Cheltenham Festival 2019 Preview Evening notes
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Notes from the Sky Bet Cheltenham preview evening held at Doncaster Racecourse on Wednesday 6th March.
Michael Shinners (Sky Bet)
Warren Greatrex (Trainer)
Ed Chamberlin (Presenter)
Mark Howard (Racing TV)
Daryl Jacob (Jockey)
Oli Bell (Presenter)
MH: It's a very good Champion Hurdle. Buveur D'Air looked good in the Fighting Fifth but is up against two serious mares ( Apple's Jade and Laurina). It will be tough for him to concede weight to them. If the ground is on the soft side as expected it could be Laurina's big day. David Casey says she could be the best mare Willie Mullins has ever trained.
MS: There hasn't been much love for Buveur D'Air in the betting. If the race had been run closer to the Dublin Festival, Apple's Jade would have been favourite. Still thinks Apple's Jade will go off fav. Sky have also seen bits of money for Espoir D'Allen.
OB: Against Buveur D'Air. Was beaten by Verdana Blue and even though he jumps well he has made two marked mistakes in the Fighting Fifth and at Kempton. Doesn't like Apple's Jade either. He's in the Laurina camp and describes her as a "certainty".
WG: Also likes Laurina and thinks she could be very good on the ground. It could be very soft ground by the first day. Buveur D'Air doesn't get the credit he deserves. He jumps so well but he can run below par. The 7lb allowance he concedes to the mares could be huge.
DJ: Thinks Sharjah is a good each-way bet as one of the three at the front of the betting will underperform. Thinks Sharjah will be ridden to place.
MH: There are genuine reasons why Apple's Jade has flopped at the Festival in the past. However, he just wonders if she can replicate her last performance, which came on faster ground. He doesn't think soft ground will faze Sharjah as she's run well on soft at Galway in the past, though he isn't sure she's good enough to figure.
MS: Picks Buveur D'Air on the basis he jumps better than the two mares.
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
MS: Al Dancer is the current favourite but Angel's Breath was the buzz horse after he had won at Ascot earlier in the year. He drifted back out but is coming back in. There have been rumours there is an issue with Fakir D'oudaries but he's still in the betting for now.
WG: The faster they go, the easier Al Dancer travels, but he's sceptical on the Betfair Hurdle form even if his victory appeared impressive. He prefers Angel's Breath of the Dai Walters-owned pair as he looks like he has a bit of class. He also likes Klassical Dream, who will love soft ground and will take plenty of beating if he runs here (also entered in the Ballymore).
MS: There are circumstances to excuse Angel's Breath's defeat. Kempton showed he is a good jumper. Also mentions Vision D'Honneur, who stays further (he believes that is a requirement for this race) and could reverse form with Klassical Dream if the ground is easier.
DJ: Elixir De Nutz is hardened and could be tough to beat. The Tolworth has been a good guide for the Supreme in the past and produced the 1-2 last year.
OB: Loves this race as he tipped up Summerville Boy 12 months ago. Very sweet on Angel's Breath even though he'd only jumped four hurdles before his defeat last time. Nico de Boinville and Nicky Henderson think the world of him and he possesses the best form in the race.
WG: passes on a rumour that Davy Russell has been booked to ride Angel's Breath (with hindsight, it doesn't appear to be accurate, though, and Nico has supposedly picked him as his ride today!)
MH: This will be a good spectacle but picking the winner is difficult. Lalor is the one to beat if he reproduces his Cheltenham form but he's not had a great prep. He thinks the race will suit one held up and suggests Paloma Blue.
OB: It is a weak race this year and Le Richebourg and Cilaos Emery are out. Glen Forsa (disputing favourtism) is essentially a handicapper. He won off 116 in a handicap then won a three runner race last time. The race is ripe for an upset. Clondaw Castle is a quick jumper but another handicapper. Suggests Knocknanuss at 14/1 and says Glen Forsa will not be winning.
DJ: Defi Du Seuil will go off fav if he switches from the JLT. He is worried for Lalor if the ground is soft. Thinks Knocknanuss is a good each-way bet too as he could go off infront and enjoy the ground.
MH: Thinks Defi Du Seuil's connections may be tempted to switch him here if the ground is soft.
WG: Glen Forsa is "the best jumper of a fence in the country". He's won over 3m and is on an upward curve. Thinks Hardline could place.
MS: also likes Hardline because he "has wins in the bank".
Other Tuesday races
MH: Likes Ballyward in the NH Chase. Thinks it is a two horse race. He ran well in the Albert Bartlett and Patrick Mullins rides. Benie Des Dieux is a banker in the Mares'. She is an absolute class act and could be a Gold Cup horse. Likes Give Me A Copper for Paul Nicholls in the Ultima and thinks he is well handicapped.
OB: Ruby Walsh has said Benie Des Dieux is his nap of the week in the Mares'. He likes Ballyward and Discorama in the NH Chase.
WG: Likes Highway One O One in the Close Brothers - he's a good front runner.
DJ: Rode Kildisart last time in a race Highway One O One was second in last time. Thought the latter turned in a good performance and thinks he'll get the trip. Mentions him winning a decent race at Carlisle earlier in the season. Then goes on to talk about Ok Corral, who runs in the NH Chase. Said he did a piece of work on the all-weather with a 160-rated two miler, Call Me Lord, and Ok Corral was brilliant and rode all over him. He says he has lots of speed so is worried about him getting 4m on soft ground.
WG: Ok Corral looks awkward and he's against him on the basis he doesn't think he'll get home.
MH: Suggests that if Santini doesn't go for the RSA, Ok Corral could switch to that race.
MS: Mentions Tower Bridge for the Close Brothers who has been backed at 20/1 and is on a good mark. In the Mares' he flags up Roksana, who has been backed from 16/1 into 8/1 and is an each-way option as many of those towards the front of the betting are unlikely to run.
Best bets for Tuesday
OB: Angel's Breath (Supreme)
DJ: Elixir De Nutz (Supreme)
MH: Benie Des Dieux (Mares')
EC: Laurina (Mares')
WG: Glen Forsa (Arkle)
MS: Highway One O One (Close Brothers)
MS: One of Footpad or Min won't run. Thinks this is a race to watch - to admire Altior.
DJ: Footpad will likely go for the Ryanair.
EC: Altior jumped violently left handed last time and may have been feeling something.
WG: Responded by saying that doesn't matter as Cheltenham is left-handed!
DJ: Says Sceau Royal has been in good form. He beat Simply Ned and a line can be drawn under his last run. He doesn't want soft ground but he's not good enough to beat Altior anyway. With reference to Altior jumping left, he says some horses do tend to do that at Ascot for some reason.
OB: Says Nicky Henderson suggested he may have been mimicking Special Tiara, who jumped left on one of his previous starts. He says there is that moment with Altior where he looks beaten but he wins easily. He's one of the best of any generation. Very good horses find a way to win. He's special.
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
MS: There has been money for Battleoverdoyen in recent days.
WG: Likes Champ. Ran in a handicap as Nicky Henderson probably felt he may settle better. The Challow form is probably not great but he'll likely come on for it.
OB: Doesn't fancy Champ. His last time out form is questionable. He beat Getaway Trump and Kateson - both of whom have been stuffed since in races worse than the Ballymore. Thinks the Irish angle is the way into the race. Likes Sam's Profile , who was second to Battleoverdoyen, who stole first run on him (and Sam's Profile was hampered). The price disparity is too big. Sam's Profile has reportedly worked well.
DJ: Sam's Profile has been mentioned by Jamie Codd at a previous preview night, though the Gordon Elliott camp are excited about Battleoverdoyen, who is a fine, big, strong, strapping horse. He's a " certainty if he handles the course undulations ".
MH: City Island is shortlist material. Beakstown also worth a mention after winning the Leamington at Warwick. He worked well this morning.
MH: Topofthegame - he thinks he hit the front too soon last time.
WG: Says Topofthegame hasn't won over fences but he wasn't going to beat his own La Bague Au Roi in a battle last time. Says Santini is the apple of Nicky Henderson's eye but Delta Work is the one to beat as he is battle hardened.
OB: Also likes Delta Work as Santini's prep has not been great. His previous run wasn't great, then he pulled a shoe. He was a drifter but there was more positive news on him yesterday from the yard. He thinks the Irish will win the race.
DJ: Mentions Drovers Lane for Rebecca Curtis at 16/1. Only rated 6lb below Delta Work . He's a good, hardy horse.
Other Wednesday races
DJ: Comments on Torpillo in the Fred Winter. Won in France and was 2-2 but was then poor behind Quel Distin. He has been a shadow of himself since. He mentions Ultagold for the Cross Country - an each-way bet at 20/1.
OB: Likes Band Of Outlaws in the Fred Winter.
MH: Gordon Elliott could win the Fred Winter. His Lethal Steps has been trained for the race. Surin, who is by Authorized, could be well handicapped, while Coko Beach is worth considering if the ground is a slog. In the Champion Bumper he says it wouldn't be a massive shock if Meticulous reversed form with Envoi Allen (favourite). Mentions Blue Sari in that race too.
OB: For the Bumper, Harry Fry is sweet on the chances of Get In The Queue , who won at Exeter in the fog.
WG: Mentions Hannon in the Fred Winter (but he was taken out of the race today) for John McConnell.
MH: Paul Nicholls is keen on Friend Or Foe for theFred Winter. It looks touch and go if he gets in, though, as he's no. 37 at present.
MS: Fine Brunello was beaten by Fakir D'Oudaries but wasn't given a hard time. Runs off a mark in the 140's in the Fred Winter and his form looks solid.
Best bets for Wednesday
MS: Fine Brunello (Fred Winter)
WG: Delta Work and God's Own (w/o Altior) (Champion Chase)
MH: Topofthegame (RSA)
DJ: Drovers Lane (RSA)
OB: Sam's Profile (Ballymore)
MS: Faugheen has been the best backed ante post. There has been money for Top Notch, too.
DJ: Top Notch will run here now. We had a discussion and felt the staying division was wide open. He needed the run when third behind Paisley Park earlier in the season and we think we will find improvement from him. He's not big but has a massive heart. He's been second at the Festival before.
WG: Not sure Paisley Park is as good as he looks. Keeper Hill may run here and if he does he's got an each-way chance.
OB: Paisley Park can hit a flat spot. This division was crying out for a new stayer to take the mantle but Sam Spinner was unable to do it last year. He jokes there have been some bad winners of the race (WG was on the panel and won it with Cole Harden not so long ago). He questions whether Paisley Park will back up that Cleeve run. The talk in Ireland is that Faugheen is flying.
MH: Top Notch is proven at the Festival. He goes in the ground. Says Black Op is interesting back over hurdles. He, too, is against Paisley Park as he feels he has been on the go for a long time.
MS: Gives one last chance to Faugheen.
MS: There has been money for Footpad. Un De Sceaux may find the ground is coming in his favour.
DJ: Footpad is the best horse in the race - the exceptional talent. He was outstanding in the Irish Arkle and could be a Gold Cup horse in future. He looked like he'd win at Leopardstown but he got tired. He missed prep work with an overreach. Can't see past him. Terrefort is massively overpriced. He has a very good Grade 1 win at Aintree. He thought he'd get past Frodon in the Ascot Chase but he came out tired. He did some good work yesterday morning.
MH: Footpad is the class act. Two and a half miles won't be a problem. Monalee is rock solid but he may lack Footpad's class. The Storyteller could also go well from off the pace.
WG: Footpad has questions to answer. Monalee looks the solid option. Rachael Blackmore could retain the ride.
OB: Rachael Blackmore ( Monalee) and Bryony Frost (Frodon) could fight out the finish here.
DJ: Kildisart has done nothing wrong. Won 2-3. Was good at Cheltenham last time out and is still improving. He feels in good form though he has 5-6lb to find with Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation. Race will be run to suit him.
MS: Kildisart could go off third favourite as a few others are going to drop out. He prefers Defi Du Seuil to Lostintranslaion but will be cheering on Kildisart.
WG: Likes Lostintranslation, who has form with his own La Bague Au Roi.
MH: Would like Topofthegame if he is re-routed here or, if he doesn't, Lostintranslation.
OB: Lostintranslation for him. Castafiore could also go well at a big price, with her allowance.
Other Thursday races
OB: Epatante is the best chance of the week for Nicky Henderson in the Mares Novice Hurdle. He also likes Janika in the Brown Advisory Plate.
DJ: We've taken our time with Janika. He's a Grade 1 horse running in a handicap. The more time he's had in the UK, the more he's improved. He's gone up 11lb for finishing second twice but he worked well with Terrefort.
MH: Nicky Henderson is very keen on Epatante in the Mares' Novice Hurdle . She gets 5lb from Irish raider Honeysuckle and has so much class. In the Pertemps Final he likes First Assignment - he was behind Paisley Park at Haydock. Ian Williams is very happy with his prep.
WG: Sire Du Berlais is of interest in the Pertemps Final.
MS: Sire Du Berlais has been very well backed.
Best bets for Thursday
MS: Janika (Brown Advisory Plate)
WG: Lostintranslation (JLT)
EC: Notwhatiam (tip was one he heard from Richard Hoiles) (Pertemps)
MH: Epatante (Mares' Novice Hurdle)
DJ: Top Notch (Stayers' Hurdle)
OB: Monalee (Ryanair)
Cheltenham Gold Cup
MS: If the rain comes then Native River could go off favourite. Don't think Presenting Percy will be favourite.
WG: It is hard to win the Gold Cup but Pat Kelly has an unbelievable Festival record. Presenting Percy jumped well in the RSA. Could easily see him winning but he's not for me.
EC: Pat Kelly is a genius. He took Presenting Percy schooling at Galway and they switched the configuration of the track left-handed. He leaves no stone unturned.
MH: Presenting Percy 's record speaks for itself. He goes on any ground and goes there fresh. Doesn't think going left-handed is an issue for Clan Des Obeaux but going back to Cheltenham may be.
DJ: Davy Russel is at ease on Presenting Percy. A pure natural.
OB: Would choose Clan Des Obeaux over Presenting Percy given the choice. His record at Cheltenham is respectable. He isn't ruling out Bristol De Mai who has beaten several of those at the top of the betting and is 25-1.
DJ: Bristol De Mai is good fresh. He has often had hard races by the time he gets to the Festival. He may go for the Grand National after this.
MH: Willie Mullins has got Kemboy, who won at Leopardstown, and Al Boum Photo , but he doesn't see why the latter should reverse RSA form with Presenting Percy.
MH: Anibale Fly could pick up the pieces and has been crying out for this trip.
WG: Likes Native River. Not worried that last year may have taken plenty out of him. Thinks he's solid.
OB: Likes Clan Des Obeaux and thinks Bristol De Mai may be placed. Elegant Escape is a contender if the ground comes up soft.
DJ: Likes Bristol De Mai each-way. Thinks Native River is a danger.
MH: Pick is Presenting Percy or Anibale Fly EW.
EC: When Presenting Percy won the RSA last year, Sir Tony McCoy grabbed him and said he'd win next year's Gold Cup.
Other Friday races
MH: It is difficult to find flaws in Sir Erecin the Triumph. He has good Flat form and was impressive at Leopardstown. If it is soft then Paul Nicholls may run Pic D'Orhy in the Triumph. Was a Grade 1 second last time and has won three times at Auteuil. Harry Cobden likes him.
DJ: Adjali can be forgiven his blip last time out as he was sick afterwards. He thought he was the next We Have A Dream. Hopes he turns up back to his best at Cheltenham in the Triumph. He thinks he's the best English horse but might not beat the Irish.
WG: Western Ryder for the County Hurdle. Has won at Cheltenham and wants a fast-run 2m. He has had ulcers but runs well fresh. Mentions Allaho for the Albert Bartlett.
OB: Likes Magic Saint in the Grand Annual. Says he's a Grade 1 horse in a handicap.
DJ: He rode Magic Saint at Wincanton. Said he gave him a great feel. Straight after the race Paul Nicholls said he'd go for this race. Rain won't hinder him and he jumps and stays well. He's a fine, big horse.
MH: Likes Dickie Diver in the Albert Bartlett and Magic Saint in the Grand Annual. Also Dallas Des Pictons for Gordon Elliott in the Martin Pipe.
MS: The three best backed have been Magic Saint (Grand Annual), Lisnagar Oscar (Albert Bartlett) and Ucello Conti (Foxhunters).
Best bets for Friday
MS: Commander of Fleet (Albert Bartlett)
WG: Native River (Gold Cup)
EC: Uradel (Martin Pipe)
MH: Dickie Diver (Albert Bartlett)
DJ: Magic Saint (Grand Annual)
OB: Allaho (Albert Bartlett) & Clan Des Obeaux (Gold Cup)
Best bets of the week
WG: Glen Forsa (Arkle)
EC: Footpad (Ryanair)
MH: Epatante (Mares' Novice Hurdle)
DJ: Magic Saint (Grand Annual)
OB: Angel's Breath (Supreme)