Arkle Chase: It often pays to forgive a horse one below par effort, and Kayley Wollacott’s Lalor, was majestic in his first race over fences, coming home 7L clear of Dynamite Dollar, over course and distance in November. He was never going when finishing a well beaten 3rd behind the same animal 20 days later at Sandown, and it may be that this German bred needs a longer break between races. A repeat of his Cheltenham effort will make him hard to beat.
Champion Hurdle: Gordon Elliott’s super mare, Apples Jade, has made further progress this term and put in a blinding performance last time, when she beat
Supasundae, Petit Mouchoir, and Melon by 16L, 5L, and 3/4L, in a fast time. With the added bonus of her 7lbs Mares allowance she looks the one to beat in this year’s renewal.
The Ballymore : For an animal bred to be a 3 mile Chaser, (his grand dam is the mother of Best Mate and Cornish Rebel) Nicky Henderson’s Champ, has shown plenty of pace in his 4 hurdles victories, particularly last time in The Challow Hurdle at Newbury where he quickened impressively. With no stamina doubts, it will take a good one to lower his colours.
RSA Chase: The Gordon Elliott trained Delta Work, has won all of his 3 starts over fences, including a defeat of the subsequent Double Grade1 winner, Le Richebourg in the top Graded Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse over an inadequate 2 1/2m in December. Impressive form and he will be hard to beat.
Wetherby’s Champion Bumper : Both Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen and Willie Mullins’s sole entry, Blue Sari are respected, but the Harry Fry trained, Get In The Queue, is an animal going from strength to strength, and won last time by 16L conceding 16lbs to the runner up.
The form is nothing special but the manner of the victory was impressive and the time was good.
Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle: Anyone who took our advice after Paisley Park won The Cleeve Hurdle in January will be sitting pretty. His victory by 12L and 2L over West Approach and Black Op was hugely impressive and Emma Lavelle’s winner of his last 4 races looks banker material.
Triumph Hurdle : The Joseph O’Brien trained Sir Erec was good enough on the flat to get within 2 1/2L of Stradivarius in Ascot’s Group2 Long Distance Cup Over 2miles last October, and having moved to Joseph from dad, Aidan at Ballydoyle, has proved at least as talented over hurdles, winning the Grade1 Tattersalls Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown last month. He won with his head in his chest, from stable companion Gardens Of Babylon, and had the 2nd Fav, Tiger Tap Tap, 8 1/4L back in 4th. Despite a slight training setback, (stone bruise which trainer Joseph assures will not affect his chance) he looks a good thing.
Gold Cup: Is Kemboy (pictured) the forgotten horse of this year’s Gold Cup? By the excellent French NH stallion, Voix Du Nord, (sadly deceased) who has sired plenty of top class jumpers, including Taquin Du Seuil, Vibrato Valtat, Vroum Vroum Mag, and
Defi Du Seuil, to name but a few, the Willie Mullins trained 7yo looks an improved performer this term. He has won both his races including the Grade1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown (3m Good Leopardstown Dec 28) where he beat Monalee by 7L and had Road To Respect back in 3rd with Bellshill 4th. His defeat in last year’s JLT was down to some indifferent jumping but he looks much more the finished article this term, and only 7, still has plenty of further potential. He might just be the one to supply Willie with that elusive victory in Cheltenham’s Blue Riband.