There is some cracking racing this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting settled on the sofa in front of the television to watch good racing on both sides of the Irish Sea.
As each weekend passes, we see more Cheltenham Festival clues, and this weekend will be no different.
Thurles on Sunday
Like so many races here in Ireland, this should go the way of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who are just having a superb season.
Colreevy has won both of her starts this season including a Grade 1 on St Stephen’s Day and although she’ll be a short price, she’s much too good for her rivals (13:30).
The Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (14:00) looks a great opportunity for Allaho to get his head in front. He’s a very good horse who is still quite lightly raced.
He’s not had the run of things in two starts this season, but this is more his cup of tea and he should get his head in front.
Gentlemansgame was so impressive when he bolted up first time up at Fairyhouse. I was really impressed with him and while it was only a Maiden Hurdle, he is very exciting and could beat anything (15:00).
Navan on Sunday
Thedevilscoachman was a big eye-catcher behind Appreciate It at Christmas and he should take all of the beating in the opener at Navan (12:50).
Prior to that good run, he was two from two and, with Noel Meade’s horses still in good form, I think he’ll go well again.
Mr Incredible finished second to a very smart horse of Willie Mullins’ in December and that form alone should be good enough to see him win this contest (13:22). It’s a competitive maiden hurdle but he shaped well that day.
The Grade B Handicap Hurdle is really open race (13:57). You could pick a handful of darts and still get it wrong.
I’m hoping that’s not the case with Agusta Gold, who was a model of consistency last season and got this year off to a good start by winning a Grade 3 Mares’ Chase.
She reverts back to hurdles in this race, where she’s 19lb below her chase mark, so it looks like it could have been some very good placement.
Saturday in England
You’d have to think that despite being off for some time, Buveur D’Air should be better than his two rivals on his comeback (15:15 Haydock).
He’s a dual Champion Hurdle winner who is one of the slickest jumpers you’ll see. The ground might not be his ideal, but he should just be too good.
He’ll have to win or run very, very well in defeat if he’s going to run in this year’s Champion Hurdle.
The Clarence House Chase (15:35 Ascot) is going to offer more clues for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The big question is whether Defi Du Seuil can come back to the best of his form. He had an off season on his second year over hurdles so, unless he sparks back to life, you’d have to just watch him.
That said, he’d have to go some to beat Politologue who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He won the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and is a dual Tingle Creek winner – he’s no mug! He’s the form horse and he should take all of the beating.
My 4 To Win picks on Saturday
I’ve gone for War Lord in the first leg. He’s improving and while his yard haven’t been firing this season, he’s remained consistent. He’s a strong travelling horse who has the assistance of Richard Johnson on his back and I think he could go well. He’s got form ties with Arrivederci, who’s half his price.
I think De Forgotten One is still improving based on his form this season. He was third in the Cross-Country race at Cheltenham in November which is grand form. He then won at Catterick and that recent winning form against some older rivals could be the difference.
The Skelton team are still flying and although he’s got top weight, Bennys King was so good last time, it’s hard to look away from him. He seems to win with a bit in hand, so I think there might be a little more to come.
This is a real puzzle of a race, but I’ve landed on City Flame who ran well in a good novice hurdle at Wincanton last time. It’s hard to predict how well they have run until they do run in handicaps, but a mark of 98 looks fair.
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