The Cheltenham Festival is now only a matter of days away rather than weeks and the excitement is building. The Irish had 23 winners at the meeting last year, an absolute green whitewash really. However, will be be plain sailing for the boys in green again this year? Adrian Wall has picked out five British-trained horses who could do the business at Prestbury Park.
This looks like a match between Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson on paper and the man from Seven Barrows might just come out on top. Jonbon is a real talent but Constitution Hill looks like a potential monster in the making. Closely related to a French champion hurdler, he has a very high cruising speed and seems to have stamina in abundance. The perfect horse for a Supreme.
Blue Lord and Riviere D’etel fought out the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown last month. They are two very good horses but they might come up against a better one in Edwardstone. The British need a fast start to the week to have any hope of putting it up to the Irish and they might just get that. Alan King’s charge has won his last four races over fences which include a 16-length rout in a Grade 1 at Sandown. He could be a tough nut to crack.
It looks like both Galopin Des Champs and Bob Olinger will face off in the Turners Novices’ Chase. If that is the case, then this race looks like a penalty kick for the Paul Nicholl’s runner Bravemansgame. Nicholls was laughed at for comparing this horse to Denman but he hasn’t been too far off the mark to be fair. A Grade 1 winner over hurdles, he was always going to be a better chaser and was very impressive when beating Ahoy Señor at Kempton on Boxing Day. He then easily carried a lump of weight to victory at Newbury. He is a classy horse.
It will be a major surprise if Shishkin gets beat in the big race on the Wednesday. Everything went wrong for him from flag pole when he took on Energumene at Ascot. The Irish raider set off at a furious gallop and put his jumping under immense pressure, forcing him into several mistakes. However, even when it looked like he was beat turning for home, he found an extra couple of gears and breezed past Energumene up the hill. This is a monster and the Cheltenham hill will only help him.
If Hillcrest was trained by a Willie Mullins then he would probably be 6-4 for this race in my view. The 9-2 or so still on offer looks huge and Henry Daly has a special boy on his hands. Beaten narrowly on debut in a Doncaster bumper, Hillcrest has won five of his six races since, his only blemish in that time being an unseat at Cheltenham in January. Hillcrest bolted up in a Grade 2 at Haydock last month and he should go off a strong favourite for this.
If you back any of our selections you can watch them live on the free Racing Post app or racingpost.com. Simply log in to one of your bookmaker accounts and click ‘Watch live’ on the racecards.