For festival freaks and Henderson hotties, full details from today’s stable visit

Nicky Henderson on the Cheltenham festival

 

binocularsThe trainer commented today: “We all hope for a really good week, great weather and excellent ground while, as always, there will be fantastic racing.

“The Festival is not only the pinnacle of our year but it is one of the highlights of the whole racing and sporting calendar.

“If it goes well, the week is even better but we will enjoy it anyway. We will take the week as it comes and what falls into place will fall into place. If it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t that is the not the end of the world.

“I would settle for one winner – you don’t dare hope for more but you don’t want the dreaded blank. Anything that comes along is gratefully received. The best thing is to have a winner on the first day and it is amazing then how confidence grows – I don’t know why as it won’t make the other horses go any faster but at least it gives everybody confidence.

“We have had 35 to 40 runners over the four days of The Festival for the last few years and I imagine it will be the same this time.

“It was a freak four days last year (with seven winners) and we are unlikely to be lucky enough to repeat it but we will try.”

 

BACKGROUND 

Synopsis – Nicky Henderson is the all-time leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 46 successes after gaining a record seven successes last year. Twice the winner of the Jump trainers’ championships, in 1985/86 and 1986/87, he has sent out approaching 2,500 winners and is hot favourite to capture another trainers’ title this season.

Born – Lambeth, London, on December 10, 1950 

Background – The son of financier and amateur jockey John Henderson MBE, who founded the Racecourse Holdings Trust, the forerunner for Jockey Club Racecourses, Nicky was educated at Eton and the Royal Agricultural College. He worked for stockbrokers Cazenove in London and Australia, where he gained experience riding work at Randwick, before devoting himself full-time to racing.

First made his name in Britain as an amateur rider, finishing runner-up three times in the non-professional championship. Main wins as a jockey came on Happy Warrior in the 1977 Fox Hunters Chase at Aintree and on Acquaint in Sandown’s Imperial Cup in the same year. Recorded his 78th and final win on Rolls Rambler in the Horse & Hound Cup at Stratford in June, 1978.

He became assistant trainer to Fred Winter in 1974 and received his own training licence in July, 1978, taking over from Roger Charlton at Windsor House Stables in Lambourn. Moved to Seven Barrows, to the north of the village, in 1992. 

First Winner As A Trainer – Dukery at Uttoxeter, October 14, 1978.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL WINS

 

William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1986 River Ceiriog, 1992 Flown)

Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (1991 Remittance Man, 1993 Travado, 2000 Tiutchev, 2012 Sprinter Sacre)

JLT Speciality Handicap Chase (2000 Marlborough)

Stan James Champion Hurdle (1985, 1986 & 1987 See You Then, 2009 Punjabi, 2010 Binocular)

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Simonsig)

RSA Chase (2005 Trabolgan, 2012 Bobs Worth)

Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (1992 Remittance Man, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow)

Coral Cup (2010 Spirit River)

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2012 Une Artiste)

Ryanair Chase (2006 Fondmort, 2012 Riverside Theatre)

Ladbrokes World Hurdle (1989 Rustle, 2000 Bacchanal)

Byrne Group Plate (1985 & 1986 The Tsarevich, 2005 Liberthine, 2006 Non So)

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (1990 Master Bob, 2002 The Bushkeeper, 2005 Juveigneur)

JCB Triumph Hurdle (1985 First Bout, 1987 Alone Success, 1999 Katarino, 2009 Zaynar, 2010 Soldatino)

Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (1993 Thumbs Up, 1997 Barna Boy)

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2011 Bobs Worth)

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2011 Long Run)

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2009 Andytown)

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (2006 Greenhope, 2012 Bellvano)

Cathcart Chase (1990 Brown Windsor, 1994 Raymylette, 1999 & 2000 Stormyfairweather)

 

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL WINS BY YEAR

1985: 3 – Stan James Champion Hurdle (See You Then), Byrne Group Plate (The Tsarevich), JCB Triumph Hurdle (First Bout)

1986: 3 – William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (River Ceiriog), Stan James Champion Hurdle (See You Then), Byrne Group Plate (The Tsarevich)

1987: 2 – Stan James Champion Hurdle (See You Then), JCB Triumph Hurdle (Alone Success)

1988: no winners

1989: 1 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Rustle)

1990: 2 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (Master Bob), Cathcart Chase (Brown Windsor)

1991: 1 – Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (Remittance Man)

1992: 2 – William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1992 Flown), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Remittance Man)

1993: 2 – Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (Travado), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (Thumbs Up)

1994: 1 – Cathcart Chase (Raymylette)

1995: no winners

1996: no winners

1997: 1 – Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Barna Boy)

1998: no winners

1999: 2 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Katarino), Cathcart Chase (Stormyfairweather)

2000: 4 – Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (Tiutchev), JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (Marlborough), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Bacchanal), Cathcart Chase (Stormyfairweather)

2001: no winners

2002: 1 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (The Bushkeeper)

2003: no winners

2004: no winners

2005: 3 – RSA Chase (Trabolgan), Byrne Group Plate (Liberthine), Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (Juveigneur)

2006: 3 – Ryanair Chase (Fondmort), Byrne Group Plate (Non So), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Greenhope)

2007: no winners

2008: no winners

2009: 3 – Stan James Champion Hurdle (Punjabi), JCB Triumph Hurdle (Zaynar), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle (Andytown)

2010: 3 – Stan James Champion Hurdle (Binocular), Coral Cup (Spirit River), JCB Triumph Hurdle (Soldatino)

2011: 2 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Bobs Worth), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Long Run)

2012: 7 – Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (Sprinter Sacre), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Simonsig), RSA Chase (Bobs Worth), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Finian’s Rainbow), Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Une Artiste), Ryanair Chase (Riverside Theatre), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Bellvano)

 

OTHER BIG RACE WINS INCLUDE

JUMP RACING: Ascot Chase (2001 Tiutchev, 2011 & 2012 Riverside Theatre), bet365 Gold Cup (1989 Brown Windsor), Betfair Hurdle (1998 Sharpical, 2000 & 2004 Geos, 2001 Landing Light), Christmas Hurdle (2000 Geos, 2001 Landing Light, 2010 & 2011 Binocular, 2012 Darlan), Feltham Novices’ Chase (1990 Sparkling Flame, 1991 Mutare, 1997 Fiddling The Facts, 2000 Bacchanal, 2009 Long Run), Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2001 Landing Light, 2008 Punjabi), Hennessy Gold Cup (2005 Trabolgan, 2012 Bobs Worth), International Hurdle (2000 Geos, 2008 Binocular & 2011 Grandouet), John Smith’s Melling Chase (1992 Remittance Man, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow), John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (2011 & 2012 Oscar Whisky), King George VI Chase (2010 & 2012 Long Run), Paddy Power Gold Cup (2003 Fondmort), Victor Chandler Chase (1996 Big Matt, 2004 Isio, 2006 Tysou, 2013 Sprinter Sacre).

 

FLAT RACING:Queen Alexandra Stakes (2009 Caracciola), Ascot Handicap (2011 Veiled), Cesarewitch (2003 Landing Light, 2008 Caracciola).

Long_Run_Cheltenham

 

JUVENILE HURDLERS

 

MEGALYPOS (FR)

4 b/br g Limnos (JPN) – Bourbonnaise (FR) (Mansonnien (FR))

Form: 1-37433 Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Souede       Breeder: E A R L Ecurie Villebruyere

Summary

Won first of his five starts for Guillaume Macaire in France, the last two of which were over fences; returned to hurdles on British debut at Chepstow on January 5, coming home third.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 1; 2nd: -; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £26,762

 

Last Run

Third in the Grade One Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle over an extended two miles at Chepstow (heavy) on January 5, beaten six and a quarter lengths by Ruacana.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)   2m 1f   £120,000

 

ROLLING STAR (FR)

4 b g Smadoun (FR) – Lyli Rose (FR) (Lyphard’s Wish (FR))

Form: 11 Owner: Michael Buckley & the Vestey Family Breeder: Laurent Deniel

 

Summary

Ran seven times on the Flat in France without success; won a maiden hurdle at Auteuil in October when trained by Tatiana Puitg. Made winning British debut for new connections at Cheltenham in January.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 2; Wins: 2; 2nd: -; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £39,085

 

Last Run

 

Won Grade Two JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle over an extended two miles at Cheltenham (heavy) by two and a quarter lengths from Irish Saint on January 26.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)   2m 1f   £120,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He is a lovely horse and did it very well at Cheltenham. We decided not to run him again as he was professional and thorough. He is working and jumping well.”

 

VASCO DU RONCERAY (FR)

4 gr g Al Namix (FR) – Landza De Ronceray (FR) (Chamberlain (FR))

Form: 3-21123  Owner: Simon Munir  Breeder: E A R L Rubin Herve

 

Summary

Ran three times in AQPS National Hunt Flat races in France when trained by Guy Cherel and was successful in the last over them over 13 furlongs at Chateaubriant in August. Won by 32 lengths on British debut in a juvenile hurdle at Hereford on November 1 before placed efforts in Grade Two company at Cheltenham and Doncaster.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 2; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £20,298

 

Last Run

Third behind Kashmir Peak in the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle over an extended two miles at Doncaster (good to soft) on December 15, beaten three and a quarter lengths by Kashmir Peak.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle (March 15)   2m 1f  £120,000

NOVICE HURDLERS

 

MY TENT OR YOURS (IRE)

6 b g Desert Prince (IRE) – Spartan Girl (IRE) (Ela-Mana-Mou))

Form: 122-1211  Owner: J P McManus  Breeder: Frank Dunne

 

Summary

Classy bumper performer last season & finished second to The New One in Champion Bumper at Aintree. Has won three of his four starts over hurdles this term including the Grade Three Betfair Hurdle impressively at Newbury.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 7; Wins: 3; 2nd: 4; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £116,181

 

Last Run

Won Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, the £152,500 Grade Three Betfair Hurdle over an extended two miles, comfortably by five lengths from Cotton Mill at Newbury (soft) on February 9.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (March 12) 2m 110y £120,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He is a bull of a horse and needs lots of work – yo daren’t leave him for long. A P (McCoy) thinks the world of him. We are going for Supreme with him. He has not run in a Grade One and it seems th best route.”

RIVER MAIGUE (IRE)

6 b gZagreb (USA) – Minor Tantrum (IRE) (Executive Park (IRE))

Form: 31-212   Owner: Michael Buckley  Breeder: James Keegan

 

Summary

 

Point-to-point winner in Ireland; won a bumper at Ayr in April on his second start under Rules.  Chased home Dodging Bullets in a Grade Two hurdle at Cheltenham in November. Got off the mark over hurdles in a novices’ race at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and second at Ascot on Saturday.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 5; Wins: 2; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £21,722

 

Last Run

Beaten two and a half lengths by Far West in a falsely-run novices’ hurdle at Ascot (soft) on Saturday, February 16.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (March 12)  2m 110y £120,000

 

Henderson said: “His recent run was just about the most stupid race I’ve ever seen and he will go to the Supreme.”

 

UTOPIE DES BORDES (FR)

5 b m Antarctique (IRE) – Miss Berry (FR) (Cadoudal (FR))

Form: 2622811793-353214111   Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Breeder: G Hanquiez and E Hanquiez

Summary

Top-class four-year-old chaser in France for Francois Cottin, winning a Grade One at Auteuil in November. Joined current connections after selling at Arqana in November for 255,000 euros and made a winning British debut in a two-mile mares’ novices’ hurdle at Doncaster on February 4. Stepped up in trip to land a Listed hurdle at Sandown on Friday.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 19; Wins: 6; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £338,227

 

Last Run

Won Listed Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, over two and a half miles, by a length and three quarters from She Ranks Me at Sandown (heavy) on February 15.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle (March 12) 2m  £120,000

Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (March 13) 2m 5f £120,000

Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (March 15)  3m  £120,000

 

Henderson said: “She is two out of two for me and won a nice Listed race at Sandown the other day over two and a half miles and we are going to up the trip to three miles because it seems she stays.

 

“We will go to the Albert Bartlett with her.”

 

NOVICE CHASERS

 

CAPTAIN CONAN (FR)

6 b g Kingsalsa (USA) – Lavandou (Sadler’s Wells (USA))

Form: 3411622-111  Owner: Triermore Stud  Breeder: Woodcote Stud

 

Summary

Three starts over hurdles in France for Antoine Lamotte D’Argy, winning final one at Auteuil in June, 2011; made a winning British debut in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle before running second in Grade Two company at Kelso and Aintree. Unbeaten in three starts over fences, including two Grade Ones at Sandown, this season.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 10; Wins: 5; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £118,514

 

Last Run

Won Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, over an extended two and a half miles, by a neck from Third Intention at Sandown (heavy) on February 2.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (March 12)  2m  £150,000

Grade Two Jewson Novices’ Chase (March 14)   2m 4f  £100,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “Captain Conan will go for the Jewson. He is a good horse – he just wasn’t that impressive last time in the Scilly Isles and I think you will see the proper Captain Conan come the Jewson.”

 

HADRIAN’S APPROACH (IRE)

6 b g High Chaparral (IRE) – Gifted Approach (IRE) (Roselier (FR))

Form: 1/1F-1F22  Owner: Richard & Elizabeth Kelvin Hughes Breeder: Marie Gavin

 

Summary

Irish point-to-point winner in April, 2011; won maiden on first of two hurdle starts at Ascot in December, 2011, and made a successful chase debut at the same course in November, 2012. Fell in a Grade Two novices’ chase at Newbury when still in contention before chasing home Dynaste in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase over Christmas and runner-up again at Newbury recently.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 6; Wins: 2; 2nd: 2; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £22,819

 

Last Run

Second to Unioniste in a three-mile novices’ chase at Newbury (soft) on February 9, beaten a short-head.

Entries so far at The Festival      Distance Value

Grade One RSA Chase (March 13)     3m 110y £150,000

Grade Two Jewson Novices’ Chase (March 14)   2m 4f  £110,000

 

SIMONSIG (GB)

7 gr g Fair Mix (IRE) – Dusty Too (Terimon)

Form: 112111-11  Owner: Ronnie Bartlett  Breeder: Simon Tindall

 

Summary

Top Irish point-to-pointer in the spring of 2011; developed into last season’s leading novice hurdler with effortless victories in the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival and at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. Made an equally impressive start to his chasing career with very easy wins at Ascot and Kempton Park.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 8; Wins: 7; 2nd: 1; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £163,347

 

Last Run

Won Grade Two williamhill.com Novices’ Chase, run over two miles, by 49 lengths at Kempton Park (heavy) on December 27.

Entries so far at The Festival       Distance Value

Grade One Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase (March 12)   2m  £150,000

 

Henderson said: “Simsonsig is very good. He is in good form and does not take a huge amount of work. He has been very good in his two runs over fences and I think he knows what he has to do.

 

“He has tremendous ability and enthusiasm for racing. It will do him no harm for Overturn to give him a lead – he has wonderful pace.”

 

HURDLERS

 

BINOCULAR (FR)

9 b g Enrique – Bleu Ciel Et Blanc (FR) (Pistolet Bleu (IRE))

Form: 1121/113/5311/3114/32114-3       Owner: J P McManus         Breeder: Elie Lellouche

 

Summary

Placed at Listed level on the Flat in France when trained by Elie Lellouche; has won 11 of his 21 starts over hurdles including the 2010 Stan James Champion Hurdle and two Christmas Hurdles at Kempton Park. Also placed in 2008 William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (second) and 2009 Stan James Champion Hurdle (third) at The Festival.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 21; Wins: 11; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 5; Win & Place Prize Money: £747,578

 

Last Run

Third to Hurricane Fly in the Grade One Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown (soft to heavy) on January 27, beaten five lengths.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle (March 12)  2m 110y £400,000

 

Henderson said: “He worked last Saturday with Long Run on Mandown. We boxed them both up and drove them around village twice so they did not where they were going. He worked well. Hurricane Fly beat Binocular comfortably in Ireland but he won’t beat us so comfortably at Cheltenham. The run has brought him along a lot.

 

“He was lame after last year and then late in which explains the one run this season – I was tempted to run him last Saturday but the ground was heavy.

 

“He will go to Kempton on Saturday and work after racing. His schooling sessions tell us how he is.”

GRANDOUET (FR)

6 b/br g Al Namix (FR) – Virginia River (FR) (Indian River (FR))

Form: 331/52113B/1F11-2     Owner: Simon Munir Breeder: Dominique Le Baron

 

Summary

Won once (April, 2010) from three starts over hurdles in France when trained by Guillaume Macaire; developed into a leading juvenile hurdler for current connections in the spring of 2011, finishing third in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and winning a Grade One at Punchestown. Made a smooth transition to open company with a four-length success in 2011 StanJames.com International Hurdle and returned from injury in the same contest this season.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 14; Wins: 6; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £226,754

 

Last Run

Second to Zarkandar in the Grade Two StanJames.com International Hurdle, run over an extended two miles, at Cheltenham (heavy) on December 15, beaten two lengths.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle (March 12) 2m 110y £400,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He is clean-winded and does not need as much work so he won’t be going to Kempton on Saturday (to work after racing). He ran very well in The International and does not need to find an awful lot on that form.

 

“I would like Darlan back, but sadly I cannot have him, because he might have been the one – that is the way it goes.”

 

OSCAR WHISKY (IRE)

8 b g Oscar (IRE) – Ash Baloo (IRE) (Phardante (FR))

Form: 1/1114/1131/F11151-112 Owner: Walters Plant Hire Ltd Breeder: Stephanie Hanly

Summary

Started in National Hunt Flat races & two from two in that sphere in 2009. Has won 10 of his 15 starts over hurdles; effective from two miles to three miles. Dual winner of Grade One John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles, and also third in 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle at The Festival. Has won on two of his three starts this term including the Grade Two Coral Hurdle at Ascot over just short of two and a half miles.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 18; Wins: 13; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £405,071

Last Run

Second to Reve De Sivola in Grade Two Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle over three miles at Cheltenham (heavy) on January 26, beaten a neck.

 

Entries so far at The Festival      Distance Value

Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle (March 12)  2m 110y £400,000

Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle (March 14)   3m  £275,000

 

Henderson said: “He is going to go for the World Hurdle with no Big Buck’s around. We really need a Ryanair Hurdle but in the absence of that he goes for the three-miler.

 

“We are going to be more positive with him that we were in the Cleeve Hurdle now that we know he stays three miles. His form with Reve De Sivola is the best around.”

 

UNE ARTISTE (FR)

5 b m Alberto Giacometti (IRE) – Castagnette III (FR) (Tin Soldier (FR))

Form: 931111411R-11Owner: Simon Munir  Breeder: E Clayeux & D Clayeux

 

Summary

Won two of four bumpers in 2011 and her only start over hurdles (Jan, 2012) in France for Emmanuel Clayeux. Successful in five of her seven starts over hurdles for current connections including the Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival, and three Listed contests.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 12; Wins: 8; 2nd: -; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £109,219

 

Last Run

Won Listed 32Red.Com Mares’ Hurdle, over two and a half miles, by a length and three quarters from Alasi at Sandown on January 5.Likely to be aimed at the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival.

 

Henderson said: “She is a mare I like. She is going to have to take on Quevega which will be tough but she is undoubtedly the best of the home team. We will give it a go.”

 

CHASERS

 

BOBS WORTH (IRE)

8 b g Bob Back (USA) – Fashionista (IRE) (King’s Theatre (IRE))

Form: 21/1111/1321-1 Owner: The Not Afraid Partnership  Breeder: Mrs L Eadie

 

Summary

Unbeaten in four starts at Cheltenham; won the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in 2011 and followed up in the Grade One RSA Chase last year. Annexed the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury in early December & is ante-post favourite for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 11; Wins: 8; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £264,911

 

Last Run

Carrying 11st 6lb, he won the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, run over three and a quarter miles at Newbury (good to soft), by three and a quarter lengths from Tidal Bay on December 1.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (March 15)  3m 2f 110y £550,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He has really got a bit to prove in that he has only really had one run outside novice chasing and that was in a handicap so he has got to do it against the big boys. It was a good performance in the Hennessy as it was in the RSA last year.

 

“It is a step up and I would have liked to have run him more on the way. He had one little hiccup himself and the whole winter has been the same – the ground has been desperate. His one opportunity to run came when the ground was bottomless and I am glad we did not go for that.

 

“He is a horse who is a bit more fragile than some of them and he wouldn’t want a hard race in heavy ground beforehand.”

 

FINIAN’S RAINBOW (IRE)

10 b g Tiraaz (USA) – Trinity Gale (IRE) (Strong Gale)

Form: F/1/1315/11121/1211-46 Owner: Michael Buckley Breeder: J O’Keefe

 

Summary

Won and Irish point-to-point in 2008, won a National Hunt Flat race & was two from four over hurdles. Has won seven of his 11 starts over fences; runner-up in the Racing Post Arkle Chase at The Festival in 2011 and landed the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase 12 months later. Rounded off last term with a seven-length success in the Grade One Melling Chase at Aintree over two and a half miles. Could only finish fourth of four on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot in November and disappointed again at the same course on Saturday.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 16; Wins: 10; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £464,139

 

Last Run

Last of six to Cue Card in the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase at Ascot on Saturday, February 16.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (March 13) 2m  £350,000

Grade One Ryanair Chase (March 14)    2m 5f   £275,000

Grade One Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (March 15)  3m 2f 110y £550,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He has had a difficult season, mostly because of the ground. He has not coped with it but will do better when there is good going.

 

“He is likely to defend his crown in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.”

 

LONG RUN (FR)

8 b/br g Cadoudal (FR) – Libertina (FR) (Balsamo (FR))

Form: 21211113/1211113/311/2213-21   Owner: Robert Waley-Cohen Breeder: Marie-Christine Gabeur

Summary

Has never finished out of the first three in 24 career starts; top-class three-year-old hurdler and novice chaser in France for Guillaume Macaire, winning two Grade Ones. Has won on six of his 12 starts since moving to Seven Barrows and became first six-year-old since Mill House in 1963 to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup when triumphant in 2011 and third in same race last year. Also captured the Grade One King George VI Chase in 2010 (scheduled in early 2011) and 2012.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 24; Wins: 14; 2nd: 6; 3rd: 4; Win & Place Prize Money: £1,419,537

 

Last Run

Won the three-mile King George VI Chase by a neck from Captain Chris at Kempton Park (heavy) on December 16.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (March 15)  3m 2f 110y £550,000

 

Henderson said: “His preparation is all going to plan. We didn’t run at Newbury the other day because the ground had gone completely. Both Robert and I felt that a hard race in very, very soft ground would not achieve anything and I think that was the right decision.

 

“He is going to have gallop after racing on Saturday at Kempton on grass which should get him spot on.  He was only six when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then wasn’t just at his very best last season. I cannot tell you that he is completely different this year but he is in very good order.

 

“I boxed him and Binocular up last Saturday and drove them twice around the village before going to Mandown for a good gallop.

 

“Some cheek-pieces might just sharpen him up – there is no point being proud – they are not the prettiest  things in the world but if they make him go faster why not.”

 

“He has regained the King George and maybe he can regain the Gold Cup.”

 

RIVERSIDE THEATRE (GB)

9 b g King’s Theatre (IRE) – Disallowed (IRE) (Distinctly North (USA))

Form: 13/12114/3115F/121/11P-6 Owner: Jimmy Nesbitt Partnership Breeder: Goldford Stud

 

Summary

Placed in Grade One company over hurdles; has won 6 of his 11 starts over fences including two Grade One Ascot Chases and a thrilling renewal of the Grade One Ryanair Chase at The Festival last year. Came home last of seven at Aintree a month later in the Betfred Bowl and finished down the field on his return this season in the King George VI Chase.

Jump Race Record: Starts:19; Wins:10; 2nd: 2; 3rd 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £434,179

Last Run

Sixth of nine in the Grade One William Hill King George VI Chase over three miles at Kempton Park (heavy) on December 26, beaten 27 lengths by Long Run.

 

Entries so far at The Festival     Distance Value

Grade One Ryanair Chase (March 14)    2m 5f  £275,000

 

Hendersonsaid: “He will go back to the Ryanair Chase and is in good form.

 

“We thought he had a wind issue after running in the King George. We sent him to Bristol University to be checked out – they discovered that his wind was fine but he had bad ulcers which have now been successfully treated.”

 

SPRINTER SACRE (FR)

7 b/br g Network (GER) – Fatima (FR) (Bayolidaan (FR))

Form: 11/2113/11111-11 Owner: Caroline Mould Breeder: Christophe Masle

 

Summary

High-class novice hurdler in 2011 & third in the Grade One William Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival. Unbeaten in seven phenomenal starts over fences since, with four Grade One wins headed by a spectacular success Racing Post Arkle Chase at The Festival last year. Returned this season to another impressive victory in the Grade One Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park.

Jump Race Record: Starts: 13; Wins: 11; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £302,701

 

Last Run

Won the re-scheduled Grade One Victor Chandler Chase over an extended two miles at Cheltenham easily by 14 lengths on January 26 and is a very short-priced favourite for the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival.

 

Entries so far at The Festival      Distance Value

Grade One Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (March 13)  2m  £350,000

 

Henderson said: “He is in good form – we have those rather nasty three weeks to go. There is work to be done and there is a lot that can go wrong but at the moment everything is going well with him.

 

“He looks great and is very fresh and well in himself. He seems to be enjoying it and has had a good freshen up since the Victor Chandler Chase. The pressure is on because everybody will expect one of his flashy performances and I hope he can deliver again.

 

“He has not jumped anything since the Victor Chandler – we will just remind him what to do and not to get complacent. He finds it ridiculously easy but Cheltenham is Cheltenham and the course takes plenty of jumping.

 

“Barry (Geraghty) will go out and enjoy himself on Sprinter Sacre, who is as good looking a horse as I have ever had. He is a hugely-talented natural athlete.

“He and Simsonsig are two of the best work horses I have ever had. Sprinter Sacre will not go to a racecourse to work before Cheltenham.

 

“Sprinter Sacre is the one we would be disappointed with if he doesn’t win. He has more than a chance  – England expects!”

 

Fact

If Sprinter Sacre starts at shorter than 4/11 and wins, he will be the shortest-priced winner at The Festival since Arkle scored at 1/10 in 1966.

As ever, I’m indebted to my friends at the Racenews agency for the content you’ve read here

WarnedOff

 

 

About Steeplechasing

Writer, horse-racing fan, cyclist, consultant, entrepreneur. Worked at Aintree, SiS, The Tote, Ladbrokes. Created scoop6. Now run Gamtrain Ltd

Posted on February 18, 2013, in Cheltenham festival 2013, General. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Lovely readable blog many thanks

  2. Sooooooperb Joe—-keep ’em coming (please)!

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