NAP – IMPERVIOUS
NB – BLOOD DESTINY
EACH WAY – PETIT TONNERRE
1.30 – BLOOD DESTINY
It is 33/1 and bigger bar four Willie Mullins runners in the Triumph and its pretty clear these will dominate after watching the Irish juveniles fill six of the first seven places in the Boodles in Tuesday.
Zenta is an interesting entry thrown in here after a sole start for the team while plenty has been written about Lossiemouth after her unlucky defeat in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle behind Gala Marceau. The three fillies will have supporters, but it is the gelding BLOOD DESTINY who like despite being overlooked by Paul Townend.
He has slammed the opposition in two races to date in Ireland, with winners coming from both including Dovecote winner Nusret who was beaten 18 lengths at Fairyhouse and he can give weight to the fillies under Patrick Mullins.
2.10 – PETIT TONNERRE & WONDERWALL
The County Hurdle is always a tricky putters puzzle to decipher but I think it could be right up the street for the strong travelling PETIT TONERRE. He travelled into the race best at Ascot last time but didn’t quite go through with his finishing effort, a similar scenario to Aintree on his seasonal return. You can put a line through his Kempton run when hampered early and then a bad mistake put paid to his chance. A fast run two mile looks set to suit him perfectly and granted a bit of luck that you need in this race, he can have a hand in the finish at a decent price.
I will also be backing the lightly raced WONDERWALL. He had some excellent novice form and was being aimed at the festival last year until taking a fall in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon. He didn’t particularly take to chasing in his only appearance this season and looks to have a very decent mark to which he can be competitive.
2.50 – SHANBALLY KID & DAWN RISING
There have been some shocks in the Albert Bartlett and no winning favourite since At Fisher’s Cross in 2013, so I will chance a couple of each way hopes at prices in a wide open twenty runner field.
First up is Willie Mullins’ SHANBALLY KID. He has won three of the last six renewals, twice with double figure prices and this lad looks all about stamina. Like most of the winners of this race, he is an embryonic chaser with his best days ahead of him but I think he’ll put up a decent showing here.
DAWN RISING also makes the staking plan. He immediately entered my thoughts for this race when a staying on third in the Lawlor of Naas Hurdle behind Ballymore third Champ Kiely. He looked laden with stamina in that contest suggesting three miles is what he needs already. He is a brother to Irish Derby winner Sovereign so has a high class pedigree and was second in a Bahrain Trophy on the flat, a similar profile to Penhill who won this race in 2017 before becoming a star stayer.
3.30 – A PLUS TARD
What a fascinating Cheltenham Gold Cup we have in 2023. All the talk this year has been about Galopin Des Champs, who would be an unbeaten chaser if not for a heart-breaking final fence fall here twelve months ago when well clear. He has won his two starts this year, the John Durkan and Irish Gold Cup in good fashion, but this is the acid test. Three and a quarter miles and a non-stop end to end gallop will test his stamina and resolve to the max, and prices of around 2/1 don’t get the juices flowing, especially with so much class in opposition.
Similar stamina sentiments apply to the likes of Conflated and Bravemansgame, who is the shortest priced runner from the home team, but I would fancy Protektorat to bounce back to his Betfair Chase winning form and maybe be best of the British. Despite having to turn the Cotswold Chase form around with Ahoy Senor, Sounds Russian and Noble Yeats, Dan Skelton was adamant he would be a better fitter horse this week and he has shown the magic touch with Langer Dan already at this years Festival. Stattler, Noble Yeats and Ahoy Senor won’t fail for a lack of stamina and they’ll be galloping on upto the line but the saying ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ may apply here to A PLUS TARD.
He has hardly been on my mind for the race until the last few days, but with the upturn in form of the Henry De Bromhead team here this week and on official figures, he has 7lb and upwards in hand on the field. He was a SEVENTEEN LENGTH winner last year over Minella Indo and Protektorat and despite this looking a stronger renewal, that is still a fair margin the others must bridge. This year has clearly been a write off after Haydock in October, but the signs are he is coming back to life, Festival figures of 1321 must be respected too in light of what we have see this week with returning heroes backing up Festival success and he looks sure to be involved at the business end.
Last year, A Plus Tard absolutely smashed them under Rachael Blackmore! 🤯🔴⚪️🔵
Galopin Des Champs is the clear market favourite to win the big one this year, can he do it? 👀🟡🟤
4.10 – VAUCELET
I don’t claim to be an expert on the Hunter Chase scene, although most at the head of affairs are from the stables of licensed trainers.
I was at Haydock when Famous Clermont won the Walrus’ although connections wee leaning towards Aintree at that time, so this seemingly hasn’t always been the plan.
Billaway is a horse that needs a lot of stoking as we saw last year when he broke the heart of Winged Leader and trainer David Christie (and the bookies) when leading late on. An interesting point was made about the new whip rules and how that could be a big negative for Patrick Mullins on board the reigning champion.
Jamie Codd has rerouted late on to ride The Storyteller having originally been pencilled in for Bob And Co while Chris’s Dream and Secret Investor were previously very useful under rules.
David Christie though rules the Hunter Chase scene in Ireland at present and deserves compensation for Winged Leader’s near miss in 2022. He has some talented young Hunters in his yard and has left maybe the best of them at home in Fern’s Lock while Winged Leader was also left out at deceleration time. He instead relies on the 8yo VAUCELET under Barry O’Neill. He has won six of his eight rules starts, including at Down Royal on Boxing Day and can turn Punchestown form around with Billaway from last season. He won the Champion Hunters’ Chase at Stratford in the summer, and he can take this big prize back to Ireland too.
4.50 – IMPERVIOUS
The Mares Chase has been on the radar for Colm Murphy’s IMPERVIOUS all season and was purchased by the legendary JP McManus earlier in the campaign. She has won all three chases to date, beating Grand Annual runner-up Dinoblue two runs back and subsequent Grade 3 winner Journey With Me on her latest start. The form is looking strong and she can get the better of the well supported Allegorie De Vassywho had a couple of hairy leaps and went notably right handed at Thurles last time.
5.30 – MIGHT I & IROKO
No end of untapped potential in the Martin Pipe for Conditional jockeys, won in the past by the likes of Don Poli, Galopin Des Champs and last year Banbridge.
The Festival could easily end how it started, with a Michael O’Sullivan success, this time on Spanish Harlem, one of many whose mark could be quite lenient at present. Other Irish horses who that applies to include the likes of Cool Survivor, Imagine, Firm Footings and Haxo for a nation that has won seven of the last nine renewals.
However, a couple of British representatives I hope can trouble the judge are MIGHT I & IROKO.
MIGHT I was banging heads with the likes of Jonbon last year and although he isnt as unexposed as many, he is certainly talented and travelled strongly through a race here on Trials’ Day, just failing to reel in the winner, pulling well clear of the third.
He deserves a decent prize, while IROKO is at the other end of the scale. His first two runs on these shores were in graded company, but he has won his last two starts in handicap company. A 10lb rise for an easy won at Wetherby does ask more but I doubt we have reached the top of this 5yo’s potential just yet.
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