The third week of our Road To Cheltenham Series and what an eventful week it has been. Read on to hear our thoughts on the potential Cheltenham Festival runners who ran over the past seven days. Follow us on Twitter and avail of our Horse Racing Tips which are posted every day.
The Tingle Creek at the Sandown Races is the highlight this coming weekend. It looks like Un De Sceaux is the Willie Mullins horse that will take part even though Douvan has an entry at this stage. Gary Moore looks set to play a huge part as he saddles the current favourite Ar Mad and former Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy who seems to be right back to his best. We also have good action at the Aintree Races with the highlights being the Becher Handicap Chase and Sefton Handicap Chase.
The Harry Fry trained Unowhatimeanharry has been installed as the 6/1 second favourite to win the Cheltenham World Hurdle in March for Harry Fry and JP McManus. The 8 year old has gone from strength to strength in the past 12 months and landed his sixth race on the bounce in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday off the back of a lay-off. We very much doubt we have seen the best of this horse yet and the 6/1 looks cracking each way value.
Last seasons’ Supreme Novices Hurdle second Min of the Willie Mullins yard got his chasing career off to the perfect start with an emphatic 10 length victory at Navan on Sunday. He made all and produced a faultless round of jumping. He looks set to take on the mighty Altior in this seasons’ Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and has been backed from 8/1 into 5/1 to gain compensation for last seasons’ defeat.
What an amazing season it has been for Colin Tizzard so far and that was only enhanced this weekend as Native River won the Hennessy Gold Cup in the hands of Richard Johnson. He now has Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River all potentially Gold Cup bound. The question is: Will he run them all in the big race at Cheltenham? The answer is quite simple. It isn’t his decision. Three horses, three different owners and ultimately it is they who will make the final call.
Willie Mullins has had some major setbacks so far this season but he will be delighted with the performance of Champagne Fever who won at Thurles after a long lay-off. His most likely target this season is the Ryanair Chase (14/1) but he also has entires in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (25/1) and the Gold Cup (66/1). He beat former Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere by a head, a smashing run from the Jim Culloty horse too.
The well regarded Jenkins showed he has a serious engine when winning at Newbury on Friday. He drifted out to 10/11 from much shorter prices but got the job done in good style in the end. His jumping was terrible throughout and if he is to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he has to improve massively in that department or he holds no chance. There’s no doubting he will love the Cheltenham hill and is now best priced 10/1 to land the opener. The impressive debutante Lough Derg Spirit is his other big entry in the race so he may be forced to run them both.
The inconsistent Irving narrowly held on to defeat Apple’s Jade in a very exciting renewal of the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. Apple’s Jade has failed to impress this season for her new trainer Gordon Elliott. She can be counted as a touch unlucky as she was hampered by a faller late on and only lost out by a short head but on her favoured conditions it was disappointing she couldn’t see off the attention of Irving, another big Saturday winner for Paul Nicholls.