THE CHELTENHAM REVIEW 2014. FUTURE WINNERS. JUST 6226 WORDS !!
It was an unsatisfactory Cheltenham Festival on many counts but also very exciting and interesting. I warned about the prospect of fast ground and that was how it turned out. This contributed to four horses being put down and numerous more injuries. Unfortunately a number of jockey’s were hurt also. The races were run at a very fast pace and as is the norm nowadays there wasn’t a quarter asked for or given by the jockeys and it got really tight several times. The ground cannot be allowed to be as fast in the future and I feel the turns are now too sharp. The layout of the track can be changed to make it safer and surely this should be the consideration going forward
Supreme Novice Hurdle , 2 miles 110 yards.
VAUTOUR lived up to my high opinion of him and indeed that of Nick Mordin. The 20/1 advised ante post was a great start to the meeting. This is one hell of a horse and what a chaser he will make. This horse has it all, looks, physique, strength, speed to burn, stamina, all ground conditions come alike and the scope to jump Beechers Brook. He is going chasing next year so no Champion hurdle and I feel connections are making the right call. He can be made into an Arkle or RSA candidate and from there a Gold Cup prospect. It might be a smart move to take the prices that are now available for The Arkle and the Gold Cup in 2016.
JOSSES HILL ran an absolute cracker to be second. He will serve it up to Vautour over fences and will surely be his biggest danger over further trips when they do meet again. He already needs 2m 4f over hurdles and will have no problem with 3 miles. Anything he does over hurdles is a bonus as he is bred and built for chasing. If Vautour does go for the Arkle I think this horse will take all the beating in next year’s RSA.
SGT.RECKLESS is hard to figure out but having really studied him his most obvious liking for fast ground looks the key. He should get further also despite his breeding. He might be very interesting at one of the remaining festivals if he gets his surface.
IRVING was disappointing. I do feel however it would be premature in the extreme to crab him. He had been in training early in 2013 in readiness for his return to the flat last August. We bought him after that win in Fontainbleau. Think about it ,he has been on the go a long time and it is possible after a busy first campaign over hurdles that he was feeling the effects of it all. Also a very important other point, he would never have run on such an undulating and idiosyncratic track such as Cheltenham in his life. This would be typical of all German horses imported into the UK and Ireland and some find it very hard to adapt and moreover on their first try in such circumstances. He remains a very high class horse.
WILD BLUE YONDER must be followed also. Following howlers of falls on his two previous runs he looked very threatening between the last two flights only to weaken. Very good prospect and will make a chaser.
VALSEUR LIDO will make a lovely chaser and can also be followed especially on slower ground. Mark him up.
The Arkle Chase. 2 miles.
CHAMPAGNE FEVER was gunned the whole way by Ruby and I cannot recall the jockey filling up the horse’s lungs at any stage in order to save something for the punishing uphill climb to the finish. This horse must now be stepped up in trip in order to fulfill his potential. I am not so sure he is one to follow though but loads of people will take the opposite view.
TRIFOLIUM ran as well as could be expected on a track that I knew would not suit him [see preview]. Aintree would be ideal for him and sharp tight tracks will always be his cup of tea and preferably with a break between his races.
Bayliss and Harding Handicap Chase. 3 miles, 110 yards.
GREEN FLAG has bottomless stamina and this trip or ground would not really have suited and I can see this fellow as an ideal Welsh National type next season or indeed any National.
The Champion Hurdle. 2 miles 110 yards.
JEZKI was napped by Nick Mordin and I also thought he was the biggest danger to The New One. He was always going to be involved in the finish of this race despite the shenanigans surrounding his two comprehensive defeats by Hurricane Fly and others in the big two Irish races this year. Those were falsely run affairs and McCoy did not cover himself in glory on the horse on either occasion. Ridden prominently by Barry Geraghty this time and on much faster ground, he showed how good a horse he is with a powerful display and held his nearest pursuer well. He might struggle though to confirm the form with the second and third should they meet again.
MY TENT OR YOURS was a closing second and many observers felt Tony McCoy should have begun his challenge earlier. It is hard to argue with that line of thinking. In defence of the greatest rider ever seen in National Hunt racing his horse is a notorious hard puller [keen] and maybe he felt he may not get home but he was wrong. If anything, My Tent Or Yours needs further than this two miles and it is always better to gamble on your mount staying then not. I also feel that Henderson erred by running the horse so close to Cheltenham in a jumpers bumper at Kempton just 23 days previously. They said they needed to take the ”gas” out of him but he actually had to race hard enough that day and in my opinion it flattened him slightly. He remains a high class horse and I think he will turn the tables on Jezki in the future but whether he could confirm his superiority over the very unlucky The New One is a completely different matter.
THE NEW ONE was a terribly unlucky loser, make no mistake about that. The fatal fall of the unfortunate Our Conor also finished the chances of Nigel Twiston Davies’s representative. The New One had very little chance of avoiding the stricken Our Conor and lost upwards of ten lengths in my opinion when you take into account the hampering and the lost momentum and also of course the horse being given time to recover. He ran remarkarbly well to get to within three lengths of the winner and he was closing in quickly come the line. I also noted that for some reason his jumping was far from fluent before the incident and it got understandably worse afterwards .I have no doubt he was the moral winner of the Champion and I rate him the best two miler around.
HURRICANE FLY was extremely unlikely to place in this renewal according to my extensive analysis beforehand and I was not in the least surprised that it came to pass. He is a wonderful horse and although he has won this twice before, this particular renewal was a vintage one even in the absence of two of the best around, Annie Power and Un Des Sceaux. He is now ten and to be fair he has run several pounds below his best in the past here despite winning. The new pretenders had indeed arrived and there was no Rock On Ruby’s amongst them. The fast ground also did not suit the Hurricane and I hope this race will not have left it’s mark. The real shame of course was the mistake the stable made in not running either of their two best chances in the race and I cannot help but think that Ruby led the way on this one and of course the blunder was compounded when the brilliant Annie Power also lost the Stayers.
MELODIC RENDEVOUZ is now undoubtedly best fresh [not here] and prefers better or softer ground. He must be forgiven this run but I feel the Mordin rest pattern theory of a 42 break after his initial two runs of the season will be vital for him.
Mares Hurdle. 2 miles 4 furlongs.
QUEVEGA deserves her place in history . It is unprecedented what she has achieved. Willie Mullins should take a bow and I think this is one of the greatest training feats of all time. Six visits to this meeting and six wins. There will have to be a special award to acknowledge such a feat for trainer and horse. Well done all.
GLENS MELODY must surely be counted a very unlucky loser after a lung bursting mistake three out. She was going better than Quevaga at the time and in my opinion would have won by a length or more but for the misfortune. She will take some beating in this next year and will also prefer softer ground. She has had a busy season with four cross channel hops already and I just hope she will be fresh enough for the upcoming festivals, that could be a doubt. However I would advise an ante post bet on her for this race in 2015.
L’UNIQUE surpassed all her previous efforts and there seemed to be no fluke about it. She looks nailed on for Aintree and has a big future ahead of her, she is by far the best of the British in the mares category on this showing. She will be awesome over fences but she will need to brush up her jumping as she can throw in a right howler at times as she has shown over the smaller obstacles.
National Hunt Chase, 4 miles.
SHOTGUN PADDY would have won if he missed clouting even one of the eighteen fences or so but sure jumping is the name of the game, I don’t know would I ever trust him to put in an error free display after this show, maybe when fresh on a galloping course.
SUNTIEP supporters will claim he should have won if Patrick Mullins had not misjudged his challenge but I am not so sure. This is a smallish type horse that needed hunting around and if he did put him into it earlier would he have got so close ? I will wait to see if he can run up to this form again before supporting him.
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR backers will also feel a bit cheated as he rooted two out and they have some justification for their claim. He can win a marathon somewhere sometime for sure but again he will have to brush up his jumping.
Rewards For Racing Chase. 2 miles 4 furlongs 110 yards.
PENDRA hardly jumped a fence like so many others at this fixture and the simple facts are he would have won easily if he did put in a proper round but but but…… He might do better on a flat track and funnily enough even larger fences. He might respect them more and concentrate at the job in hand. He is the one to take out of this race.
Neptune Investment Novice Hurdle.2 miles 5 furlongs.
FAUGHEEN lived up to his big home reputation and by some. He tugged his way round but was completely dominant. He would have won the Albert Bartlett if he had been steered there and of course Briar Hill could have won this if he came here. The winner is special and will go all the way to the top if he remains sound. He is no oil painting and is incredibly hard on himself and can be chancy at his jumps but the sky is the limit. Stayers Hurdles , Gold Cups ,the lot if he stays in one piece. My preference for him would be to go for the Stayers Hurdle next season.
BALLYALTON is now seven and connections should waste no time next season in putting him straight over fences, He is a fine big animal and will be a huge force over the larger obstacles. It is east to envisage him back here next Spring as one of the leading British candidate to take on Vautour in the Arkle or the likes of Josses Hill in the RSA.
RATHVINDEN comes out of this race with huge credit having had a tough introduction to life as a novice hurdler. This was his third trek to Britain this season already and only started his career in a pt to pt in May 2013 when falling and his first of a six race track career thus far was when he won his bumper at Downpatrick in June for Ian Ferguson. In fact I tried to buy him after he won that day as he ran a decent speed figure but I failed to convince my client to go that extra bit – that price looks small now. He has had a busy campaign but if he turns up fresh at the Punchestown meeting I would think long and hard before opposing him. I also feel that he may ultimately be suited by dropping back in trip and to a less demanding course as he has a wicked turn of foot.
TWELVE ROSES will make a very smart good ground staying chaser and it is not impossible to see him develop into a long term National horse. He is a lovely honest type of a chap, if he were human you would be giving him the keys of your car on a drinking night out and asking him to take care of your girlfriend. I will be following this horse big time from here on in.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL is a smasher of a horse also and was the best looking in this field. He is very inexperienced but boy has he an engine and follow this lad for the rest of the season and what a chaser he will make. He has a beautiful flowing easy action . He is a sure fire Arkle candidate next season also and will challenge Vautour strongly. I will not oppose this horse too lightly in future no matter what company he faces.
COLE HARDEN can run up a sequence in early season novice chases next season going left handed but do not touch him if he goes the other way round.
RED SHERLOCK is best fresh with give in the ground and again is a chaser but he did disappoint nonetheless and has a bit to prove now.
CUP FINAL will land plenty of trophies before his career comes to a close. I should have listened to Nick Mordin when he told me this horse presently conforms to his ‘rest pattern’ theory, that is certain horses can take their first two runs of a season but need a break of 42 days plus thereafter to recover. Cup Final is such a horse. He is light framed and growing. I promise you all though that when he is in the right circumstances I will be backing him and advise you to do the same. A serious prospect.
RSA Chase, 3 miles 110 yards.
O’FAOLINS BOY is a tough plain cookie unlike his very easy to look at trainer, Rebecca Curtis. She always had faith in her horse and I spoke highly of him in my review of last years festival. He appeals as more of a Welsh National type of horse than a Gold Cup one at this stage though and I do not think he will be doing a Lord Windermere as a consequence.
SMAD PLACE is decent and went down fighting. I wouldn’t totally rule him out as a Gold Cup candidate next year if all goes well in the interm. He has had a stop start season and there is plenty more improvement to come and he had a hard slog in the mud at Newbury in the build up to this race, A small each way ante post bet for the big one might not be the most stupid thing one could do.
DON COSSACK was giving an exhibition round of jumping until he crashed out unexpectedly and I felt even at this stage [the 14th fence] that he was travelling all over his rivals. We will never know whether or not he would have come up the punishing climb but I think he would. He is high class and I am going to have a serious bet on him ante post for the King George at Christmas. Watch !!
Coral Cup.2 miles 5 furlongs.
DELL ‘ARCA is the one I will be taking out of this. I think he failed through lack of stamina or simply did not come up the hill [ not related] but he travelled oh so well and even off a highish 141 mark I will be backing him whichever future engagements he takes up before this season comes to a close.
Champion Chase. 2 miles.
SIRE DE GRUGY won and fair play to this really likeable horse and his connections. It was a substandard renewal, nothing else to say.
Glenfaclas Cross Country Chase. 3 miles 7 furlongs.
BIG SHU ran admirably and will go close at Punchestown.
BIHOPSFURZE might eventually have the hang of these obstacles now and still interests me for one of these despite his form figures.
Fred Winter Juvenile. 2 miles 110 yards.
KATGARY was a very unlucky loser in a heat that was ultimately stronger than the Triumph when you take Calipto and Adriana Des Mottes out of that race. The Kat will be winning plenty.
Champion Bumper, 2 miles.
SILVER CONCORDE was a clever winner under a peach of a ride from Robbie McNamara. He used Ruby as a tow for the entire race and mugged him beautifully on the run in with his horse showing a good turn of foot in the process. It was a strongly run race and not that many got into it. The winner is flat bred but looks every inch an embryonic chaser in the making. He seems on the screen to be a strong deep chested type with a rather longish neck so one expect him to get much further and handle soft ground as well. He is very talented.
SHANEHILL looked as if he was going to win turning in and I imagine Ruby was as sick as he looked immediately post race. In fairness to him on this occasion he did not make any mistake as his gallant mount was just outspeeded by the very smart winner. It is easy to imagine him back here next year for the Supreme and he is my early fancy for that event. I would also make him my favourite if he went for the Champion bumper at Punchestown.
BLACK HERCULES is a big strong brute who ran his heart out to finish fourth on ground that was too fast for him. His sire’s progeny are hard to predict distance wise and while he looks and runs as if marathon distances will suit him I feel he is more of a Neptune type rather than a Bartlett. He is going to take high rank next season. The softer the better for him.
KILLULTAGH VIC comes out of this with great credit also and he should be sent straight over fences next year with a view to winning the RSA. He is a chaser through and through. He just got done for toe at a vital stage and he is another that we will be hearing loads of in the future. I feel yet another ante post wager coming on.
OSCARTEEA also comes out of this race with some credit. Tongue tied for the first time he looked likely to be tailed off several times before staging a strong late rally to finish a respectable tenth. He will surely make a very nice staying hurdler in the future but I would not punt him at less than two and a half miles.
The Jewson. 2 miles 4 furlongs.
TAQUIN DE SEUIL showed tremendous guts and determination to get up under McCoy who had left him too far out of his ground. I knew he would go close and it was another advert for the skills of John Joe O’Neill who has few peers when it comes to preparing horses for this meeting. Tailor made for next year’s Ryanair.
FELIX YONGER was a double victim here. He received a very poor ride from Ruby Walsh and the horse should never have run in this anyway, he should have contested the Arkle with Champagne Fever going in the opposite direction. I am not having a go at one of the greatest jockeys of all time but his overall judgement on race selection and his input to Willie Mullins as regards targets for the stables stars was questionable to say the least this year. The Annie Power issue was simply mind boggling. He must have known that she was the number one hope for the yard in the Champion but instead wanted the chance to ride her in the Stayers where he ”hoped” she would stay. Sorry Ruby, but you cant ” hope ” she will stay, you must know she will. I am going to make a strong prediction regarding the luckless Felix Yonger now. He will win the Champion Chase next year.
Pertemps Hurdle . 3 miles.
TRUSTAN TIMES came back to form and will be interesting at Aintree.
PINEAU DE RE could have won but for a last flight blunder. However I give him little chance in the Grand National.
JETSON ran huge and will go very close at the Punchestown or Haydock meeting if the ground is good.
Ryanair Chase. 2 miles five furlongs.
DYNASTE proved a lot of us doubters wrong in a very weak renewal of this big race. Well done to all and maybe he can go on from here . I still have to be convinced he is a Gold Cup horse but the stable feel he is.
HIDDEN CYCLONE is an owners dream and just ran out of stamina. What were connections thinking of running him here instead of the Champion Chase where he would not have stopped ? He is best fresh over two miles or two and a quarter.
Stayers Hurdle, 3 miles.
MORE OF THAT broke most of my rules when staying on stronger than Annie Power. He had just the five unbeaten runs coming into this and I felt he needed more experience and he had not tried the trip before. To my mind as well he doesn’t appear like what a natural stamina laden animal should look like , he is more bulky than long and as a consequence is smaller too and with a shortish neck, everything I would not look for in a stayer. For all that he is thoroughly likeable and has a huge heart and basically could do no more than win. I do feel however this was like a few of the Championship races this year, it was sub standard and I will be fielding against him next season. This may sound weird but in a strongly more even run 3 miles I think he might struggle to get the trip, especially on soft ground. I am building my admittedly slightly suspect case around the close proximity of Annie Power and Zarkander to the winner.
ANNIE POWER was exhausted in the parade ring afterwards. She did not get home in my book and I will argue that toss with anybody. Great horses will overcome almost anything that conspires against them on any given day, even when circumstances are totally against them they will more often than not not find a way to win rather than lose. Annie gave her all over a trip that she does not really get and her keen going way drained every drop of petrol out of her and it was simply her class that got her so close. Seven of her ten career runs previously to this race had been over 2 miles including her latest one at Doncaster. Another genius of a trainer both on the flat and over jumps, Michael Dickinson, often spoke to me about ”conditioning for distance” and moving a horse ”incrementally ” up in trip. The first of these is very important when assessing Annie’s run in the stayers. Trained for speed most of the year and certainly in readiness for that run at Doncaster which was on January 25th which gave her just a window of 47 days and less to get ready for the jump up to three miles here. If she had missed that Donny race and gone straight from her only 3 tries over two and a half she might well have won it as this would have been the incremental step up in trip that Dickinson talks about. If one uses the human athlete as an example you wouldn’t really expect a 100 metre sprinter to run and do well over 1,500 metres. The brilliant Willie Mullins and the very affable and very rich Rich Ricci might be regretting this day for a while. She should have run in the Champion Hurdle, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Ruby can shoulder a lot of the blame and I guarantee he will want to forget this Cheltenham 2014 despite his three winners and being the leading rider yet again. His terribly unfortunate injury will not be helping. The targets for the horses in my opinion were got badly wrong. The Annie Power/Un Des Sceaux withdrawals, the Felix Yonger/Champagne Fever issue and the Briar Hill/Faugheen decisions. This is not hindsight from me. I flagged all of these up in my previews well beforehand. It is not unreasonable to suggest that they might have cost themselves an additional four winners. Willie Mullins is one of the best National Hunt trainers in history, Ruby Walsh is one of the greatest ever riders we have seen but even the genius of these two men combined somehow got it wrong. I would just like to add though that those might be the only mistakes they ever made in their lives and God help the opposition from here on in and I guess no Christmas card for me from Ruby this year !! Going back to Annie Power, I am sure the perfectly legal duphalite drips were at the ready for her to help her recover from her ordeal and she might yet turn up at Punchestown. I am one of her biggest fans but I hope she does not and is rested for next year. The rumour is she is going chasing but as it now seems likely that she will never stay the Gold Cup distance then there might be a rethink and we might yet see her end up in the Champion Hurdle 2015.
AT FISHERS CROSS ran very well and looked the winner turning in but that is as good as he is and surely a chasing career beckons with the RSA a natural target.
ZARKANDER ran a closish enough 8 and a 1/2 lengths fourth and this run must cast suspicion on the overall quality of the race. Nothing at all against this horse but he is best over 2 and a 1/2 miles on a tight track. He can be backed in those circumstances again.
Byrne Group Plate 2 miles 4 furlongs.
BALLYNAGOUR trounced his opponents but he might be in for similar treatment himself if he goes to Aintree as he takes the rest pattern to mean just one run at the start of a season and not two if you know what I mean. Blame Nick Mordion !!
Kim Muir, 3 miles 1 and a half furlongs.
CAUSE OF CAUSES was a terribly unlucky loser and if he were mine I would put him away for The Galway Plate but if they do not then he can still win at some of the upcoming festivals despite his ballooning handicap mark. He has now shown he has bottomless stamina and loves fast ground. Improving.
Triumph Hurdle , 2 miles 1 furlong.
TIGER ROLL could do no more than win and for such an inexperienced horse this was a fair feat. He can go on improving but to my mind this was another example of a very substandard Championship event. I know you will disagree with my train of thought here but I am am rating Calipto and Adriana Des Mottes as non runners for my analysis. Adriana was bought down at the first and Calipto was cantering all over his field when his stirrup leather broke after three out and I feel he would have won for sure. When you take Calipto, Adriana Des Mottes, Le Rocher and A ctivial out of this race then you see what I mean about the lack of quality. If I had to rate my top 4 juvenile hurdlers so far this season those would be the four but not in that order. Activial is the best of them but the other three are very smart indeed. Follow them for the rest of this season and be very wary of opposing Activial wherever he turns up.
BROUGHTON is worth another chance on a flat track.
ADRIANA DES MOTTES , see above.
The County Hurdle, 2 miles.
LAC FONTANA won despite being badly outpaced in the middle section of this race and looks ready for a step up in trip. Remarkably his last five runs have been at this venue. He will need to improve again though off his new mark and he will be forced into the novice chasing ranks next season.
ARCTIC FIRE is the one to take out of the race and he ran huge for a novice having his first race in a handicap and off a stiff mark of 141. I was at Tipperary when he made his Irish debut in October and I knew then he was decent. He has a rattling turn of foot and this course might not have played to his strengths. I will be backing him at whichever festival he turns up at before the season is up. Good or faster ground is perfect and a nagging doubt about freshness will have to be overlooked for the moment as we do not have enough evidence to go on either way. I would hope that the handicapper does not over react.
MONTBAZON would be lethal at Aintree if the bounce factor will not come into play as this was his second run back after a huge break. The limited evidence we have so far on this very lightly raced seven year old suggests he will be ok. Watch out for this lovely animal wherever he goes as he has yet to race over further than 17 furlongs and he is crying out for the step up in trip. The John Smiths Punters Handicap Listed Hurdle on the Friday at the Liverpool meeting is perfect for him actually.
DIAKALI, the top weight, was another one to enhance his reputation. There were four other horses carrying 11 stone or higher in this and they finished 5th ,22, pulled up and pulled up. Diakali was also giving those four upwards of 5 pounds so one can see how good a run this was. If we were to get our normal second dose of the monsoon season around Punchestown time then this horse will need a second look whichever event he lines up for. Far more likely though would be a tilt at the French Champion hurdle where he would hold outstanding claims where soft ground is almost guaranteed.
MINELLA FORU deserves a special mention also and this horse is very well handicapped off 139 and will even be more interesting again when stepped up further in trip. As with loads of others mentioned earlier, he will play a major part in some of the upcoming festival handicaps if they stick to that route.
The Albert Bartlett, 3 miles.
VERY WOOD is very smart and seems to have any amount of stamina. Just a note of caution if he does reappear again this season, he looked extremely tired post race and I worried for a few seconds about him but he was ok after a while. Chaser written all over him for next year.
DEPUTY DAN has shown his inexperience in the past and I am sure Leighton Aspell regrets his premature rush to the front two out. His mount idled and waited for the comfort and protection of the herd coming to the last and it cost him victory. Horses are herd animals when out in the wilds and stick together and many behave that way when racing. The Dan and more importantly his jockey will have learned from this. He will make a serious chaser and is definitely worth considering for all the top novice races next season. He can win again this campaign as he finished fresher than most as outlined above.
BRIAR HILL was the most unfortunate of all. I feel David Casey must shoulder some blame as he switched his mount sharply to his right on the approach to the seventh hurdle and gave the horse no chance to adapt his stride pattern and the fall was almost inevitable. I hope Briar Hill recovers and we get to see how good he is.
The Gold Cup, 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 110 yards.
LORD WINDERMERE was a spectacular call by whom I consider to be the greatest authority on the game in this or any other era, Nick Mordin. He reasoned that the physical make up of the horse made him suited to the severe undulations of this course and that therefore most of his other poor runs could be ignored. That is only part of what he is said but it would take too long to go into the full details but that is the gist of it. Lord Windermere himself had a nightmare beginning to the race as he was the chief sufferer on the first false start and Davy Russell then dropped him out but the jockey was superb throughout on his mount and I knew from some way out he was going to be seriously involved as he was in a super rhythm. He made relentless headway and powered home to get up. Russell was inspired, a truly great ride. The horse answered every call and it was some training feat from Jim Culloty to bag this after his win in the RSA last year. The big question is , can he back it up at Punchestown ? The answer is unlikely, as the flatter more galloping course will see him get stretched but he has his job done for life.
ON HIS OWN confounded me amongst others who felt he was best going right handed, in fact I still do. He leaned and jumped to his right throughout the race and only for that would surely have won. He should atone in Punchestown.
THE GIANT BOLSTER showed how good he operates at this venue with yet another big show. He is lethal here and at his other local courses but avoid him when he goes long journeys from his home to other track as he is a bad traveller.
SILVINIACO CONTI failed to last home and is best over three miles on a flat track up to 25 furlongs.
BOBS WORTH did not seem to handle the fast ground here according to Henderson and that was ironic as he had called for no watering the previous weekend. This had to go down as a puzzling and disappointing run from the former champ and the question now is can he rediscover his best form. I have a suspicion he will not.
LYREEN LEGEND travelled beautifully and was bang there until a calamitous error at the second last and it ended his challenge. He would have finished closer only for that, but my feeling is he was running out of stamina. There is a big race in him up to three miles over a less demanding circuit with good ground and a smaller field might further play to his strengths.
The Foxhunters. 3 miles 2 furlongs and 110 yards.
ON THE FRINGE did not seem to get home and the furlong shorter Champion Hunter at the flatter Punchestown track where he won in 2010 and 12 will see him successful again, especially on good ground.
Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle , 2 miles 4 furlongs and 110 yards.
DON POLI is a rapid improver and bolted home off a chunky looking mark of 143. I feel he could defy his new rating over further if he gets the chance in a top handicap or more likely a Grade One Champion Novice event at Punchestown over two and a half or preferably the three miler. Either way he will be some prospect going chasing next season which of course he is built for. His sire is getting some proper horses now. A wonderful prospect to look forward to.
The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, 2 miles and 110 yards.
All the first four home will be winning plenty more races. They are SAVELLO, NED BUNTLINE, CLARET CLOAK and NEXT SENSATION.
The best trials for the remaining National Hunt festivals and next year’s Cheltenham meeting were all the above races. Trawl through them for yourself and find some of the horses that I have not identified or indeed disagree with my analysis on some that I have. I am very hopeful that this extensive review will yield the Fourmileracing site plenty of winners in the near and distant future.