Here are the key comments from Wednesday’s Betfair preview night
PN – Paul Nicholls
BO – Barry Orr (Betfair)
GE – Gordon Elliott
KB – Kevin Blake
DY – Dave Yates
G O’B – Gary O’Brien
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Choice: Charli Parcs (6/1 -> 7/1 ->16/1)
One to watch: Bacardys (33/1 -> 14/1)
PN – Movewiththetimes – the obvious choice of race for him (10/1).
KB – I would take on Melon with Bunk Off Early (8/1).
GE – No runner in this race. Likes Melon but goes with Movewiththetimes. Not sure Moon Racer has the experience. The most ordinary bunch of novice hurdlers we’ve had in Ireland for a while.
DY – Instinct to take on Melon but WP very keen on him.
Choice: Altior (1/2 -> 1/3-1/4 ->1/3)
BO – Altior 2/7, will be longer on the day. Forest Bihan best bet without Altior.
GE – Can’t see anything to beat Altior.
KB – the only horse in training that would give Douvan a race in the Champion Chase. Each way chance Royal Caviar (WP) (20/1).
PN – No point running Le Prezien – will go for the Grand Annual.
Ultima Handicap Chase
GE – Noble Endeavour (12/1) must have a very good chance. Plan is to come here off a good weight. Well handicapped – won’t be far away.
PN – Ibis du Rheu could be quite interesting.
KB – Davy Russell will ride Noble Endeavour.
Choice: Petit Mouchoir (9/2 -> 4/1 ->11/2)
BO – 100/30 the field.
KB – Hard to go away from Yanworth.
GE – Thought would supplement Tombstone but well weighted for handicaps (Coral Hurdle / County Handicap). Tombstone an awful lot better than Petit Mouchoir when I had them but has improved. Good e/w chance but Petit Mouchoir 5/1 too short. With Yanworth.
DY – Buveur d’Air murdered by Altior – bad favourite. Yanworth keeps getting it done. Petit Mouchoir closely matched with Buveur d’Air. Brain Power (8/1) is the interesting one (David Mullins). Best bet on the first day (including e/w).
PN – No real stand out. Keep coming back to Yanworth.
KB – Don’t like Buveur d’Air. Very windy about Petit Mouchoir. Yanworth keeps staring me in the face. Rock solid. Should be clear fav. Think he’ll win.
Initial Choice: Apples Jade (2/1 -> 11/4 -> 5/2)
One to watch: Lets Dance (11/1 -> 8/1 -> 16/1)
GE – Apples Jade. Not one for making excuses. Want Limini to run in the Champion Hurdle. Vroum Vroum Mag last two runs disappointing. Would prefer to take her on. 5/2 a fair price.
KB – Big on Vroum Vroum Mag. Seen her limitations. This is her level. Not pleasing WP but getting better. Lots of respect for Apples Jade.
BO – Vroum Vroum Mag 6/4 NRNB. Think WP will win Vroum Vroum Mag and Let’s Dance a good chance.
PN – Lifeboat Mona (14/1 big price) will run in this. Sam Twiston-Davies will ride. Thinks Vroum Vroum Mag very short – looks jaded. This can happen to mares.
National Hunt Chase
GE – Tiger Roll – a chance on a going day, no chance on an off day.
PN – Arpege d’Alene will stay.
Close Brothers Novices Chase
PN – Romain de Senaim best chance on the first day.
Neptune Novices’ Hurdle
Choice: Finians Oscar (9/2 -> unchanged ->5/1)
BO – 9/4 Neon Wolf.
PN – Harry Fry’s Neon Wolf very good. Ballyandy – 8/1 could be a massive price. A very smart horse.
DY – Couldn’t fail to be impressed by Neon Wolf. Beware – connections were initially lukewarm about Cheltenham.
PN – Captitaine not going to Cheltenham.
KB – No strong opinion. Don’t like Finians Oscar and Neon Wolf. Bacardys the pick of the Irish challenge.
GE – Finians Oscar not good enough. Neon Wolf – everyone’s carried away with him. Not chosen by WP after P2P who is normally good at picking them. Monalee 20/1 – would have a good bet on this horse.
GE – Prefer County to Coral for Tombstone. Automated should run well. Runfordave (with a run) might do well (but may run him Sunday before Cheltenham).
PN – Modus is a possibility (top weight 156) – could go to Aintree. Old Guard will run – not without a chance.
Choice: Might Bite (6/1 -> 7/2 ->100/30)
One to watch: Royal Vacation (20/1 -> 16/1 -> unchanged)
KB – Not so keen on Might Bite. Does he prefer a flatter track? I like Alpha Des Obeaux (burst a blood vessel last time). There’s enough time for Mouse Morris to get him right.
GE – Alpha des Obeaux was the highest rated 4yo of his season but burst blood vessel is a worry. I think Coney Island is made for this race.
DY – Want to take on Might Bite – should be 7 or 8/1. Better suited by a flat track. Run at Doncaster was meaningless. Would want to take him on. Coney Island at the head of the others. Whisper was top class. Royal Vacation may benefit from second time blinkers. Lay Might Bite.
PN – Haven’t got an opinion. Might Bite very novicey. Coney Island – quite like what I saw of him.
Choice: Douvan (4/11 -> 1/3 -> unchanged)
KB – Not saying Douvan will be beaten but met Sizing John seven times and not overly impressive. Is he fond of Cheltenham? Beaten relative scrap. Still don’t think there’s anyone to beat him. Not yet met a really good horse. Don’t crown him just yet.
PN – Impossible to find one to beat Douvan.
GE – It’s a race to sit back and watch. He won’t get beat. Not a chance.
Choice: Auvergnat (12/1 -> unchanged ->)
GE – Bless the Wings is not good enough. Cause of Causes been a great horse. Schooled well. If ground good he has a right chance. Cause of Causes my selection for the day.
Coeur de Lion (one to watch in the Triumph at 33/1) is apparently being routed here (16/1). If confirmed, he’s the selection.
PN – Dream Catcher is unexposed.
KB – Dinaria Des Obeaux – will like the likely ground
I’m unlikely to have a choice in this one until the day. As in previous years, I might well go for a big mover on the day (if it materialises).
KB – Western Rider – big chance. Think race will suit. Conceded 21lb to Henderson horse last time.
GE – Patrick Mullins said at a preview in Ireland that Carter McKay is one of their two bankers for the week (the other is Yorkhill).
JLT Novices’ Chase
Choice: Politologue (9/1 -> 8/1 -> unchanged)
One to watch: Frodon (25/1 -> 16/1 -> 20/1)…remains of interest to me.
BO – Yorkhill has jumped a bit sketchy but banker of the meeting.
PN – Politologue definite runner. Beaten on very heavy ground. Jumps well. Will be much better in a big field. Must have a big chance.
KB – Disko has a chance but can hit one. With Yorkhill. Been knocked unfairly. Can jump left. Would give Altior a better run than anything in the Arkle. Will take an awful lot of beating.
DY – I would want to take on Yorkhill at 7/4. I’m not convinced with the way he jumps. WP said we can always go back over hurdles next season – not a ringing endorsement. Will need soft ground. I like Politologue.
GE – I’m a Yorkhill fan. Patrick Mullins thinks he’s one of their bankers (with Carter McKay in the Bumper).
Barring any big news in the meantime I’ll have a bet on the day.
GE – Sutton Manor no chance with weight. Jury Duty would have a chance.
PN – El Bandit goes in this race – a really good horse (10/1).
Choice: Un de Sceaux (5/2 -> 4/1)
One to watch: Uxizandre (7/1). Last week: “I’m still happy with this one as a place selection. Get on now because this race will cut up severely”.
KB – Un de Sceaux a very fair price. Put in his place by Sprinter Sacre on good ground. Trip a question mark but won over same on heavy ground in France. Empire of Dirt the other proper Grade 1 horse.
GE – I’d love to run Empire of Dirt in the Gold Cup but need to split them up. I’d run him in the Gold Cup but Michael pays the bills. He’s good fresh. Doesn’t excite me but keeps winning on the track. A very, very good horse. Wouldn’t surprise me if he wins this but I would prefer the Gold Cup. My joint selection for the day.
PN – I think that Un de Sceaux will win. Very impressed with his win in the Prix La Barka on heavy ground over 2m 5f. Thinks the trip will suit.
DY – I think Un de Sceaux would be running in the Champion Chase if Douvan wasn’t there. Horse prefers soft. I’m really taken with Empire of Dirt. Brown Plate shows he can win at Cheltenham on good ground. For me Empire of Dirt.
G O’B – I like Sub Lieutenant
Choice: Unowhatimeanharry (13/8 ->11/8 -> unchanged)
One to watch: Footpad (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged)
PN – Unowhatimenaharry is the one to aim at. I run Zarkandar – in really good form at the moment and a good price (20/1). Showed plenty the other day. Could run into the frame.
DY – Unowhatimeanharry gave Cole Harden 8lbs. Lots of horses in the list won’t run in this one. Won the Albert Bartlett and has improved. Thoroughly deserves to be favourite.
KB – I’m all over Unowhatimenaharry. Just the type of horse you want for it. Will go and win a shade of odds on.
GE – I doubt we’ll run any in it. I Like Unowhatimenaharry. I can’t see what’s going to beat him. Cole Harden has no chance.
Brown Advisory Plate
Too early. I think that we might see one suddenly emerge in this one. There are still lots of interesting entries.
GE – Diamond King (13/2) has got a very good chance. Good ground will really suit him. My joint selection for the day.
PN – Bouvreuil a really nice weight and is a spring horse. Caid du Berlais really well handicapped. Not a lot between them.
DY – Colin Tizzard says Sizing Codelco well treated for this race.
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
This is a pain in the arse race because it messes up other options. If Let’s Dance (3/1) turns up here, she is the selection.
GE – Might run Barra – not good enough to win
PN – Coillte Lass – a really big price each way
Another one to wait for and another with the top of the market full of horses I don’t fancy.
Choice: Defi du Seuil (3/1 -> 9/4) is the justified favourite.
One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged) …remains of interest for a place.
BO – Defi du Seuil is nap material.
GE – I like Defi du Seuil and Mega Fortune will come home very strong.
KB – Mega Fortune stays very strongly. Much improved form. He’ll be fine on good to soft. Just the one you want for Cheltenham. Best juvenile form in Ireland. He’ll be in there swinging when others are crying off.
PN – On all know form Defi du Seuil is the deserving favourite. I thought Mega Fortune was impressive. I think Defi du Seuil will be hard to beat.
DY – Defi du Seuil has had plenty of practice at Cheltenham. Mega Fortune a definite player. Against better judgment I don’t want to cast Charli Parcs off completely. One of the first horses in trouble in the Adonis. Surprised he was in contention. Nicky Henderson is of the opinion that he was back on the bridle and he did seem to be warming up.
GE – Were you watching a different race? He never jumped a hurdle.
PN – I agree with you; he’s talking absolute shite.
DY – I accept he didn’t travel. But he got to the second last at the same time as Master Blueyes. He was alongside him and I think that’s interesting. Nicky Henderson has a very good record in the Triumph and still interested in running him.
PN – Shall we go to the audience?
G O’B – 2 or 3 of you interested in Charli Parcs
Choice: On The Fringe (6/4 -> unchanged)
PN – Wonderful Charm – if the ground is good would have a really good chance, if soft I wouldn’t run him. Ask the Weatherman would want it soft and another good horse is Pasha du Poldeur. We’ve kept him really nice and fresh.
Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov at 20/1.
GE – I’d love to run Tombstone (9/1). It’s about training winners. I’d love to win a County. Mick Jazz goes for this one and will run very well.
PN – Diego du Charmil is on 150 which is a stiff mark.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate at 10/1.
BO – Death Duty is the Irish banker
GE – Death Duty is a better horse than Don Cossack at the same stage. Does all his winning on the track and I love him to bits. I’m not worried about anything.
KB – I have been impressed and could get shorter than 11/4. I would prefer him in the Neptune. I’d go with Monalee at a bigger price (if he runs). If it turns out soft Monalee might prefer the slog.
PN – I think Colin Tizzard’s West Approach is a decent horse. Thinks Death Duty has a great chance.
DY – Colin Tizzard said that it was about this time in career that he saw similar progression in Thistlecrack (half brother to West Approach). Death Duty very hard to beat indeed.
Choice: Cue Card (7/2 -> 3/1)
I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1) running into a place.
BO – Money horse is Djakadam in the last few days.
PN – Saphir du Rheu – he’s in no man’s land. Andy very keen to run him. Just started to show the signs again. Could finish 5th or 6th. I think Native River will win the Gold Cup. Reminds me of Denman. Won well the other day. I think he’s got it all.
GE – Outlander is unexposed. Worried about the 3m 2f. He has an e/w chance at best. Don Poli is too slow. I think Djakadam has been there and he’s got the experience. I don’t like Cue Card. I don’t think at his age he’ll win a Gold Cup. (Reference fall at the third last) it was still a long way to the post. He’s old news. Would love to run Empire of Dirt. Could be my best chance if he runs. Worried about Sizing John getting the trip. Djakadam, Outlander and Empire of Dirt for the first three.
KB – I’m the biggest Don Poli fan but doesn’t do much in front. Difficult to get right. Hopefully at Cheltenham a better ride. This race confuses me the most. Native River jumps, stays and gallops. Djakadam – WP has made a very convincing case for him. WP has had a really good run with him this season and may not need to find to much. Finding it hard to find one that stands out from the pack. I thought More of That came on very well in his last race. 25/1 is too big and he’s had a wind operation. Hard to find one that stands out from the pack. Don Poli place only.
G O’B – Champagne West a very good winner of the Thyestes Chase.
DY – Tizzard can’t split Native River and Cue Card. I would love to see Cue Card win but I just can’t. I want to lay him. Native River is very strong. I like the way that he does things. Dispelled idea that he’s a slogger at Newbury. Djakadam – 6th in Gold Cup two years ago and interrupted prep last season. In his press preview it was clear that WP likes two for the Festival and couldn’t hide it – Melon and Djakadam.
BO – I’m a big Djakadam fan – he goes there a fresh horse.
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
Still too early but Battleford (10/1) is one to watch for this one.
GE – The Storyteller is the pick of them. Weight OK. It’s a race I’d love to win.
PN – Brio Conti at 135 is interesting. Tommy Silver wants goodish ground. Lac Fontana hard to get fit but could run really well
PN – Dodging Bullets has slipped to 151 – competitive. Le Prezien a really good novice; I really like him
Best bet of the day?
DY/PN – Native River
GE – Djakadam
KB – Mega Fortune
BO – Tombstone (County Hurdle)
KB – Noble Endeavour in the Ultima (win only)
DY – Death Duty (Albert Bartlett)
PN – Native River (Gold Cup)
GE – The Storyteller (Martin Pipe)
BO – Djakadam (Gold Cup)
G O’B Forge Meadow (Mares Novices Hurdle)