CHELTENHAM – DAY FOUR
ALLMANKIND has done nothing but improve since going over hurdles with three excellent victories. After winning a minor contest at Warwick he stepped up to take a Grade 2 on the old course here in November.
He then improved again to strike in the highest class at Chepstow. He is a powerful traveller who should have no problem getting up the hill again.
Solo is the talking horse after his bloodless Adonis Hurdle win at Kempton on his UK debut. Trainer Paul Nicholls was impressed and so was the handicapper who rates him at least 5lb better than any of these rivals. If he repeats that flat track form he’ll be right in the mix.
Goshen is another unbeaten runner who managed to win as he liked at Ascot last time despite losing both his shoes. That built on easy wins at Sandown and Fontwell. Unlike some of the others this is a major hike in grade but he has a big engine and could easily cope with it.
Aspire Tower blotted his copybook with a final flight fall at Leopardstown with the race in the balance. He hammered his rivals in a Grade 2 there on Boxing Day and could bounce back although he appears to have a little to find.
A Wave Of The Sea got the better of Cerberus after Aspire Tower fell when finishing strongly. Both would have to improve to win but could reach the places at rewarding odds.
Sir Psycho ran his best race when winning by more than eight lengths at Haydock last month. The ground was testing there but he’s scored in quicker conditions and his staying power will be an asset.
J: Harry SkeltonT: D Skelton
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 15:30
CIEL DE NEIGE was third in the Fred Winter last season so handles this sort of challenge well. He underlined that with an excellent second in the red-hot Betfair Hurdle at Newbury when still looking a little green in the closing stages. His high cruising speed will help and there could be a lot more to come from what looks a fair handicap mark.
Presumably Barry Geraghty had the pick of the JP runners and he prefers to ride Saint Roi. He has had just a couple of runs for Willie Mullins and won a little race at Tramore in great style on New Year’s Day. He’s had a break since then and is one to watch in the market.
Dan Skelton has won three of the past four and has 2018 winner Mohaayed coming back after a breathing operation. He’s just 2lb higher than his victory and has been trained to the minute.
Aramon is another Mullins runner with a big shout. He’s taking a big drop in class from Grade 1 level. He was behind no less than Honeysuckle last time and was sixth in the Supreme here last year. That is an eyecatching CV.
Stolen Silver won a Haydock Grade 2 in January and wasn’t disgraced being Ciel De Neige last time. He was second here before Christmas so handles the track well.
Embittered ran well in a big field at Leopardstown last time and has live place claims.
Adjali is another with plenty of Grade 1 form including when midfield in last year’s Triumph. He came back from a break with a solid sixth in a big field at Ascot in November and has had a breathing op. He comes here a fresh horse and this trip suits well.
|14. Ciel De Neige|
J: M P WalshT: W P Mullins
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 16:10
THYME HILL was third in the Champion Bumper last season and has done really well since going over hurdles. He has been thrown in at the deep end and ran away with a couple of Grade 2s, including over 2m5f here in November. He backed up that form in the Challow at Newbury last time when well on top at the line. He isn’t a flash horse but gives the impression that we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Richard Johnson’s mount is the clear pick of the home team and can give the raiders lots to think about.
Monkfish is having his sights raised but sauntered to a 20-length win at Thurles last time and trainer Willie Mullins has made positive noises.
Latest Exhibition has been keeping very smart company and had plenty in hand when scoring at Leopardstown last month. He is another who looks as though this distance will be ideal.
Fury Road was fourth in that race after landing a hat-trick of wins in the mud. The ground may have gone against him a little.
Harry Senior landed a good Chepstow win before stepping up to take a Grade 2 over 2m4f here last time. That was a brave effort as he kept pulling out more in the heavy ground. He will be staying on at the finish but may just lack a little class for this.
Ramses De Teillee has come back to his best lately and kicked off this season with a win over course and distance. This is a hotter contest but he can be relied on to run his race and isn’t without an each-way hope.
Janidil has been hoovering up handicaps over two miles in Ireland and it’s interesting to see him hiked in distance in such good company for connections who know what they’re doing.
|19. Thyme Hill|
J: R JohnsonT: P J Hobbs
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 16:50
AL BOUM PHOTO can become the first back-to-back Gold Cup winner since Best Mate. Trainer Willie Mullins has trodden exactly the same road as 12 months ago with just one run before heading here. He looked sharp and smart when scoring at Tramore and it’s hard to forget how comfortably he took this race last year. He’s only eight so could even have improved since and he copes with any ground.
Delta Work looks a danger given the way he has built on his third in the RSA last season. He had plenty in hand when winning the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and connections are adamant he’ll appreciate this longer trip. There could be improvement to come which makes him a big player.
Santini is another from last year’s RSA and he’s been brought along quietly by Nicky Henderson. He stayed on really well when winning here last time so the hill won’t be an issue. His jumping still doesn’t set the heart racing but this is just his sixth chase so that can improve with cheekpieces on for the first time.
Lostintranslation is another potential improver. He has Festival form from his second in the JLT and was going great guns over fences before his blowout in the King George at Kempton. He stopped quickly that day and has had a breathing operation, which could explain why.
He jumped well in beating Bristol De Mai at Haydock and is better his latest effort.
Clan Des Obeaux was an emphatic winner of the Kempton Christmas showpiece and has bags of class. The worry is that he didn’t stay when fifth in this last year but he’s older now and may be stronger but that’s a definite worry.
Kemboy will hope to do better than his first-fence unseat 12 months ago but was beaten fair and square by Delta Work at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Presenting Percy finished third in that race and appears to have gone backwards.
|1. Al Boum Photo|
J: P TownendT: W P Mullins
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 17:30
HAZEL HILL was impressive when winning this last season and followed up at the May meeting. There were valid excuses when his colours were lowered by Minella Rocco at Wetherby on comeback. He jumped out to the right, which isn’t usual, and connections think he had a little issue which is now solved. We know he likes the track, trip and Alex Edwards in the saddle is a top pilot at this level.
Similar comments apply to Derek O’Connor on board Minella Rocco. He won the National Hunt Chase four years ago and was a top handicapper in his early days. He broke a long losing run in a Warwick hunter before that win against Hazel Hill. He did it easily enough and should be right there again.
Shantou Flyer is a nice each-way price when you consider he was a good second in this last year and won his prep race at Fakenham despite being hampered.
Caid Du Berlais is having his seventh Festival outing and won the Champion Hunter at Punchestown before being pulled up in this 12 months ago. He took that same prize last time out and should run a lot better this time.
Patrick Mullins rides Billaway for the old man and was on board when putting Staker Wallace in his place at Naas in January. There’s no obvious reason why that form should turn around – even though Jamie Codd is on Staker this time – and he’s a big player.
He has won on fast and slow ground and shapes like a proper stayer.
Paul Nicholls saddles Alcala who enjoyed the mud when scoring at Haydock last month before a quiet second at Fontwell to qualify for this contest. He won over this sort of trip as a younger horse and is one of many with an each-way shout.
|11. Hazel Hill|
J: Mr Alex EdwardsT: Philip Rowley
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 18:10
CHOSEN MATE put in the best chase effort of his short career when winning comfortably at Gowran last time out. He stays further than this but showed good pace over the minimum trip and jumped nicely. He was a Grade 2 winner over hurdles so has a touch of class.
Lisp has been aimed at this by Alan King who saw him jump a lot better when third at Doncaster in January. There were two good horses in front of him there and he went well for a long way. He’s only six and has a lot more to offer.
Paul Nicholls has a good record in this race and his Greanateen is unbeaten since switching to fences. His best effort was at Musselburgh two starts ago and he jumped nicely again when scoring at Fakenham. He can outrun his handicap mark.
Eclair Du Beaufeu has been consistent all season and left 14 rivals behind to win a decent contest at Leopardstown last month. That was more impressive because he didn’t get the clearest of runs. He ran well for a long way in the County Hurdle last season and has more to offer.
Jan Maat is another in the Gigginstown colours who should run well. He only had three rivals to beat in a Punchestown Grade 3 last time out in October but he did it with plenty to spare. Two of the past three winners of this came back from a long break so don’t rule him out on that score.
Gino Trail has been pulled up on his past two visits to Cheltenham, including in this last season. But he’s got winning form here too and ran his best race for a long time when scoring at Doncaster last month. He could figure under a penalty.
|10. Chosen Mate|
J: D N RussellT: G Elliott
Cheltenham – Mar 13th 18:50
COLUMN OF FIRE can burn off his rivals in the Martin Pipe. He is an improving hurdler who took a novice contest at Punchestown before an excellent third in a hot race at Leopardstown last month. There were 28 runners in that and he coped with the hustle and bustle well. He stays well and has more to come for Gordon Elliott.
Pileon has more on his plate than his Ffos Las success last time but he had 20 lengths in hand and the handicapper hasn’t gone mad with his opening mark.
Front View could give JP McManus another winner after a slightly unlucky second in a Thurles Grade 3 last time. He ran well in a couple of big fields before that and should relish this distance.
Five O’Clock finished ahead of him latest when appreciating this trip. There won’t be a lot between them again.
Ilikedthewayurthinkin is another in the green and gold who could have a big say. He won a couple of big-field handicaps at the Galway Festival and shaped well at Leopardstown from this much higher mark at Christmas. He’s been off since but has gone well fresh before.
The Bosses Oscar has shown plenty of promise on his three hurdles spins and stayed on well over this trip latest. He is another who could be ahead of his mark.
Espoir De Romay looks one of the better outsiders. He made his handicap debut at Wincanton last time and won with plenty in hand. There seems to be plenty of stamina there and trainer Kim Bailey has been in the winners this week.
Flash The Steel didn’t last home over three miles in a hot handicap at Haydock on the back of a game Chepstow win. He’s been freshened up and may figure.
Great White Shark didn’t get the run of the race when eighth behind Column Of Fire and could get a bit closer.
| 1.30 Allmankind|
2.10 Ciel De Neige (nb)
2.50 Thyme Hill
3.30 AL BOUM PHOTO (NAP)
4.10 Hazel Hill
4.50 Chosen Mate
5.30 Column Of Fire (treble)
1.45 Miss Elsa
2.20 King Of The South
3.00 Unforgiving Minute
3.40 Lua De Mel
5.00 Pledge Of Peace
1.55 Swaffham Bulbeck
3.55 Josie Abbing
5.10 Ozzy Thomas
6.00 Gorgeous General
6.30 Capla Spirit
7.00 Red Stripes
7.30 Blackcastle Storm
8.30 Cool Possibility