Champion Chase Antepost Preview

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is the feature race on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival. It brings together the top two-mile chasers from Britain and Ireland to clash at the home of National Hunt racing.

This grade one over two miles (1 mile 7 furlongs and 199 yards to be precise) has been won by some incredible horses – Crisp, Remittance Man, Viking Flagship, One Man, Flagship Uberalles, Moscow Flyer, Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre.

Altior won this in 2018 and 2019 and looks to equal Badsworth Boy’s record of three victories, which occurred in consecutive years from 1983 to 1985. Last season, Altior missed the race through injury and flashy grey Politologue passed the post in front, making his owner John Hales the joint most successful owner in the race’s history after One Man and Azertyuiop’s heroics. Altior represents Nicky Henderson and Politologue represents Paul Nicholls. These trainers have both won the race six times.

The 2020 Champion Chase promised to be a mouth-watering clash. Much of the talk in the weeks leading up to the festival was about two horses – reigning champion Altior taking on the new kid on the block Chacun Pour Soi. Neither horse lined up at the Festival, though, with both succumbing to injuries and being non-runners on the day. It left the race with just five runners: Bun Doran, Defi Du Seuil, Dynamite Dollars, Politologue and Sceaux Royal. It was by no means the strongest of Champion Chases but you can only beat the horses that are in the race with you and Politologue did so by nine and a half lengths. Connections decided to give Defi De Seuil the rest of the current season off after two poor performances and Dynamite Dollars is sadly no longer with us. Bun Doran and Sceaux Royal are possible runners this year but will be at big prices.

To begin, let’s take a look at Altior. He is now eleven and has an incredible CV. From his first novice hurdle success in October 2015, he won nineteen races including a Supreme, Arkle and two Champion Chases. This incredible sequence of victories came to an end last season when he was second to Cyrname over two miles five. The trip was completely out of his comfort zone and, whilst the race was highly-anticipated, it probably didn’t do either horse much good in the long run. In February, he managed to win next time out in the Game Spirit at Newbury, beating Sceaux Royal, who has won three races since. An old injury flared up in the days before the 2020 Champion Chase and he was forced to sit out.

All four feet off the ground as NUBE NEGRA takes off at Warwick last season. (Photo Copyright JTW Equine Images)

This season saw him be a non-runner for the Tingle Creek, owing to bad ground, and he eventually made his seasonal debut on Boxing Day in the Desert Orchid Chase. He was evens favourite but was scrubbed along turning for home and was left out-paced by Nube Negra. He was extremely tired at the finish so Nico De Boinville dismounted straight after the line. A few days later, it surfaced that he ‘scoped dirty’ and the race came at a time when the Henderson yard were under the weather. His target was then the Game Spirit at Newbury but, after the race was rescheduled for eight days after its original slot, he bypassed it, meaning he will head straight to the festival. If Henderson has managed to get him to peak fitness in time for Cheltenham, he will be in with a shout but he hasn’t had the most straightforward preparations for this year and he goes into it off the back of just one run. I fancied him more for the race last year than I do now, especially after some dominant performances from his rivals.

The result of the Desert Orchid Chase will be questioned as Altior wasn’t at his peak. Nube Negra was something of a surprise winner but he travelled incredibly well, maybe even too well. He cruised into the lead and powered strongly through the line. His jumping was strong, despite a little bit of a miscommunication at the last, but, by that time, the race was in safe keeping. He has uncommon beginnings for a Champion Chaser – he started his career in Spain and is by Dink, who has had only two foals to race in England. However, Dan Skelton has a few young horses by this sire and purchased him to stand at Alne Park Stud in Warwickshire, which is extremely exciting. Last season, Nube Negra won his first two chases at Warwick and Fakenham before finishing second in grade one and grade two company. The Kempton success has been his only race so far this season and it was just his fifth over fences. There is definitely more progression to come from this seven-year-old.

However, there is an odds-on favourite – Chacun Pour Soi – and he absolutely cannot be ignored. This Willie Mullins-trained and Susanna and Rich Ricci-owned gelding has raced only seven times in Ireland. He is by four-time group two winner Policy Maker and out of a grade three winning hurdler. His career began in France where he was one from four over hurdles before a 1089-day absence between March 2016 and March 2019. He bolted up by thirty one lengths at Naas on debut and then went to the Punchestown Festival, beating Defi De Seuil and Duc De Genievres, at 3/1 (the largest starting price he has ever had in Ireland). At the following Leopardstown Christmas meeting, A Plus Tard, a 2021 Gold Cup contender, probably out-stayed him in the two-mile grade one. He went to the Dublin Racing Festival and won the Dublin Chase in February but he didn’t make it over to Cheltenham due to an injury, which remains a concern in 2021.

This season, Chacun Pour Soi has barely put a hoof wrong. The Paddy Power Rewards Club Chase at Christmas was his early season target and connections decided to give him a run so that he was completely fit and ready. That was at Naas where he won by nineteen lengths. The opposition weren’t particularly strong and only one other horse finished. However, the prep run worked and he cruised in at Leopardstown. In behind were Notebook, who was well-fancied for the Arkle; the Arkle winner, Put The Kettle On; Annamix, who hasn’t done much for the form since; Castlegrace Paddy, who had previously followed in Politologue, and Le Richebourg, who was a smart novice. Last time out, Chacun Pour Soi was allowed to gallop home unfussed after Min, his main rival, pulled up. He has all of the Irish second-season chasers covered but he is yet to go abroad specifically for a race and faces new opposition. Those factors appear his only weaknesses but it can’t be too much of a worry as he seems quite a relaxed horse. Cheltenham is a unique track and it will be interesting to see how he handles the undulating nature.

Put The Kettle On after her Arkle success.

Put The Kettle On loves Cheltenham. She is unbeaten at the track and unbeaten in the hands of Aidan Coleman. She raced all though the summer of 2019, winning five, finishing second once and third once. The last of those victories was in a grade two at Cheltenham that she won by two and a half lengths, beating Al Dancer, Getaway Trump and Rouge Vif. After 114 days, she returned to Cheltenham for the Arkle and went off at 16/1, sort of forgotten about. She out-fought Fakir D’oudairies to win impressively. This season, before the Covid travel restrictions, she returned to Cheltenham and won gamely in the Shloer Chase. The race wasn’t extremely strong and, next time, travel restrictions forced her to run at Leopardstown, where she was third to Chacun Pour Soi. Henry De Bromhead mentioned in an interview that Leopardstown probably didn’t suit her and it wouldn’t surprise me if she gives Chacun Pour Soi more to think about in the Champion Chase. Mares are a rare feature in Champion Chases with the only mare to have ran in the race since 2000 being Kario De Sormain, who unseated at the first in 2006.

Duc De Genievres will probably be a big price for this race but, due to his time in Ireland and now England, he has raced against the majority of the leading contenders. After finishing third to Chacun Pour Soi at the Punchestown Festival in 2019, he has been second to Bun Doran; second to Put The Kettle On; third behind Nube Negra and Altior, and seventh behind First Flow and Politologue in the Clarence House.

The Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January was a thrilling spectacle with two beautiful horses neck-and-neck from the outset. First Flow and Politologue made it a strong test of stamina and, by half way, they were well clear. Eventually, First Flow pulled nine lengths clear of Politologue, giving Kim Bailey a much-needed grade one and a third for jockey David Bass. It was an inaugural grade one win for First Flow and he is just the definition of tough. He has won ten races from eighteen starts and he has only been out of the top three on three occasions. He has won his last six starts and climbed from a Leicester class three novice chase to grade one glory. In December, he ran at Wetherby, carrying over a stone more than his rivals on bottomless ground and battled on to win. Kim Bailey’s charge goes best with a bit of cut in the ground and this will be his first experience of the Cheltenham chase course.

Politologue has to be one of the most underrated horses in training and the defeat last time won’t have helped people’s faith in him. In his career, he has won four grade ones and one of those came at the beginning of the season when he won the Tingle Creek Chase in extremely good style. He wasn’t even out-right favourite for much of the lead up to the race and, instead, his stablemate Greaneteen was his main rival after winning the Haldon Gold Cup. The doubters were wrong after he jumped superbly around Sandown and won by seven lengths. The ride Harry Skelton gave that day was superb (like his win on Arkle contender Allmankind earlier in the day) but, next time out, Politologue was ridden by Paul Nicholls’ retained rider Harry Cobden. This was due to connections wanting the jockey who would ride Politologue at Cheltenham to partner him in the Clarence House. Skelton stayed loyal to his brother, Dan, and chose the exciting Nube Negra. There was nothing wrong with the ride Cobden gave at Ascot with Politologue possibly over-racing alongside First Flow. Politologue always runs his race and, over the past few seasons, connections have really got a handle on how best to campaign him. Some people may deem him “lucky” to have won a Champion Chase but, regardless, he will have his name on the Champion Chase roll of honour forever.

So, who will join that list by winning the 2021 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase?

I’m going to side with Nube Negra. I was blown away by the way he jumped and travelled in the Desert Orchid Chase and there is so much left to come from him. Harry Skelton, who rode the winner last year, has been riding incredibly well this season and I think he is especially good on two-mile chasers like this horse, Allmankind and Politologue. It will be a tough ask to get past Chacun Pour Soi, who has been a dominant force over in Ireland this season. He is yet to tackle Cheltenham, though, and Nube Negra already has experience of the track in his juvenile days when he was third in the Fred Winter. Even if Chacun Pour Soi does win, Nube Negra is a good each way price and I’m excited to see the fast and furious Champion Chase!

What You All Think

I’m always keen to see what my Twitter followers make of a race and here is a selection of what they think…

Arkle Antepost – The Big Three

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

For the majority of the season, the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has, to many, been straightforward.

“Who wins the Arkle?”

“Shishkin!” They would reply.

Theoretically, Shishkin does have the ideal profile for this race. After a tenacious performance to out-stay Abacadabras, he managed to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The idea is that the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner will either venture into open company for the Champion Hurdle or step up to fences and go to the Arkle. He is by Shokolov, a group one winner in Italy and the sire of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, and out of a three-time point-to-point winning mare called Labarynth, who is a half sister to a grade one winner. Shishkin’s half-brother, Marcle Ridge, has won five point-to-points and a three mile two and a half furlong hunter chase around Cheltenham. So, evidently, he is bred to enjoy fences.

At Kempton in November, Shishkin made the required progression to win first time out over fences with a twenty-three-length victory at Kempton, securing his place at the top of the Arkle betting market. Just over a month later, he took grade two honours over Christmas in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, which I was overly critical of. I didn’t think his jumping was without its flaws. He has been known to make little errors – he fell on his first ever hurdle start and made a mess of the first in the Supreme. However, the yard was very quiet during this period and a few horses weren’t quite right so, for him to win as well as his did whilst possibly not one hundred percent, it was actually very impressive. At the end of January, he jumped (slightly left) around Doncaster to win – it was straightforward and exactly what he needed to do. It drew comparisons with Sprinter Sacre.

However, there were rumbles from Ireland. A horse called Energumene had won his second chase seventeen days earlier, making all to win the four-runner affair. This horse won a Larkhill point-to-point for Sophie Lacey back in January 2018. After a long absence, he made his debut in Ireland for Willie Mullins, but finished third. So far under rules, he is quite unexposed with one further start in bumpers, which he won, and he won his only hurdle race before the Coronavirus-enforced stoppage of racing. He made his chasing debut in November 2020 and, interestingly, that was over two miles and four furlongs on heavy ground. He won easily by eighteen lengths but the form of the race isn’t particularly strong. Next time out, he won again and this time it was by eight lengths, with the well-regarded Captain Guinness in second.

Energumene is by the smart hurdler Denham Red and, as a result, he is closely related to Un De Sceaux, with both being by the aforementioned stallion and out of April Night mares. Un De Sceaux won twenty-three races for Willie Mullins, including the Arkle, and Energumene has already won 5 in his short career. Mullins had his horses in red-hot form at the Dublin Racing Festival and Energumene was unleashed in grade one company. He made virtually all of the running and, with the fall of Captain Guinness at the second last, it was smooth sailing from there. The winning margin was ten lengths and, as he easily galloped through the line, he proved himself to be a serious Arkle contender.

In a way, it appears to me that the Arkle has been pigeon-holed as being between the two aforementioned horses. However, one horse that appears to be frequently criticised, overlooked and unfancied is Allmankind.

Allmankind on the way to group one glory at Chepstow (JTW Equine Images)

Allmankind has a very strong Juddmonte pedigree. He’s by the stallion Sea The Moon, a group one winner on the flat and his oldest progeny are now five years old. In his short stallion career, he has already sired a grade/group one winner under both codes with Allmankind and group one winning filly Alpine Star. Allmankind’s dam, Wemyss Bay, is a full sister to Beat Hollow (a four-time group one winner on the flat and sire of Wicklow Brave, Minella Indo and Not So Sleepy) and Court Cave (the unraced sire of Ballymore winner City Island). Wemyss Bay is unraced but has produced three other winning foals as well as Allmankind and her dam won the Irish Oaks in 1993.

Allmankind has a reputation for being a bit of a live wire. After six starts and one win on the flat, he moved from Michael Bell’s yard to Dan Skelton’s Warwickshire base for a juvenile hurdle campaign. He began his career over obstacles on the 8th November 2019, making all, pulling hard and eventually finishing thirty-seven lengths ahead of the second placed horse.

That became his trademark running style for his next two victories. At Cheltenham’s November Meeting, he won the grade two juvenile hurdle and Mick Pastor was beaten forty and a half lengths. Mick Pastor faced off against Shishkin when the Arkle favourite made his fences debut and was beaten twenty-three lengths, carrying 10st9 in comparison to Shishkin’s 11st2. At Chepstow over Christmas, Allmankind handled the step up to grade one company when he won impressively in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle, racing enthusiastically and making all.

However, on the big day, the Triumph Hurdle, Allmankind couldn’t sustain his lead. He was headed between the last two hurdles and was beaten three and a half lengths. That margin would’ve been more if Goshen hadn’t hit the deck. It wasn’t necessarily a bad run – just not as good as many people expected. The burnt fingers that day could be one of the causes for the general distrust in the horse.

Another angle of Allmankind at Chepstow (JTW Equine Images)

His first start of the 2020/21 season was in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham and it wasn’t as good as many people anticipated. Back to the drawing board. Off to Warwick for the Stan Mellor Memorial Novices’ Chase. He was foot-perfect – pinged down the back straight, travelled dominantly and jumped for fun. It was the perfect start to his chasing career and a very smart move to utilise the four-year-old allowance.

Henry VIII had six wives and Allmankind won his sixth race under rules with a flawless round of jumping in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. It was ridiculously impressive. The time of the race was just milliseconds quicker than Politologue, the reigning Champion Chaser. In fourth place, beaten fourteen and three-quarter lengths, was Eldorado Allen, who had previously won by nineteen lengths in a grade two at Cheltenham and, next time out, came second to Shishkin, beaten eight and a half lengths, at Doncaster.

On the day I write this, Allmankind has just survived a second last flight error to win comfortably in the grade two Kingmaker Chase at Warwick. Connections were quick to stress afterwards that the ground was dead and he couldn’t race or jump with as much fluency as normal. His jumping seems to have become a problem. I have never considered him a bad jumper yet this blunder at the second last has provoked the idea that his jumping won’t stand the unique test of Cheltenham.  

Looking at the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy itself, the race is named after Arkle, the great racehorse of the 1960s who won three Cheltenham Gold Cups. It has held its current position on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival since 1980. Last year, Put The Kettle On, a mare trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by Aidan Coleman, won the race and was something of a surprise winner at 16/1.

Nicky Henderson (Shishkin) is the leading trainer in the history of the race with six winners (Remittance Man (1991), Travado (1993), Tiutchev (2000), Sprinter Sacre (2012), Simonsig (2013) and Altior (2017)). Willie Mullins (Energumene) has sent out the winner four times (Un De Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016), Footpad (2018) and Duc De Genievres (2019)). Dan Skelton (Allmankind) is still awaiting his first Arkle victory.

There will be one defining factor in the clash between Allmankind/Shishkin/Energumene – the Cheltenham Hill.

It always appears to me that a horse needs to thoroughly stay the trip in order to win at Cheltenham. This was evident with Shishkin’s hard fought Supreme success. One thing that interests me about Shishkin is that he was dropping back in trip for the Supreme. He had beaten Shan Blue by eleven lengths on heavy ground at Huntingdon in a listed novices’ hurdle over two miles four and he won a three-mile point-to-point. His pedigree reflects this too, being a half-brother to Marcle Ridge, a hunter chase winner around Cheltenham over three miles two, and out of a three-time point-to-point winner. Similarly, the extra stamina test at the end of this race will aid Energumene – he is a two-mile four winning chaser; three-mile point-to-point winner and Un De Sceaux won a Ryanair.

This makes Allmankind vulnerable – he’s all speed. He jumps out on the front end and there’s no stopping him. But, could he get away with that in an Arkle? The race that pops into my head when considering this is when For Pleasure won the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham at the 2020 November Meeting. At one point, this horse was twenty lengths clear and he left his rivals will a ridiculous amount of ground to make up at the business end of the race. I very much doubt Allmankind would find himself that far clear but, even so, would they be able to make up the ground? Early on in his career, he was able to catch the other jockeys out by sustaining his speed throughout the race and finishing strongly. Yet, when faced with the Cheltenham Hill in the Triumph, he was found out.

To me, these three exciting novice chasers fall into two categories of two-mile chasers – Allmankind is a bold-jumping horse with an emphasis on speed whereas Shishkin and Energumene stay the two miles and are accurate and efficient, winning by large margins.

This free-going, bold front-running characteristic of Allmankind could be his weakness. However, that is what I really love about this horse. His run style (whilst crazy and not especially professional) has always appealed to me and the way he won at Sandown was sensational. Since his made his chasing debut at Warwick, I have fancied him for the Arkle. Looking at the race logically, there seem to be question marks about him. It is not completely impossible that he would go from the front and make every yard, like he did over hurdles in November 2019 at Cheltenham. He is a dual grade one winner – one more grade one than both Shishkin and Energumene have to their names.

Shishkin before he won the Supreme

Many racing experts believe that Shishkin is a “good thing”. His odds of 10/11 reflect this ideology and obviously his wins on the track speak for themselves. No horse is unbeatable, though, and I feel as though it is important that he’s put into a position where he can stay on at the finish because this won’t be just some romp like he’s had already. I don’t believe he is as fast as Allmankind so, if it becomes a speed test, it will play into his rival’s hands.

It will be a new experience for Energumene going oversees to race. We will have to see how well he handles travelling but he doesn’t seem a particularly buzzy or anxious horse. One thing I would be slightly concerned about is how he will have three runs in the space of just over two months. He had three runs during the whole of last season and I get the impression he isn’t the easiest to keep sound. But then, like I said in my article about his stablemate Al Boum Photo, Willie Mullins knows the best way to handle each of his horses and how to campaign them to the best of their abilities because each horse has their own character and idiosyncrasies.  

I think the nature of this race is summed up by the sixth favourite being Envoi Allen, who won’t be running, and the seventh favourite being 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream who has never jumped a fence in public. There are very few horses considered to hold a strong chance. However, there are two horses yet to mention who reside at shorter prices. Franco De Port was a good winner of a grade one at Leopardstown over Christmas and a peck on landing at the business end of the race won’t have helped him when he finished second to Energumene. Captain Guinness was well-fancied to be a smart two-mile chaser at the beginning of the season but he hasn’t had the ideal start. He pulled up lame on his first outing but, next time, managed to win a race at Punchestown. He finished second to Energumene in January but had a heavy fall at the Dublin Racing Festival.

I was keen to see my Twitter followers’ opinions of the Arkle after Allmankind’s run. The horse himself appears to be like marmite on Twitter – people either love him or hate him. This was how they polled-

The Arkle looks to be a thrilling race that has progressed through the season to be a very intriguing clash between three talented individuals from some of the best training establishments in National Hunt racing. The main three novice chases at the festival have been dominated by three horses all season – Shishkin, Envoi Allen and Monkish. I believe it will be straightforward for Envoi Allen and Monkfish as very few horses could be considered a threat to them. It has transpired that Energumene and Allmankind are worthy opponents to Shishkin.

Whilst I would love to see Allmankind and Harry Skelton bounce out into the lead from the outset and win comfortably, I think the tactics of the race will play into the hands of Shishkin and Energumene. I’m personally not ready to pin my colours to one horse yet. I think Allmankind is the value in the race – even to grab third if Shishkin and Energumene pass him between the last two fences.

This race is to be treasured as we see three horses competing at the top level of the sport and, hopefully, they will continue to do so for many years to come.

Magic weekend racing from Leopardstown- Day 1 preview by Aaron Casey

A magical weekend racing is in store for all of us to enjoy from Sandown, Musselborough, Wetherby but the main event this weekend is the Dublin Racing Festival with 8 grade 1’s over the two days and great prize money. Where we could see potential superstars and Cheltenham clues for March.

One of the races of the festival kicks us off with the Nathaniel Lacey & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle Grade 1 over 2 miles 6 furlongs, this is a serious bunch of staying novice hurdlers from serious impressive maiden hurdle winners to top class graded form. Ashdale Bob, Fakiera and Vanillier all have graded form over 2m 4f to 3m. Ganapathi takes a big step in trip after finishing
second to Dreal Deal over 2m in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice hurdle. Impressive maiden hurdle winners include Gentlemansgame, Cape Gentleman, Stattler and Shadow Rider all did the job impressive and step up to Grade 1 standard. The rematch between Holymacapony and Gaillard Du Mesnil is intriguing, preference go to highly touted Gaillard Du Mesnil to reverse
that form with Holymacapony who needs to come back to form after pulling up in Navan behind Ashdale Bob and Fakiera. Gaillard Du Mesnil was ultra-impressive in the way he travelled and quicken clear of the field and the second and third has advertised that form very
well by winning since.
Selection: 1:05 Gaillard Du Mesnil 5/2

Ladbrokes Dublin chase over 2 miles see the rematch with Chacun Pour Soi and Min from last year and this year add in Notebook who brings high-class novice form from last season and 2 nd when well held by Chacun Pour Soi over Christmas. Chacun’s cruising speed and jumping is a joy to watch and should win this again before the champion chase, Min and Notebook will have
a ding dong battle for Second and Third.

There is a lot of pace on offer in the Irish Arkle Novice chase with Energumene, Felix Desjy and Unexcepted forcing a blissing pace upfront with Captain Guinness and Darver Star watching the proceedings go on. The ground should suit Energumene and this is another quality race to watch and enjoy them winging fences over 2 miles around Leopardstown.

In the Matheson Handicap Chase, Port Stanley catches my eye off 135, he ran well in beginners’ chases this season, finished 2 nd to Aramax the last day but he is a horse of potential to do well in these races. While Aramax , Entoucas and The Shunter might have big races planned for them in the future. Port Stanley at 12/1 each way seems right.

Selection: Port Stanley 12/1

The unbeaten Honeysuckle defends her crown in this field of 6, Two-time Hatton Grace hurdle winner and Mares Hurdle Honeysuckle is out to remain unbeaten but faces tough competition over 2 miles here in the shape of Sharjah, Saint Roi, Saldier and Abacadabras. Honeysuckle hurdling over 2m needs to improve from last year when just getting up to beat Darver Star.
There are a lot of pacey 2 milers in this race. Sharjah who is top class on his day, the ground is a concern for him, Saint Roi won the county hurdle like a grade 1 horse while he is slightly disappointing this season, he has speed, should benefit from a stronger gallop here.
Abacacdabras brings top class novice form winning a grade 1 around this course last Christmas and 2 nd to Shishkin in the supreme, this season he won the Morgana hurdle while he was disappointing over Christmas, Gordons Team was not firing as well. Saint Roi is a hopeful and brave selection to put against the superstar mare Honeysuckle, but Horses are not machines so Saturday could be the day Honeysuckle could lose her 100% record. Willie Mullins has an incredible record over these two fantastic days of racing. This is a race to
sit back and enjoy.
Selection: Saint Roi 5/1 OR Saint Roi Without Honeysuckle

In the two-mile handicap hurdle, Eskylane caught my eye all week for this, his 5 th in the champion bumper was eye-catching while he has been slightly disappointing so far over hurdles, off a mark of 133 seems leaned for me and Denis O’Reagan on board. He needs to go up 5 pounds to get into the Martin pipe or a handicap in Cheltenham. It is a very competitive Handicap hurdle the reappearance of Cheltenham bumper 2 nd 2019 Blue Sari has bigger day
ahead of him.
Selection: Eskylane 9/1

Kilcruit should take the world of beating in the Grade 2 Future stars bumper for the same connections as last year with Appreciate It. Chemical Energy has been impressive in his two starts to date for Jamie Codd and Gordon Elliott who has an array of talented youngsters such as Sir Gerhard, Hollow Games, Gerri Colombe and Three Stripe Life. Willie Mullins has Kilcruit , Ramillies and Whatdeawant in there for the €100,000 bumper, Ramillies and Whatdeawant
won impressively last time but Patrick thinks the world of Kilcruit who could be another star for connections.
Selection: Kilcruit 7/4