looked all over the winner until the mercurial Russell arrived swinging. Phil Smith the handicapper was wrong to give him an extra 6lbs when he did, although just like Mega Fortune, Smith may well have been proved right in the end. At the Punchestown Festival he could well be a player in the G1 3m.
2.50 Breathtaking from Un de Sceaux. No longer the soft ground tearaway he used to be.
3.30 No excuses. Nichols Canyon oozed class, seven G1 wins, and Lil Rockefeller is just all tenacity. It will be interesting to see how the professionals rate the race. Time compared to 2.10?
4.10 How frustrating is that? Baron Alco second and Bouvreuil third and who did me? Bryan Cooper. That’s Racing!
4.50 Let’s Dance was better than these and with the extra half mile next March will have to be a player in the Mares hurdle on the Tuesday.
5.30 Another great race with a 40/1 winner and half way up the run in I thought Potters Legend was going to do the business but just didn’t get home but hung on for an honourable 4th.
Thursdays Lucky 15
Close but no cigar with every one of them giving us a run for our money! We’ll be back tomorrow.
Cheltenham 1.30 DISKO 3rd 4/1
Cheltenham 4.10 EMPIRE OF DIRT 4th 11/4
Cheltenham 4.50 UNOWHATIMEANHARRY 3rd 5/6F
Cheltenham 5.30 POTTERS LEGEND 4th 10/1
1.30 Disko Three star*** win 3rd 4/1 (6/1 PP 11/2 general)
Solid run but two questions for Brian Cooper? Why did he allow the other Gigginstown horse to take his position, leading on the rail? Why not quicken on when Balko des Flos fell? Might have got Yorkhill “racing” a lot earlier?
2.10 Presenting Percy One star* win 1st 11/1 (10/1 general)
Simply a masterclass from Mr Russell on a horse who looks to have Grade 1 talent at 3m over hurdles. Punchestown?
2.10 Rocklander Two Stars ** e/w 15th 12/1 (18/1 PP 16/1 BF 14/1 general)
Well supported and tried to follow Jury Duty through but wasn’t good enough and in the end didn’t stay.
2.50 Empire of Dirt Two Star** win 4th 11/4 (3/1 PP 11/4 general)
Again a small word in Mr Coopers ear please? Never got him travelling, never put him in any position but last.
3.30 Unowhatimeanharry Five Star***** win Nap of the meeting 3rd 5/6F (11/8 general)
No excuses. After Neon Wolf Harry Fry now knows how hard it is to win at Cheltenham!
4.10 Bouvreuil One star* win 3rd 10/1 (14/1 PP 12/1 general)
Great run but just came from a bit too far back.
4.10 Village Vic One star* win 11th 16/1 (16/1 general)
Not for the first time this season clouted the fence in front of the stands. Worked his way back into it turning for home but weight told and he coasted in.
4.10 Baron Alco One star* win 2nd 10/1 (14/1 Betfred 12/1 general)
In the van throughout and just beaten on the day by one horse.
4.50 La Bague au Roi Three star*** win 7th 10/1 (10/1 general)
Really disappointed. Everything looked fine but she got the second last wrong and just when I wanted her to run away from them she was swamped. Softer ground? Further?
5.30 Potters Legend Two Stars** each way 4th 10/1 (14/1 general)
Ridden to get the trip, coming from way back during the second circuit and a hundred yards from the line I thought we were going to fall in but just didn’t quite get home. Great run.
Total 25 stars Return 21 stars Overall three days Stake 50 stars Return 85.5 stars