Matchbook Ambassador Tom Stanley takes a look at Five beaten horses from this year’s Cheltenham Festival who should be kept faith with in the future!
Now, I may be pocket talking here. Having put him up ante post at 4.5 (yes, 4.5) at Christmas, with the view that he’d win the Reynoldstown and go off half that for the RSA, the value writing was on the wall by flugate (he still went off 4.0). He also had his foot problem the week before the race and, for all the consensus was that said issue couldn’t be used as an excuse were he to get beaten, it’s fair to say, as preps go, this wasn’t A* territory. More C-.
I thought his rider made an interesting point at a preview evening in the build-up to the race. He talked of his concern at racing on the Old Course. The sectional boys will tell you that his horse isn’t slow, we know that from his Kempton finishing effort on the clock. But Nico felt the sharper course was never going to play to his strengths and he’d have been more confident racing on the New Course. I’m not saying pile into him for the 2020 Gold Cup by any stretch. But 15.0 available now isn’t to be sniffed at, particularly were he to head to and win the Mildmay Novices Case at Aintree, of which his trainer has won the last two renewals.
Ran in, for me, the strongest novice hurdle at the festival. There are plenty who I’d want to pull out of the Ballymore and follow, in fact. Plenty who will be suited by going on very different journeys. The future staying chasers Bright Forecast, Beakstown and Battleoverdoyen will develop into fine jumping specimens.
Champ, too, is bred for a fence and could stay further if learning to settle (he’s certainly not devoid of speed). But Olly Murphy’s son of Milan doesn’t quite fit that bill. He’s not quite the size of the aforementioned few and could be one to head back in trip. That’s said with caution given the tacky ground on day two of the festival may not have helped his finishing effort. But he travelled into the race like a good horse. He had no trouble going with them on the bridle when the pace quickened.
Brewin’upastorm may well be sent over fences next year and his trainer has a host of good horses who could fit the exciting novice chaser mould. But I wonder if they’ll have any inclination to keep him as a Graded performer in open hurdles company. A strongly run two miles could be just the thing. On a not so separate note, the champion Hurdle division is more open than we would perhaps have expected before Tuesday afternoon.
Interesting he was given his hurdles debut over three miles and the Albert Bartlett seemed to be the option for this horse a long way out, for all he was kept in the Ballymore. He’d won his race at Clonmel on a sound surface and seemed to find this a different proposition. The second at Clonmel went on to win the race on Friday. He’s a big, strapping 5yo son of No Risk At All (also sire of Epatante) and built in the mould of a proper staying chaser.
I like his head carriage. I like the way he travelled into the race last week before getting tired, and I think he’ll be a very good horse next year.
Although the winner had raced over hurdles just once more, experience counts for plenty in the Albert Bartlett given the often gruelling test it provides. To run third on just his second hurdles start was a big effort. Save a mention for the fourth too. Dickie Diver isn’t built dissimilarly to Allaho and this wouldn’t be the first Albert Bartlett to see beaten horses turn out the best of them. I’ll stick with Allaho if siding with one.
4) Mr Adjudicator
Now another in a long list of beaten handicap debutants in the County Hurdle (I think it’s about the last 80 now), he was kept wide throughout. That’s not as negative as we may first expect given where it can pay to race at Cheltenham on easy ground but he did cover more ground than any other horse in the race and the winner went a very different route.
Much of his path was, I’m sure, to do with this 5 year old’s lack of experience and Paul Townend’s late work on him can also be categorised as such. This is not a complaint! I didn’t back him and am all for young horses not being pushed to their maximum when all chance has gone.
He ran on with plenty of promise having travelled well into the race and is a horse with a very bright future. His last defeat came at the hands of the Champion Hurdle winner, after all. I’m not sure where we’ll see him next but he could have options back on the flat. There’s a chance he’ll turn up in the same race next season (a bit like Whiskey Sour) though that’s a very long way off.
5) Angels Breath
I was toying with whether or not to go for this horse (the above are in no particular order of preference) but there is a chance Angels Breath’s hype may have just died down a touch after his run in the Supreme. He seemed to settle well into the race initially but then lit up in front of the stands. It’s well documented that it can be hard for inexperienced horses to cope with the demands of a Supreme (the last eleven winners have had at least four hurdles runs prior) and I wonder if this was all too much too soon.
He was beaten a long way into seventh having looked outpaced and plugging on but it could be more pertinent to pay attention to the early demands of the race as opposed to the finish. I’d not put him into the desperate for further bracket, for example, for all he may in time appreciate another half mile. The fact he was chosen by Nico, who was very complimentary about his run at Kempton when giving weight, is notable and he is clearly considered up there with the very best of Nicky Henderson’s talented team of novices. There will be other, more suitable, days.
Each week Tom is joined by guests such as Rory Delargy, Donn McClean, Sam Turner and Brendan Powell on Matchbook’s Horse Racing Podcast. Subscribe now to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, or on your preferred Podcast app by searching for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’.