As far as the weekend action and ante post Cheltenham markets go, I was most taken with Klassical Dream at Leopardstown. Willie has been struggling to date to make a real impact on the Cheltenham ante post novice hurdle markets, at least not as we’ve come to expect in recent years. He does, however, have an excellent record in the Chanelle Pharma, a race which has produced four Supreme winners and three Ballymore winners this century.
Of Mullins’s six winners, Alexander Banquet, Nichols Canyon, Bleu Et Rouge and Bacardy’s were all subsequently beaten up in trip at Cheltenham. Vautour and Champagne Fever went on to win the Supreme.
That’s not to say going up in trip isn’t consistent with success. Samcro did the double last year and that was the first time the race had been run back at two miles. The Supreme is often run at a frenetic tempo and stamina and experience are key. The Ballymore can, conversely, suit a speed horse, for all it is run over further.
My concern for Klassical Dream’s Supreme hopes is that, particularly if we get a good ground festival, he will be sent to the Ballymore. It did appear that stamina won the day from stable companion Aramon, who was ridden more patiently than the winner. He was out-battled, and a right tussle it was as room was hard to find up the rail. The experience gained by five hurdles starts in France, good ones too, will not have been lost on the winner and I like his profile for a Supreme at 9.0. However, with the first two perhaps likely to be split come festival time, I’m not sure they’ll go up in trip with the second. That said, it’s not impossible they’ll both stick to the minimum and softish ground would very possibly ensure they do just that.
Elsewhere, I was impressed with Min and, with Footpad a likely runner in the Red Mills over two and a half, I wonder if we’ll see the latter campaigned for a Ryanair. His performance in the Dublin Chase could mean Min will have another go at Altior in a Champion Chase. Mullins bingo time! That’s what I’m thinking at this stage, anyway. And the 11.0 about Footpad for the Ryanair is half-tempting.
With Belshill beating Road To Respect in the Irish Gold Cup, we also saw the Savills Chase form get a boost and Monalee, who is being considered for the Ryanair, is looking a bet. He was second to Kemboy at Christmas with the first two home on Sunday in third and fourth. Monalee was second to the Gold Cup favourite in the RSA last year too. He was disappointing on his reappearance but probably needed that and showed his true colours last time. He doesn’t look top-level over three miles, not one for a Gold Cup trip anyway. But the Ryanair should suit and I think the 12.0 is worth taking. His style of running I like too.
Uxizandre made all a few years ago in the Thursday feature. Vautor was ridden forward too, as was Un De Sceaux. It can be a small field and, with likely front runner Frodon now a Gold Cup runner, he could have a bit go his way. I don’t know if he’s a likely for the Red Mills in a few weeks but that would seem sensible if wanting to come back in trip.
Rather than bang on about how wonderful Apple’s Jade was, and she really was, I thought perhaps I’d delve into some form which might provide a few for the festival handicaps. Ones to keep onside at least.
Give Me A Copper interestingly still has Gold Cup and Grand National entries. He travelled like the best horse in the race at Sandown on his first start for nearly 15 months. I’m not certain he’s one for the hurly burly of a Cheltenham handicap but do think he’s well treated and worth keeping on side.
The big-field two mile handicap hurdle had a couple of eye-catchers. First up is Tudor City who made ground from the rear having not enjoyed the clearest of runs. He has a similar mark to Ted Veale who went on to win the County Hurdle a few years ago and he hails from the same connections. That said, his current mark would need to go up to get into the County of more recent years. Perhaps the British handicapper will oblige.
The favourite on the day was Uradel and he didn’t enjoy a charmed passage either. He was making his move when the winner kept him in and forced Ruby Walsh to try and find a path amongst horses. Constantly forced inside, he wasn’t an unlucky loser as such, he wouldn’t have won anyway, but he’s interesting going forward. I wonder if he wants further on the flat. He needs to go up from his current mark of 132 to get into the main events at Cheltenham but his flat form in particular is very strong and he’s worth keeping a close eye on.
Behind Klassical Dream, well behind, was Triplicate. Said horse has twice finished ahead of Aramon this year, form which ties in with the injured Quick Grabim. Strong form. He’s rated 142 at the moment and I can’t see him lining up in any Cheltenham novice hurdle off the back of his run on Sunday. A handicap, and in particular the Martin Pipe, is a realistic target. Last year the same connections had Early Doors finish 21 lengths behind Samcro in the corresponding Leopardstown race and he went on to finish third in the Marin Pipe. I wonder if they’ll follow suit this year.
Finally, a horse I’ve mentioned here before and a horse I can’t work out. Kildorrery surely wants a return to two and a half miles and I had him in mind for the novice handicap chase on day one at Cheltenham. Trouble is, he wanted to finish closer than nearly five lengths to go up enough to get in. The British Handicapper may give him a bit but he’ll be on the cusp at best. Ruby tried on Saturday but he was just too far back to get involved, particularly over a trip which looks a little sharp for him now. Another for the notebook and a helping hand from the handicapper to scrape into something.
Cheltenham Ante Post Bets
- Back Monalee in the Ryanair at 12.0 – Matchbook Ante Post Market
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’.