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


Improving Stattler looks set to strike


Dave Randall

Adrimel Dominant Irish point winner who went two from three in bumpers for Tom Lacey last season and is three from three over hurdles this term. All out to win a 2m5f Warwick Grade 2 in January but claims if finding more improvement for the longer trip. Alaphilippe One from five in Irish points and four from five for Fergal O’brien this season, including a wide-margin Grade 2 Haydock victory over this trip last month. Certainly one to consider. Ashdale Bob Two from seven over hurdles for Jessica Harrington, winning twice over 2m4f at Navan in November and December including a comfortable Grade 2 success from Fakiera. Fell early in a Grade 1 at Naas in January though, and then well held in a 2m6f Leopardstown Grade 1 the following month. Atlantic Fairy Runner-up in an Irish point and two from four over hurdles for Henry de Bromhead, including a dominant victory in a 2m5f Listed mares’ contest at Navan last month. Place claims upped in trip in receipt of her 7lb allowance. Barbados Buck’s Second in an Irish point and held in a couple of bumpers for Paul Nicholls before improving to go three from four over hurdles this season. Arrives on a four-timer over this trip after latest comfortable Kempton victory in January. Another to consider. Bothwell Bridge Promising placed bumper form for Nicky Henderson last season and two from three over hurdles this term including over a slightly longer trip in a Class 4 Hereford novice contest in February. Clearly stays well but this step up in class is a big ask. Cape Gentleman Cost €80,000 off the Flat in the French provinces in October 2019, having won a 1m6½f Clairefontaine maiden that August. Won the 2m Irish Cesarewitch off a mark of 85 at the Curragh for Emmet Mullins in October and two from three over hurdles including a tough victory in Kempton’s Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle last month. Respected if choosing to step up in trip in this race at the festival. Duffle Coat Four-year-old who remained unbeaten in four starts over hurdles in the autumn, including winning going away from Adagio in a Grade 2 contest over a much shorter trip here on the Old course in November. Respected if lining up here rather than in the 2m1f Triumph Hurdle against his own age group. Fakiera Two from nine, improving to win twice over hurdles in November including a 2m4f Grade 3 Navan contest, and then ran second in a Grade 2 back there behind Ashdale Bob. Shaped as if this longer trip will suit when fourth behind Gaillard Du Mesnil in a 2m6f Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month. Farouk D’alene Easy Irish point winner who is four from five, including two bumper wins. Won easily again on his hurdles debut at Down Royal in October, and then ran fourth behind Fakiera in a Navan Grade 3 in November before he was all out to win a 2m7f Limerick Grade 2 over Christmas. Place claims. Make Me A Believer Fell in second position three out in an Irish point behind Adrimel. Two from four for David Pipe, including a bumper in October 2019, and won over 2m1f on this course in December before a close third behind Adrimel in a 2m5f Warwick Grade 2 in January. Not discounted if improving again for the longer trip. Minella Escape One from two in Irish points. One from four over hurdles for Henry de Bromhead, but has fallen twice including two out when still in there pitching for a 3m Navan Grade 3 last month, which is far from the ideal preparation for this step up in class, although the trip seems suitable. Ngolo Three from seven over hurdles since joining Willie Mullins off the Flat in France in 2018. Won a 2m Navan Grade 3 in November and kept on into a close third behind Ballyadam in a Fairyhouse Grade 1 later that month. Well held in that company at Leopardstown twice since though and much longer trip not certain to suit. Oscar Elite One from three in Irish points and two from four over hurdles for Colin Tizzard, including two promising Chepstow victories in November and December (on the latter occasion at just shy of this distance). Return to longer trip should suit after finishing held in Grade 2 and Listed company the last twice and not entirely discounted. Stattler Two from six for Willie Mullins, including a Fairyhouse bumper success on his debut in January 2020. Kept on strongly to win a 2m4f Leopardstown maiden hurdle over Christmas and improved to finish third from the front in a 2m6f Grade 1 back there behind stablemate Gaillard Du Mesnil last month. It should be a good rematch with the close fourth Fakiera over the longer trip. Streets Of Doyen Ayr bumper winner for Stuart Crawford on his debut in May 2019. Joined John Mcconnell shortly afterwards and improved to register a hurdling four-timer over this trip in the autumn of last year, including on the Old course here in October. Well held in first-time cheekpieces on return from a break in a Naas Grade 2 last month but clearly capable of better on a decent surface. The Cob *needs to be supplemented Three from nine for Ben Pauling, getting off the mark over hurdles at Uttoxeter in September. Followed up at Haydock off 124 in December and improved markedly, after another start in handicaps, to win the Grade 2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle over this trip at Doncaster by nine lengths in January. A tough sort who should go well here if supplemented. Three under thru five Four from five for Paul Nicholls, including a Chepstow bumper success on his second start in January 2020. Three from three over hurdles this season including an improved effort to narrowly win the Scottish Stayers Novices’ Hurdle over this trip at Musselburgh last month. He is respected, but stablemate Barbados Buck’s is trading at much shorter, and this one could be aiming for Aintree instead. Torygraph Two from seven, and comfortably got off the mark over hurdles with a widemargin victory over just shy of this trip at Fairyhouse in December and kept on strongly to follow up at Thurles the following month. VERDICT The Irish challenge is headed by Stattler, Fakiera and Torygraph. Barbados Buck’s, Alaphilippe and The Cob are shortlisted from the British challenge. Stattler is taken to confirm Leopardstown placings with Fakiera and that Grade 1 form is preferred to Torygraph’s potential. Barbados Buck’s and Alaphilippe both have likeable profiles, but the Nicholls horse always seems to pull out more when challenged and is second choice. The Cob still needs to be supplemented, but at around 20-1 each-way the first five, non-runner no bet, is a wager worth having on side. 1 Stattler 2 Barbados Buck’s 3 The Cob (ew first five non-runner no bet)



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