Cheltenham Festival Race Preview, 17/03/2021

Cheltenham, Wednesday March 17th

Cheltenham 1.20
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Class 1 Grade 1
2m5f – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 7 runners

Another poor turnout, in terms of numbers. Pick on form for me is Bob Olinger*, who won decisively from Blue Lord in the Grade 1 novice at Naas in January, carrying his head to one side after the second last but finding plenty and going away at the line.  His main rival looks to be Gaillard Du Mesnil*, who took the 2m6f Grade 1 at Leopardstown in February: that race had strength in depth, a lot of fairly useful opposition amongst his 12 rivals and he beat the promising Gentlemansgame by 5 lengths.  They are preferred to Bravemansgame, who won the Challow well at Newbury just after Christmas – pushed along from the third last and stretching well clear of Star Gate and The Glancing Queen to win by 10 lengths; the latter and the 4th Wilde About Oscar have won since. The others are running for 4th,  with previous Cheltenham winner Does He Know preferred to Bear Ghylls, who raced freely and made mistakes on his way to winning a 0-135 handicap at Exeter last time.

Shortlist: Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil

Cheltenham 1.55
Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase Class 1 Grade 1
3m80y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 6 runners

Like the Ballymore, this lacks strength in depth as well as numbers, only to a greater extent – I can’t remember a weaker renewal (maybe 1993, when Young Hustler won from seven rivals). Quite literally, the way I read it anyway, just a completion will do in order for Monkfish** to land the spoils – last year’s Albert Bartlett winner looked straightforward when winning at Leopardstown in February. What finishes 2nd, your guess is as good as mine – Eklat De Rire* is two from two over fences, always holding Escaria Ten from the last at Naas in January, so maybe that one, even though the British challengers arguably have slightly better form. Trouble is they’re not solid, for one reason or another. Sporting John muddled round at the back for the first two-thirds of the Scilly Isles at Sandown, under an exquisite ride from Richard Johnson who allowed his less-than-confident mount to find his feet by himself, and turned up late to beat Shan Blue, who tried to take it out from the front and probably overdid things in the end, and muddling round won’t win a Cheltenham Festival steeplechase. The Big Breakaway isn’t genuine – he’s tried to pull himself up a circuit out and found little on separate occasions in his three chases – and of the Colin Tizzard-pair Fiddlerontheroof is preferred, his effort at Warwick last time against Next Destination perfectly sound, upsides at the last but unable to find extra. Dickie Diver is outclassed and lacks experience over fences – on his only chase to date at Newbury on December 29th he made an early mistake, then found nothing off the bit after moving best, beaten 7 lengths by Paint The Dream, so it looks as though the only question is how far Monkfish will win by.

Selection: MONKFISH – Alternative: Eklat De Rire

Cheltenham 2.30
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Class 1 Grade 3
2m5f – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 26 runners

Despite carrying top weight Thomas Darby looks a realistic contender after finding a bit more at the end of the Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton to run 3rd to McFabulous, and Cork winner Koshari* shouldn’t be dismissed returning to this trip, having failed to stay 3m at Leopardstown last time. The unexposed Monte Cristo* hasn’t been out since winning at Kempton over Christmas but had that sorted between the last two hurdles, beating Ecco 7 lengths, and could be the pick of the Henderson-bunch. Lanzarote-winner Boreham Bill might prefer to go this way round, despite winning at Kempton, and of Emma Lavelle’s runners he’s preferred to Shang Tang, who failed to stay 3m in the River Don at Doncaster two starts back and had a soft target to beat in Captain Morgs at Fakenham last time, not hard ridden to assert from the last. Guard Your Dreams* will be suited by going up in trip, having been taken off his feet over the minimum trip the last twice – 6th in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time – but, as ever with this race, it could well be that that little lot barely scratches the surface.

Shortlist: Koshari, Monte Cristo, Guard Your Dreams

Cheltenham 3.05
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase Class 1 Grade 1
1m7f199y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 10 runners

Chacun Pour Soi*
Not hard pressed to dispose of the opposition on all three starts this season, workmanlike rather than spectacular at Cork on reappearance, then landing the 2m1f Grade 1s at Leopardstown, by 6 lengths from Notebook at Christmas and arguably more impressive in the February race, moved comfortably tracking leaders 3 out, moved best and got a split between rivals approaching last, led and dived at it, ridden out hands and heels, readily by 8 lengths from Fakir D’oudairies. Strong chance
Cilaos Emery*
Was 4th to Epatante in last year’s Champion Hurdle,  travelled better than some approaching 2 out, niggled along after, hard ridden home turn, stayed on, was 2 lengths down last, put under pressure and outpaced, beaten 9 lengths. First win for a year when landing the odds in Grade 3 at Naas last time, in close to 7th and jumped soundly otherwise, moved better than Daly Tiger after 3 out, taken to stands’ side approaching 2 out, at most niggled along and drew clear between last 2, well ahead last,  not extended. High style marks there; form not the strongest, but could get a place
First Flow
Vastly-improved chaser ran his best to date to win Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time, disputed it with Politologue approaching 7th, pair 10 to 12 lengths clear of the rest, the better jump and led 8th, ridden into 9th and 10th, some 3 to 4 lengths up 3 out, niggled along home turn, at most niggled along and stayed on in front approaching 2 out, hard ridden and wandered a little between last 2, one reminder, sustained effort under a firm hand ride approaching last, some 6 lengths up jumping, ridden out, stayed on well to maintain clear advantage run-in, won by 7 lengths. A forcing ride on soft ground brings out the best in him, but the ground is drying so it won’t be that; might get into a battle for the early lead with Put The Kettle On
Greaneteen
Probably best run coming into this when 2nd to Politologue in Tingle Creek at Sandown in December, travelled comfortably approaching omitted 3 out, shaken up home turn, put under pressure 2 out and no impression on Politologue between last 2, well held when mistake last, hard driven and wandered a little run-in, stuck to task but not the remotest impression last 100 yards; well held behind Sceau Royal and Champ in Game Spirit at Newbury last month on most recent outing. A bit to find
Notebook
Found wanting behind Chacun Pour Soi in the Grade 1s at Leopardstown over Christmas and in February the last twice, last time in the February race led 2nd, moved comfortably 3 out, ridden into 2 out, ridden along approaching home turn, readily headed approaching last, weakened run-in and nearly caught by the 4th last strides, beaten 15 lengths. Has plenty to find
Nube Negra
Looked a useful novice chaser last season, but only runner-up behind Esprit Du Large in Henry VIII at Sandown and Kingmaker at Warwick. Little was expected on reappearance and only start so far this season in Desert Orchid at Kempton but everyone was in for a shock, probably including connections: tracked leaders, travelled strongly, going best as chased leader approaching 3 out, led there, pushed along from 2 out, stayed on, some 5 lengths up when a bit less than fluent last, ridden out, stayed on well to beat Altior just over 3 lengths. Nobody is pretending that Altior is the force of old, and Sceau Royal was an early faller and Rouge Vif was below form, but the style marks were good and in terms of his chance here, you now have to say it’s realistic – on form probably about the same chance as Cilaos Emery
Politologue*
The defending champion, having made all to beat a substandard field in 2020, Defi Du Seuil and Sceau Royal below form. Won Tingle Creek at Sandown on reappearance, arguably not going as well as Greaneteen approaching omitted 3 out, staying on under a push when in close to 2 out, hard driven between last 2, stayed on and 3 lengths up last, ridden out, stayed on well and pulled clear of 2nd and 3rd last 150 yards, workmanlike and decisive. Couldn’t match First Flow in Clarence House at Ascot last time, disputed it with him from halfway, headed coming down from Swinley Bottom, closed to within 2 lengths turning for home, niggled along and still half a chance 2 out, put under pressure between last 2 and no extra, well held approaching last, went through it, driven and well held, kept on, no more last 150 yards. If it’s now the case that he needs to dominate, then the chances of that are remote with Put The Kettle On and First Flow (maybe Cilaos Emery too); drying ground would be against him also 
Rouge Vif
In last year’s Arkle was 3rd to Put The Kettle On, no extra when left 5th 2 out, put under pressure, kept on, went 4th approaching last, stuck to task, closed on 3rd up the hill and took the place post. Massive improvement on reappearance to win good handicap chase over this course and distance in October,  led 9th, disputed lead at the top of the hill, definite lead 3 out and travelled much the best of the field, led 3 to 4 lengths home turn, pushed along approaching last, was 6 or 7 lengths up jumping, one reminder, ridden out, drew further clear, eased last 100 yards to beat Western Miller 7 lengths giving him 20 lbs. Disappointing since on softer ground and going right-handed, only 3rd to Politologue in Tingle Creek at Sandown and 4th to Nube Negra in Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas. It’s beginning to look like that Cheltenham run from October is not as good as it looked
Sceau Royal
Has come back to his very best this season, first over hurdles then over fences, although there was a setback on his first chase back when he fell at the 4th in Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas. Put that behind him with a good win over Champ, the pair clear of Greaneteen, in Game Spirit at Newbury last month, travelled much the best as raced half a length down approaching 3 out, niggled along at most approaching 2 out, a neck down there, niggled again, 1st 2 drew clear, the better jump last, finally shaken up, ran on, went a length and a half clear, ridden out, didn’t go any further away last 150 yards but stuck to task well. Having run well in this race in 2019, on ground on the soft side and against Altior at his peak, he looks to have a good chance this time
Put The Kettle On
Made all to win last season’s Arkle, pulling out more after the last to beat Fakir D’oudairies and Rouge Vif. Successful reappearance in Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November but took advantage of Defi Du Seuil running below form and Duc Des Genievres finding little; was left behind against Chacun Pour Soi and Notebook in Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas, keeping on under a ride from the last (normal 2 out with the usual last omitted on account of low sun) and not losing further ground on the 2nd Notebook in the last 250 yards. She’s actually unbeaten in three visits to Cheltenham, but on paper it’s hard to see her turn around the deficit against Chacun Pour Soi

Shortlist: Chacun Pour Soi, Cilaos Emery, Politologue

Cheltenham 3.40
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Class 2
3m6f37y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Cross Country – 13 runners

No Potters Corner, which in theory makes Easysland**‘s task a lot easier, but last year’s winner was below form here in the November race over this course, a few mistakes before staying on at the end to take 4th to the reopposing Kingswell Theatre*, who with Easysland and Tiger Roll a long way below their best, made all and found extra going to the last to beat Beau Du Brizais 5 lengths.  It’s realistic to expect more from the French visitor this time in this non-handicap. Disadvantaged by the weights is Defi Des Carres, who ran a stormer to chase home Some Neck in the handicap over this track in December, some 5 or 6 lengths clear 29th, was closed on home turn under a ride, 1st 2 pulled clear, sustained effort approaching last, some 5 lengths up jumping, put under pressure, stayed on, was closed on last 150 yards and headed on the post – Some Neck is actually better off at the weights here and, though it’s stretching it to suggest that he might beat Easysland, a 1st 4-finish could happen. Those high-class individuals Alpha Des Obeaux and Balko Des Flos are on the downgrade and it’s probably best to expect little from them – Balko Des Flos is an unlikely stayer. Talking of horses on the downgrade, unfortunately present-day Tiger Roll fits that category; for much of the journey in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time he was rolling back the years, but when asked for an effort on the home turn nothing happendd, and he gradually weakened to finish a tailed-off last to Beacon Edge. It’s hard to see any of the others having a say.

Selection: EASYSLAND – Alternative: Kingswell Theatre

Cheltenham 4.15
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
1m7f199y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 19 runners

Duc Des Genievres
Checked out tamely after making the running when 2nd to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham in November, then faded after he was headed at the third last when 3rd to Nube Negra in Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas. Being held up didn’t work either behind First Flow in Clarence House at Ascot in January when last seen, held up and detached last, mistake 4th, niggled along some 15 to 18 lengths down 8th, struggling when blundered 3 out, tailed off 2 out, trailed in. Not for me
Sizing Pottsie
Took a Grade B handicap chase at Fairyhouse well on December 12th, chased leader, mistakes 3rd, 4th and 6th, led 3 out, pushed clear, not fluent 2 out, ridden out from between last 2, maintained clear advantage run-in, unchallenged by 6 lengths from Entoucas. Sent over hurdles next time at Fairyhouse on January 12th, weakened dramatically after making the running – still 8 lengths up and likely to wiun – when taking a tired fall at the last. Weakened again when 42 lengths 5th to Chacun Pour Soi in Dublin Chase at Leopardstown in February, within 6 lengths approaching 2 out, hard ridden after it, driven along home turn, made no ground weakened and eased down approaching last, well back jumping, weakened further, tailed off. His 156-mark wouldn’t stop him winning this if he was on his game, but his last two runs suggests he’s anything but
Chosen Mate
Won this last year from Eclair De Beaufeu, had most still in front and was around 7 lengths down as edged closer going comfortably approaching 3 out, very smooth headway on the bit and turned for home in 7th some 4 lengths down, passed more still on the bit and jumped 2 out in 3rd 2 lengrths down, niggled along and led between last 2, drew 3 lengths clear before the runner-up closed a little after the last. Not in the same form this time round, last time over 2m5f (admittedly probably too far) at Leopardstown on February 7th, blundered 1st and rider had some difficulty with the tack, detached last 2nd, a little ground 10th, made ground going comfortably and just about midfield when ridden into and took off too early 3 out, pushed along after 2 out with a lot to do, made no ground home turn, well held last, looked tired run-in, passed by a few rivals and tailed off behind Off You Go. Hard to fancy this time
Ibleo
Chased home Sky Pirate at Cheltenham in December, found something to lead approaching 2 out, was immediately challenged, pushed along, disputed lead when the better jump last, hard ridden, headed 175 yards out, no extra under pressure up the hill; won at Sandown next time and followed up at Doncaster last time out,  niggled along after 8th, came wide approaching 4 out, brushed it, going best as chased leader approaching 3 out, led narrowly approaching 2 out and briefly pushed along, not fluent, ridden firm hands and heels betweeen last 2, led half a length last, ridden out, found extra last 150 yards, pulled clear of The Big Bite. Progressing, but a tougher task this time
Sky Pirate
Transformed from a find-little 2m4f-chaser to a find-the-necessary two-miler, and beat Ibleo at Cheltenham in December, niggled with 5 lengths to find approaching home turn, good ground and drew upsides 2 out, not asked for maximum effort between last 2, upsides when hit last, still not shaken up and led 175 yards out, drew clear without the jockey more than niggling/cajoling, won just short of 4 lengths; followed up in similar fashion at Warwick next time, closer order and tracked leaders 7th, took 2nd 8th, in close to 9th and 3 out, nudged along home turn, a length and a half down going to 2 out, drew upsides jumping, going much the best approaching last, led nearing it and jumped left, shaken up, hard ridden, found extra last 125 yards, readily from Amoola Gold. Could do nothing about Allmankind last time, also at Warwick, niggled along from 4 out, more firmly pushed along from 3 out, no impression under a ride between last 2, well held last. Now he brings something to the table
Bun Doran
At last year’s meeting ran 3rd to Politologue in a sub-standard renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, was 4 lengths 2nd 2 out, hard ridden, wandered and not stay on, lost 2nd last, hard driven, no more, weakened up the hill, got very tired and was being closed on by the 4th last strides. Not much form since with best effort 5th in rescheduled Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham in December, shuffled back to rear when niggled along after 4 out, pushed along 3 out, kept on home turn and not done with approaching 2 out, faded approaching last, well held jumping, beaten 22 lengths into 5th, and ran worse in Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time, dropped rear 9th, continued to lose ground before jumped left 10th, last and left alone when not fluent 3 out, tailed off when pulled up straight.  Best watched
Us And Them
In this race last year was 3rd to Chosen Mate but was very hard work and it owed plenty to a great ride from J J Slevin (rides again), riding him into several fences, hard driven and stayed on approaching 2 out, went left under pressure approaching last, looked held when mistake, hard driven, went left again till jockey pulled his whip through, no extra in 3rd under a left-hand drive last 125 yards. No form in four runs since, at Fairyhouse in November when last seen, headway to track leaders approaching 6th, lost ground approaching 7th and niggled along, prominent to midfield when pushed along next, again pushed along 9th, droppd to midfield bend before next, struggling under a ride 3 out, dropped to rear home turn, pushed along and no impression between last 2, well back last. Not for me
Moonlighter*
Good reappearance 2nd to Greaneteen in Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, a length up when went left 3 out, pushed along and stayed on, was 2 lengths up 2 out, hard ridden, maintained effort from approaching last till early on run-in, hard driven, all out, was closed on last 150 yards, headed close home, no extra final strides. An early fall and a modest effort behind Ibleo at Sandown on next two then back to form when winning at Sandown on February 6th, with leaders 2nd, keen hold, went on soon after, 2 lengths up 5th, took off a bit early 6th, ridden into 10th, moved largely comfortably approaching 3 out, niggled along home turn, led half a length 2 out, pushed along between last 2, ridden into last, hard driven run-in, found the necessary last 150 yards, beat Dolos a length. Needs to settle better but is back in form
Glen Forsa
No form this season, tailing off when falling 2 out in Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on reappearance, tailed off behind Mister Fisher in Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham in December, then modest 4th to Capeland over 2m4f at Wincanton in January, led approaching 9th, bumped rival 13th, steadied into 4 out, hard ridden approaching home turn, stayed on under a ride, went through 3 out, hard ridden, hung right and headed approaching 2 out, faded, lost ground on 1st 3 approaching last, steadied into it, no more, lost further ground run-in, 4th beaten 17 lengths. Well treated on old form but off the map this season
Amoola Gold
Not out of the 1st 2 this season and beat Ibleo at Ascot on October 31st, firmly pushed along after 3 out, good ground and tracked leaders home turn, not fluent 2 out and outpaced, put under pressure, stayed on approaching last, a length down in 2nd jumping, hard driven, stayed on and drew upsides 100 yards out, just got up last strides and shaping as though worth trying over further. Was tapped for pace again when running First Flow to a neck at Ascot on November 21st, and last time could do nothing about Sky Pirate at Warwick, closer order from 6th, tracked leaders 8th, ridden into 3 out, pushed along and outpaced home turn, some 3 lengths behind 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on approaching last, took 2nd jumping, hard driven, no extra last 100 yards. Chance on form but I’d rather have seen him in the Plate
Embittered*
Was 3rd to Saint Roi in last year’s County Hurdle, pushed along 200 yards off last, stayed on well under a hand ride, was strongly challenged nearing it, led a neck jumping, headed on landing, hard driven, outpaced, kept on, disputed 2nd till lost the place close homeMaiden over fences, best effort when good 2nd in a three-runner Grade 3 at Navan in December,  moved comfortably approaching home turn, took 2nd again turning in, niggled along a length and a half down after 3 out, closed on Andy Dufresne and only half a length down when in close to 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on and every chance between last 2, in close to last, readily outpaced under pressure run-in, stuck to task but no impression last 150 yards. Highly tried last two runs; sticky round of jumping before run blocked and forced back home turn then heavy-legged on the run-in behind Franco De Port in Grade 1 at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, then put in a better round and disputed 2nd turning for home till fading going to the last and weakening behind Energumene at Leopardstown in February. Off the same mark as in last year’s County, chances
Zanza
The race at Newbury that he won in November rather fell to bits with three fallers, but he did it with high style marks,  rather ballooned 5th, left tracking leaders there, chased leader from 6th, left in lead 8th, was 2 or 3 lengths in front home turn, in close to 3 out, niggled along, more firmly ridden along from 2 out, found extra despite carrying head to one side, drew clear by last, ridden out hands and heels, pulled further clear, readily beat The King Of May. A faller himself at Cheltenham in December when last seen,  made ground from 4 out, chased leader going comfortably when fell 3 out – may well have gone close against Sky Pirate and Ibleo. Not ideal to come to this after a fall but chances
Entoucas
Maiden over fences: not that impressive when 2nd at Fairyhouse in December, effort delayed till niggled along with 6 or 7 lengths to find home turn, pushed along as Sizing Pottsie drew clear, stayed on to dispute 2nd 2 out, hard ridden, wandered and not stay on, well held between last 2, hard ridden run-in, kept on under pressure, was closed on by 4th and 5th (along with eventual 3rd) last 100 yards, kept on well enough to get 2nd close home. The reason why his effort was delayed was evident after the second last, as he wandered all over when the jockey went for him. Poor round of jumping when only 4th to Daly Tiger at Fairyhouse in January, blundered 5th, mistakes 6th and 8th, angled wide and not asked for maximum effort coming off the bend, not fluent 2 out, then shaken up, stayed on under a push between last 2 and closing on those ahead, took 4th nearing last. Again good run for a long way, and jumped better, at Leopardstown in February when 4th to A Wave Of The Sea, raced up with the pace (probably a bad move), every chance under a ride till hung left after last, faded last 150 yards, dropped to 4th then nearly lost 5th on the post. Could probably do with being dropped in a bit more
On The Slopes
Two chase wins last season; best run this campaign on reappearance when 5th to Rouge Vif in good handicap at Cheltenham in October,  tracked leaders when in close to 10th and niggled along away from it, still niggled at the top of the hill, more vigorously pushed along away from 3 out, held place under pressure home turn, chaseed winner 2 out, pushed along and no impression approaching last, hard driven and lugged left/faded up the hill, lost 3 places final 100 yards; also not strong at the end at Cheltenham behind Magic Saint next time, sent on, clear from 2nd, reached for 10th, niggled along approaching 3 out, in close to it, pushed along in a length lead approaching home turn, headed under a ride turning in, looked held 2 out, still 3rd when pecked on landing last, soon lost 4th, no more up the hill. Well held last time in a jumpers’ bumper, not for me on account of his tendenecy to finish weakly
Ashutor
Won two early-season novice chases then, in stronger company, lacked resolution when 3rd to Beat The Judge at Fontwell in September,  travelled best approaching 3 out, shaken up on landing, upsides and brushed winner on landing 2 out, ridden and readily faded, looked held when changed legs nearing last, lost 2nd run-in, and then over a longer trip finished tamely again at Fontwell in February, at most 2 lengths down when pushed along from 3 out, hard driven from 2 out, no impression on High Up In The Air and losing ground when blundered last. Not likely to be in there at the finish
Not That Fuisse*
First chase win, at the sixth attempt, at Perth in September, tracked leaders still on the bit going to 3 out, challenged leader from 2 out, led last, not hard ridden to maintain clear advantage run-in, readily from Carrolls Milan. Hasn’t won over fences since but ran well against Southfield Stone and Coole Cody at Cheltenham in October, 3 lengths down when brushed 2 out, hard ridden and no extra approaching last, looked held when in close to it, no more under pressure up the hill, just pushed out last 175 yards, stuck to task and if anything seemed to be picking up again last 50 yards. Only 4th to Greaneteen in Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, held up but finding the leaders not coming back. Fit after a good staying-on 2nd then a win in two jumpers’ bumpers, chances
Western Miller
Been around a while now but ran well when splitting Rouge Vif and Beat The Judge in good handicap chase at Cheltenham in October, mistakes 6th and 7th, shuffled back and midfield approaching 8th, made up lost ground by 9th, ridden into 10th, shuffled back but still seemed to be moving comfortably when mistake 3 out, virogously pushed along, passed a couple approaching home turn, in contention for a place home turn, steadied into 2 out, ridden and outpaced, looked held last, hard driven 150 yards out, picked up well and passed a few to take 2nd. Fell 2nd in race won by Zanza at Newbury next time, weakened after a mistake at the 7th behind Vado Forte at Doncaster in December and well held in a Kempton jumpers’ bumper last time. Would have been better off going for the Plate rather than this and for me, best watched
Theinval
Non-runner
Capuccimix
Won at Naas last March but it’s been midfield finishes in strong company since, weakening tamely at Naas in January and last time at Leopardstown behind A Wave Of The Sea,  led 3 out, nudged along approaching 2 out, pushed along after it, hard ridden home turn, stayed on approaching last, steadied into it, blundered and headed, weakened run-in, dropped away. Best watched
Or Jaune De Somoza
Hasn’t shown much last two runs, 5th at Fairyhouse on January 16th,  niggled along after 3 out, more firmly pushed along home turn with 7 in front and 6 lengths to find, no impression approaching 2 out, ridden and kept on a little approaching last when 5th to Daly Tiger, but shaped better when 6th to A Wave Of The Sea at Leopardstown in February, caught a bump and blundered 1st, midfield on outer by 2nd, pushed along after 3 out, a little headway approaching 2 out, in close to it and ridden along after, put under pressure approaching home turn, kept on approaching last, hard driven and closed a little on those ahead last 150 yards. Some bits of form would put him in the mix, but three of the last four outings he’s found a way of getting out of contention

Shortlist: Moonlighter, Embittered, Not That Fuisse

Cheltenham 4.50
Weatherbys Champion Bumper Standard Open NH Flat Race Class 1 Grade 1
2m87y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – Over the Old Course – 15 runners

As usual only a few can be seriously considered, which the way I see it consist of:
Cool Jet, who moved best on the turn at Thurles on February 15th, going 5 lengths clear in the last 300 yards;
Kilcruit – if you didn’t see ‘that’ Leopardstown win in February, you’ll surely have heard about it by now;
Ramillies, impressive winner at Leopardstown over Christmas, but had an increasingly distant view of Kilcruit last time:
Three Stripe Life, only at most niggled along to make a ready winning debut at Navan in January;
I Like To Move It, who moved as comfortably as Good Risk At All early in the home straight in Listed bumper at Newbury on February 21st, only getting the worst of it in the last furlong – that winner is a good prospect, even though he’s not in this field.

Shortlist: Cool Jet, Kilcruit, Three Stripe Life