Welcome to Arseonlineracing’s Cheltenham coverage, we will bring you a blog on ALL 4 days….
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Here we are again…. A year older, possibly a bit more wiser (In some cases, but not all) and the first Festival with no fans… So we have to make the best of what we have & we will try to help you do that…
Our results will be edited into each blog at the end of the day & we will be running a table after day 2 to see WHICH ONE of the 4 of us is having the best festival…..
Charlie – 1.20 Supreme Novices Hurdle Grade 1 over 2m 87y
Selection – Appreciate It out of Jeremy and Sainte Baronne, 7 year old gelding, has had 7 career runs under rules, winning 5 times and finishing 2nd once and 3rd once. The wins have came at Leopardstown X 4 and Cork X 1. Was 3rd on Irish debut at Fairyhouse in the Willie Elliot Memorial over 2m on the 30th November 2019 when behind Assemble and Eskylane. Was then stepped up in trip to 2m 4f and 15y for next run at Leopardstown in the One For The Road INH Flat Race on the 27th December 2019. Appreciate It won beating Freedom to Dream by 6 lengths with Mahler Allstar a head behind in 3rd. Appreciate It would return to Leopardstown on the 1st February in another INH Flat Race over 2m, this race is a Group 2 and Appreciate It won again beating Risk Factor by 7 and 1/2 lengths with Lieutenant Command a further 7 and 1/2 lengths adrift in 3rd. The next race for Appreciate It would be an outing at Cheltenham on the 11th March 2020, in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper over 2m 87y. Appreciate It finished a 2 and 1/2 length 2nd to Ferny Hollow with Queens Brook a further 3 and 1/4 lengths behind in 3rd. Was then sent to Cork to make hurdle debut over 2m on heavy going and won beating Master Mcshee by 2 and 1/2 lengths with Suil Alainn a further 28 lengths adrift in 3rd. The next race for Appreciate It was on the 27th December 2020 when winning the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle over 2m on soft ground. Appreciate It won again beating Irascible by 9 lengths with Keskonrisk a further 3 and 1/2 length behind in 3rd. Latest race was on the 7th February this year at Leopardstown when winning the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, a Grade 1 over 2m on soft to heavy ground, Appreciate it beat Ballyadam by 3 and 1/4 lengths with Blue Lord 2 and 3/4 of a length behind in 3rd.
Verdict – Appreciate It is my Nap of the Meeting, has the best form in this race and should win again here, especially having raced here before when finishing 2nd to Ferny Hollow back in 2020. Also faces Ballyadam and Blue Lord again and should confirm placings with those two rivals once more. WINNER
3.05 – Champion Hurdle Grade 1 over 2m 87y
Selection – Epatante – Out of No Risk at All and Kadjara, 7 year old Mare, has raced 11 times winning 8 of those and finishing 2nd twice and 9th once. Epatante started off racing in France finishing 2nd at Saint Melo when beaten a neck by Extra Noire on the 23rd August 2017. Won at the 2nd time of asking when beating Envirante Passion by 6 lengths at Le Lion-D’Angers on the 13th September 2017. Saint Cloud was the next destination for Epatante’s 3rd race, in the Prix Jacques de Vienne a Grade 1 for 3yr old’s over 1m 4f and 110y, Epatante won beating Eveilduboulay by 3 lengths with El Martel a further 9 lengths adrift in 3rd. Was then sent to UK to be trained by Nicky Henderson and was the 12th November 2018 before she made UK debut at Kempton. Epatante won beating Ey Up Rocky by 3 and 1/2 lengths with Thibault a further 6 lengths adrift in 3rd. It would be almost 3 months until Epatante had her next race at Exeter on the 22nd February 2019. Epatante won again beating Makety by 3 and 1/2 lengths with Darling Du Large a further 7 lengths adrift in 3rd. Epatante had her first visit to Cheltenham on the 14th March 2019 when finishing 9th behind winner Eglantine Du Seuil. Epatante was rested until making reappearance at Newbury on the 30th November in a Class 1 Listed Handicap over 2m 69y. Epatante won beating French Crusader by 6 lengths with Elusive Belle a further 4 lengths behind in 3rd. The Christmas hurdle at Kempton was next race for Epatante and she won again beating Silver Streak by 5 lengths with Ballyandy a further 3 and 1/4 lengths behind in 3rd. Another visit to Cheltenham was next on the agenda for Epatante in the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle on the 10th March, Epatante won beating Sharjah by 3 lengths with Darver Star a further 3 and 3/4 lengths behind in 3rd. The Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on the 28th November was next race for Epatante and she won again beating Sceau Royal by 4 and 1/4 lengths with Ribble Valley a further 7 lengths adrift in 3rd. Kempton on Boxing Day 2020 was Epatante’s latest race in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle and she finished a 6 and 1/2 length 2nd to Silver Streak with Ballyandy a further 8 and 1/2 lengths behind in 3rd.
Verdict – Epatante – has ran some decent races and has only tasted defeat twice on UK soil, Nicky Henderson is the best in the business at getting his horses in race order, coming straight to Cheltenham with no prep run says it all as he wouldn’t risk her running if she wasn’t ready. Epatante is my next best selection of the meeting and was very close to being my Nap as was torn between Appreciate It and Epatante. 3rd
2.30 Ultima Handicap Chase
The Ultima has gone to a well fancied runner several times in recent renewals, having to go back to 2013 for the last winner priced at 12/1 or bigger. I’m expecting that to continue this year with Happygolucky, who has been laid out for the race since a smooth success here on the new course in December off 5lb lower. He’s possible one of the few in this race who could be well ahead of the handicapper and meets key trends on age, official ratings and course form, having also finished 4th in the Martin Pipe last term. He’s obviously not been missed in the betting, but his credentials are solid for the Kim Bailey yard. 2nd
3.05 Unibet Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle was a game winner of the Mares’ Hurdle last season, with many hoping she had instead ran a race earlier in the Champion. They get their wish his season, after a pair of Grade 1 wins taking her record to unbeaten record to 10. The recent rain plays into her strengths having won on soft and heavy. A further plus is Honeysuckle meets key trends for age, winning last time out and previous winning course form. Epatante could possibly be her toughest test, but I’ll side with the Irish mare if they get in a battle up the hill. WINNER
3:40 – Mares Hurdle (G1) – Selection: Roksana
There is a familiar feel to the Mares Hurdle as Willie Mullins saddles the favourite in Concertista, who will take a bit of beating. Although I am going to side with the home team and back the very consistent Roksana to win this race for the second time. Dan Skelton’s Mare has been better than ever this season with two easy wins in graded hurdles against her own sex. In between those victories was a terrific effort when she was beaten only two lengths behind Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. The step down to 2m 4f isn’t exactly perfect but the rain softened ground will help to bring out her stamina. She is a big player here. The Skelton brothers are in fantastic form coming into the Festival. 3rd
4:50 – National Hunt Novices Chase – Selection: Remastered
Always a race that demands a horse who has stamina in abundance and I think Remastered can stay the 3m 6f distance well on his first try at this trip. David Pipe’s big chaser has been progressing nicely over fences this season with a strong win in the Reynoldstown at Ascot last time out. Judging by the style of that success then the step up in trip could bring out further improvement. The quicker ground conditions today are a slight concern despite the recent rainfall the ground looks likely to dry out. Remastered is a good jumper and should he handle the quicker ground underfoot then I can’t have him out of the first three. At the prices he is a good each way selection. Unplaced
1.20 Supreme Novice Hurdle – 4yo Plus – Grade 1 – 2m 87yds…
For Pleasure – Excelebration X Darsan 6yo gelding.
Winner of the Supreme Trial over C&D back in November by 3 &3/4 lengths from Third Time Lucki. That was his 4th win in 5 runs.
Has run once since, when finishing 14th of 23 at Newbury on February 21st in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle, i would draw a line through that run & has mainly run in smaller fields, so this race will suit with 8 declared. An EACH WAY chance at around 40/1 with 3 places on offer… 3rd
2.30 Ultima Handicap Chase – 5yo Plus – Grade 3 – 3m 1f….
Vintage Clouds – Cloudings X Rare Vintage 11yo gelding.
One of two 11 year olds in the declared field and finished 8th in this race last year, carrying 11s 4Lb behind The Conditional. He also finished 2nd in this race back in 2019, beaten by Beware The Bear. His mark has dropped to 143 & he carries 10s 11Lb, the last time he had this mark & weight was at Haydock in the Grade 2 Peter Marsh 3m 1f 125yd Chase in January 2020, when beating Definitely Red by 7 lengths.
Last seen at Kelso on February 19th in the Class 2 Edinburgh Gin Handicap chase over 2m 7f 96yds, finishing 3rd of 7 and was his first run after a wind operation. He also wears first time cheek pieces… Around 16/1 & certain bookie’s paying 7 places… WINNER
That is everything for you today folks…. Deep breath, imagine the Cheltenham ROAR & watch them fly up that hill….
Thanks for popping by & your support….. STAY SAFE….
All the Best – The Arseonlineracing Team