Road To Cheltenham 23rd January 2017

Faugheen Jumping Winter Hurdle Kempton

The past seven days has been a very eventful week in the build up to the big showpiece in March and firms are supposedly taking big bets ante post as punters’ put their hard earned down. Read on for our summary of the last week, ante post news, this week’s racing and more.

This Week’s Racing

We have a fantastic nine race card to look forward to at Cheltenham racecourse this weekend and the most interesting news is that the Clarence House Chase has been re-scheduled for this meeting. The big Ascot race sadly was called off last week due to severe frost. Gary Moore, trainer of Ar Mad, is not one bit happy about the news as we all know his horse prefers to run right-handed. As a consequence, if he does run against Un De Sceaux, the Mullins horse should have a big advantage going left-handed.

Performance Of The Week

Without doubt, one horse stood out like a sore thumb at the weekend and that was BRISTOL DE MAI who won the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock by a staggering 22 lengths. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner produced a career best, travelling strongly throughout from a prominent position, jumping beautifully. Turning for home, it has to be said that there weren’t too many horses’ in contention and the disappointing horse had to be the new recruit to the Colin Tizzard yard, Alary. Purchased for a supposed huge sum by the Potts’, he had to carry a huge weight on his UK debut so can be forgiven that effort but he went out like a light and certainly has to improve massively to be considered a Gold Cup contender.

Moving back to the winner, the well punted on Otago Trail and Vintage Clouds tried to serve it up to Bristol De Mai but they couldn’t live with him, one falling and the other crashing through a fence a couple out. That left him with a huge lead so maybe the winning distance is a bit exaggerated but it was an awesome performance nonetheless. To win off a mark of 154 in such impressive fashion has to make you stand up and take note. Native River, current 9/2 second favourite for the Gold Cup, won the Hennessy and Welsh National off 155 so on strict form terms, Bristol De Mai should be second favourite for the Gold Cup!

Nigel said “His jumping was superb all the way round, it was a joy to watch. He was a bit buzzy in his early days but now you can settle him anywhere in a race.” “I’m leaning towards the Gold Cup, whether it’s impossible to win with all the other horses and we’re in the class of Thistlecrack, we’ll see.”

Jockey Daryl Jacob said “He attacks his fence and puts other horses in danger. He’s not quite been seen at his best this year but he’s reminded us all of his talent and that was the Bristol De Mai of old.”

Malcolm Jefferson Plays A Waiting Game

The well thought of Politologue of the Paul Nicholls stable was well put in his place by WAITING PATIENTLY, a very progressive chaser trained by the shrewd Malcolm Jefferson. Formerly trained by Keith Reveley who will be retiring next month, Malcolm has certainly brought the best out of this horse. By Flemensfirth, the top sire on the National Hunt scene, Brian Hughes stalked Politologue throughout the race, living up to the horses’ name “waiting patiently” and took up the running a couple out. According to connections, he will either go for the JLT Novices’ Chase or the Arkle in March, an exciting prospect.

Jefferson said “He’s only a young horse, it’s his third run over fences. He’s a young horse going places. He likes soft ground, I don’t think he likes sticky, which it was out there. We hope he’s better than a handicapper, but he’s still got a bit to prove. He’s a young horse who I hope will improve with another year on him. He will get an entry for Cheltenham, but he wouldn’t run unless it was softer ground, which is very unlikely. It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t go because he’s a Flemensfirth – they need the soft – and he’s a really nice horse. He’s only a baby. He’s ground dependent.”

Neon Wolf Howls Into Supreme Picture

The Harry Fry trained Neon Wolf was smashed from 3/1 into 4/5 favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Trial at Haydock last weekend and he didn’t let his backers down either. He followed up his Exeter success in style, beating a very good yardstick in Elgin with utter ease. He took up the running approaching the fourth last flight and put the race to bed in a matter of strides. He still has some work to do with his jumping as he jumps his hurdles very airy so he certainly looks a chaser in the making but he must have every chance in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle if he takes his chance.

Jockey Noel Fehily said “He’s a nice horse. That was a good performance and he’s very good. His jumping early was a little bit careful and he’s still only a big baby. I thought this track might be a bit tight for him because in time he’s going to want three miles but he handled it fine. He’s just a very good horse and he’s in the right hands.”

The New One Quietens Doubters

Nigel Twiston Davies had a terrific day on Saturday, capped off by Bristol De Mai, but it was The New One who got his day off to a flyer, landing his third Champion Hurdle Trial. It certainly was no walk in the park mind, as he was off the bridle a long way from home and he hit a high of nearly 6/1 in-running after being sent off the 6/4 favourite. Many felt L’Ami Serge would be the horse to throw down the biggest challenge but is wasn’t, it was Clyne.

L’Ami Serge travelled like a dream throughout but once again, when push came to shove, he didn’t respond. The New One battled back upsides Clyne under an action packed Sam Twiston-Davies drive to hang on in gutsy fashion. The Champion Hurdle is now an option but it would be a surprise if connections didn’t go the Stayers’ Hurdle route. He can get away with two miles in Grade 2 company but he won’t in top class company at Cheltenham, we feel he needs a step up in trip come March.

Sam Twiston-Davies had other ideas though and he said “He’s a proper racehorse. The sort of horse we dream about. We’ve everything covered, but, at the moment, I think we are (heading for the) Champion Hurdle. It’s worth another go, I’d have thought. I don’t think he stays (three miles). He was outstayed at Kempton by Yanworth, but he won’t run again before Cheltenham so we’ve got a lot of time to think about.”

Yorkhill Unspectacular But Wins On Bridle

There were many people out there to slate Yorkhill’s performance this weekend but we’re not sure why. OK, it wasn’t his greatest performance, he had a few sketchy jumps and jumped out to the left again at most of his fences but he won on the bridle. He clearly has a huge engine, he gets from A to B, albeit in his own unique style and it has worked for him so far in his career. He is deserved favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March and it will take a good one to beat him.

Willie Mullins said “He was very strong with Ruby there. He had a tendency to jump left again but he seemed to be all right. We thought we would get a lead from the two horses in front but obviously his cruising speed is greater than their’s. He might run again before Cheltenham as the experience would do him no harm.”

First 5 Cheltenham Festival Tips Launched

Who doesn’t love a Cheltenham Festival ante post bet? Well, we have released our tips for the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Gold Cup. Read our Cheltenham Festival article where you can avail of the FREE tips and we also give you full details about the NRNB offers with Paddy Power and bet365.

Previous Road To Cheltenham Articles

14th November 2016 Article

21st November 2016 Article

28th November 2016 Article

5th December 2016 Article

12th December 2016 Article

19th December 2016 Article

28th December 2016 Article

2nd January 2017 Article

9th January 2017 Article

17th January 2017 Article


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