Sean Goff | Cheltenham 2013
The preview nights and stable tours are in full swing the Paddy Power Blog has put together some top tips from the real men in the know before the Festival kicks off.
Nicky Henderson had seven winners at last year’s festival and with a stable of stars that makes Simon Cowell look like the booking manager for the local working men’s club – if you want a winner or two at Cheltenham look no further than the Seven Barrows trainer.
Paddy’s still crying into his beer over Sprinter Sacre’s Arkle win last season and he’ll lead the Henderson charge. But My Tent or Yours, Simonsig, Oscar Whisky and Bobs Worth will all start favourite for their respective races during the four-day extravaganza. We’ve run the rule over what the top trainers are tipping.
1. Nicky Henderson:
My Tent or Yours will definitely go for the Supreme Novice Hurdle on the opening day and the trainer modestly rates the Betfair Hurdle winner as “very good”.
One thing punters should remember though is that Spinter Sacre, Binocular and Darlan were all beaten in the Supreme Novice before they fulfilled their potential.
Arkle favourite Simonsig looks to be one of the apples of Henderson’s eye and the trainer answered Yes when asked if he was one of the top five horses he had ever trained. Think about this for a minute. Now click here.
He has huge amounts of speed – buckets of speed.
Big Buck’s enforced absence from the World Hurdle means Oscar Whisky will try to prove the doubters wrong in the 3M World Hurdle on the Thursday. Never 100 per cent last year – Henderson reckons we’ll see the real Oscar Whisky this year. Bobs Worth may be inexperienced after he missed his intended target of the Argento Chase when the meeting was postponed. But his record at the Cotswolds – four wins from four – speaks for itself.
2. Paul Nicholls:
The self-styled underdog at this year’s festival after losing Big Buck’s and Tidal Bay to injury and Kauto Star to retirement. Nicholls reckons the JP McManus-owned Far West is the best juvenile he has in training and will go well in the Grade One Triumph Hurdle on the Friday.
With all the talk about My Tent or Yours being a model for the Supreme Novice Hurdle, the Ditcheat trainer says his Dodging Bullets is the forgotten horse of the race and has had his charity bet on him.
He has a mark of 156 which is a hell of a high rating for a horse that has won the Supreme – let alone one going into it. He is up there with Al Ferof and Noland our former Supreme winners.
3. David Pipe:
Pipe has agonised over where to send exciting novice Dynaste. Many people’s idea of a Festival Banker – the Pond House stable had Grands Crus beaten in the race last year. An easy winner of the Feltham Chase but no winner of the 2m Sandown contest has won the RSA in 18 years.
Balllynagour held six entries in the handicaps at the Festival but has been rushed into 4/1f f from 10s for the Byrne Group Plate a race he won last year with Salut Flo in the same ownership.
Junior was a 24-length winner of the Kim Muir in 2011 over 3m is entered in the Pertemps Final as he’s rated lowered over hurdles than fences. But Pipe also has 12/1 shot Close House – a winner at Wincanton last time near the top of the betting and this one looks to be peaking at just the right time.
He went to The Festival last year when very inexperienced and finished fourth to Simonsig, nearest at the finish. We have been very patient with this fellow which is why you have seen him improve and improve.
4. Nigel Twiston-Davies:
2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander is back in the firing line but NTD has a particularly strong contender for the Neptune Investmesnt Novices Hurdle on the Wednesday in The New One. Just outgunned on heavy ground by At Fishers Cross and an AP McCoy power-packed finish in the trial race at the end of January. Better ground and being help up a little longer should play to his strengths on March 13.
NTD seems particularly sweet on According to Trev in the Pertemps Final on the Thursday.
According to Trev has gotten in to the Pertemps Final off a handy low weight and is twice as good on better ground than he is on soft or heavy.
5. Donald McCain:
Remains convinced that Cinders and Ashes will be a completely different prospect on better ground in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle where Paddy Power is going Money-Back All Losers if Hurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle. Seems to be the only person on the planet that thinks Overturn will put the wind up Simonsig in the Arkle Chase in the race before the Champion Hurdle.
We go there feeling that Overturn’s style of racing will make it very difficult for the likes of Simonsig. He hasn’t been second in a Champion Hurdle, has he?
Time will tell and the opening day of the meeting could make or break McCain’s Festival.
And while these two Grade One performers have attracted all the attention McCain quietly booked champion Irish amateur Derek O’Connor for Super Duty in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase on the Thursday and he’s been punted into 7s from 12s with Paddy Power online.