Supreme Novices (7/2) Betfair – 2pt win
Traditionally with three weeks to Cheltenham, Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson would have the hotpot installed as favourite for the Supreme Novice Hurdle. Not this year!
Al Dancer, last weekend emerged as the new worthy favourite for the festival curtain raiser following emphatic victory in the Betfair hurdle.
Running off a BHA mark of 141, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Al Dancer proved himself to be in a completely different league to all other rivals.
Experience of racing in a large field can help next time out. I don’t envisage Al Dancer’s free going style causing any issues in the Supreme, with the hood again applied and the frantic pace guaranteed.
Connections are bullish when it comes to Al Dancer and the stable have already made comparisons with The New One. Likely to be well supported on the day, this horse will be hard to stop!
Arkle Chase (13/2) William Hill – 1pt win
Racing fans have waited all year for one horse to stamp authority across this division. Consistency has been lacking with many of the 2019 Arkle contenders.
I fell in love with Glen Forsa after his demolition assault on Kalashnikov at Sandown.
Initially aimed at the Novice Handicap Chase on Cheltenham day one, Glen Forsa’s Sandown performance ended any potential tilt off a BHA mark of 139.
Connections have now identified the Arkle Chase to be his amended target and if he lines up a frontrunner, jumping with the same zest and rhythm to that of Sandown, expect Glen Forsa to have rivals in trouble turning for home.
Mick Channon’s horse won at Chepstow over 3m on soft, which is not your typical Arkle winning form but you must stay to win the Arkle.
Glen Forsa is tidy. He jumps fences fast and more importantly he jumps them straight. If allowed an easy lead in the Arkle, he may take some pegging back.
Champion Hurdle (9/2) Betfair – 2pt win
Discussion has been plenty-full regarding Laurina’s Cheltenham target. Will she go Champion? Will she go Mares?
Your record proceeds you in life and for trainer Willie Mullins that is no different.
One can never be sure about festival race targets when it comes to the Carlow handler. At least not until the declaration stage.
If Laurina goes to the Champion Hurdle, she wins!
Nothing has touched the mare in any of her six starts in Ireland & UK. Comparisons have been made between Laurina and legend Dawn Run. Physically, Laurina is a monster and chasing I’ve no doubt will be the eventual plan.
With an Arkle tilt in 2020 likely, the time to shine for Laurina over hurdles is now. I think she will beat Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade!
Mares Novice Hurdle (4/1) Boylesports – 2pt win
It’s a vintage time for National Hunt mares and Epatante could be another special talent!
Seen on the race track only once in Great Britain, Nicky Henderson has that famous glint in his eye when he talks about his French import.
Visually, Epatante could not have been more impressive at Kempton. She appears to have the right gears required to win the Dawn Run Mares Novice hurdle and I was particularly impressed with the turn of foot shown from the back of the last on debut.
She is due to have another run this upcoming weekend. Epatante is likely to shorten before she turns up at Prestbury Park, my advice is back her now (current best price – 4/1).
Clan Des Obeaux
Gold Cup (9/2) Bet365 – 1pt each way
A King George winner that still hasn’t received the credit deserved.
Clan Des Obeaux wasn’t on many anti-post lists in October. He didn’t shoot the lights out in open or novice chase company. He was just another Paul Nicholls hype horse who once raced in the triumph hurdle and who was bought to be a chaser in time.
All of the above may be reasons why Clan Des Obeaux hasn’t proved the most popular King George winner of all time.
The most improved grade one chaser seen in Ireland or Britain this season, Clan Des Obeaux may only be getting started.
Paul Nicholls charge always promised so much over fences and he reminds me of a certain Don Cossack, the talent has always been there. With his large frame now filled, are we beginning to see Clan Des Obeaux come of age?
It would be very fitting to see Sir Alex Ferguson win the Gold Cup.
Champion Bumper (5/1) William Hill – 1pt win
Closutton’s number one bullet for the Champion Bumper 2019.
Absolutely hacked up at Gowran Park on Goff’s Thyestes day having raced on the extreme wide outside for an entire circuit. Since been purchased by JP McManus, Blue Sari appears to be a smart prospect with a massive engine.
I can’t wait to see him run.
By Barry Doyle – 20/02/2019