Cheltenham Tuesday Latest

Buveur D’Air heads 15 for Tuesday’s G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

Last year’s winner Buveur D’Air heads 15, including one supplementary entry made today, going for glory in the £469,440 G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) over an extended two miles, the highlight at Cheltenham on the first day of the Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 13.

Buveur D’Air (Nicky Henderson), one of three Unibet Champion Hurdle contenders for The Festival’s leading owner J P McManus, is the 8/15 market leader with Unibet as he bids to land back-to-back renewals of the two-mile hurdling championship.

Unbeaten in three starts this season, the seven-year-old was the easy winner of the G1 Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in November and the G1 Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day before accounting for John Constable (Evan Williams, 50/1) in the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on February 3.

Buveur D’Air is bidding to become the first horse since Hurricane Fly (2011 & 2013) to win multiple renewals of the race, while he also bids to emulate Hardy Eustace (2004 & 2005), the last horse to win successive Champion Hurdles.

Henderson and McManus are also represented by three-time Unibet Champion Hurdle runner-up, 11-year-old My Tent Or Yours (10/1), who landed the G2 Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December and last year’s G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle sixth Charli Parcs. The mare Verdana Blue (50/1) completes Henderson’s quartet.

The Alan King-trained Elgin (16/1) has progressed throughout this season, winning three of his five starts, including a decisive success at Ascot in November, before a neck victory in the G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November Meeting.

The six-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade was an impressive two and a half-length victor over Ch’tibello (Dan Skalton, 33/1) in the G2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on February 17, with connections subsequently deciding to supplement the gelding for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at a cost of £20,000, which was done today.

Dan Downie, manager of owner Elite Racing Club, confirmed today: “Elgin will run in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

“We’ve obviously left the decision as late as possible just to ensure that he was A1 going into the race.

“He seems to be in great form at home, everyone’s happy with him and therefore he has been supplemented.

“After he won the Kingwell at Wincanton, we immediately thought that we had to go down the Champion Hurdle route, but we took our time making a decision providing he came out of that race well and he did.

“He has proven form on soft ground and at the track plus he’s been in great form all season. Alan [King, trainer] thinks he probably prefers slightly better ground, but the fact that he has won on soft ground at Wincanton and Cheltenham this season shows that he does handle soft conditions.

“He probably won in spite of the ground last time, but if conditions did come up soft at Cheltenham, he’s proved that he can handle it.

“It’s very special for the club to have another runner in the Champion Hurdle. It’s hugely important for us and he is the third different horse we’ve had run in the race.

“Being involved in these championship races is one of the reason why you get involved in the sport.

“It’s great for everyone and it’s exciting to have a horse with a live chance in one of the biggest races at The Festival.”

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins has won four of the last seven renewals of the Unibet Champion Hurdle, courtesy of Hurricane Fly (twice), Annie Power and Faugheen (5/1), one of five potential runners in the contest for the Closutton handler.

The 2015 winner Faugheen was second in the G1 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on his latest start and could be joined in the race by stable companions Yorkhill (8/1), a well-beaten sixth behind Min (10/1) over fences at Leopardstown on February 3, Melon (14/1), second to Labaik in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival, and Melbourne Cup 10th Wicklow Brave (12/1), who finished seventh in the 2017 Champion Hurdle.

The Irish challenge is completed by Identity Thief (Henry de Bromhead, 66/1) and the Gordon Elliott-trained duo Mick Jazz (25/1), winner of the G1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and Apple’s Jade (12/1), who is also entered in the two and a half-mile G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, a race she won last year, and the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle over three miles.

Unibet Champion Hurdle, Unibet prices:
8/15 Buveur D’Air; 5/1 Faugheen; 8/1 Yorkhill; 10/1 Min, My Tent Or Yours; 12/1 Apples Jade, Wicklow Brave; 14/1 Melon; 16/1 Elgin; 25/1 Mick Jazz; 33/1 Ch’tibello; 50/1 John Constable, Verdana Blue; 66/1 Charli Parcs, Identity Thief
Each way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3

1.30pm £125,000 G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2m 1/2f)

Mullins has dominated the roll of honour for the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in recent years and the trainer has another strong hand as he bids for a sixth success in the curtain-raiser to The Festival.

He has three of the 28 six-day confirmations for this year’s contest including Getabird (13/8 with Sky Bet), a facile nine-length winner of the G2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January. Sharjah (20/1) and Whisky Sour (50/1), complete Mullins’ trio.

Irish rival Gordon Elliott has two horses left in the two-mile contest, including 6/4 favourite Samcro, the impressive winner of the G1 Deloitte Novice at Leopardstown on February 4, who is more likely to start in the G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half-miles 24 hours later, and Mengli Khan, second to Getabird at Punchestown on his latest start.

The British challenge is headed by Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy, 5/1), who finished second to Summerville Boy (Tom George, 10/1) in the G1 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January before defeating seasoned opposition in the G3 Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury last month.

Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, said: “The 2018 renewal of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks set to live up its role as the perfect curtain-raiser at The Festival.

“Although Samcro has been left in, Getabird looks likely to go off a warm favourite on Tuesday as Willie Mullins bids to continue his superb record in the race.

“With the likes of Kalashnikov and Summerville Boy also going forward, we look set for a highly-competitive contest at 1.30pm next Tuesday.”

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Sky Bet prices:
6/4 Samcro; 13/8 Getabird; 5/1 Kalashnikov; 10/1 Summerville Boy; 12/1 Mengli Khan; 14/1 Claimantakinforgan; 16/1 First Flow, Sharjah; 20/1 Scarlet Dragon; 25/1 Slate House; 33/1 Simply The Betts, Western Ryder; 40/1 Debuchet, The Russian Doyen; 50/1 Lostintranslation, Minds Eye, Us And Them, Whiskey Sour; 66/1 Brahms De Clermont, Dame Rose, Suncroft, Trainwreck; 100/1 Shoal Bay; 150/1 Golden Jeffrey, Khudha; 200/1 Saxo Jack
Each way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3

2.10pm £175,000 G1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase 2m

Footpad (Willie Mullins) heads the market for the G1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase, which has nine six-day acceptors.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over fences and defeated Petit Mouchoir (Henry de Bromhead) by five lengths in the Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February. Mullins’ other possible contenders are Kemboy and Asthuria.

The exciting Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington), like Footpad, is also unbeaten following three victories over the larger obstacles and registered an emphatic 22-length victory in the G2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick last month, in which North Hill Harvey (Dan Skelton) finished third.

Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson, successful in the race last year with Altior, could be represented by Brain Power, a faller in the G1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time.

2.50pm £110,000 G3 Ultima Handicap Chase 3m1f

Singlefarmpayment , a short-head second in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, is among 43 confirmations for this year’s renewal.

Gold Present , a winner at Ascot before Christmas, heads the weights, while the progressive Coo Star Sivola (Nick Williams), Betfred Grand National Trial winner Yala Enki (Venetia Williams) and Irish raider Snow Falcon (Noel Meade) also go forward.

4.10pm £120,000 G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle 2m 4f

Mullins has won eight of the 10 runnings of the G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and Ireland’s champion Jump trainer has five of the 17 contenders going forward in this year’s renewal including the progressive Benie Des Dieux, who has her first start over hurdles for Mullins, following three chase victories in Ireland.

Stable companions Let’s Dance, winner of the G2 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival, Meri Devie, Augusta Kate and Pravalaguna also remain engaged.

Apple’s Jade (Gordon Elliott), successful in the race last year, heads the betting for the G1 event as she bids to join Quevega as a multiple winner of the two and a half-mile contest. Apple’s Jade is also entered in the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle and the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.

The British contingent could include G2 scorer La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex), the talented Cap Soleil (Fergal O’Brien) and Nicky Henderson’s duo Verdana Blue and Kayf Grace.

4.50pm £125,000 G2 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase 4m

Elliott holds a strong hand in the G2 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase with four of the leading contenders for the four-mile event, the longest race run at The Festival.

Jury Duty , second in a G3 event at Naas in January, the progressive Dounikos, Fagan and Mossback could all represent the County Meath handler.

No Comment (Philip Hobbs), owned by J P McManus and seventh in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at The Festival last year, is also engaged, along with Keeper Hill (Warren Greatrex), winner of a G2 contest over three miles at Doncaster in December.

5.30pm 70,000 Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-145) 2m 4f

The Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase looks set to be another ultra-competitive affair with 41 of the 52 acceptors due to carry 11st 1lb or more. Top-weights have won three of the last six renewals and Ramses de Teillee (David Pipe), Kalondra (Neil Mulholland), Testify (Donald McCain) and Any Second Now (Ted Walsh) currently head that mantle for this year’s contest.

The Elliott-trained De Plotting Shed, has attracted strong support following a second-placed finish over an inadequate two miles at Gowran Park on January 25, whilst Barney Dwan (Fergal O’Brien) and the unexposed Movewiththetimes (Paul Nicholls) are other possible runners. A maximum field of 20 horses can line up.


The going at Cheltenham is currently: Soft, Good to Soft in places
It was dry overnight, with showers today. Rain is forecast from tomorrow (Thursday) to Sunday, which is expected to yield in total up to 16 millimetres. Daytime temperatures are predicted to be 9/10 degrees Celsius.

Unsettled conditions are forecast for next week.

Jessica Harrington talks about her Festival Runners

Trainer Jessica Harrington is delighted with defending champion Sizing John and stablemate Our Duke as they gear up for the highlight of The Festival, the £625,000 G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 16.

Sizing John could not have been more impressive on his reappearance in the G1 John Durkan Memorial Chase (2m 4f) at Punchestown on December 10, when he defeated Djakadam by seven lengths, but the eight-year-old chaser has a point to prove after finishing seventh in the G1 Leopardstown Christmas Chase (3m) 18 days later.

Runaway 2017 Irish Grand National hero Our Duke, also an eight-year-old, was treated for a kissing spine after being well beaten at Down Royal in November on his reappearance this season. Owned by the Cooper Family Syndicate, he was not disgraced on his return earlier this month in the G1 Irish Gold Cup (3m) at Leopardstown, staying on to finish fourth after a significant mistake, and looked right back to his best when repelling top novice Presenting Percy by a length under a 7lb penalty in the G2 Red Mills Chase (2m 4f) at Gowran Park on February 17.

Speaking today at a media visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse, Harrington said: “We had a hiccup with Sizing John over Christmas, but since then we have been chugging along and haven’t done anything very quickly.

“You saw him go up the gallop this morning. He tanked away and all he wanted to do was get past Supasundae. His weight is coming down towards the racing weight we like him at, especially this week as he did a bit more, and we have still got another two weeks to go on Friday.

“He may exercise at Leopardstown, all being well, either after racing on Monday or on Tuesday morning. He might jump a couple of fences there or we will gallop him on the Flat. We will see what the weather does as the reason we worked him yesterday is because we aren’t sure what is happening for the rest of the week.

“All being well, we are on song with him and the only thing we can do is get him there in one piece and hope for the best. But he seems to be in good form – he is shaking his head and doing his little bits and pieces.

“He overheated a bit at Leopardstown. Was that a slight tying up episode? I don’t know as they never really found a reason. He has been fine since. We let him right down afterwards and then built him back up again.

“The race probably came a bit soon after the John Durkan, while he and Djakadam maybe had a harder race than any of us realised. It is one of those things. We started off the season great and then this scuppered things, but if it was all plain sailing, it would be much too easy.

“Once that had happened at Christmas, we were never going to run him again before Cheltenham because it would have been very rushed to get him to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup.

“We have not really put the gun to his head properly. He did a good breeze yesterday and did one there this morning. He will do one racecourse gallop and if he does it all on the bridle, I will be very happy. I am not going to put too much pressure on him because I want him on the day, not the day before. I do not want to be leaving anything behind.

“We have been thinking about the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup for Our Duke since he won the Grade One at Leopardstown last season. The owners said to me that they did not want to go to Cheltenham last season – they wanted to wait and go for the Gold Cup this year.

“He won the Irish Grand National and then had a bad start to the season, after which we discovered the problem of the kissing spine. He came back and looked very good in Gowran the other day.

“He would never have run in Gowran if he hadn’t have made the mistake in Leopardstown because he would have finished out that race under pressure and might have ended up having a hard race. He made the mistake and Robert [Power] gave him a chance to recover, then he pinged the last and galloped all the way to the line. In a way, the decision to go to Gowran was easy really because I knew he hadn’t had a hard race.

“I wanted him to run again because has not had a lot of chase starts. He had four last season and three this year. Most horses have that many races in one season – he has done it in two.

“He decided to hoof one fence out of the way in Gowran, but he jumped the last three very well. I think he lacks a bit of concentration when they are not going quickly enough. When they went a good gallop in the Irish Grand National, he never put a foot wrong. Robert says he has a cruising speed and when he is just below that, he doesn’t concentrate.

“He has won around Leopardstown left-handed, the Irish Grand National right-handed and right-handed in Gowran, which is a bit like Cheltenham the other way round as you are going up and down, and he seemed to cope with that fine.

“He does like good ground. He is by Oscar and most of them do like a bit of nice ground. He hated the ground in Gowran which was the other extreme. Good horses are meant to go on all ground.

“Sizing John and Our Duke are two strong horses who stay very well. It is probably an open Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, as it was last year, but it will be a very competitive race if all the horses turn up. The one who has not blotted his copybook this year is Might Bite. He looks the young, improving horse. You have got Edwulf there, he put up a good performance at Leopardstown. There are a lot of horses in there with a chance and it will depend on who performs on the day.”

Asked about Robbie Power’s decision to ride Sizing John over Our Duke, who will be partnered by Noel Fehily, Harrington commented: “This is a complete non-story. Robbie is contracted by Alan and Ann Potts to ride their horses. Provided they both get there, he rides Sizing John. You all made a big story of it, but there was never a story there because he rides their horses, especially if they are trained by me.”

Harrington’s small but select team for The Festival also includes 2017 Coral Cup victor Supasundae, also owned by Ann & Alan Potts Limited. The eight-year-old took the scalp of Faugheen in the G1 Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles on February 3.

The trainer added: “Supasundae is very good ahead of the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (3m). I would not complain about him. He is always very laidback and is a much better horse this season than he was last season.

“Last year, you used to have to kick him on to get him to go down towards the gallop. Everything was about making him do it, whereas this year he is doing everything easily and within himself. He is travelling much better in his races and is jumping much better.

“He is a horse who really wants good ground. The spring of the year does suit him as he hates pulling himself out of very soft ground. That is why he has not done much running this winter.

“Can he reverse form with Yanworth? I think so because when he went to Aintree last year he was a tired horse. He was off the bridle the whole way and he did well to stay on and put it up to Yanworth jumping the last.

“The great thing is that he won’t have to make his own running like he did at Christmas. He was upsides Faugheen last time, but over three miles you can drop him in a bit and he will pick up.

“There is no temptation to supplement for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, especially with Buveur D’Air there who is a proper two-miler. Supasundae is probably not a proper two-miler. I am pretty certain he will stay in the Stayers’ Hurdle. I don’t think the three miles will be a problem.”

Last year’s winner, 10-year-old Rock The World, and eight-year-old Don’t Touch It, both owned by J P McManus, are on target for the final race of the four-day meeting, the £110,000 G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase over two miles.

“Don’t Touch It has more class than Rock The World. He has won a Grade One hurdle at Punchestown. He is a funny horse who needs good ground. He will have cheekpieces or maybe even blinkers on to help him concentrate.

“He is coming to himself and is better this week than he was last week. He doesn’t like the cold weather.

“I could not predict anything with him. If he can get into a rhythm and get jumping, he will be grand. He is a good jumper, but can be a bit spooky at times.

“Rock The World is Rock The World and he is in great order. I know he will probably have top-weight, but he did it well last year. He is a big horse so the weight should not trouble him.

“I suppose Rock The World has been there and done it, while the other fella is younger and if he puts his best foot forward, he has a bit more class.”

The trainer had her best time at The Festival last year, saddling three winners. Her total at The Festival, staged this year between Tuesday, March 13 and Friday, March 16, is 11 successes.

Jessica Harrington background information – Commonstown Racing Stables, Moone, Co Kildare

Synopsis – Jessica Harrington is one of a select group of trainers to have won a Grade One over jumps and a Group One on the Flat.

Harrington’s 11 winners at The Festival include star two-miler Moscow Flyer, who took the Racing Post Arkle in 2002 and the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 & 2005, as well as 2014 Unibet Champion Hurdle victor Jezki and reigning Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John, one of three successes for the stable last year.

Born – February 25, 1947, London

Background – Daughter of Brigadier Bryan ‘Friz’ Fowler, who won a silver medal as part of the Great British team at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Her late brother John was also a trainer, sending out Maid Of Money to win the 1989 Irish National, and only missed out on the 1968 Olympics with a broken collarbone.

Her equine career began in the eventing world and she rode at the prestigious Burghley horse trials at the age of 18. Jessica and John became the first brother and sister to ride at the European Eventing Championships at Punchestown in 1967.

She went on represent Ireland at three European championships and one World championships. Jessica was selected for the Olympics in 1980 and 1984 but missed out due to the boycott of the Moscow Games and her horse becoming lame at the Los Angeles Games – she did ride at the substitute Olympics in France in 1980.

Jessica took out a training licence at Commonstown Stables at Moone in County Kildare in 1989.

Cheltenham Festival Wins (11)
1999: 1 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Space Trucker)
2002: 1 – Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (Moscow Flyer)
2003: 2 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Moscow Flyer), Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Spirit Leader)
2005: 1 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Moscow Flyer)
2007: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Cork All Star)
2011: 1 – RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Bostons Angel)
2014: 1 – Unibet Champion Hurdle (Jezki)
2017: 3 – Coral Cup (Supasundae), Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Sizing John), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Rock The World)

Harrington’s entries so far at The Festival


5.30pm £70,000 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-145) (Listed) 2m 4½f


3.30pm £325,000 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)


2.50pm £125,000 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m
Not Many Left

3.50pm £625,000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2½f
Our Duke, Sizing John

5.30pm £110,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m ½f
Don’t Touch It, Rock The World

Almost everything you’d want to know about Willie Mullins and the 2018 Festival

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews, who attended the Mullins press day, here’s an appetite whetter for the Cheltenham Festival.

Please see the trainer’s comments below:-

Augusta Kate: “She was second to Presenting Percy last time and I thought that run was good enough to let her take her chance in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.

“We will look at that, with the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle as backup.”

Bacardys: “He will go for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle. We want to keep his novice status over fences for another season.”

Bachasson: “Connections of Bachasson are keen to go to Cheltenham for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is fantastic jumper but whether he can carry that weight over that trip – it will be a tough ask.”

Benie Des Dieux: “I would imagine she will go for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

“Everything we ask her to do, she does, although I thought she would win easier than she did at Naas last time. I think David [Mullins] was easy enough on her.

“She has plenty of hurdling experience in France and schools over hurdles at home.”

Bonbon Au Miel: “I think Bonbon Au Miel is an RSA type, whereas Al Boum Photo could go for the JLT Novices’ Chase.

“I am not sure if I will divide them or they can both go for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, but Bonbon definitely goes for the RSA.”

Brahma Bull: “He is pencilled in for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

“He has only had one run over hurdles but won well and he jumps well. He had a little setback but I think he is in real good form since.”

Carter McKay: “He could go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, depending on which way the races are going to cut up.

“He ran all right in Leopardstown and deserves to take his chance. I think he can do better.”

Douvan: “He has been pleasing me and doing everything right. He has a few good bits of work to do this week. He has to go for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, all being well.

“Not so long ago we were being told we could not train him for a year. It was a huge disappointment when it looked like he would miss the whole season but within a week or 10 days he was sound when we thought he should not have been sound. We started reinvestigating and revaluating some of the findings we got, then we said ‘right, he is sound, let’s do a bit more.’ We kept upping his work and he was good and sound, and stayed sound.

“We went back and did more tests on him. I think vets are like doctors in that they are over cautious. You would end up running a hospital rather than a training yard – you just have to kick on. There was obviously something there, maybe something he can live with. Maybe when he runs, it will come up again.

“I remember the morning that he got the injury. He did a bit of work and I remember saying ‘this is awesome,’ but of course he was lame the next morning. I can’t remember what he worked against but he flew. It was the fastest bit of work I had ever seen him do. I said to my team I do not want to see him do a piece of work like that again – save it for the racecourse! I thought it was frightening and I said to myself if he reproduces that on the track, he will be very hard to beat. Whether he will ever get back to that, I don’t know, but his work at the moment is certainly good enough.

“He has been away a couple of times already but it is day to day with him. I just hope I can get him back to the level he was at in November. Unless we are happy with him, he won’t go.

“Altior was very good in Newbury and he looked great as well. It could be a race to savour but we have got to get there first.”

Djakadam: “He has been disappointing this season, but this year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup could be the most open he has competed in.

“There is a lot of feeling that he should go back for the Ryanair Chase, and that might happen, but I feel he should go for the Gold Cup.

“He doesn’t look the same horse this season on the track. His form is not good enough, although it wasn’t a bad run in the Irish Gold Cup to be third. He certainly has not fired like he has in previous seasons.”

Duc Des Genievres: “He is entered in everything from novices’ hurdles to handicaps. Noel [Fehily] rode him the last day and is happy that he wants to go a trip. I would say it could be the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

“Fabulous Saga in the same colours will go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, I’d imagine.”

Faugheen: “He is on course for the Unibet Champion Hurdle along with Melon and Wicklow Brave.

“I don’t think Melon faced the hood on his last start, so we will take all the gear off at Cheltenham – he has run well there before.

“Faugheen worked well enough to run the last day and ran a grand race. But he will have to up his game to try and win in Cheltenham. He might not need to be as good as he once was. I still think he is competitive.

“We had plenty of time to get better from Leopardstown to the middle of March and we haven’t gone downhill at home. He is improving all the time.

“I would be delighted if he could come back to what he was but age is not on his side. He loves Cheltenham and hopefully that will reignite him a little bit.”

Footpad: “All is well with Footpad ahead of the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase.

“He has a beautiful method of jumping fences and was good enough to run in a Champion Hurdle. He always had ability and his method of jumping has catapulted him right to the top.

“He could be a Gold Cup horse one day. We don’t have any problem with him staying, although with his method of jumping, could he be a Champion Chase horse? It is so much easier to keep them sound and right running over two miles than running over three and a quarter. Gold Cup racing is very tough.”

Getabird: “He is 100 per cent and was out there this morning. He goes for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

“His win at Punchestown shows he is improving all the time. He is not flashy at home, whereas a horse like Douvan is always flashy at home. Even working him the other day, I was not impressed but Sonny who rides him says he is in great order and he knows him better than anyone.”

Hollowgraphic: “The bumper horses are looking very good. I always thought Hollowgraphic was a fair sort and Blackbow has galloped himself into the picture.

“Squadron Commander and Tornado Flyer won well first time and then we put them away. Carefully Selected put himself in the mix yesterday at Naas, although Cheltenham may come too soon.

“To me, what Hollowgraphic did at Punchestown was a huge performance. We have been minding him to go to Cheltenham.

“Blackbow’s performances have been very good. He improved a good bit from his first to his second run, which has been the feature of a lot of our bumper horses this season. Their second runs have been better, which is encouraging.

“Blackbow is owned by Archie O’Leary’s family, so it is nice to have nearly Florida Pearl’s colours – different cap – going back to Cheltenham.”

Invitation Only: “He is another one who could go for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase or the JLT Novices’ Chase.”

Killultagh Vic: “He goes for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“He looked in a very good position in the Irish Gold Cup and I would not have been betting against him jumping the last. He had the momentum and looked like he was pulling away.

“I always think your first thought is your best thought. When you look at it after you see the other horses coming from behind, but they weren’t in the picture when you’re watching it live. I thought he had a really good chance going to the last.

“We were worried when he fell but he has schooled well since. It looked like he was too careful at Leopardstown. Hopefully, he will have learned and will be all right on the day.

“I would have no stamina concerns, not with his pedigree. He beat Thistlecrack in a three-mile novice hurdle.”

Laurina: “She goes for the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

“She is top-class and if they ever have a mares’ chase in Cheltenham, she is one you would be aiming for it. She is a big, scopey filly.”

Let’s Dance: “I would imagine it will either be the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle or the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle for Let’s Dance. She hasn’t fired at all this season, but at home she is getting there.”

Meri Devie: “She won the other day and has entries in a good few handicaps. We will see what the English handicapper makes of her and then make a decision.”

Min: “Everything has gone well and I could not see him going anywhere other than the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“He is unbeaten this season, even though he was disqualified, and he is doing all the right things.

“Altior beat him in the Supreme – it will be hard to turn him over I think.”

Mr Ajudicator: “He will go for the JCB Triumph Hurdle along with Saldier and Stormy Ireland.

“Mr Ajudicator had a little bit of a cold last week but seems fine. He is as fit as a flea, so the fact he missed a couple of bits of work should not be a problem.

“Saldier did everything right the other day in Gowran Park. Perhaps he didn’t beat an awful lot but he did it well.

“Stormy Ireland missed a few engagements with a dirty nose. With her style of running, I did not want to chance it.

“Mr Ajudicator has gone out and done it, and is an ex-Flat horse as well, which I like, whereas Stormy Ireland and Saldier would not have the same experience – even race experience, never mind jump experience.

“Stormy Ireland produced a huge run at Fairyhouse. I don’t know what she beat but she just kept galloping. People thought she would pull up three out but she pulled out more again. It was awesome.”

Next Destination: “I have been aiming him at the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. That is probably where he should go along with Real Steel.

“A lot of people thought Next Destination wasn’t impressive as Naas but I thought the race itself did not work out like a championship race, given the early pace and middle pace of the race. It will be a different ball game in Cheltenham and that will suit him.”

Penhill: “All his work has been good and he will go for the Sun Bets’ Stayers’ Hurdle. The aim all season was to try and get him to Cheltenham and Punchestown.

“We sort of knew there would not be enough time for a prep race. It is a tough ask to try and win the Stayers’ Hurdle, perhaps more than any other, without a run.”

Rathvinden: “He could go any trip. I’m wondering whether to go for the National Hunt Chase or the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. I think the four-miler might be the way we decide to go with him.”

Sharjah: “He will go for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. I think the ground was the reason he ran badly last time.

“Certainly at home when the ground is soft, he is not able to put one leg in front of the other but when it dries out, he is a different horse.”

Total Recall: “Our aim has been the Grand National but he probably needs to go for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. We were going to go for the Bobbyjo but it came too soon after Leopardstown.

“I think the Gold Cup gives us a good chance. He is a relaxed horse who jumps economically and that would suit him around Cheltenham in a Gold Cup. He will be switched off and won’t be using too much energy.

“It looks a fairly open Gold Cup and he deserves to have a crack at it.”

Un De Sceaux: “He has done tremendously well all season, although he has only had two runs. I think he is the ultimate iron horse.

“He is in great condition and we have plenty to work on still for Cheltenham, which is surprising because you see him there this morning – he could not wait to get going. He is always very strong in his work in the mornings.

“We are aiming for the Ryanair Chase. That is the target as far as we are concerned and I have not got any other plans unless something stupid happens to one of the other horses.”

Vroum Vroum Mag: “She will go for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. I did not think we would have her back, but from what I can see she is in great shape.

“We may cover her later on – we will have plenty of time after Cheltenham.”

Yorkhill: “I suppose the Unibet Champion Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase are the options for Yorkhill.

“We will have to see because he is not a great workhorse at home. He is very lazy and, as you have seen at the racetrack when he idles in front, he is a bit like that at home.

“I have always thought that he should maybe have a crack at the Champion Hurdle. But he would be a nice one to have along with Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair. I am not going to make that decision yet.

“He never fired in the Dublin Chase. You could see going down to the second or third fence that he wasn’t jumping like a two-mile chaser, on that day anyway. Yet you look at him at Christmas time, you would think he needs to come back to two miles because his jumping was so electric.

“He won the JLT Novices’ Chase last year which makes you think he should go for the Ryanair Chase, but he did not jump well the other day. That is the reason I’m wondering if he should go back over hurdles. We know in a Champion Hurdle that there will be plenty of pace to bring his stamina into play.

“I think he would be a lot easier to ride in a Champion Hurdle than a Ryanair Chase. We will leave the decision until much later but I would say it is 60-40 in favour of the Champion Hurdle at the moment.”

Willie Mullins stable visit – Monday, February 26, 2018

Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow

Synopsis – Willie Mullins is the leading Irish trainer at The Festival, with 54 successes, and second in the all-time trainers’ list at the four-day Cheltenham highlight. He has won The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award at five of the last seven Festivals (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) and just lost out last year to Irish rival Gordon Elliott, with both saddling six winners.

He sent out a record-breaking eight winners at The Festival in 2015, beating Nicky Henderson’s seven achieved in 2012. The eight included a record-equalling four-timer on the opening Champion Day – Henderson also had four on the second day in 2012.

Mullins has built up a formidable team of horses at his Co Carlow base and has been Ireland’s champion Jump trainer for the last 10 seasons and 11 times in all.

Born – September 15, 1956

Background – Six-time amateur champion rider in Ireland, Mullins both rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. He also partnered two other winners at The Festival, both in the National Hunt Chase, Hazy Dawn (1982) and Macks Friendly (1984).

He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, one of five children of the late Paddy Mullins, the outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup (the only horse to win both races).

Willie started training in 1988, having been assistant to his father and Jim Bolger. He is married to Jackie, who is very involved in the training business, and their son Patrick has been Ireland’s champion amateur rider for nine of the last 10 seasons.

First Winner as a Trainer – Silver Batchelor, M & J Gleeson INH Flat Race, Thurles, February 18, 1988. He also rode the horse.

Cheltenham Festival wins (54)
1995: 1 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Tourist Attraction)
1996: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Wither Or Which)
1997: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Florida Pearl)
1998: 2 – RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Florida Pearl), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Alexander Banquet)
2000: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Joe Cullen)
2002: 1 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Scolardy)
2004: 1 – RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Rule Supreme)
2005: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Missed That)
2007: 1 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Ebaziyan)
2008: 2 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Fiveforthree), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Cousin Vinny)
2009: 3 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Mikael D’Haguenet), RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Cooldine)
2010: 2 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Thousand Stars)
2011: 4 – Unibet Champion Hurdle (Hurricane Fly), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Final Approach), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Sir Des Champs)
2012: 3 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Champagne Fever), JLT Novices’ Chase (Sir Des Champs)
2013: 5 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Champagne Fever), Unibet Champion Hurdle (Hurricane Fly), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), National Hunt Chase (Back In Focus), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Briar Hill)
2014: 4 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Vautour), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Faugheen), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Don Poli)
2015: 8 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Douvan), Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Un De Sceaux), Unibet Champion Hurdle (Faugheen), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Glens Melody), RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Don Poli), JLT Novices’ Chase (Vautour), Randox Health County Hurdle (Wicklow Brave), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Killultagh Vic)
2016: 7 – Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Douvan), Unibet Champion Hurdle (Annie Power), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Vroum Vroum Mag), Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Yorkhill), JLT Novices’ Chase (Black Hercules), Ryanair Chase (2016 Vautour), Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Limini)
2017: 6 – JLT Novices’ Chase (Yorkhill), Ryanair Chase (Un De Sceaux), Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Nichols Canyon), Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Let’s Dance), Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Arctic Fire), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Penhill)

Winner of The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award at The Festival: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Willie Mullins’ entries so far at The Festival


1.30pm £125,000 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Duc Des Genievres, Getabird, Laurina, Makitorix, Next Destination, Real Steel, Sharjah, Whiskey Sour

2.10pm £175,000 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m
Asthuria, Footpad, Invitation Only, Kemboy, Montalbano

2.50pm £110,000 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f
Pleasant Company

3.30pm £450,000 Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Bapaume, Faugheen, Melon, Min, Wicklow Brave, Yorkhill

4.10pm £120,000 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f
Asthuria, Augusta Kate, Benie Des Dieux, Karalee, Lagostovegas, Let’s Dance, Meri Devie, Pravalaguna, Vroum Vroum Mag

4.50pm £125,000 National Hunt Chase (Novices) (Amateurs) (Grade 2) 4m
Al Boum Photo, Augustin, Bonbon Au Miel, Invitation Only, Livelovelaugh, Pylonthepressure, Rathvinden, Up For Review

5.30pm £70,000 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-145) (Listed) 2m 4½f
Asthuria, Demi Sang, Livelovelaugh, Patricks Park

1.30pm £125,000 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f
Ballyward, Brahma Bull, Burrows Saint, Carter McKay, Duc Des Genievres, Fabulous Saga, Getabird, Next Destination, Real Steel, Redhotfillypeppers, Salsaretta, Scarpeta, Sharjah, Whiskey Sour

2.10pm £175,000 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m ½f
Al Boum Photo, Bonbon Au Miel, Invitation Only, Kemboy, Livelovelaugh, Pylonthepressure, Rathvinden, Up For Review

2.50pm £100,000 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
Abbyssial, Bleu Berry, Bleu Et Rouge, Burrows Saint, Carter McKay, C’Est Jersey, Deal d’Estruval, Didero Vallis, Dolciano Dici, Duc des Genievres, Karalee, Lagostovegas, Let’s Dance
Max Dynamite, Meri Devie, Orion d’Aubrelle, Pravalaguna, Sandsend, Sympa des Flos, Voix du Reve, Whiskey Sour

3.30pm £400,000 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m
American Tom, Douvan, Great Field, Min, Un De Sceaux, Yorkhill

4.10pm £65,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f
Entries close February 27

4.50pm £80,000 Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m ½f
No entries

5.30pm £75,000 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Entries close February 27


1.30pm £150,000 JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f
Al Boum Photo, Asthuria, Bonbon Au Miel, Footpad, Invitation Only, Kemboy, Livelovelaugh, Pylonthepressure, Rahthvinden

2.10pm £100,000 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 3m
No entries

2.50pm £350,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f
Bachasson, Belshill, Benie Des Dieux, Djakadam, Douvan, Killultagh Vic, Min, Un De Sceaux, Yorkhill

3.30pm £325,000 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m
Augusta Kate, Bacardys, Faugheen, Let’s Dance, Penhill

4.10pm £110,000 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
Livelovelaugh, Patricks Park, Pleasant Company

4.50pm £90,000 Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f
Entries close February 27

5.30pm £70,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateurs) (0-145) 3m 2f
Pleasant Company


1.30pm £125,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f
Eoline Jolie, Mr Adjudicator, Saldier, Sayo, Stormy Ireland
2.10pm £100,000 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f
Abbyssial, Bleu Berry, Bleu Et Rouge, Bunk Off Early, Deal d’Estruval, Dolciano Dici, Duc des Genievres, Karalee, Lagostovegas, Makitorix, Max Dynamite, Meri Devie, Pravalaguna, Sandsend, Voix du Reve, Whiskey Sour

2.50pm £125,000 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m
Ballyward, Brahma Bull, Burrows Saint, Carter McKay, Deal D’estruval, Duc De Genievres, Fabulous Saga, Getabird, Kesselring, Next Destination, Real Steel, Scarpeta

3.30pm £625,000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2½f
Bachasson, Djakadam, Killultagh Vic, Total Recall

4.10pm £45,000 St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2½f
Entries close February 27

4.50pm £70,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4½f
Abbyssial, Bleu Berry, Bunk Off Early, Burrows Saint, Carter McKay, C’Est Jersey, Court Artist, Deal d’Estruval, Didero Vallis, Dolciano Dici, Duc des Genievres, Karalee, Lagostovegas, Max Dynamite, Meri Devie, Pravalaguna, Sandsend, Voix du Reve, Whiskey Sour

5.30pm £110,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m ½f
American Tom, Patricks Park, Pleasant Company, Townshend

Champion Day – Tuesday, March 13 (Old Course)
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £125,000
2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade1) 2m £175,000
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £110,000
3.30pm Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £450,000
4.10pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £120,000
4.50pm National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase) (Grade 2) 4m £125,000
5.30pm Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) 2m 4½f £70,000
Total £1,175,000

Ladies Day – Wednesday, March 14 (Old Course & Cross Country)
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f £125,000
2.10pm RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m ½f £175,000
2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 5f £100,000
3.30pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m £400,000
4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f £65,000
4.50pm Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m ½f £80,000
5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m ½f £75,000
Total £1,020,000

St Patrick’s Thursday – Thursday, March 15 (New Course)
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £150,000
2.10pm Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 3m £100,000
2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f £350,000
3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m £325,000
4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f £110,000
4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f £90,000
5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup A R Handicap Chase 3m 2f £70,000
Total £1,195,000

Gold Cup Day – Friday, March 16 (New Course)
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £125,000
2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f £100,000
2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m £125,000
3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2½f £625,000
4.10pm St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase (Amateur riders) 3m 2½f £45,000
4.50pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 4½f £70,000
5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m ½f £110,000
Total £1,200,000

Record prize money for The Festival 2018 – £4.59 million, up £285,000 (+ seven per cent)

Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the northern outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham.

The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world’s pre-eminent Jump meeting.

The Festival, which happens in March over four days every year, next takes place in 2018 from Tuesday, March 13, to Friday, March 16, 2018 inclusive and tickets are on sale.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season.

More information is available at and through Twitter (@CheltenhamRaces), Facebook and Instagram (@CheltenhamRaces).Defending champion Sizing John & King George hero Might Bite head Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup entries

Connections look forward to the big Newbury Weekend

A press conference was held at the Landmark Hotel in London ahead of the £250,000 G3 Ladbrokes Trophy, the three and a quarter mile handicap chase and highlight of the inaugural Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury on Saturday, December 2.

Bryony Frost has lit up Jump racing in November with her high-profile successes on board Present Man and Black Corton, and she has the chance of making further headlines at Newbury this Saturday, December 2.

She is back on board Present Man, trained by her employer Paul Nicholls, in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, the second most valuable handicap chase of the season outside of the Grand National.

The 22-year-old 5lb claimer from Devon, in London for only the second time in her life, today spoke of her dreams and life at a media lunch at the Landmark Hotel hosted by Newbury Racecourse and Ladbrokes.

She said: “Calling Present Man special is probably an understatement for me. That day he won at Wincanton (the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase on November 11) was a good day, a big time in planning. I had teamed up with him at Kempton as a sort to get to know each other situation. I was actually pretty nervous that day because I think if I got beat I would not be in the saddle at Wincanton.

“I had to make sure we got the job done at Wincanton and he managed to tough it out and stay there and with a little bit of luck on the line we managed to hold on.

“He grabbed a hold of me and said what we are doing in the race – I had to agree and did not have much choice about the matter. He is a positive force and normally in a race you have one moment where you think that was a bit close. But there were 21 fences and he flew every one of them for me.

“I just had such a buzz off him, and to get the job down for the owners (Mark & Tessa Woodhouse) and Paul, it was a big day.

“I am from Devon, very feral as it were – this is my second time in London. I said to Paul on the train – ‘Paul you are going to have to help me out – I am a little bit nervous about London and people. I said I would need one of those things you put on kids – basically a collar for a child – otherwise I might go wandering off or get in a crowd and be lost’.

“This sort of event is awesome for me to be at. The race is what we do – this is what I have done since I was a little girl – riding horses.

“I know my horse – he knows me – my trainer knows me and has confidence in me. I have confidence in my team and we go there in good stead – he is going to be a 100 per cent because that is what Paul does best. This (the Ladbrokes Trophy) is the plan and let’s see if we can get it done again.”

Asked how it feels if she became the first woman to ride the winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy, she replied: “It is not something I think about. I did walk out of the yard and Dave, who is the head lad of the bottom yard, said: “Are you ready to make history Bryony?” I looked at him as though to say what are you on about? He said the first girl to win the Ladbrokes Trophy. I had not even thought about that, which shows how naïve I am.

“Look, it is cool to follow in footsteps – my Dad, while Paul has won the race as a jockey so to be following in footsteps is still good and they are big footsteps to be following in.

“To make history and to make your own path, lay your own concrete and turn left or right at the crossroads is also something you have got to achieve. At the minute, I ride my horse and I keep climbing up the ladder’ and every step you take is positive.”

Bryony Frost at today’s event

Somerset-based Nicholls, successful three times as a trainer and twice as a jockey in the Ladbrokes Trophy, when it was the Hennessy Gold Cup, commented: “Bryony has done very well – she works hard. Julie, who is a great pal of mine from the days we were riding together at David Barons, said can Bryony join you for a year – she might learn something.

“Once Present Man won at Wincanton, all she was interested in doing was getting to work on time so none of the others would give her any stick. She works hard and at the end of the day she rides well and some of those horses run really well for her.

“With Sam (Twiston-Davies – stable jockey) injured at the moment, you need a good backup team – with Harry Cobden, Bryony, Sean Bowen and so on to pick up the reins. They all do well and it is nice to give the youngsters a chance.

“Present Man to be honest has astonished us – two years ago Andy Stewart and Paul Barber owned him and they sold him to the Woodhouses saying he would be lucky to a small race around Wincanton.

“It is a like a lot of horses do – he has just got older and stronger. I don’t know where the improvement has come from. But his run the other day gives him every chance at the weekend.

“The question at Wincanton was whether he would get the trip in the ground – three and a quarter miles so stamina was an issue. But obviously it wasn’t. A dry forecast this week will help him and he has only 4lb more to carry and with Bryony’s claim he will only be carrying 10st 2lb, which is a proper racing weight.

“Present Man is still improving and who knows where he will end up – that was a career best at Wincanton and we see if there is more to come.

“Braqueur D’Or has done nothing but improve. He was rated 109 when he ran over hurdles for us in May and is now on 139. He has done incredibly well and has got 10st. He is in the novice chase as well and has a couple of other options. We will just have a look and see what the owners want to do.

“I won the race (as a jockey) in 1986 and 1987, 10st 5lb (on Broadheath in 1986) how about that! That was a long time ago. Those were the good days and I have been lucky enough to win it three times (as a trainer) with Strong Flow (2003) and Denman (2007 & 2009). It is a great race to win and it will be a great race on Saturday.”

Paul Nicholls today

Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for Total Recall, the 9/2 favourite with Ladbrokes.

The eight-year-old was previously trained by the now-retired Sandra Hughes and made a winning debut for his new stable when taking the J T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National at Limerick on October 8 by an impressive seven lengths.

Mullins said today: “He is by Westerner and when he came down to us we were very happy with him.

“After he worked for us, we thought he could be on a nice mark and after thinking we would go for the Kerry National, we decided to go for the Munster National instead. Everything went well for him at Limerick – he missed a few early fallers and all the schmozzle in the race. He came through and won very handily in the end

“You need a lot of luck in these big handicaps, which we had last time. It’s very hard to win two big handicaps in a row but Total Recall is doing everything right at home and I don’t know if the handicapper has caught up with him or not.

“If the weights stay as they are at the moment, he has a lovely racing weight. The trip will be fine for him and he jumps well, so he has a lot of things going for him.

“The ground should be fine for him. We know he handles heavy ground but the ground at the moment looks like it will be good to soft, which is perfect jumping ground.”

Mullins could also be represented in Saturday’s race by Children’s List. The seven-year-old was runner-up on his seasonal debut at Limerick on October 8.

The trainer continued: “I was very pleased with Children’s List at Limerick – I thought it was a hell of a run.

“He is quite ground dependant and would appreciate no more rain. He is a horse that is coming to himself. We thought of going for the Troytown with him, but the ground yesterday would have been too soft.

“If there is no rain, he will go to Newbury. He is a horse that can win a nice race somewhere.”

The third possible Mullins starters on Saturday is Pleasant Company, who was last seen out when ninth in the Grand National at Aintree in April.

Mullins concluded: “Pleasant Company is in great form and was also originally going to run in the Troytown but we have decided to go to Newbury instead. He is in good order and was travelling so well until he made that mistake at Aintree.

“Hopefully, we will get to Aintree with him again next year but he has a lovely racing weight and a good each-way chance on Saturday.

“At the moment, the plan is for Paul Townend to ride Total Recall and we will sort out jockeys for the other two later in the week.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies has his string in fine form at the moment, having taken big Saturday prizes with Splash Of Ginge and Bristol De Mai over the past two weekends. He is set to be represented in the Ladbrokes Trophy by Cogry and Double Ross.

He said: “Cogry has done absolutely nothing wrong. He won well last time at Cheltenham.

“I don’t think the handicapper has ruined his mark. I think he has a very good chance, even if the bookmakers don’t think so! He was second in the Scottish National and has won at Cheltenham so why not?

“The horse is as tough as nails and I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t in there fighting at the end. I think he is a big player.

“Double Ross was third last year and unfortunately unseated my son a fortnight ago and then went on to win the race without a jockey. We probably made too much use of him at Newbury last year and will ride him with more restraint this time round.

“Jamie Bargary will ride Cogry and we will probably put Tom Bellamy on Double Ross.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies talks at today’s event

Reigning champion trainer Nicky Hendiserson is seeking a fourth victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy, following successes for Trabolgan (2005), Bobs Worth (2012) and Triolo D’Alene (2013). The master of Seven Barrows is set to be double-handed on Saturday with Whisper and Vyta Du Roc.

Henderson said: “The Ladbrokes Trophy is our local feature race at Newbury, which is our home course in our home county. We are all looking forward to a huge weekend.

“It was encouraging to see Clan Des Obeaux, who Whisper beat at Kempton, come out and win at the weekend. I know it was only a two-horse race at Kempton but there wasn’t much in it.

“Whisper has a good time since Kempton. He schooled on Friday and we will give him another pop before Saturday.

“He has a similar profile to Trabolgan and Bobs Worth. They both won the RSA, whereas Whisper got beaten a nose. To be fair he should have been beaten 24 noses in the RSA – it was only that Might Bite decided to have a detour to the Guinness tent! It was still a great performance, as it was at Aintree when he was second again to Might Bite.

“Whisper is handicapped accordingly and I am not too worried about the hustle and bustle of Saturday’s race for him. He will have a cunning rider on board on Saturday in Davy Russell, who gets on with Whisper really, really well. Davy will already have an idea where he is going to go and what he is going to do on Saturday. Davy lets the horse warm to the race and I think the horse has enough experience.

“We had look at the Rehearsal and Becher for Vyta Du Roc, but he is going to run at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“He has 10st 1lb, which Daryl Jacob can’t do. We haven’t decided who will ride him yet but have a few ideas.

“My optimism comes from the fact he has had a run over hurdles at Aintree, the same day Top Notch ran. We saw how much good it did Top Notch when he won on Saturday.

“If you go back to the last day of the season at Sandown in the bet365 Gold Cup, when he just got beaten. The extra distance helped him at Sandown but you will need to say well in Saturday’s race as it will be run at a proper gallop.”

Saturday, December 2 will also see the first staging of the £40,000 G2 Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 2), run in honour of seven-time champion Jump jockey John Francome MBE.

Francome gave his thought on this year’s running of the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race he won on Brown Chamberlin (1983) and Burrough Hill Lad (1984).

John Francome: “It was a surprise to have a race named after me but I am very pleased. It was an honour when Mike Dillon rang up and said they wanted to name a race after me.

“Coneygree is such a good jumper and when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a novice, he gave them a jumping lesson. I think it’s difficult to see him out of the first four and I also like Cogry.”

Noel Meade went close to winning the Ladbrokes Trophy with Harbour Pilot in 2002 and the Irish handler’s representative on Saturday is set to be A Genie In Abottle, who is two from two this season with wins at Galway and Wexford.

Meade said:”It’s so far, so good with A Genie In Abottle. It boosted the form a good bit with Mala Beach winning at the weekend and made me feel a bit more confident, although it was Mala Beach’s first run for a long time when we beat him.

“It was a good enough performance when he won at Wexford last time as the track wouldn’t have suited him because it is very sharp and A Genie In Abottle is a big, awkward sort of horse. He is a better on a galloping track and Newbury should suit him well if he gets over the first three or four fences and into a good rhythm.

“We have runners in this race before, including Harbour Pilot (second in 2002) and if you don’t get into a good rhythm, you get so far behind in such a competitive race.

“Sean Flanagan rides on Saturday.”

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree is set to carry top weight of 11st 12lb in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He disappointed when pulling up on his seasonal reappearance in the G2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 4 but trainer Mark Bradstock was in upbeat mood after Coneygree schooled at Newbury on November 21.

Bradstock said: “Coneygree seems great and I am delighted with him. He went round Newbury the other day and jumped absolutely fabulous. David Bass, who schooled him at Newbury, said he’d have paid to ride him.

“I am not quite sure what happened at Wetherby but it was very, very unlike him to jump like that. There were certainly three jockeys who said the sun was a problem and the horse struck into himself quite nastily. It was just one of those things.

“To a certain degree, we went back to the drawing board after Wetherby. We went back into the school and my son Alfie put him over a few poles. We schooled once at home and then went to Newbury.

“I think the best race he has run in his life was at Punchestown last year, on ground that was probably a bit quick for him. I know he has only run about 12 times in his life but Wetherby was his only real blip and I think we can give him benefit of the doubt.

“Top-weight doesn’t really worry me. Having spoken to Richard Osgood this morning, I am glad to hear he thinks it is going to be good to soft or soft at the weekend and there will be covers down on the take-offs and landings. I am happy to see the race run on better ground than heavy ground with a big weight like that.

“He has carried big weights and is 17.2 hands. He is not like his mother or me – we are short arses!

“I am sure he will run a big race on Saturday. I am quietly confident.”

Harry Fry is set to saddle American on Saturday. The seven-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over fences, ending last season when taking a novices’ handicap under top-weight at Uttoxeter in March.

Fry said: “We have been very happy with American’s progress since he came back in over the summer. Due to his fragility, it has always been the plan to go straight for the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“It is obviously going to be a big ask first time out but he did nothing wrong last year – when he three out of three over fences – and he has an ideal profile for the race as a second-season chaser. He had two gallops that brought him along nicely and Noel sat on him last week at Newbury.

“American makes us work hard. We have to work backwards with our plans for big races but he still has to do the required work at home. Thankfully, he has come through his work at home with flying colours and is all set for Saturday.

“It’s no secret that his knees are not great and that is why we need slow ground for him. Looking at the forecast, it should be ideal on Saturday.

“It was a very hard decision not to go to Cheltenham to the RSA but it was the right call to make and he duly repaid us by winning so well at Uttoxeter.

“It is very much the plan for Noel Fehily to ride on Saturday. He wouldn’t run on good ground but that looks unlikely to be the case at Newbury given the rain that has already fallen and the fact that ground doesn’t dry quickly at this time of year. There are no real concerns on that front.”

Latest Ladbrokes prices

9/2 Total Recall
6/1 American
7/1 Singlefarmpayment
15/2 Whisper
12/1 A Genie In Abottle
14/1 Coneygree, Present Man, Cogry
16/1 Royal Vacation, Vyta du Roc
20/1 Carole’s Destrier, Label des Obeaux, Missed Approach
25/1 Pleasant Company, Braqueur d’Or, Southfield Royale
33/1 Childrens List, Double Ross, Bigbadjohn, Potters Legend, Pilgrims Bay
50/1 Regal Encore

Nicola McGeady from Ladbrokes commented: “We are delighted with confirmations for the Ladbrokes Trophy today, 22 of them, and among them four Irish entries. It would be great for the Irish to win it.

“Nigel Twiston-Davies was talking about Cogry earlier and. Of all the movers, he was probably the one who was best backed last week, now 14/1.

“Total Recall is the favourite at 9/2 and we have seen him win the Ladbrokes Munster National last month. It looks a fascinating contest – a whole bunch together at the head of the market – we have Harry Fry’s American, who looked really good at the gallops morning at Newbury last Tuesday, at 6/1 second favourite and then of course Nicky Henderson is well represented with Whisper at 15/2 and Vyta Du Roc at 16/1. Singlefarmpayment is at 7/1. We have heard from Noel Meade about A Genie In Abottle who is priced at 12/1 and heading the weights is Coneygree, whose half-brother Carruthers won the race back in 2011, and he is a 14/1 shot.

“It is a really interesting market at the moment, but the one we have seen the most money for is Cogry.”

Phil Smith, the Head of Handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority, said: “If you look at the last 10 runnings of the equivalent race, eight have carried 11st or above. This year, because of the presence of Coneygree in the race, there are only five in the field who can carry 11st or over. That is quite a small number and yet when you look at the betting they are all quite fancied horses.

“Also three of the last 12 winners have carried top-weight. Three and a quarter miles at Newbury is a terrific test of a horse and yet the class horses have come to the fore on a regular basis.

“To have in the first year of Ladbrokes sponsoring a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner (Coneygree) is absolutely fantastic.

“Total Recall was not that difficult to assess – I thought of a figure and doubled it! The horse won so easily and it was his first run for the stable. I spoke to my colleague in Ireland and we came up with exactly the same figure.

“Of the four Irish entries, there is only a pound or two difference between Britain and Ireland but we have Total Recall on exactly the same mark.

“What we are trying to do with a wide-margin winner like that- we are trying to increase the rating and the weight, but at the same time we are trying to give the horse an equal chance with all the other horses.

“He may be an improver, but I think you can look down this Ladbrokes Trophy field and find 10 or 12 improvers in this race so the big question is, if Total Recall has improved, has he improved as much as all the other horses.”

ITV Racing is showing the first day of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, Friday, December 1, for the first time.

Ed Chamberlin, ITV’s lead presenter, remarked: “What Ladbrokes did on Tuesday was terrific – seeing the horses work and really giving the week momentum, so to Newbury and everyone involved, thank you.”

Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse said: “In partnership with Ladbrokes, we are looking forward to the inaugural Ladbrokes Winter Carnival in the first of an initial five-year deal.

“We plan on growing this two-day event and are looking forward to the weekend. It is fantastic to see a quality field entered for Saturday’s feature race, the Ladbrokes Trophy, including runners from Ireland.”

Going news ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival

The current going at Newbury Racecourse ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is:

Hurdle Course: Soft, Good to Soft in places

Chase Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Rails will be moved overnight on Friday to give fresh ground for Saturday.

In the last 24 hours there has been one millimetre of rain. In total, there has been 11.2 millimetres of rain during the past week.

The forecast for the week ahead is as follows:

Monday, November 27 – Showery before turning dry and windy later. Maximum temperature +9C; minimum temperature +1C.

Tuesday, November 28 – Sunny clear morning before turning cloudy. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature -1C.

Wednesday, November 29 – Dry and bright with sunny spells. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature -2C.

Thursday, November 30 – Dry, cold and sunny day. Maximum temperature +5C; minimum temperature 0C.

Friday, December 1- Sunny spells. Maximum temperature +6C; minimum temperature +2C.

Saturday, December 2 – Dry and cloudy. Maximum temperature +7C.












Nigel Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes at Hereford in March, 1982, as a permit holder before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession.

He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,850 successes.

Born on May 16, 1957, Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners as an amateur under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell.

A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm between Guiting Power and Naunton in Gloucestershire, although Scudamore has not been involved in the venture for many years (since 2003) and currently assists his partner Lucinda Russell. Since 2009, Twiston-Davies’ business partner and assistant trainer is former stable jockey Carl Llewellyn.

Twiston-Davies adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks.

He is the only current trainer to have won the Grand National at Aintree more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later. He won the Hennessy Gold Cup, now the Ladbrokes Trophy, with King’s Road in 2000 and had the third in 2016, Double Ross, who runs again this year, while he also has Cogry among the five-day confirmations

The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart.

His best season numerically was in 2010/11, when he enjoyed 97 winners. He has saddled 17 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, headed by Imperial Commander in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup and landed what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy with King’s Road in 2000.

He has had a fine start to the 2017/18 campaign, with 39 winners on the board already, headed by the success of Bristol De Mai in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 25 and Splash Of Ginge in the BetVictor Gold Cup on November 18.

Sons Sam and William are both jockeys. Sam, 25, is stable jockey to leading trainer Paul Nicholls and still rides regularly for his father, while 22-year-old William has ridden successfully on the Flat and over Jumps but has been on the sidelines since falling at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

First winner as a trainer – Last Of The Foxes, whom he also rode, at Hereford in March, 1982

Paul Nicholls

Background – The son of a policemen, he was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and began his racing career as a Jump jockey. He partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest successes coming in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (now the Ladbrokes Trophy) at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988.

Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Devon handler David Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool, but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls’ time at the stable.

Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Paul Barber’s Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village.

Synopsis -10-time champion Jump trainer (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16) and became the first British handler to accrue more than £4 million of prize money in a season in 2007/08.

He is the leading trainer so far this season (2017/18), with 64 wins & close to £887,000 in prize money.

He saddled his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach the landmark figure and has now gone beyond the 2,800-winner mark.

He has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, the third-highest total ever, including four victories in the feature Cheltenham Gold Cup, five in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, two in the Ryanair Chase and four in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Neptune Collonges provided him with a first Grand National victory in 2012.

He has won what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy three times, thanks to Strong Flow (2003) and the legendary Denman (2007 & 2009). He has Present Man, the mount of Bryony Frost, and Braqueur D’Or going forward for the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.

First winner as a trainer – Olveston, Hereford, December 20, 1991

Bryony Frost

Born : April 13, 1995 Background: daughter of Buckfastleigh-based trainer Jimmy Frost, who rode Little Polvier to victory in the 1989 Grand National before taking over his father’s training licence in March, 2002. Bryony’s brother Hadden, who sources and breaks in horses, was also a successful jockey and partnered Buena Vista to victory in the Pertemps Final at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. Bryony started riding the yard’s donkey Nosey as soon as she could walk and moved on to riding out racehorses for her father at the tender age of nine. She became an amateur jockey aged 16 and enjoyed tremendous success in point-to-points (over 55 winners in that sphere), winning the National Novice title and the National Hunt Girls’ title. Shot to wider prominence at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival in March when guiding the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder to victory in the Foxhunter Chase. She turned professional in July, 2017, and has gained several high-profile wins for Nicholls already this season, headed by Present Man in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton on November 11 and Black Corton in the Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on November 18. The 5lb-claimer has had 31 successes under Rules so far. She is due to ride Present Man in the Ladbrokes Trophy on Saturday.


When – 3.00pm £50,000 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, Friday, December 1, 2017
Where – Newbury Racecourse

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gets underway at Newbury on Friday, December 1, when the highlight is the £50,000 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle over three miles, with a mouth-watering clash between top staying hurdlers, Unowhatimeanharry and Thistlecrack, who were successful in this race in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Thistlecrack (GB)
9 b g Kayf Tara – Ardstown (Ardross)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Owner: John & Heather Snook
Jockey: Tom Scudamore
Starts: 19
Wins: 13
2nd: 2
3rd: 1
Hurdle rating: 174
Grade 1 wins: five including 2016 Stayers’ Hurdle and 2016 King George VI Chase
Newbury record: two wins from two starts including 2015 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Total earnings: £644,653

*Having first start since going down by a head to Many Clouds in the G2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 28, after which he sustained a tendon injury.

*Not raced over hurdles since defeating Shaneshill by seven lengths in G1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April, 2016.

Unowhatimeanharry (GB)
9 b g Sir Harry Lewis – Red Nose Lady (Teenoso)
Trainer: Harry Fry
Owner: J P McManus
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
Starts : 24
Wins: 11
2nd: 1
3rd: 7
Hurdle rating: 167
Grade 1 wins: three including 2016 Long Walk Hurdle and 2017 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
Newbury record: two wins from two starts including 2016 G2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Total earnings: £425,646

*Won 10 of 11 starts since joining Harry Fry from Helen Nelmes during the summer of 2015.

*Has race fitness on his side having made a winning reappearance in a two and a half miles conditions hurdle at Aintree on November 11.

Connections Comments: Betvictor Gold Cup

A few comments from connections on the big race tomorrow

Harry Fry, Kylemore Lough:

“We’ve been grafting away at home and we are happy with his progress and what he has shown us. He was top weight when fifth in the Caspian Caviar off 2lb higher than what he goes into Saturday’s race. He has got a good record fresh as well, hence why we targeted the BetVictor when we mapped out his campaign. The nice thing is that he turned up at the end of May. We were able to assess him, give him a break and start afresh with him. It is not as though he turned up a couple of weeks ago. This was always going to be his starting point.”

Paul Nicholls, Le Prezien and Romain De Senam:

“It was not always the aim for Romain De Senam until he won at Chepstow. He caught me by surprise a bit that day, but I think that race did fall apart and they went quite quick. He ran again six days later, but I had to run him as he was going to go up 12lb. He won and won two good races in a week.

“I thought Le Prezien was going to get there most of the way (at Cheltenham last month), but he didn’t. He ran very well, he was only beaten a neck and obviously gets further than two. That was a good run. It sharpened his jumping up and two-mile-five probably suits him better than two miles.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies, Foxtail Hill and Splash Of Ginge:

“He won well last time and will prefer the extra half-mile so I hope he’s got a good chance. He likes this course and has run well here several times.

“Splash Of Ginge has got good form at various distances and I’m looking forward to running him.

Owner Barry Connell, Tully East:

“He’s been there (Cheltenham) twice. He won last season and ran well in the Martin Pipe the year before. He seems to like the place and it looks an open enough race this year. Everything’s gone well. We had a prep run over hurdles and he schooled over fences at Naas last weekend. We couldn’t be happier. It’s a nice pot. He’s a course and distance winner and after he won in Cheltenham, we just felt it was the obvious race for him. It’s a nice way to start off.”

Jamie Snowden, Double Treasure:

“He has got to improve again, but we think he has.”

Ian Williams, Ballyalton:

“He is in great form. Tom (O’Brien) schooled him on Tuesday and he schooled very nicely for him. He does come into the race with limited chasing experience against some of his rivals, but he has always performed well around Cheltenham and has enjoyed the track. We are looking forward to it, but it is a big ask.”

Charlie Longsdon, Bentelimar:

“He is a nice, uncomplicated horse at home. We are still learning about him, but I am looking forward to seeing him run. He is ticking over nicely. He was fit when he came over and we gave him a bit of a break. He looks great, has schooled well and Johnny (Burke) is looking forward to riding him.”

What the trainers say: Cheltenham Betvictor November Meeting

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews here is the latest on the weekend meeting from Cheltenham’s press conference today


Trainers look forward to the BetVictor Gold Cup and the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this weekend
Monday, November 13, 2017 – Cheltenham Racecourse staged a press conference today ahead of the exciting three-day The November Meeting which starts on Countryside Day, Friday, November 17 and finishes on The November Meeting Sunday, November 19.
The three-day extravaganza features two very prestigious and valuable G3 handicaps, the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup (2.25pm, Saturday, 22 confirmations) and the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (3.00pm, Sunday, 23 confirmations).
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson was joined by Paul Nicholls, Jamie Snowden and Harry Fry at Kempton Park this morning to discuss runners over the three days.
Henderson said: “The plan is to run Theinval (25/1 with BetVictor), Days Of Heaven(25/1) and Gold Present (12/1) in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
“Theinval was unlucky all last season. He finished third in the Grand Annual at The Festival, second at Aintree, then we ran him twice at Ayr on the Friday and Saturday, and the best of the four runs was probably at Ayr on the Saturday.
“He kept finishing second and one day we will get it right. He tanks into the race and probably ends up getting there a bit too soon.
“He ran very nicely at Ascot the other day [fourth] over two miles. I think two and a half is more his trip.
“Days Of Heaven has got himself too high in the handicap – he is up to 150 – and prefers fast ground.
“He has had a busy summer and we will probably put him away after this, but he has an American owner who is coming over so he will have a go.
“Gold Present’s trip two and a half and he ran a very good race [to be second] in the novices’ handicap at The Festival.
“We have no fears as he is a good jumper and that bit of experience looks pretty solid.
“We have left Jenkins (6/1 joint favourite with Unibet) and Call Me Lord (16/1) in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
“Jenkins is an intended runner, whereas Call Me Lord runs tomorrow at Huntingdon. Racing managers have lots of idea so we have left Call Me Lord in, just in case, but in case of what I don’t know – if he falls at the first or he wins? I would think he is an unlikely runner.
“Jenkins was awful the whole way through last season. He won at Newbury but he was still awful. He didn’t jump at home and his work was rubbish.
“He went to Kempton over Christmas and was terrible, then he went to Ffos Las and fell in the most appalling race you have seen in your life, and somehow we have got to a rating of 137. Where in the world he got that from, I don’t know? He is handicapped on his reputation from bumpers – it is nothing to do with what he achieved over hurdles.
“We will see because for some extraordinary reason he is a completely different horse this season – he wants to jump and wants to work. We start here as he has got to start somewhere.
“We will run some nice novices over the three days including On The Blind Side [G2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Friday 3.35pm], who nicely first time at Aintree.
River Wylde pleased me the other day on his first start over fences and he could go for the Racing Post Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase [Sunday 1.50pm].
“There is a nice juvenile filly called Apple’s Shakira who will probably go for the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial [Saturday 12.40pm]. She has won a race in France and is a full-sister to Apple’s Jade.
“We will also run a couple – Brave Eagle and Follow The Bear – in the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle [Saturday 3.30pm].”
Nicholls commented: “We have left three in the BetVictor Gold Cup. Clan Des Obeaux(25/1) runs today (finished second) and we left in him just in case he fell at the first. He will probably head to Cheltenham in December. The two that will run are Romain De Senam (10/1) and Le Prezien (12/1).
“Romain De Senam caught me by surprise a bit when he won at Chepstow. That race may have fell apart as they did go quick, and then he won again six days later at Stratford. I had to run him quickly under the penalty as he was going up 12lb.
“He needs a real fast run race, which he will hopefully get at Cheltenham on Saturday, and he is in good shape. He is an improving five-year-old.
“Le Prezien ran very well and was only beaten a neck at Cheltenham last time. He obviously gets further than two miles and that will have sharpened up his jumping. Two miles and five probably suits him better than two miles.
“He is rated 150, which is quite high, and went up 6lb for finishing second the other day. That isn’t going to help too much, but he is a young, game horse who gets a trip and he must have a chance.
“Le Prezien jumped soundly the other day, whereas at the backend of last season he didn’t jump particularly well and that will cost you around Cheltenham.
Old Guard (25/1) is one of two we will run in Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. He has 10st 12lb and Bryony Frost will take off another five. That is a real racing weight for him because he was running in all the big races and obviously wasn’t quite good enough.
“He had a wind operation over the summer and ran really well at Chepstow on his reappearance before winning nicely at Kempton. He is 4lb higher than he won this a couple of season ago, but after that he went on to win the International Hurdle. He must have a chance.
“The other runner is Amour De Nuit (20/1), who has 10st 1lb. He won a Listed novices’ hurdle at Kempton and was a good horse on the Flat, rated 100.
“He has kept improving and the dry ground will suit him, as will a fast run race. He has got plenty of experience in novices’ hurdles and jumps well. At 25/1, he is a big outsider.
“We have plenty entered in the novices’ chases at The November Meeting. Movewiththetimes is in the Steel Place And Sections Novices’ Chase (2.25pm) on Friday and the Racing Post Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase (1.50pm) on Sunday.
Black Corton keeps progressing and runs in the Novices’ Chase (1.15pm Saturday) over three miles. Capitaine is also in the Racing Post Arkle Trial. We will sort them out later in the week.”
Snowden revealed: “Double Treasure (16/1) won three times in handicaps, so we decided to put him back into novice company last time when he jumped, galloped and stayed really well.
“He put in a pretty good performance that day to beat higher-rated horses and, on the back of that, has obviously gone up in the weights. He has got to improve again for the BetVictor Gold Cup, but we think he has.
“There is a new rule this season that if you finish second or worse in a novices’ chase, you are not going to go up in the handicap, and we went in there rated 137.
“I felt he could run a good race and finish second or third, have a spin around Cheltenham and go to the BetVictor off 137. If that was the case, I would be standing here saying he is an absolutely certainty, but fortunately or unfortunately – whatever way you look at it – he won and has gone up in the handicap as a result.
“He used to be an absolute lunatic, but now he has learnt to relax and race properly. And because of that, he has improved dramatically.
“The way he is working at home suggests that he is full of confidence, which can happen when horses get on a roll. He is working brilliantly and looks like he is improving with each of his wins.
“He has got to go and do it in a big field handicap like the BetVictor, but the way he is going at home suggests that he has every chance.
“We have done his wind, so he probably doesn’t want the ground too soft. We got him out early looking for better ground and that seems to suit him. The fact we are in for a dry week is a help to him.”
Fry remarked: “The owners of Kylemore Lough (7/1 favourite with BetVictor) rang up at the end of May asking if we wanted to train the horse. It is a tricky situation as we know what it is like when the boot is on the other foot, but we are in the business of training horses and clearly he is a very high-class horse, so we immediately said yes.
“We have been very happy with him since he came to us. He was a G1-winning novice chaser for Kerry Lee and the pressure is on us to produce the same sort of form that he did for them.
“The nice thing is that he turned up at the end of May. We were able to assess him, give him a break and start afresh with him. It is not as though he turned up a couple of weeks ago.
“We have been grafting away at home and have been happy with his progress and what he has been showing us.
“He was top-weight when fifth in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup last season and is 2lb lower now. He has a good record fresh as well and that is why we targeted the BetVictor Gold Cup when we mapped out his campaign. It was always going to be the starting point.
Misterton (12/1) has been left in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. He won nicely at Chepstow in October and the form has been franked with Elgin winning at Ascot a couple of weeks ago.
“It will be interesting to see if The New One runs as we are a 1lb out of the handicap as things stand.
“He is a young horse going in the right direction. We know he stays further and Noel gave him a positive ride at Chepstow over two miles. It is bound to be strongly-run race on Sunday and his stamina should come into play up the hill.
“We will see what the weights are looking like before deciding if he definitely lines up.”
Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing Jockey Club Racecourses South West and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, said the going at Cheltenham today was Good to Soft for the chase and hurdle course and Good for the Cross Country course.
He explained: “It could well be perfect ground at the weekend for The November Meeting at Cheltenham this weekend.
“We had some nice rain on Friday and Saturday, which has put the chase and hurdle courses at Good to Soft.
“For any trainer worried about the ground becoming too easy, I have already said that there will be no more watering on the chase, hurdle and Cross Country courses.
“It is forecast to be a dry week – there could be a few showers around, but nothing of any significance.
“We are going to be a combination of Good to Soft and Good I think right across the three days.
“Mid-week we are expecting temperatures to go down to 1 degree Celsius or zero, but it is forecast to be considerably milder by the weekend.
“If you cast your minds back 12 months, the Glenfarclass Cross Country Handicap Chase could not be run at the meeting because that course was firm and hard and we were still watering the chase and hurdle course to get to Good by the Friday.
“A fortnight ago, we had some really nice ground at The Showcase a fortnight ago. We are not expecting much rain before The November Meeting starts on Friday, no more than a millimetre a day for the next four or five days.”
The BetVictor Gold Cup
Grade 3 handicap chase, £160,000 total prize fund . Cheltenham, Saturday, November 18. Two miles, four and a half furlongs (2m 4f 78y). For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 5, a winner of a chase 5lb. Entries closed October 31, entries revealed November 1 (45 entries). Weights revealed November 8. Five-day confirmation stage November 13 (22 remain), final declarations November 16. Maximum field size 20 runners plus 2 reserves.
Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter
Kerry Lee
M J McMahon & Denis Gallagher
Harry Fry
The Bellamy Partnership
Venetia Williams
J P McManus
Paul Nicholls
Sir Chips Keswick
Jamie Snowden
Ann & Alan Potts Limited
Colin Tizzard
Mrs S K Johnston
Nicky Henderson
Mr & Mrs P Barber, G Mason, Sir A Ferguson
Paul Nicholls
Barry Connell
Alan Fleming IRE
Options O Syndicate
Nigel Twiston-Davies
Mr & Mrs Sandy Orr
Nicky Henderson
Mr Chris Giles & Mr Dan Macdonald
Paul Nicholls
Paul & Clare Rooney
David Pipe
John Westwood
Ian Williams
John & Barbara Cotton
Nicky Henderson
William & Angela Rucker
Evan Williams
Swanee River Partnership
Charlie Longsdon
Calvados Racing
Venetia Williams
Pat Sloan
Nicky Richards
John Neild
Nigel Twiston-Davies
Graham and Alison Jelley
Fergal O’Brien
Dr Ronan Lambe
Jim Culloty IRE
22 five-day confirmations
2 Irish-trained
BetVictor Gold Cup – BetVictor latest odds: Kylemore Lough 7/1, Tully East 8/1, Romain De Senam 10/1, Gold Present 12/1, Foxtail Hill 12/1, Starchitect 12/1, Le Prezien 12/1, Ballyalton 12/1, Double Treasure 16/1, Aso 20/1, Clan Des Obeaux 25/1, Days Of Heaven 25/1, Top Gamble 25/1, Viconte du Noyer 25/1, Aqua Dude 25/1, Guitar Pete 25/1,  Splash of Ginge 25/1, Theinval 25/1, Bentelimar 33/1, Mystifiable 33/1, Plaisir D’Amour 33/1, Lake Takapuna 40/1
The Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle
Grade 3, £100,000 total prize fund. Cheltenham, Sunday, November 19. Two miles and half a furlong (2m 87y). For four-year-olds and upwards. Penalties: after November 5, a winner of a hurdle 5lb. Entries closed October 31, entries revealed November 1 (47 entries). Weights revealed November 8. Six-day confirmation stage November 13 (23 remain), final declarations November 17.
S Such & C G Paletta
Nigel Twiston-Davies
J P McManus
Philip Hobbs
J P McManus
Joseph O’Brien IRE
J P McManus
Joseph O’Brien IRE
The Brooks, Stewart Families & J Kyle
Paul Nicholls
The Rumble Racing Club
Seamus Mullins
Elite Racing Club
Alan King
J P McManus
John Quinn
Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
Nicky Henderson
The Macaroni Beach Society
Nick Williams
10-02 (5lb ex) Margaret Forsyth
Ian Williams
Andrew Williams
Paul Nicholls
Pump & Plant Services Ltd
Nicky Henderson
Mrs June Watts
Dan Skelton
D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce, G Wills
Brian Ellison
Wilkin, Orr, Boileau & Sim
Harry Fry
Mrs H Mullins
Tom Mullins IRE
Mrs H Mullins
Tom Mullins IRE
Mr & Mrs R Scott
Alan King
The Angove Family
David Pipe
Newtown Anner Stud Farm
Tony Martin IRE
Mr L Fell
Evan Williams
T D Howley Jnr/J N O’Brien
Gordon Elliott IRE
23 five-day cofirmations
6 Irish-trained
Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – Unibet prices: 6/1 Defi Du Seuil, Jenkins; 10/1 London Prize; 12/1 Misterton, Mohaayed; 14/1 Chesterfield, Elgin, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Tigris River, William H Bonney; 16/1 Call Me Lord, Flying Tiger, Nietzsche, Silver Streak, The New One; 20/1 Amour De Nuit, Poker Play, Project Bluebook, Veinard; 25/1 Golden Spear, Old Guard, Top Othe Ra; 33/1 Grand Partner

Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the northern outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham.
The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world’s pre-eminent Jump meeting.
The Festival, which happens in March over four days every year, next takes place in 2018 from Tuesday, March 13, to Friday, March 16, 2018 inclusive and tickets are on sale.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers  the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season.
More information is available at  and through Twitter (@CheltenhamRaces), Facebook  and Instagram (@CheltenhamRaces).
About The Jockey Club
Cheltenham is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival and The Investec Derby.
Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences The Jockey Club offers through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny made goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive.

The Jockey Club was founded in 1750 and today is the largest commercial group in Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and the charity, Racing Welfare. For more information, visit  w
If you need any information about racing at Cheltenham, please contact Sarah Jane Muirie, Communications Manager – Jockey Club Racecourses South West, on 01242 537 683 or