HERMES ALLEN has looked fantastic in all his wins so far, including over track and trip in November. I know Challow Hurdle winners have a poor record, but usually they are long odds on favourites having not beaten a strong field at Newbury. That couldn’t be further from the case for this horse. Subsequent form has proved he beat a strong field, and he did it on the bridle. We don’t know how good he could be.
I hear all the vibes about Impaire Et Passe and Good Land, but I’ll stick with Paul Nicholls to win this finally. He saw Denman beaten in this, while Stage Star and Bravemansgame have recently failed to achieve the double. I think HERMES ALLEN puts the record straight.
I’m not sure THE REAL WHACKER has been given the credit he deserves for his two Cheltenham Novice Case wins, including the dipper here on New Year’s Day. he is a relentless galloper, the type who excels in this race and did have the option of running on the Gold Cup until Mondays declaration for this assignment. Galloping and jumping is the name of the game for this race and although there are sexier names, he may offer a bit of value round 6/1.
Gerri Colombe stayed on strongly to win a G1 at Sandown and is a worthy favourite, whereas it’s a big ask of Sir Gerhard on just his second chase start despite his impeccable festival record.
The cavalry charge of the Coral Cup is Punters Puzzle that always attracts me to decipher.
This year, I like the claims of HMS SEAHORSE for Paul Nolan, who has had this as his target since a fourth placed finish in the Fred Winter last year. He followed that up with a distant third to Vauban at Punchestown before filling the same place at the Galway Festival. He was very impressive in winning his only hurdles start since, at Navan in February when weak in the market and I think this former Aidan O’Brien runner, who has only once finished outside the first five in fourteen races can make his presence felt.
Arkle winners running in the following years Champion Chase have an excellent record and that can be extended courtesy of Alan Kings EDWARDSTONE. He was superb in the Tingle Creek in December and although he had an uncustomary blip at Kempton over Christmas, he was one the worse for that when looking likely to win the revised Clarence House at Cheltenham on Trials’ Day. it was a surprise he was outbattled there by Editeur Du Gite, with Energumene back in third, but he returned from that effort slightly lame so has a valid excuse. A fit and firing EDWARDSTONE could be too hot to handle here.
The front three in the market have over a stone in hand on their rivals on official figures and I expect them to fight out the finish.
All the money in recent days had been for Galvin, but that dried up once the heavens opened and while Franco De Port has claims, I think DELTA WORK can retain his title.
The rain aided him to break the hearts of Tiger Roll fans last year and it looks like it has come in time this year to. He and Galvin are proven Grade 1 performers in a field of largely handicappers and last chance salooners and they should fight out the finish, much tot eh joy of Gordon Elliott.
Who doesn’t like The Shawshank Redemption? Well clearly Mrs Gillian Browne, the breeder of ANDY DUFRESNE was a big fan and he can go one better than last year in the Grand Annual. He cruised into contention last year but just couldn’t reel in the front running Global Citizen, who he meets on 3lb better terms. He ran a good third to Captain Guinness earlier I the season but you can ignore his recent pair of runs, which would have been aiming at getting him spot on for today. He has top weight to carry, but conditions will suit and he has the class to give the weight away.
It's not for the faint hearted this race, twenty runners hurtling around the faster Old Course, but you also need to stay well, especially in the ground this year.
Willie Mullins saddles 10 of the 24 runners in a bid for his THIRTEENTH win in this race since 1996. He could have a competitive Champion Bumper all of his own.
A Dream To Share was purchased by JP McManus after his win in the Dublin Racing festival while there has been lots of support for his victim there, Fact To File in the same ownership. Encanto Bruno won well here in October, and we’ve not seen him since, although the ground is a question mark next to his name.
The British party look up against it, but I would love to see QUEENS GAMBLE run a fantastic race for Oliver Sherwood on his battle back to full health. It’s a fantastic story and I hope it has ended just yet with this mare. It wouldn’t be a strong selection in a wide-open bumper.
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