Racing Welfare Cheltenham Preview Evening

A star studded line up for the Racing Welfare Cheltenham Preview Evening at the County Ground, Bristol included Paul Nicholls, Richard Johnson, Charlie Morlock (assistant to Nicky Henderson) and regular on course bookmaker Andy Smith, plus a phone in from Patrick Mullins.

Every race at the Cheltenham Festival was discussed in some detail, so we’ve bulleted the key points you may be interested in, along with who said them:

The Panel’s Charity Bets

Paul Nicholls

£100 on Diego Du Charmil for Fred Winter Hurdle
£50 Each Way on Clan Des Obeaux for Triumph Hurdle

Charlie Morlock

£100 on Sprinter Sacre for the Champion Chase
£50 Each Way on Cardinal Walter for the County Hurdle

Richard Johnson

£100 on Balthazar King for the Cross Country
£50 Each Way on Rock The Kasbah for the Coral Cup

Andy Smith

£200 on Paint The Clouds for Foxhunters Chase

Cheltenham Festival Day 1

  • Altior is Nicky Henderson’s best hope at the Festival this season (Charlie Morlock). His horses were off colour over Christmas but schooled on Monday morning and was “absolutely spot on”. Buveur D’air has a “short, scratchy stride” and will run Altior close if the ground is softer.
  • The panel described the Supreme Novices Hurdle as a “two trainer race on paper”. Yorkhill has a massive chance on better ground but Nicholls would go for the Neptune
  • Douvan will win the Arkle Trophy if he stands up (Richard Johnson)
  • Vaniteux has done a lot of jumping prep but Charlie doesn’t see him winning
  • Richard Johnson likes Kruzhlinin for the 3m handicapper and also thinks Fingal Bay is “very well handicapped”
  • Southfield Theatre was also mentioned as a “great choice at a massive price”
  • My Tent Or  Yours has had two recent racecourse gallops.
  • Nico De Boinville will ride Nicky Henderson’s third string horse, whichever that is
  • Old Guard shouldn’t have run at Christmas and is schooling much better
  • Tara Point has had four racecourse gallops recently – is a tidy mare and has an outside chance
  • Native River will have first time blinkers for the 4 miler and “stays longer than the mother”
  • Will Biddick will ride Vicente
  • Definitely Red descirbed as “reliable” while Andy Smith likes Local Show
  • Out Sam was described as “little”
  • Bouvreuil schooled very well on Tuesday morning according to Paul Nicholls and has a “great chance” – currently 14/1 Each Way
  • Killala Quay (currently 25/1) has an “Each Way chance” according to Richard Johnson and definitely stays
  • Charlie Morlock said Full Shift had been kept with the 3 mile Novice Handicap in mind and his last run where he was pulled up can be ignored

Cheltenham Festival Day 2

  • O O Seven (entered into the Neptune) described as a “slow maturing” horse by Charlie Morlock – sounded like this may come too soon for him
  • Baden wants proper good ground and that “might be the making of him”
  • Shantou Village offers “Each Way value” – currently 14/1
  • Yorkhill doesn’t do much when he hits the front
  • Paul Nicholls said his main hope for the Coral Cup is Politologue – schooled well this morning
  • Baoulet Delaroque also has a “good chance” but needs to improve
  • Bivouac will wear cheekpieces and Charlie called him a “soft horse”
  • Brother Tedd has been dying for better ground according to Richard Johnson, who also described his ride Rock The Kasbah as his “best chance of the week”
  • Days of Heaven is out of the same sire as Aux Ptits Soins and might step up to 2 miles 4 furlong
  • The panel thought Un De Sceaux was the one to beat in the Champion Chase
  • Not much between Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets, Special Tiara and Sire De Grugy
  • Un De Sceaux mentioned as being as good as Sprinter Sacre when Sprinter was at his best – some compliment
  • Felix Yonger may be improving with age
  • Josies Orders – the current favourite – is the one to beat
  • Richard Johnson thought Balthazar King‘s experience may be an advantage though
  • Foxrock is an interesting runner while Sire Collonges has been left off for this race
  • Diego Du Charmil mentioned positively by Paul Nicholls for the Fred Winter
  • Richard Johnson thought Coeur Blimey would be 4/1 if trained by a big name trainer
  • Very Much So mentioned as a “massive price”
  • New To This Town was a €400,000 purchase

Cheltenham Festival Day 3

  • Bristol De Mai wants heavy ground for the JLT – Richard Johnson didn’t think Garde Le Victoire could beat him if the going is soft
  • Shaneshill‘s target is sitll up in the air
  • Black Hercules could go for the JLT, get to the front and try and take all the others out their comfort zone
  • Last time out L’Ami Serge was taken out of his rhythm and the stable were very disappointed. He was also jumping left handed which has now been ironed out
  • Arpege D’Alene was “rushed” to make Chepstow accordign to Paul Nicholls (where he won to qualify for the Pertemps Final) and has a great chance at the Festival
  • Rolling Maul wasn’t ready for Warwick according to Andy Smith – finished 4th to qualify and is 33/1 in the market.
  • Broxbourne will run well but probably won’t win according to Charlie Morston
  • Road To Riches‘ trainer reportedly wants to run him in the Gold Cup rather than the Ryanair
  • Paul Nicholls likes Village Vic’s chances for the race though (12/1)
  • For the World Hurdle, Richard Johnson confidently said Thistlecrack was an “absolute certainty”
  • Saphir Du Rheu has had a breathing op since the Long Walk and galloped well
  • Aux Ptits Soins could be the “dark horse” of the meeting according to Paul Nicholls
  • Paul Nicholls very keen on Sametegal for the Festival Plate Handicap – needed the 5lb penalty from Newbury to get him in the race
  • Stiletto wants plenty of cut in the ground
  • Limini was talked up by Patrick Mullins, saying she had a “lot of speed” and was “working well”. Her jumping is fine and they are expecting a huge run
  • Charlie Morlock said to “watch out” for Robins Reef
  • Bloody Mary is very small and will leave her Taunton form well behind
  • Doctor Harper mentioned as “very well handicapped” for the Kim Muir

Cheltenham Festival Day 4

  • Paul Nicholls has 5 entries for the Triumph and said there’s “not a lot between them”
  • Connections thought Ivanovich Gorbatov was a Group horse on the flat; won a competitive handicap at Leopardstown off 97 as a 3 year old
  • By the sounds of things, Sam Twiston-Davies will ride Connetable and Sean Bowen will ride Frodon
  • Protek Des Flos will need some cut in the ground
  • It sounded like Richard Johnson would ride for Alan King – likely Who Dares Wins
  • Wait For MeSome Plan and Modus all talked up by the panel in very positive ways for the County Hurdle
  • All Yours will be better on better ground and is in good shape
  • Consul De Thaix will be better next year and still needs to mature
  • Blue Hell has either been kept for this race or has had problems – hard to tell which but given 12/1 in the betting probably the former
  • For the Albert Bartlett, Patrick Mullins said Gangster is working well
  • Barters Hill may struggle to get home over the 3 mile trip depending on tactics
  • Fagan has an entry but can’t think he’s good enough for this
  • The Gold Cup wasn’t discussed for all that long – if there is a good pace set then that could cause problems for Vautour
  • For the  Foxhunter Steeple Chase, Andy Smith was very keen on Paint The Clouds, very ground dependant but should be top 3
  • Qualando has a massive chance for the Martin Pipe Conditionals Jockeys Handicap Hurdle per Paul Nicholls
  • Squouatuer – Jack Kennedy will ride
  • Next Sensation has had a wind operation and been running on unsuitable ground – should step forward in the Grand Annual
  • Andy Smith likes Ravens Tower for Ben Pauling – last seen winning in November and available at 25/1
  • Charlie Morlock talked down the chances of Nicky Henderson’s only Grand Annual runner Loch Kent, saying it was “hard to see him winning”
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