Cheltenham Festival: The Ultimate Guide - 2021-03-05


Expect more from exciting Metier


Dave Randall

Appreciate It One from two in Irish points and five from seven for Willie Mullins, including easy Grade 2 Leopardstown bumper success in February 2020, before finishing second in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper over this course and distance the following month. Three from three over hurdles this season, including Leopardstown Grade 1s in December and again last month, and his decisive victory over Christmas sets the form standard any potential improvers will have to surpass. Ballyadam Won an Irish point and is three from six under rules, including a wide-margin Downpatrick bumper success in March 2020. Impressed in winning on his hurdling debut at Down Royal in October and followed up in Fairyhouse’s Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in November. Well held in Leopardstown Grade 1 behind Appreciate It over Christmas and ran better when second behind the same rival last month. Place claims once again. Bareback Jack Irish point winner in February 2020 who is three from three over hurdles this season for Donald Mccain, including the Class 2 Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Musselburgh last month. More required on the bare form, but has a likeable attitude. However, an entry in the Morebattle Handicap Hurdle at Kelso on March 6 suggests this race may not be the current target. Blue Lord Winner over 2 mon the Flat in the French provinces before joining Willie Mullins in 2020. Made a winning hurdling debut at Punchestown in November and finished second behind leading Ballymore candidate Bob Olinger in a 2m4f Naas Grade 1 in January, before dropping back in trip and taking third behind Appreciate It in Leopardstown’s Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle last month. Needs to improve again but not entirely discounted. Dreal Deal Placed twice in Irish points and six from 17 for Ronan Mcnally, including two Flat and four hurdles victories. The six-year-old’s belated winning spree began in September when easily justifying a major market move off a mark of 84 in a 2m6f Navan handicap hurdle. Won two Flat handicaps and handicap hurdles at Punchestown and Cork in October and November before landing Punchestown’s Grade 2 2m Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle after a small break in January. Not one to discount too readily but participation reportedly in doubt due to a hay fungus issue in the yard. Ganapathi Won 1m4f bumper in the French provinces before joining Willie Mullins in 2019. Made a winning hurdling debut at Cork after a lengthy absence in November 2020 and finished second behind Dreal Deal in Punchestown’s Grade 2 2m Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle after a small break in January. May drop back in trip here after weakening into fifth in a 2m6f Leopardstown Grade 1 last month, but others make more appeal. Gowel Road Finished second behind possible Ballymore contender Bear Ghylls on his debut over hurdles for Nigel Twiston-davies at Ffos Las in November. Won a Newbury handicap hurdle off a mark of 122 in January before following up back there in open novice company the following month. More improvement likely but this is a tough assignment. Irascible Fifth in an Irish point in March 2019 and returned from a lengthy absence to make a winning hurdling debut for Henry de Bromhead at Clonmel in October. Good second behind Appreciate It in Leopardstown’s 2m Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle in December, but only fifth behind the same rival back there last month, and more required. Keskonrisk Easy winner of a Fairyhouse bumper on his debut for Timmy Hyde in January 2020. Changed hands for £370,000 shortly afterwards and joined Joseph O’brien. Narrowly made a winning hurdling debut back at Fairyhouse in November and improved to finish third behind Appreciate It in Grade 1 company over Christmas. Place claims once again. Metier One from eight on the Flat for Andrew Slattery in Ireland but capable of good form at up to 1m4f. Changed hands for 150,000gns in October 2019 and joined Harry Fry. Made a taking winning hurdling debut at Newton Abbot in October and followed up with an unchallenged success in an Ascot introductory hurdle the following month. Completed a hat-trick with a wide-margin Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle victory at Sandown in January. Obvious claims here if proving as effective on a likely better surface and, given his Flat background, that could be in his favour. Soaring Glory Four from eight for Jonjo O’neill including two bumper wins at Warwick and Ascot. Defeated leading Ballymore hope Bravemansgame on his Chepstow hurdling debut in October and ran third behind My Drogo in Ascot’s Grade 2 Supreme Trial in December. Took his form to a new level on his handicap debut after a break at Newbury last month in winning the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle in ready fashion off a mark of 133 and has decent claims here granted any further improvement. The devils coach man Naas bumper winner on his debut for Noel Meade in January 2020 and three from four over hurdles since November. Ran fifth behind Appreciate It in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown over Christmas, but improved to win well at Navan in January and followed up to land a Listed prize at Punchestown last month. Not entirely discounted on this hat-trick attempt. Third Time Lucki Second in a 2019 point and five from nine for Dan Skelton including two easy bumper successes at Market Rasen and Huntingdon, before a good fourth in the 2020 Grade 1 Champion Bumper over this course and distance. Three from five over hurdles this season including a taking Kempton success over Christmas, and better than able to show when fourth after a bad mistake at the last in a slowly run Class 2 novice hurdle at Musselburgh last month. Each-way claims. VERDICT The Willie Mullins-trained Appreciate It sets the form standard based on his impressive Leopardstown victory ahead of four possible reopposing rivals over Christmas, but he wasn’t as easy on the eye in victory back there last month, and the Harry Fry-trained Metier is preferred. The son of Mastercraftsman was impressive in his own right when winning Sandown’s Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle by a dozen lengths in January and his Flat background suggests the likely better ground may bring about further improvement. The devils coach man, Third Time Lucki and Soaring Glory make some sort of each-way appeal and it is worth shopping around for the best available place terms. 1 Metier 2 Appreciate It 3 The devils coach man



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