Friday, 15 December 2017

Cheltenham Friday Tips: Rocky's value may be 'Treasure'

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We have every race covered on day one of the International Meeting at Cheltenham.

12:10 - Western Ryder, Some Man ew
This is a very strong race and it will be interesting to see how strong each bit of form is. On heavy ground this horse gets the verdict as he has been so consistent in big races around Cheltenham and can continue improving here.

Some Man may like the conditions and can build on his promising debut run for Paul Nicholls at Worcester where he finished fourth.

12:45 - Sizing Tennessee
Colin Tizzard is keen to get this horse back and winning ways here at Cheltenham after he threw away a lead to unseat Bryan Cooper at the last fence. That form sets a high standard, especially as he looked to be well clear that day. A repeat effort would see him very go close here.

1:20 - Attest, Sea Wall
Attest is a horse that will run a big race at some point this season and I am hoping that day can be today. He ran well at Ascot, in a race where the form has worked out very well, to take sixth spot and can continue to improve here today. He is dropped 2lb and deserves to go well.

Chris Gordon's Sea Wall has been a consistent sort recently and could still be on a mark he can win off here. He finished second at Lingfield this month and was only defeated on the line, he is up 3lb but can run well again.

1:55 - Theatre Territory
After a very encouraging second place finish at Huntingdon, Warren Greatrex's mare must be able to go very well here today. She finished second to a classy prospect, but will improve for that run and can utilise this current mark. She may be one to go chasing in the future, but her hurdles mark is winnable and she can run well here.

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Colin Tizzard is expecting a big year from Robinsfirth

2:30 - Robinsfirth
The Tizzards think very highly of this horse who missed out on his intended Ladbroke Trophy target this year but could make amends here. He finished fourth on his return to Cheltenham, before a second place finish at Haydock. There is a lot more to come from him, especially now on ideal ground.

3:05 - Josies Orders, Bless The Wings ew
Mark Walsh is the man who will know his best chance of a winner of this type of race and he has chosen to ride Josies Orders here. He is three from three over course and distance, and ran well when second in Ireland. He could easily make it four.

Bless The Wings has pulled-up on both of his last two starts, but he likes these sort of races and can return back to his best form off this current mark.

3:40 - Rocky's Treasure
Kim Bailey sends just one runner to Cheltenham, and Rocky's Treasure looks like he could strike off his current mark here. He finished off last season with two impressive victories, and made a fine return when third here a month back. That run had plenty of promise and off the same mark, and on soft ground, he should run a big race.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Willie Mullins 'Superstar prospect' Benie Des Dieux puts expectations on the line at Carlisle

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Rich Ricci is looking forward to seeing the 'very, very exciting'  Benie Des Dieux, who takes on just four rivals in Carlisle's Mares' Chase.

Willie Mullins, who won the Ladbroke Trophy with Total Recall yesterday, saddled the six-year-old for her first outing in just under a year.

She forged clear of a good field on her sole chasing start in December, picking up a 30 length win at Limerick for her stable debut.

"She is a lovely mare,” said owner Rich Ricci.

“Her jumping display at Limerick was sensational. She is a mare I am very, very excited about. She could be, in the proverbial way, anything.

"I wouldn't mind her taking on the boys, the girls, whoever it is. I can't wait to see her out. She is something to look forward to."

Despite only one appearance for the Master of Closutton, she is already priced up at just 25-1 for the Ryanair Chase at the Festival. Today she is odds-on for her visit to Cumbria.

Donald McCain's Lastbutnotleast poses a serious threat on her chasing debut. Last seen completing a hat-trick in listed company at Doncaster, she has the profile to become an exciting novice chaser this season.

“She’s in good nick and she’s ready to run,” said the Cheshire-based trainer.

“It’s her first run over fences, so the main aim is to get a clear run over fences. 

"We like her a lot, but it is a tough place to start. She’s won at the track and she will love the ground. Hopefully she can go well as it’s a nice place to start her.”

Noel Fehily goes to Carlisle to ride Tacenda, who broke her maiden for Anthony Honeyball at Fontwell last time out.

Verona Opera and Caraline also take their chance.

Gordon Elliott expecting Festival flop Death Duty to prove class in Drinmore Novice Chase

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Gordon Elliott's hugely exciting novice Death Duty targets his first Grade One victory over hurdles in Fairyhouse's Drinmore Novices' Chase.

The six-year-old won four times as a hurdler last season but failed to fire when well-fancied in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March before a third place finish at Punchestown.

He is currently two from two over fences this season, following convincing wins at Tipperary before an impressive Grade Three win last month.

"Death Duty faces his first Grade 1 Chase," Elliott told his Betfair blog.

"He has taken to chasing very well which we always expected and he's going to improve with every run being the huge big horse he is. 

"This race looks ideal for him in every way so with a clear round I expect a big run. 

"The one to beat for him looks like Rathvinden a dual Grade 3 winner of Willie's but I hope everything goes his way and I am very much looking forward to him running."

The County Meath-based trainer also runs Dinaria Des Obeaux and Shattered Love.

"Shattered Love is a lovely big mare who we think a lot of," he added.

"Like Death Duty chasing was always going to be where we saw the best from her and she proved us right with her first two efforts over fences being comfortable victories. 

"Her last run was a narrowly beaten second behind stablemate Jury Duty in the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Punchestown last month so it's another step up in class for her today but I expect another good run.

"Dinaria Des Obeaux won a Mares Listed Chase very easily last month at Clonmel in testing conditions. 

"She came out of the race well and heads here in cracking form. Along with Shattered Love she benefits from the 7lb mares allowance which is a nice plus, as is Jack Kennedy in the saddle who gets the best out of her."

Willie Mullins' Rathvinden has taken to chasing very well for the master of Closutton. The nine-year-old, who once finished third in the Supreme, is four from seven as a chaser.

He won his last two outings both very easily and remains a key danger to Death Duty.

Snow Falcon takes his chance for Noel Meade.

Red Jack aims to establish his place at the top of novice rank in competitive Royal Bond

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Noel Meade's unbeaten hurdler Red Jack hopes to establish his Supreme Novice Hurdle hope as he takes on some of Ireland's promising youngsters in the Royal Bond Novices' Hurdle (1:00).

The four-year-old beat Debuchet well on debut, who went on to finish second in the Champion Bumper, before winning by six lengths at Leopardstown.

He made a fine start over hurdles, striking comfortably at Naas and takes a steep step up in class for this Grade One.

"He won his maiden well and we've been happy with him since," Meade told the Racing Post.

He added: "This will be a big step up in class but he's a horse we like and we thought it worth giving him a shot at it."

Mengli Khan is currently the bookmakers favourite for the two-mile curtain raising contest at the Cheltenham Festival, and seeks to make it three from three over hurdles.

He has won stylishly both on debut and in a Grade Three contest last time out, and remains an exciting youngster for the Gigginstown team.

"Mengli Khan is the pick of our three," Elliott told his Betfair blog.

"He's a lovely horse with loads of boot and he did it very easily the last day in a Grade 3 at Navan.

"A horse that will only improve with time I think he's an exciting prospect and I'm expecting a big run from him today in this seven runner contest."

Elliott also runs outsiders Morgan and Hardline.

Willie Mullins saddles Makitorix who was a good winner on his hurdling debut, whilst Joseph O'Brien is represented by Le Richebourg.

Confidence high for Apple's Jade Hatton Grace clash with Nichols Canyon

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Gordon Elliott has 'every confidence' ahead of the clash of Cheltenham Festival winners Apple's Jade and Nichols Canyon in the Hatton Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The five-year-old won this by a short head in this contest last year, before her memorable victory in the Mares Hurdle back in March.

Also a winner of the Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in her campaign last year, she made a brilliant return when winning by two lengths at Navan.

“Apples Jade is back to defend her crown, having won this race by a short head from Vroum Vroum Mag last year,” Elliott told his Betfair blog.

“She ran a blinder last month to win the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on what was her first run of the season and she came out of that in great order.

“Her main danger today is Nichols Canyon who obviously benefits from having much more experience.

“But Apples Jade is a seriously good mare and, with her 7lb allowance today, I have every confidence in her again for a big run.”

She is currently priced at 3/1 to reclaim her Mares Hurdle crown at Cheltenham in 2018.

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Willie Mullins' Nichols Canyon has won eight times at Grade One level

Stayer's Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon is the obvious danger in the field of seven. Willie Mullins' star won by just under a length in the Cotswold before finishing second to Unowhatimeanharry on home soil.

Coral Cup winner Supasundae went within a length of a Grade One win on his last start at Aintree for Jessica Harrington.

Cilaos Emery, Mick Jazz, Swamp Fox and Augusta Kate also run.

Newbury: Total Recall ends Willie Mullins' wait for Ladbroke Trophy glory

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Master trainer Willie Mullins broke his long-wait for a Ladbroke Trophy winner after favourite Total Recall saw off Nicky Henderson's Whisper in a thrilling finish.

The eight-year-old came into the race following a 18lb rise following his comfortable win in the Munster National, and was placed well in midfield for jockey Paul Townsend.

He crept closer into contention before falling behind Nicky Henderson's dual Grade One runner-up with a furlong to go, but he rallied back to claim the lead in the final strides.

"I think a lot of the credit must go to Sandra Hughes, who used her father's training methods and let this horse progress very slowly," Mullins said.

"Paul was fantastic. He was very cool. I thought he was beaten going to the last, but he switched sides and got a different run on the other side, it worked a treat.

"It's a tough race for the Irish to win, why I don't know."

Bookmakers have currently priced him at 25-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where trainer Willie Mullins will give him an entry too.

"He will definitely get an entry in the Gold Cup after that run," he added.

"By the time he runs again I imagine the entries will have closed."

Regal Encore finished third whilst Braqueur D'Or took fourth spot.

Colin Tizzard secured Grade Two glory as Elegant Escape won the John Francome Novices' Chase, it was the five-year-old's first win over fences after seeing off Paul Nicholls' consistent Black Corton.

The highly rated Charli Parcs made a creditable record, but Ben Pauling's High Bridge beat him by just over a length.

Dame Rose saw off Cap Soleil in the mares listed race on the card, and has been shortened into 16-1 for the Mares Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Old Guard, Gold Present and Overtown Express also won on the card.

Newbury: Harry Fry hoping to fulfill the American dream

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Harry Fry's exciting chaser American will bid to fufil his promise, as the big day arrives for long-time Ladbroke Trophy favourite at Newbury.

The seven-year-old won stylishly on his first two outings over fences, but missed out on his intended target the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He went to October and confirmed his place as a classy chaser, when Welsh National antepost favourite Rock The Kasbah convincingly by eight lengths.

The Dorset trainer has kept him in waiting for this race all Summer, and is hopeful his patience will be rewarded.

“We have been very happy with American’s progress since he came back in over the summer,” said the Dorset trainer.

“It is obviously going to be a big ask first time out but he did nothing wrong last year, and he has an ideal profile for the race as a second-season chaser.

“American makes us work hard. Thankfully, he has come through his work at home with flying colours and is all set for Saturday.

“It’s no secret that his knees are not great and that is why we need slow ground for him. Looking at the forecast, it should be ideal on Saturday.”

Willie Mullins won this contest with Be My Royal in 2002, but the horse was eventually disqualifed and the Master of Closutton is seeking his first win in the race with Total Recall.

The eight-year-old beat a good field at Limerick by eight lengths last time, and despite an 18lb rise in the weights remains a key contender in the race.

"Total Recall is the one on everyone's lips. The pigeons around Carlow appear to have Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat," Patrick Mullins told the Irish Independent.

"He pulverised the field in the Munster National, looking like a horse for whom the sky could be the limit.

"However, the handicapper has reacted accordingly to try and make him another Icarus. He is now 18lbs higher than his Limerick stroll so he will need to forge a performance of a whole new nature to succeed once again.

"With the second horse in Limerick, Alpha Des Obeaux, coming out and winning the Clonmel Oil Chase afterwards, it appears there is sound reason to think that he can step up to the task.

"Total Recall carries only 10st 8lb, a perfect racing weight, and he is an improving horse, who has shown he can handle the red-hot fire of a competitive handicap chase, has a run under his belt, should stay the trip and handle the ground.

"With Ruby sidelined with his broken leg, Paul Townend takes the ride and I think he can finally help heal the wounds and scars of 2002."

Mullins also saddles Pleasant Company, whilst fellow countryman Noel Meade brings A Genie In Abottle across the Irish Sea.

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Whisper is among some well-fancied rivals all seeking Ladbroke Trophy glory in Berkshire

Cheltenham Festival narrow losers Whisper (RSA) and Singlefarmpayment (JLT Handicap) look to take Newbury's prestigious prize, whilst confidence is high for former Gold Cup hero Coneygree's return to Berkshire.

The likes of Carole's Destrier, Double Ross, Vyta Du Roc, Cogry, Southfield Royale and Present Man also take their chance.