Cheltenham Festival pointers after a weekend of show jumping
Fans of jumping races were treated to an exceptional weekend which reshuffled the pecking order of many markets for the Cheltenham Festival.
From Gordon Elliott’s seven-stroke to Navan on Saturday at Kilcruit getting beaten to 1/14 on Sunday, there was a lot to digest.
Here we take a look at the potential ramifications for the Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase, Supreme Novices Hurdle, Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, and Arkle Chase.
Each For Himself was somewhat of a redemption mission after failing to justify favoritism in last season’s Champion Chase.
The market suggested it was a near certainty for Tingle Creek in Sandown on Saturday, but things turned sour.
It is clear that something is wrong, the gelding owned by Rich Ricci was beaten from a distance in a race won by jockey Bryony Frost on Greenteen.
It was a moving victory for Frost after a week in which she was at the headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority in London, testifying to the accusations against her fellow jockey Robbie Dunne of prejudicial conduct and violent and threatening behavior towards her, all of them except one. he denies.
After the race, Frost said, âI can’t tell you what that means (welcoming the crowd), to feel the support from everyone here is huge.
âI ride a horse and it’s the best life. I can say that I do this as a job. It’s quite special and the best place to be when galloping on the track. This is the place you have to take yourself, it’s what I’ve been doing since I was little.
Greaneteen was Coach Paul Nicholls’ 12th win at Tingle Creek, but it remains to be seen if the gelding will be good enough to win the Champion Chase.
With Nicky Henderson trying to get to the bottom of forward-post favorite Shishkin’s dirty litter, Energumene raised their hands with easy success in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase in Cork on Sunday.
Now 3-1 for Champion Chase, Denham Red’s son is brimming with class and remains undefeated in the closing.
Traveling strongly and leaping solidly in the lead under Sean O’Keeffe, Energumene comfortably shot eight and a half lengths ahead of Daly Tiger, with Sizing Pottsie third.
Willie Mullins assistant David Casey said: âSean said they went really fast early and he was happy when he went up front but the other horse (Notebook) the took him into the back straight and they ended up running.
âOther than that he would have been very impressive and his class said in the straight line and he won easily.
âIn fairness Notebook is a first year horse, he ran and finished last.
“Energumene was giving a penalty and he (O’Keeffe) thinks he will improve the charges.”
More and more, it looks like Champion Chase could come down to a match between Energumene and Shishkin.
The highlight of the Sunday card in Punchestown was the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
Much of the attention was on Allen send, who appeared to be back at his best by winning – albeit a weak – convincingly contest at Down Royal on his seasonal reappearance.
But he had no response on Sunday to a Mullins Battalion that ended up dominating the race.
Asterion Forlonge, seemed ready for a daring challenge as he traveled long before disembarking his three-fence rider from his home.
Janidil then emerged as the home tour’s biggest threat, but despite fatigue, Allaho dug deep to see the challenge of his two-length stable mate.
vivacious bridesmaid Melon was the best of the rest of the third, with 7-4 seed Sending Allen ultimately disappointing in the sixth.
Mullins said of the winner: âI was delighted with the way he fought. When Asterion Forlonge came to his side, I thought it would take the load off him. Every challenger that came, he kept pulling it out.
âHe ran very lazy today which is unlike him and he was going a little to his left which is unlike him so we’ll have to look at that for the future.
Allaho produced one of the Cheltenham Festival performances during his career with the Ryanair Chase.
And it is now only 2/1 to repeat the feat.
Obstacle of Supreme Novices
This market was really shaken up over the weekend.
During his early season team tours, Willie Mullins named the “Supreme” as a target for Kilcruit – Closutton’s featured bumper horse last season.
He made his long-awaited debut on flights to Cork on Sunday and was kicked out at 1/14.
But the distress signals came from jockey Sean O’Keefe circling home and Kilcruit ended up being beaten 10 lengths by Great beginnings.
He might have been beaten by a very good horse, which was making his first start for Henry Stable in Bromhead.
But the market is now owned by JP McManus Jonbon the 11/4 favorite for the curtain-raiser in March.
Indeed, Nicky Henderson also trains the second favorite Constitution Hill, who showed a bad turn of foot to make his winning debut at Sandown on Saturday.
While the eye was also drawn to another runner from Mullins Dynamo Dysart after 19 lengths success in his first hurdle in Cork.
âWe think he’s a fair horse,â said David Casey, Mullins assistant coach.
âSean said he did everything right, jumped well, but was looking a little ahead. Overall he galloped and Sean said he didn’t realize he was so far ahead because he was doing it easily.
âHe’s not rambunctious at home, but he does his job and does it well. His jump is very good.
“He’s got a huge engine and when he’s going to jump fences he’s going to be really good.”
Albert Bartlett Novice Hedge
Of Gordon Elliott’s seven winners at Navan on Saturday, none have been more impressive than Ginto.
Purchased for a staggering Â£ 470,000 by Noel and Valerie Moran, his career in the Rules got off to a disappointing start when he was defeated in a Fairyhouse bumper.
Elliott has always maintained, however, that we would see the best of the Walk In the Park son on a trip and that has been proven to be the case in Navan.
Running two and a half miles, Ginto climbed Navan Hill to put 11 lengths between him and the much-loved Eric Bloodaxe.
This horse seems to be galloping all day and the 12/1 about it for Albert Bartlett seems more than fair.
âIt was great, this is the horse we thought he was,â said Elliott after the race.
âHe’s a great galloper. From the penultimate to the row, that’s what I loved today, he just galloped. He’s a good horse.
Ginto could now head to Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, a freshman event held during the same trip in January.
âHe’s going to get an entry for the race at Naas and we’ll see,â Elliott said.
âWe’ll chat with (the owners) Noel and Valerie (Moran) and see what they want to do.
“He’s a hunter in the making.”
It might be a little premature to say that the Irish will have a strong hold on the Arkle, but it’s starting to look like that.
With Enjoy it yet to tackle fences for the first time, his stable mate Ferny hollow had a pleasant debut at Punchestown on Sunday.
Jumping well in the lead under the son of trainer Patrick Mullins, the western gelding was stopped and briefly overtaken by Sublime Heart between the last two barriers.
But Ferny Hollow regained the lead as the last one approached and a daring jump sealed his victory, with four lengths separating him from Coeur Sublime on the line. It’s now 5/1 for the Arkle.
âFor a horse with so little experience, I was very impressed with him,â said Mullins senior.
âHe was very lazy on the first barriers, very careful. Patrick said once he got to running in the bottom four he was much better, he was like a pro.
âWe’ll be looking for a nice novice hunt with him. We’ll see how he fares before making a plan for his next race.
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