Well, I hope you enjoyed last week's Cheltenham Festival, it had great moments, some sad moments but it certainly didn't lack for drama.
You can read my thoughts on the four days, a horse worth following, and my Monday selection all inside…
There were plenty of low-lights last week: The loss of three horses and the unedifying spectacle that was the finish of the National Hunt Chase.
Here are my three positives from the meeting:
- Festival attendances were up over the four days, which suggests National Hunt racing isn't doing too badly.
- After six runner-up efforts Willie Mullins finally landed the Gold Cup. It’s hard to believe that he hadn’t managed to win jump racings ‘blue riband’ race until last week. It was a well-deserved success for a real gentleman of the turf.
- ITV’s coverage of the Cheltenham Festival was good. You can't please everyone all the time. However, they seem to be striking the right balance and it's reflected in increased TV audiences. The average viewing figures were up 18% on last year and according to ITV the daily average for each of the four days was the highest on terrestrial TV for 15-years.
Colin Tizzard: A festival to forget
It wasn't a great meeting for Colin Tizzard. The trainer had 21 runners and no winners. Maybe his horses weren’t just good enough or more likely they have been suffering from a low-key virus.
It may well pay to note his runners at the upcoming Aintree Festival. In the past five years he’s had 11 winners from 41 runners 27% +101.49 19 placed 46%.
He could be set for another successful Aintree Festival.
Up For Review, trained by Willie Mullins was an encouraging third in the Thyestes Chase on his seasonal reapperance.
Lightly raced for his age, having just had the 16 starts under rules, this was only his 7th start over fences.
He was travelling powerfully on the heels of the leaders, in the Ultima Handicap Chase, when making a bad mistake three out. A mistake which effectively ended any chance he had.
Not subjected to a hard race after his mistake and enters the final weeks of the season fresher than most.
He remains a horse to keep onside either in the Aintree or Irish National’s.
4:30 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final (Grade B) – 3m
Here are some of the main contenders:
Mono Lino, trained by the in form Paul Nolan who had the winner of this race in 2013. The 7-year-old was the best of these over hurdles and bounced back to form when 4th of 12 over hurdles at Leopardstown last month, before going onto win for the first time over fences at Naas 22-days ago.
He hadn’t looked the most enthusiastic jumper of a fence on his 7 previous goes over the larger obstacles. Handicapper has put him up 11lb but he remains well-handicapped on the best hurdle form.
Se Mo Laoch, hasn’t been out the first two on his last six starts and, was a good winner of the Amateur National at Punchestown 64-days ago. He’s up 10lb and may need a bit further than 3m but the 8-year-old shouldn’t be far away. Really soft ground would be a bit of an unknown as recent form has come on a sounder surface.
Young Paddymc, one of two runners from the Thomas Gibney stable, has only had two starts over fences but was a decisive winner of a Punchestown beginners chase 64-days ago. The 7-year-old was strong at the finish that day and shouldn’t have any issues with extra 1 ½ f he travels today.
Capable of plenty more improvement on his handicap chase debut. His sole hurdle win came on heavy so underfoot conditions shouldn’t hold any terrors for him. A mark of 116 looks very workable.
Kayf Thou, steps up in class here but he’s trained by Gordon Elliott and only has 9-10 to carry. The 8-year-old looked a progressive staying chaser when winning over 3m 1f at Fairyhouse two starts back. Followed that up with solid third at the same track over today’s distance. He probably needs a good stamina test but shouldn’t be underestimated if he gets one.
Verdict: If Mon Lino is in the same form as last time, he would take all the beating. Kayf Thou has each way claims off his light weight. My slight preference though is for the progressive Young Paddymc on his handicap chase debut.
Young Paddymc – 5/1 – Gen
Until next week.