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Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
The Fred Winter Hurdle is a Grade 3 two mile race for juvenile novice hurdlers, with each declared entrant having to face eight obstacles.
Our 2017 Fred Winter pick is Paul Nicholl’s Dreamcatching, who bids to give the trainer a third straight win the race and a fourth in total. Bought from France after showing potential, he ran in a Class 2 event at Kempton in December on his British debut. Although only sixth that day, that race turned out to be very hot with the winner being Charlie Parcs and the second the subsequent Adonis winner Master Blueyes.
On his second British start he was a clear cut winner by seven lengths at Wincanton in February, but that certainly doesn’t tell the full story. He travelled brilliantly under today’s rider Stan Sheppard, travelling brilliantly and picked up strongly when asked to win going away. With scope for further progress, who knows how good he could be, but that run added to his pedigree suggests he could well be smart.
Stan Sheppard takes off a useful 5lb and he looks likely to give Paul Nicholls a record fourth win in the race, and a third consecutive victory.
The Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle has been poached the last twice by Paul Nicholls with two useful types. Horses will need a mix of stamina and speed to be successful in the race, our preview can be found below.
Although inconspicuous on British debut for Paul Nicholls when a well beaten sixth at Kempton (though that race turned out to be red hot), Dreamcatching proved himself to be a useful commodity when winning at Wincanton on his second start for Nicholls. Travelling well for most of the contest, he was shaken up at three out to seal the deal and went clear in the style of a very useful horse. He stayed on very strongly and gave a very clear indication that he would be suited by the slight step up in trip. He has huge scope for progress in this sphere and with conditions to suit, he looks likely to give Paul Nicholls a third straight winner in the race and a record fourth in total.
Improving race by race, Divin Bere showed a great attitude to force himself in front at Huntingdon on his latest start. A race that Nicky Henderson won at big odds with Une Artiste in 2012 at 14/1, this four-year-old by Della Francesca was useful in France before showing that same promise in his British debut in that Huntingdon race, refusing to lay down despite the heavy pressure by another handy rival. He is likely to improve on that effort as it was his seasonal reappearance and Henderson tends to do very well with these types. He therefore demands a huge amount of respect and has to be considered a main contender.
After showing little in three hurdling starts to date, Long Call made very short work of his opposition at Hereford in January and announced himself as a contender. It seemed as though this improvement came from nowhere, but Davy Russell gave good reasoning as to why it did: “He was entitled to go well on his form in Ireland and jumped much better today. His jumping was the key, while the slightly better ground, compared to Ireland at least, has suited him“. He has now got scope for further improvement as long as he is kept on better ground and, considering how shrewd Tony Martin is, he will certainly be in top condition when it matters come March.
John Quinn’s Project Bluebook is another who remains with scope for progress in this sphere, far from disgraced when third behind Forth Bridge at Musselburgh in February. Twice a winner over hurdles thus far in four runs, perhaps his most taking victory was two starts ago at Musselburgh, where he travelled brilliantly throughout and showed a devastating turn of foot to power clear after being briefly shaken up to seal it. A consistent sort who seems to be improving race by race, he looks likely to play a leading role for JP McManus and although he is capable on all types of ground, better ground would probably show his best.
Nicky Hendesron isn’t short of fire power in this race and another of his string who looks likely to play a leading role is Domperignon Du Lys. The Simon Munir & Isaac Souede owned four year old made a very promising start to life over hurdles when powering clear of Neitzsche on British debut in November. Let down by his jumping in the Triumph Hurdle trial behind Defi Du Seuil at Cheltenham in December, he proved it was only a minor blip when comfortably dispatching his rivals at Market Rasen in February, though again, he did make a few jumping errors. His jumping does have to be of some concern as he’ll be fighting some very slick jumpers, but you can be sure that Henderson has been schooling him well in the lead up to the Festival and he’ll be in peak condition come March 15th. Softer ground will see him in his best light and he’s another who needs to be respected as Henderson bids for his second Fred Winter winner.
Along with our Fred Winter Hurdle preview and tip, we have all our other Cheltenham Festival tips and previews online to view now!
Nina Carberry picked up the first ever Fred Winter Hurdle on Dabiroun back in 2005 prior to her brother Paul’s triumph in the race aboard Crack Away Jack three years later. Perhaps the award for the best ever performance goes to Sanctuaire for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh. The horse justified favouritism in emphatic style when sticking nine lengths between himself and Lotus De La Tour in 2010.