A cracking weekend in which we saw a changing of the guard as Cyrname and Lostintranslation beat Altior and Bristol De Mai respectively.
Both look set to meet in the King George on Boxing Day, with Colin Tizzard’s sights set on the Triple Crown Bonus which includes the Gold Cup. It’s Cheltenham Festival towards which we look today with a review of the past week’s action.
The racing this weekend should prove just as informative with the Ladbrokes Trophy Weekend at Newbury, along with the Fighting Fifth from Newcastle and action from Fairyhouse on Sunday. Be sure to make use of all our tips and analysis as we build towards another racing feast.
The leading novice chaser in the 2017-18 fell a long way from grace last season, beaten in all three starts as favourite. He looked back to his best at Thurles on his first run for eight months on Thursday.
He cruised through to beat Mala Beach over two-miles-six, the further trip he’s won over to date. Willie Mullins’ gelding finished down the field at the Festival last year, but looks in better nick this time around and could well be a lot shorter than the current price if making it to the Ryanair (12/1). Now that he’s won over further, connections could be tempted to go for the Gold Cup (33/1).
Nicky Henderson’s grey ran out an impressive winner over two-miles-three at Ascot on Friday on his chase debut. He overcame the 140 rated First Flow who had the benefit of experience over fences, with stablemate Birchdale thirty-two lengths back in third.
He created a huge impression on stable debut last December when winning a novice Grade Two over timber. Sent off just 6/1 for the Supreme, he could only finish seventh. He shaped more positively when third at Aintree despite running too freely, third over two-miles-four.
Judged on his recent chase debut and his sole point run, he has the ability to rank a lot higher over fences. He has the pace to figure in an Arkle (16/1) but the JLT (14/1) looks the more likely target.
Crowned Britain’s highest rated chaser after two wide-margin victories at Ascot last winter, Paul Nicholls’ upwardly mobile seven-year-old confirmed that the ratings didn’t flatter him when beating Altior in the 1965 Chase.
Harry Cobden always looked in control under a superb ride from the front, with Altior suffering his first defeat over obstacles in twenty starts.
The prevailing wisdom is that he jumps right handed and he’ll struggle at Cheltenham. Having said that, he’s maturing with each passing day and is surely worth another crack the other way round.
There’s certainly plenty of value in his price, currently 12/1 for the Ryanair. Success in the King George on Boxing Day could see Nicholls tilt him at the Gold Cup (20/1), something for which he has the requisite class to win.
Defeat on Saturday saw Altior’s price shorten for the Champion Chase (3/1). Judged on his latest performance however, in which he looked rather slow, unable to head Cyrname at any point, that looks far too short.
He would face another two upwardly mobile rivals if attempting to win the race for the third time in a row. Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil will provide a far sterner test for him that Politologue and Sceau Royal did in 2019.
Saturday’s defeat wasn’t a case of him not staying. He was simply not good enough to beat Cyrname in that rival’s own playground, and so success over these longer trips cannot be ruled out. The Gold Cup (33/1) is surely a bridge too far nevertheless, and whilst the Ryanair (16/1) could prove ideal, connections are unlikely to target that less prestigious race.
His next run will prove most informative as to where he will at Cheltenham, but he cannot be backed for any March engagements at the current moment in time.
Harry Fry has another useful stayer on his hands in the form of If The Cap Fits to go alongside Unowhatimeanharry. The seven-year-old, who signed off last year with victory at Aintree, returned to action with a gutsy win over two-miles-three at Ascot.
There’ll be plenty more to come from him returned to three-miles. Whether he has the ability to mix it with Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle (8/1) is another matter, but plenty can happen between now and March. Emma Lavelle’s stable star is returning to action at Newbury on Friday, going up against Thistlecrack.
The performance of the week came from Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation who inflicted Bristol De Mai’s first defeat at Haydock. Held up under a very patient Robbie Power ride, he stormed through late on to score with plenty in hand.
Having landed the first leg of the Triple Crown bonus, he’ll be aimed at the King George and the Gold Cup (9/2). He’s only rated two-pounds less than the 2019 winner Al Boum Photo and looks to have bags of further improvement within him. That price could look big on the day.
A disappointing fourth in the Champion Hurdle having won her six previous starts for Willie Mullins, Laurina got back on track with an easy win on chase debut. Sent off the 30/100 favourite, she scored by eight-lengths from dual Grade One winning hurdler Minella Indo.
Connections have a conundrum in whether they’ll send her to the Arkle (11/2) or the JLT (9/1). Wherever she ends up, she could prove more than a match for the boys in receipt of the mares’ allowance.