Saturday 19 January 2019

Pointers for Cheltenham

As far as graded races are concerned, the weekend just gone is the final major guide to Cheltenham from an Irish perspective and tonight we look back on what we learned with a brief analysis.

Grade One Tote Jackpot Spring Juvenile Hurdle

It was a great start to what turned out to be a frustrating day for Paul Townend as Unaccompanied ran out an impressive winner for Dermot Weld and in doing so booked her place on the boat for Cheltenham as Ireland's leading Triumph Hurdle hope.

Unaccompanied will have to progress further to win a Triumph, but so highly thought of she is, that the Moyglare Stud-owned filly warranted an entry for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Best of the Irish for sure, and a live contender for a race we haven't found to be easy won in recent years.

Grade One Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase

A bit like Weld and Unaccompanied, Jessica Harrington had doubts about the trip for Bostons Angel, as she thought that the 2m5f distance may be a bit shorter than ideal for a horse who landed the 3m Grade One at Christmas.

It wasn't and, as connections summed up quite rightly afterwards, he is a horse who just keeps finding and doesn't know when to give in.

A simply great attribute to bring to Cheltenham.

Mikael D'Haguenet just doesn't seem to be in love with fences and didn't jump great after a few confidence knocks -- the World Hurdle is probably favourite in the market for where we seem him next.

Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle

The second leg of a Grade One double for Harrington and Robbie Power, you get the feeling that the trainer was a bit insulted at the 7/1 on offer for her charge and also the comments following his last win.

Oscars Well was emulating his stable companion Bostons Angel in landing a second consecutive Grade One but some suggested that the first Grade One back at Navan before Christmas was sub-standard.

Whether it was or wasn't, he won it hard held and went on to win on Saturday with a considerable amount in hand also.

At Navan we witnessed a proper horse and Jessica Harrington knew that. Maybe a few more didn't realise it until Saturday.

Zaidpour was the evens favourite and finished a well beaten second. He stayed on at the death and the question has to be posed could he be more of an Albert Bartlett type?

Grade One Hennessy Gold Cup

On a personal note it proved you should never change your mind. Having tipped Kempes last week I overruled that due to ground concerns on Friday night and instead sided with Joncol when hindsight proved the ground clearly wasn't as testing at all.

On a more important note, Kempes gave Willie Mullins yet another win in the Hennessy and JP McManus a decent staying chaser who has earned a Gold Cup tilt.

It was great for David Casey to be enjoying big race glory again as he is a real good rider who has had his fair share of bad injuries, and frustrating for Tony McCoy who was on his way home from the abandoned Newbury at the time.

Personally, I think Kempes could win a Ryanair Chase with a clear round but connections are right to have a crack at the Gold Cup and without a mistake he will be in the first four.

Unfortunately Glencove Marina, who ran a blinder to be second, died just after finishing, while Money Trix broke a leg and despite efforts to save him, had to be put down.

Navan On Sunday

Jessica Harrington capped a marvellous weekend as Saludos bounced back from a disappointing run at Leopardstown to win the Grade Two Flying Bolt Chase, while it was a Grade Two double for the absent Colm Murphy as Voler La Vedette hosed up in the Boyne Hurdle under Andrew Lynch, and Quito De La Roque continued the terrific run of Gigginstown House Stud and Davy Russell in the Ten Up Novice Chase.

Saludos isn't Cheltenham bound but would be likely to appear at a soft ground Aintree if that was to be the case.

As for Quito De La Roque, he is more likely to be aimed at the four-miler in Cheltenham, while Voler La Vedette will focus on prizes at home rather than take the trip to Cheltenham.


It was a terribly sad week in the racing world following the untimely death of 19-year-old amateur rider Jack Tyner, son of trainer Robert and his wife Mary.

However, despite the tragedy and their horrific loss, the Tyners proved how strong they are by both attending racing over the weekend.

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