🍀 Cheltenham Festival Update (Vol 3) 🍀
For those members that have been with us for a while, you will know all about how our shortlist works for those that don't, I will give you a brief overview.
We operate an extensive tracker featuring a monumental number of horses. As we start to get closer to the festival, we begin to compose our festival shortlist and will be posting a weekly update. A month before the Festival takes place, we will then begin to review all the races and will narrow down the shortlist to the bare minimum. Below we have our current shortlist together with their star ratings (1-5 stars). Both the rating and the shortlist are obviously subject to change between now and March as most horses will probably have at least one more prep race to run before heading to Cheltenham. Any additions or amendments from the previous week's update will be marked in bold italics. If you are intending to use the shortlist to place anti-post bets, please ensure that you are betting NRNB.
Below we have a picture of our final shortlist for days 1-3 of last year's festival and as you can see we managed to find plenty of winners and places. The hope will be that we can do the same again this year.
DYSART DYNAMO (Supreme) - We now have our primary horse for the Supreme in the bag as I couldn't have been more impressed by the way this horse went about his business in the Moscow Flyer. He looks to have the perfect profile for this race and should be very hard to beat. His likely entry also means that I will now be moving SIR GERHARD to the Ballymore. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CONSTITUTION HILL (Supreme) – We have had this horse on our radar for some time and he hasn’t disappointed. He has obviously propelled himself to the head of this market and he looks an extremely exciting prospect but at the current odds of around 15/8, I am not sure I would be overly keen to go piling in as I don’t think we’ve seen the best of the Irish contingent yet. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
JONBON (Supreme) – This horse obviously has a very lofty reputation and arguably rightly so. He has been very impressive on each of his career starts to date but I am yet to really buy into the hype just yet and for me, I think I’d rather side with his stablemate at least for now but I have a sneaky suspicion that Nicky may end up sending one of his two to the Ballymore instead. ⭐️⭐️
STATE MAN (Supreme?) – This horse took a heavy fall on debut for Willie Mullins and that may well have put an end to any lofty plans for him, but he remains a horse with enormous potential and I’ll watch him with interest over the next month or two to see what Willie does with him. ⭐️⭐️
HAWAI GAME (Supreme?) – I think this horse falls into the bracket of could be anything. He did everything wrong on debut at Naas over the Christmas period but still pulled away to win with a bit in hand. I haven’t heard anything about his long-term plans but if Willie can get another win into him in the next 4-6 weeks, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shorten up significantly in the betting for this race. Very well beaten by DYSART DYNAMO on his last start and is unlikely to head to the festival as a result. We will leave him on our shortlist but I have downgraded the star rating. ⭐️
FERNY HOLLOW (Arkle) - This horse won then G1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Whilst that race hasn't proven to be the best guide for the festival in recent years, it is a race that Willie used to target with a lot of his top notch 2-mile chasers and this horse is probably the first one to really fit the mould in recent years. Whilst the Arkle is starting to look hot now, he will be a very worthy favourite. This horse has now been ruled out for the season.
BLUE LORD (Arkle) - This horse was our each-way play in last year's Supreme at big odds and he was unlucky not to have finished second given that he took a fall when clear of the third. He has seemingly improved for fences this year as most of his sire's progeny do and I don't think we have seen the best of him yet. Following the injury to FERNY HOLLOW, this horse now heads the market and in my book, he will now be extremely tough to beat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
EDWARDSTONE (Arkle) - It is hard not to like this horse who has developed into a progressive animal. He was on our radar last season and ran a blinder in the County Hurdle to finish 5th. He has taken his from to a whole new level this year over fences and whilst I don't think he has the scope of some of the Irish entries, I do think he will run with merit. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
HAUT EN COULEURS (Arkle?) - I am not entirely sure what Willie's plans will be for this horse as he probably lacks a bit of experience, but I don't think there is any doubt that he is a top-class animal in the making and if he can win another chase in Ireland in the next 6 weeks then I am sure Willie will send him over for the Festival. ⭐️⭐️
DOES HE KNOW (Ultima Handicap) – One of my biggest anti-post bets at last year’s festival was HAPPYGOLUCKY who ran in this race for Kim and ended up finishing 2nd. This horse has a very similar profile and if Kim can get him a prep ran in the next couple of weeks and avoid any further rise in the weights then I think he will be very happy to go and take his chance in this contest with a hose that loves the track and stays well. I have now heard that Kim is keen to avoid the Festival as this horse doesn't handle crowds well at all. The game plan will be to go to Doncaster instead which is a real shame. Whilst he remain on our shortlist, I have downgraded the star rating. ⭐️⭐
OSCAR ELITE (Ultima Handicap) – This horse’s form ties in nicely with DOES HE KNOW but he is 10lb lower in the weights currently. As with the horse above, OSCAR will need another prep run but unlike with DHK, he will probably have to win on his next start if he’s to real pique my interest in having a go on him anti-post. Disappointed at Cheltenham at the weekend (29/01) and has bled so he will now be downgraded. ⭐️
TELMESOMETHINGGIRL (Mares’ Hurdle) – This mare was an emphatic winner at last year’s festival and looking at how this race is shaping up you’d have to think that Henry will head to Cheltenham quietly confident. Whilst she was beaten by a few of her market rivals at Leopardstown over Christmas, I don’t think she lost anything in defeat, and I think she will almost certainly have a chance to reverse that form at the Festival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
BURNING VICTORY (Mares’ Hurdle) – This horse hasn’t shown an awful lot since winning at the festival back in 2020 but her run at Leopardstown in December was a return to form of sorts and on collateral form, she doesn’t have a huge amount to find with the anti-post favourite. ⭐️⭐️
MRS MILNER (Mares’ Hurdle) – I think it is fair to say that his mare didn’t really live up to her market expectations at Newbury in November when finishing well beaten in the race won by THOMAS DERBY however back against her own sex at a track she clearly loves, she is going to have every chance. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
QUEENS BROOK (Mares’ Hurdle) – A fascinating mare who finished 3rd in the 2020 Champion Bumper behind FERNY HOLLOW and APPRECIATE IT. She has run twice over hurdles this season finishing 2nd and 1st and the form has a solid look to it so far. I am not sure she has the scope to win a race such as this, but she remains a horse of interest. ⭐️⭐️
HONEYSUCKLE (Champion Hurdle) – I opposed this horse last season at the festival, and it was clearly a mistake. She is without doubt a top-class animal and if she stays sound and stays on her feet, she may well be unbeatable again this year. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
QUILIXIOUS (Champion Hurdle) – Last season’s Triumph winner has looked a little out of sorts this season but was unlucky not to win the last day when over-jumping at the last. Whilst I wouldn’t usually be massively keen on a 5-year-old in this race, I do think he may offer some EW value against the favourite. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
ELIMAY (Champion Hurdle?) - This horse has been a little underwhelming so far this season, but she obviously still has plenty of potential. With EPATANTE looking to have regressed slightly, I would expect JP to be keen to run ELIMAY in the Champion Hurdle, but Willie may have other plans as HONEYSUCKLE is probably unbeatable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
EPATANTE (Champion Hurdle) - As mentioned above, I believe that EPATANTE has regressed slightly this season and I don't really see any reason to believe that she can reverse form with HONEYSUCKLE. However, recent comments from Nicky seem to suggest she's in top form but let’s be honest, he is always going to say that. ⭐️⭐️
RUN WILD FRED (National Hunt Chase) – We had a big winner in this race last year in the shape of GALVIN and this horse has a very similar profile. My personal view is that he will be a very worthy favourite especially as many of market rivals simply lack experience both over fences and at the top level. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
STATTLER (National Hunt Chase) - This horse was very impressive at Naas (30/01) when beating FAROUK D'ALENE in a close finish. Truth be told I think he was value for further than the the winning margin. Whether he is streetwise enough to beat RUN WILD FRED is yet to be seen but he definitely deserves his place towards the head of the market for this race. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
EN BETON (National Hunt Chase) – This horse is massive, and I was mightily impressed by the way he travelled and jumped when winning his beginners chase at Punchestown. Whilst that form wouldn’t be anywhere near good enough to be backing him at the Festival, if he can go out and better that performance this month or in February then he may well be of interest. Comprehensively beaten by both STATTLER and FAROUK D'ALENE at Naas so it is now very difficult to see him playing any major part at the festival. ⭐️
AHOY SENIOR (National Hunt Chase) – This horse was firmly put in his place by BRAVEMANSGAME but he jumps and travels extremely well and I think this race is probably tailor made for him. Whether he is good enough to really challenge the Irish contingent is yet to be seen though. Apparently connection's preference is to go to the Browns Advisory ⭐️⭐️
BEN SIEGAL (Boodles?) – This contest is usually one for very small stakes as it is a completely lottery, but this horse showed a bit of class when winning his maiden at Punchestown and whilst he’s probably no superstar, this may be a good fit for him. ⭐️
SAINT SEGAL (Boodles?) – This horse was no match for PORTICELLO at Chepstow, but he remains a talented horse. He currently has a mark of 126 and whilst he will need a couple more runs to build experience, he could end up going into this race with a workable OR. ⭐️
KOTMASK (Boodles?) – I was quite impressed by the way this horse went and got the job done at Fontwell on debut for Gary Moore. The yard doesn’t have much luck at the festival and this horse may not even end up running but he’s certainly an interesting contender. ⭐️
JOURNEY WITH ME (Ballymore?) – I am not entirely sure what to make of this horse but there is no doubt that he has done everything that Henry has asked of him so far. If I am to buy into the hype though, I will need to see him go and do it one more time before the festival. ⭐️⭐️
SIR GERHARD (Ballymore) - Won his maiden hurdle in fine style at Fairyhouse on Boxing Day in a race that should work out well. His jumping was efficient, and he clearly has plenty of speed but as his connections are likely to want to avoid DYSART DYNAMO and the Henderson pair in the Supreme, this will be a very valid fallback option. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
STAGE STAR (Ballymore?) - Another Paul Nicholls horse who is seemingly going to dodge the festival in favour of Aintree. I honestly cannot stand the logic at all and hopefully the horse's syndicate managers will insist that he goes to Cheltenham instead. ⭐️⭐️
WONDERWALL (Ballymore?) – This horse is clearly held in high regard and has impressed me massively so far over hurdles. He travels extremely well and whilst his jumping isn’t always foot perfect, I do think he may be a top-notch horse. This division looks to be wide open, and I see no reason why he can’t develop into a major contender. ⭐️⭐️
GERRI COLOMBE (Ballymore?) – A horse with an unbeaten record is always an exciting prospect until the bubble bursts. This horse has done everything effortlessly so far and whilst I think his connections will also be looking at the Albert Bartlett, I suspect he will probably end up in this contest. The general vibes are that the AB is in fact the intended target now. ⭐️⭐️
HILLCREST – (Ballymore?) – A real brute of a horse who dispatched I AM MAXIMUS with ease over the Christmas period. I am not sure if a trip to the festival is in the offing but whatever he does this season, he is going to be one hell of a chaser next year! Unseated at Cheltenham this weekend (30/01) which means we are none the wiser about his ceiling of ability which is a real shame. ⭐️⭐️
GALOPIN DES CHAMPS (Festival Novices Chase) - I've watched this horse's last run a few times now and it is impossible to fault. If the form of that run proves to be solid, then I think it is safe to say that only a fall will get him beaten at the Festival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BRAVEMANSGAME (Festival Novices Chase) - An emphatic winner last time out and the way he dispatched AHOY SENIOR was spectacular. However, Paul Nicholls has once again suggested that he intends to bypass the festival which for me is a disgrace. Whilst I don't think this horse will have any chance of beating the Irish contingent at Cheltenham, to not even try would just be pathetic. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE (Festival Novices Chase) - This horse has been in our standard tracker for a while but I've never really seen him as a Festival horse until recently when he demolished a decent field at Warwick. If his connections planned to go to the amateur race on Day 1, I think I'd have given him 3 stars but as their preference is to come here and try to take on GALOPIN, my enthusiasm is dampened significantly. ⭐️⭐️
SKY ACE (Coral Cup?) – This horse has lost her way a little this season but as a result is probably on a very workable mark. I think this kind of race could suit her and whilst she probably has multiple options over the next couple of months, it will be interesting to see what her trainer does with her between now and the festival. ⭐️⭐️
MARIES ROCK (Coral Cup?) – This horse has always been held in high regard but hasn’t been entirely straightforward. She bounced back to form at Kempton on Boxing Day though and is now being heavily punted for the Lanzarote. A win in that race would probably see this horse heading to a different race but until that happens, she will remain of interest in the anti-post betting for this contest. This mare was very disappointing in the Lanzarote and once again looked very difficult. Whilst she still has plenty of talent, she just can't be trusted and I have therefore downgraded the star rating. ⭐️
I AM MAXIMUS (Coral Cup?) – A horse with a lofty reputation whose bubble was burst slightly when turned over by Hillcrest. I still think he remains a horse with plenty of promise though and if he does end up in a festival handicap, he is going to be an interesting betting proposition. ⭐️⭐️
SHISHKIN (Champion Chase) - This horse put in a breath-taking performance to win the Desert Orchid at Kempton despite apparently being well short of work going into that contest. Whilst he didn't beat an awful lot, he is without doubt the most likely winner of the Champion Chase by some margin especially with issues surrounding some of his closest rivals. Came out on top in a race for the ages against Energumene at the weekend and whilst I was already bullish about this horse, he now looks to be one of the NAPS of the festival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
SHADY OPERATOR (Cross Country) – The fact that JP has gone out and purchased PRENGARDE may be a bit of a negative for this horse, but I said last year that this would be our horse for this race and as it stands, I remain of the same opinion especially as he is likely to be a decent EW price. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
PRENGARDE (Cross Country) – This horse has been a total superstar in France and has now been purchased by JP who is also likely to target this race with EASYSLAND (will need soft ground). I don’t think there is any doubt that PRENGARDE is a cracking prospect for these cross-country races however it is worth noting that his sire is just 1 from 53 with his progeny at the Festival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
AMERICAN MIKE (Champion Bumper) – It is not very often that you see a bumper horse go and win a listed race by 10+ lengths but that is exactly what this horse did on his last start and he reminds me massively of FAYONAGH who won the CB for Gordon back in 2017. Whilst I think Willie Mullin’s runners will make life harder for him, I think he will win, and I think he could be very special. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
FACILE VEGA (Champion Bumper) - The dogs were backing prior to this horse's debut and he certainly didn't disappoint. He has a truly magnificent pedigree and whilst I wouldn't be surprised to see him go to the Champion Bumper, with the Supreme looking open this year, I just wonder whether Willie will be tempted to go hurdling sooner rather than later as he is bred to be a machine over the small obstacles. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
REDEMPTION DAY (Champion Bumper) - This was another impressive bumper winner for Willie over the Christmas period. Whilst his numbers weren't as impressive as FACILE VEGA'S, I do think he may be better suited to the CB than his stablemate, at this point in his career but he certainly wouldn’t have the reputation of that of his stablemate. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
ALLAHO (Ryanair Chase) – Unlike most of his opposition in this race, this horse has no questions to answer. He is talented, classy and straight forward and if he turns up in the same form as last year, it is pretty difficult to see him losing this contest. Having made a slightly sketchy start to the season, he came out and ran a blinder at Thurles and is now without doubt the best 2m 4f chaser in Britain and Ireland. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
ASTERION FORLONGE (Ryanair Chase) – There is no doubt that you need balls of steal to back this horse in any race because he's probably as likely to fall as he is to win but there is no doubt that on his day he is incredibly talented and whilst I don't think Cheltenham plays to his strengths at all, if he could put it all together on the day, he wouldn't be far off ALLAHO. ⭐️⭐️
ENVOI ALLEN (Ryanair Chase) - You would have to be very disappointed by the way this horse has performed since leaving Gordon's yard but I still believe there is a top class animal lurking in there somewhere. Whether we will ever get to see it again is yet to be seen but stranger things have happened. ⭐️⭐️
BOB OLINGER (Turner Novices Chase) – A stunning winner at last year’s festival and although he’s only been seen once so far this season, I don’t think any punter is going to be particularly keen to take him on. Of course, there is a question about whether he will offer any value on the day but there is no doubting his talent. The horse showed real class when winning the last day when winning the Kildare Novice and has been upgraded to 5 stars as a result. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
L'HOMME PRESSE (Turner Novices Chase) - I had my doubts about this horse going into Cheltenham in December but he certainly proved me wrong. I honestly couldn't have been more impressed by him. Things are going to get a lot tougher from here on in, but he should have an ew squeak if he ends up at the Festival in similar form. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
BLAZING KHAL (Albert Bartlett) - This horse has been a revelation for Charles Byrne this season and he ticks most of the boxes. My only slight worry would be wether he truly stays this trip. Whilst he won over 3 miles on his last run it was a very steadily run affair and his stamina will definitely be tested more extensively in March. This horse has now been ruled out of the festival following an injury.
GINTO (Albert Bartlett) - This horse was so impressive when winning the G1 at Naas and he beat a couple of very nice horses in the process. In any other year I'd say he probably has this race sown up, but this is shaping up to be a very hot race especially with BLAZING KHAL having already stamped his authority on the division. With BLAZING KHAL now out of the race this horse's star rating has been upgraded. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BRAESIDE (Kim Muir) – I think this horse may end up going to the Amateur race on day one but personally, I would like to see him take his chance in this as I think he’d have a great chance especially if the ground were to come up soft. However, I understand that he has primary targets in Ireland so the festival may end up being an afterthought for him. ⭐️⭐️
FIL DOR (Triumph) - Of all the horses I watched over the Christmas period, this was the one that made the biggest impression. He does everything so effortlessly and I think he has endless amounts of scope. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
PORTICELLO (Triumph) - I am sure Gary will have been extremely happy with this horse's run the last day. Whilst I don't think he will play a major part at the Festival he is certainly an exciting horse and may prove to be the best of the British runners in this division. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
BROOMFIELD BURG (County Hurdle) - Trying to second guess what Nicky will do with a horse is never easy but this horse screams County Hurdle to me and if he turns up there off a similar mark to his current one, then I think he will be extremely tough to beat. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
ADAGIO (County Hurdle) - A valiant second in last season's Triumph and he's been consistent since then too. He has a bit of class about him and this race could well suit him down to the ground but the Pipe team haven't exactly fired at Cheltenham in recent times. ⭐️⭐️
KLASSICAL DREAM (Stayers Hurdle) - I am still not sure what to make of this horse's win the last day as it turned into a bit of a farcical contest. However, he got the job done and beat some classy horses in the process so clearly deserves to be towards the head of the market for this contest. His recent loss probably confirmed my feelings about the form of his last win and he has now been downgraded. ⭐️⭐
CHAMP (Stayers Hurdle) - This horse landed a trixie for us in December when winning and I was very impressed by his performance that day and in particular the way he travelled. He is clearly a little bit quirky but there is no doubting his talent and at the current odds, I think I would rather side with him over KLASSICAL DREAM. Although CHAMP suffered defeat at the hands of PAISLEY PARK at the weekend, I still think this race will suit him perfectly. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
FLOORING PORTER (Stayers Hurdle) - A winner of this race for us last year at 16/1 and until now I have resist the urge to add him too the shortlist as I thought he would struggle to contain the two horses above. However, with KLASSICAL DREAM having blotted his copy book completely, this horse now has to go down as the biggest danger to `CHAMP. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
GALVIN (Gold Cup) - One of our winners from last year’s festival managed to lower the flag of A PLUS TARD the last day and propelled himself towards the head of the Gold Cup market in the process. There was a lot to like about the performance and he is a tough and determined animal with plenty of talent. He may prove to have the perfect Gold Cup profile. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A PLUS TARD (Gold Cup) - Although this horse was beaten by GALVIN last time out, he lost nothing in defeat. He jumped right a few times, had a bit of a wide trip and he will no doubt have every chance of reversing that form at the festival. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AL BOUM PHOTO (Gold Cup) - Returned at Tramore with a win which in truth was never in any doubt. The Gold Cup market looks very open this year and there is no reason to believe that this horse won't go there with very strong claims. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
CONCERTISTA (Mares Chase) - The horse that cost me a fortune at the festival last year when she got beaten by BLACK TEARS. She has taken a step forward this season though and this race looks to be a perfect fit for her. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
MOUNT IDA (Mares Chase) - I must admit that I thought this horse would be beaten by ELIMAY the last day but having been heavily supported before the off, she went and got the job done. I am not sure that she has the same level of talent as CONCERTISTA but I'm also not sure that we've seen the best of her yet. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
KILCRUIT (Martin Pipe) - I watch a lot of racing and something about this horse just doesn't make sense. His first two runs this season have been disappointing but rightly or wrongly I have reached the conclusion that they've been design and that Willie is lining him up for a handicap. Only time will tell if I am right or not! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
BALLYBAY (TBC) – I have no idea what the plans are for this horse, but I have heard some very positive things about him. He has a beautiful pedigree; he’s trained by Willie Mullins and my hope is that he’ll be seen in public very soon.
DICKIE DIVER (TBC) – I am not entirely sure if this horse will end up at the festival and if he does I have no idea which race he will go for, but he is certain a very interest type and looks like he could be a textbook JP/Henderson plot horse.
MISTER COFFEY (TBC) – This horse is a bit of a head scratcher. I always thought he’d develop into a top-level chaser but so far, his career over fences just hasn’t taken off. I am however still of the belief that he is a horse with huge potential, and it may be that he’s being campaigned with a particular race (maybe a festival handicap) in mind.
ORBYS LEGEND (TBC) - This horse has done us proud this season winning on multiple occasions. I don't think we have seen the best of him yet either but I am not sure whether they plan to target Cheltenham with him.
UNEXPECTED PARTY (TBC) - This horse finally got the job done at Ascot on the 22nd January and it was an eye-catching performance. They way the horse travels is mighty impressive and he would be an obvious type for the Coral Cup although the cat is now well and truly out of the bag.
FILS D'OUDAIRIES (TBC) - This horse caught my eye when finishing behind UNEXPECTED PARTY at the weekend. That was his first start for Nicky Henderson and I have a strong suspicion that he is a very well handicapped horse.
MINELLA MELODY (TBC) - Made her debut over fences last weekend (23rd Jan) in a competitive G2 Mares contest. Whilst she didn't come away with the win, she travelled like the best horse and jumped well throughout. Very intrigued to see where Henry sends her next as I don't think there is any doubt that she is going to be a better chaser than she was a hurdler.
PIED PIPER (TBC) - There is no doubt that this horse showed plenty of class when winning the Triumph trial and the bookies immediately cut him into joint favouritism for that race. Gordon hasn't ruled out heading to the Supreme instead though and I am still of the opinion that FIL DOR is the better horse.
MERCUREY (TBC) - An easy winner of a bumper at Gowran this week (27/01) and he currently falls into the 'could be anything' bracket. However, I don't think he is a typical champion bumper horse so he may be one for next year's Supreme.
BRANDY LOVE (TBC) - I tipped this horse at the weekend and everything went wrong for her. Despite one of the worst rounds of jumping I have ever seen, she still managed to finish 2nd and I think she is very classy. Going left handed is certain to suit her and if she ends up at the Festival in the Mares Novice Hurdle, I think she will reverse form with ALLEGORIE DE VASSY and probably win the race.