The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the National Hunt season. Known as ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’, it’s something fans look forward to all year round. The excitement for the next showpiece begins on the Saturday after the Gold Cup and never seems to dwindle. In this series we’ll be looking at the latest action to see what pointers there were as we look towards the next edition of the famous festival.
It was a spectacular start to the week here at myracing.com with 57/1 and 14/1 Accumulator tips landing on Monday. That followed on from an exciting weekend where it was the start of the jumps season proper in the South West last weekend with Chepstow holding their season opener. With future Grade 1 winners such as Finian’s Oscar, Sam Spinner and Poetic Rhythm all competing at the fixture last season, we’ve kept a very close eye over the weekend to analyse who the future stars could be.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has had somewhat of a plethora of superstars throughout his illustrious career and Altior has been the epitome of that over the past few seasons, remaining unbeaten over obstacles. He began his hurdling career at Chepstow on the 10th of October 2015, scoring by a whopping 34 lengths in a facile victory. In the very same colours worn by the same jockey, on Saturday, Pym emerged victorious in the equivalent contest. However, the winning margin was only 2 lengths and he was made to work far harder for it than his stablemate 3 years earlier. Nico de Boinville set out with the intention of making all, which he duly did, but it wasn’t without a fright. He travelled into the race like the best horse and to be honest, he was. The Alan King-trained Deyrann De Carjac gave him something to think about as he laid down his challenge at the penultimate flight, but after an assured leap at the last, Pym found plenty to repel his rival. It was a promising start to the son of Stowaway’s hurdling career and he looks to have a bright future. He will have to back that up on his next start though if he’s to hope of following in the hoofprints of the magnificent Altior. But with more improvement bound to be forthcoming, he looks a viable Supreme Novices’ contender at this stage.
Since the esteemed achievements of the likes of Kauto Star, Big Buck’s and Master Minded (to name a few) Paul Nicholls has arguably lacked a stable star in recent seasons. But things are looking up for the master of Ditcheat after Politologue ended last season on a high by winning the Melling Chase at Aintree. He walked away from Chepstow with 4 winners, all exciting in their own way. After both showing plenty of promise last season, Posh Trish and Grand Sancy both won over hurdles on Saturday, with the latter particularly impressive with the way he picked up against a couple of very useful rivals. On the same day, the much talked about Master Tommytucker was jumping very accurately before coming down at the 13th fence when still travelling strongly. On that evidence he is a very talented horse and he could be a major cog in the Nicholls machine this campaign. Secret Investor continued his improvement by winning the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle on Sunday and looks to have a promising future over staying trips. Lastly, the 10-time champion trainer sent out McFabulous to win the closing bumper. After getting briefly outpaced, the turbo kicked in inside the final furlong and he galloped out an impressive winner. What’s arguably more eye-catching than that run though is his breeding, a Milan half-brother to last seasons Ascot Chase winner Waiting Patiently. There is a lot to like about McFabulous and he’s definitely one to watch in the coming months.
Graded action in Ireland on Wednesday with the Irish Daily Star Chase, won by Road To Respect last year and Don Cossack in 2015 on his way to Gold Cup glory. You can get all our Punchestown tips on site. On Saturday we have the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las where The New One made a winning return last year and could well line up again carrying top weight. Kempton has a couple of Listed Hurdles on Sunday with possibly the most interesting contender being If The Cap Fits. He was near the top of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market last season before suffering with a setback and he could potentially shape up into a Champion Hurdle contender.