With the race still pretty much in its infancy with just six years in the history books, it has thrown up horses we’ve have proved to be equally good over larger obstacles as hurdles. The ill-fated Pride of Dulcote, Gone To Lunch, Over The Creek and similarly ill-fated Wichita Lineman have all done well over fences since running in this race, and one other more notable would be Weapons Amnesty who returned to Cheltenham the following year to add the RSA Chase to his curriculum vitae.
Despite being a person who doesn’t take much interest in race trends and statistics, it is always worth bearing in mind for the Cheltenham Festival and without further ado.
6 out of 6 previous winners had all won at 2m4f+
6 out of 6 had at least 3 runs over hurdles
5 out of 6 had a top two finish in a Graded Hurdle last time out
5 out of 6 were in the first five in the betting
4 out of 6 had previously run over three miles.
Bob Back (USA) (12.3f) — Fashionista (IRE) (King’s Theatre (IRE) (11.3f))
Notes: Has improved rapidly with each run putting himself to the fore of the Albert Bartlett Antepost market. The gelded son of Bobs Back accounted for a decent field last time over two and a half miles, including the Paul Nicholls trained Rock On Ruby who was previously unbeaten over hurdles after showing top form in bumpers, Challow Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) winner Backspin and other smart recruits including Champion Court who hacked up in Grade 2 company on his start prior.
Back In Focus
Bob Back (USA) (12.3f) — Dun Belle (IRE) (Over The River (FR) (12.7f))
Notes: Bought by Graham Wylie after showing up well in point-to-points over in Ireland, he made a fantastic hurdling debut under rules when readily accounting for Court In Motion at Haydock last weekend. He travelled well throughout the race and jumped fluently before putting the race to bed in the style of a smart animal. He will need to improve again to have a say in this race but he has every chance of doing just that and the trip will hold no terrors for him.
Court Cave (IRE) — Mooneys Hill (IRE) (Supreme Leader (12.4f))
Notes: Was a horse I had quite high hopes for at the start of the season, and the way he dealt with a Grade 2 Novice field on hurdles debut suggests he has plenty of class. He is still on the weak side and in need of further education at the game and chasing is where is future ultimately lies. He disappointed last time behind Bobs Worth over 20F at the track, a course and distance he’d previous won at the time before. His jockey Warren Marston reported he hung right handed throughout and it was found afterwards he’d lost a hind shoe during the race, and returned with a foot injury. He will need to return to his peak form of before to get involved here, and with the current form of the Martin Keighley yard a worry, confidence is thin on the ground for this one at the current stage – but he remains a player at large odds.
Court In Motion
Fruits Of Love (USA) (9.4f) — Peace Time Girl (IRE) (Buckskin (FR) (12.5f))
Notes: Has a somewhat difficult profile to assess suggesting he has a few ideas of his own about the game. Was readily put in his place by Back In Focus at Haydock last time, but it could be that he took more out of himself than connections thought of in bog-like conditions at Warwick the time before when winning the Grade 2 Leamington Novices Hurdle in a powerful display drawing clear of Neptune Equester (who gained 18.5L on Court In Motion between their last two runs) suggesting Court In Motion didn’t run to form last time. He looks like taking up this option instead of the Neptune Novices Hurdle and he should be thereabouts if recovering from his exertions last time out, but I feel there are one or two better than him at this stage in their careers.
[frame_right src=”http://www.cheltenhamtips.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/mossley_2539928-300×225.jpg” href=”#”]Join Together[/frame_right]
Old Vic (13.0f) — Open Cry (IRE) (Montelimar (USA) (11.5f))
Notes: On the bare form is held by Mossley and Court In Motion but this gelded son of Old Vic is bred to show continued improvement with age. His run at Cheltenham behind Mossley reads pretty well given he was unfancied on the day, and the fact he was outpaced at a vital stage and went down to a more ‘readied’ type on the day. He was then stepped up in trip at Chepstow to three miles, and duly thrashed 120 rated hurdler Super Villain with consummate ease. This is the sort of type Paul Nicholls excels with and should have the services of Ruby Walsh at The Festival – major player.
Moonlight Drive represents the northern based handler John Quinn, and comes with a lofty reputation after dispatching rivals at Wetherby last time. He will need to improve plenty though to play a hand in the finish here but worth keeping an eye on. Mossley could have a say in things if returning to his form of his Cheltenham success. He was bogged down in conditions at Warwick last time and clearly hated the ground, and he is overpriced at 25/1 (yard also have Bobs Worth which has been supported for the race). Kilcrea Kim won a handicap off 132 last time out but his previous try over three miles looked to stretch his stamina to the absolute limit, and I can’t see him lasting home here but he remains a likeable sort. Teaforthree will appreciate the step back up to three miles but he is held by Join Together and Mossley on Cheltenham running.
In what looks a competitive renewal of the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, it should pay to side with the Paul Nicholls trained Join Together. The gelded son of Our Vic should appreciate this trip more than most of his rivals and with the services of Ruby Walsh in the saddle looks certain to run a massive race for the Ditcheat handler. He has no other entries at The Festival so this looks to be his intended target and can be backed each-way with confidence at this stage. Of the remainder Champion Court can give a good account of himself at around 16-1.