THE FESTIVAL is just over a week away and with the announcement of the weights for the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival last week here are my five Irish-trained selections. Irish-trained runners have really performed well in the handicaps in the last few years and whilst entries are down on last year in the handicaps, they most definitely still have many strong chances at The Festival.
Remember Unibet are non runner no bet (NRNB) for all the races at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
My next blog will be my selections for day one of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival!
Have a good week.
The Wine Tipster
Tuesday March 16th
4.15 Cheltenham – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m ½f
Youmdor was too bad to be true in a hood at the Dublin Racing Festival last time and according to his trainer Willie Mullins it was probably too soon after taking a heavy fall on his previous start. On that occasion at Fairyhouse he was beating Teahupoo, when falling at the last, yet is on the same weight here so he might be let in quite lightly. Youmdor definitely has speed, as he won over both a mile and one mile two furlongs in France, and on decent ground, so has plenty of the traits you look for in a race like this. The last three renewals have all been won by Irish trainers.
Wednesday March 17th
4.15 Cheltenham – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 2m
Us And Them for the astute Joseph O’Brien team looks very much like he’s been laid out for another crack at the Grand Annual after his third last year and if he had jumped the last two fences a bit smoother he would have been closer. It is certainly true to say that he has not shown a lot this year but will come here fresh, and interestingly they removed the blinkers last time out back in November (will go back on, you’d imagine). He comes alive at Cheltenham, second in the Arkle in 2019 and simply looks a spring horse these days. If his jumping holds up, he has a big chance of coming out on top on his fourth successive appearance at The Festival, off a 5lb lower pound than last year.
Thursday March 18th
3.40 Cheltenham Handicap Chase 2m 4½f
Conflated couldn’t cope with Monkfish last time out in December, although he has been keeping good company on several occasions with running against the likes of Envoi Allen and Asterion Collonges. He had looked an improver before that, winning as far as you like at Navan on his previous start. His rating looks good at 149, the trip is ideal, and he looks laid out for this.
Farmix for the Elizabeth Doyle team looks an unexposed novice chaser and if running here rather than the Grand Annual over two miles then he looks a good each way selection. Farmix won last time out over two miles in good style at Punchestown last month, having found the company of Energumene too hot at Nass on his previous start, following a win on novice chase debut at Fairyhouse. Interestingly, Farmix hasn’t been seen over this trip since finishing second in a maiden hurdle and I can see him coping well with this distance with less testing and tacky conditions.
Friday March 19th
1.55 Cheltenham – County Handicap Hurdle 2m 1f
Ganapathi for Willie Mullins was a good second to highly progressive Dreal Deal at Punchestown in the Moscow Flyer when looking like the winner coming to the last. There was plenty to like about his attitude on that occasion, however then at the Dublin Racing Festival he appeared to be travelling as well as anything in the race before not getting home over two miles six furlongs. Nevertheless, he caught the eye in a major way and the end-to-end gallop of the County Hurdle will suit him over two miles one furlong. Only worry is the lack of experience but that’s rarely a major concern with Willie’s runners as he won this last year with another five-year-old Saint Roi. There looks plenty of progress to come here from Ganapathi. Note Ganapathi is also in the Martin Pipe on the Friday.