Saturday 21 October 2017

Wylie lines up Cheltenham team

Black Hercules
Black Hercules

Owner Graham Wylie has described Black Hercules as "a monster" ahead of his run in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old has only run twice over hurdles, winning at Cork both times, with his most recent outing coming over three miles.

Wylie did, however, admit his lack of jumping experience is playing on his mind a little.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, he said: "He'll run in the Albert Bartlett over three miles. He's a monster, and I'm sure he'll stay that no problem. He's been in great form, although it's a bit of a shame that we haven't been able to get him out since December.

"There haven't been that many three-mile races to put him in, and that's what he needs. Willie's looking forward to seeing him in action again, and there's also a chance he could roll on to Aintree and Punchestown too."

Wylie will be represented in all three novice hurdles, with last year's Cheltenham Bumper runner-up Shaneshill in the Supreme and Nichols Canyon the favourite for the Neptune.

The owner went on: "Shaneshill hasn't been out since he came second at Navan in December because he had a setback. Willie says he's hoping to get him to Cheltenham for us. He's not there yet, but he's getting there and if he lines up it'll be in the Supreme and he'll have a decent chance.

"Willie obviously has Douvan in the race as well, and some people are saying the Supreme is not the right race for him (Shaneshill), but Willie is adamant it is. Hopefully, his stamina will come into play.

"Nichols Canyon has been excellent all season, and it's just a shame he stepped on that hurdle over Christmas (at Leopardstown) because that's the only blemish on his record. He would have won three Grade Ones if that hadn't happened.

"He's still a double Grade One winner, though, and if he jumps well, Ruby (Walsh) says he has tons of stamina. He'll run in the Neptune, and he's got a great chance."

Wylie came within inches of winning the Gold Cup 12 months ago with On His Own and while his form this year has not set the chasing scene alight, he will have another crack at the feature.

"To be honest, I've been a bit disappointed with him this season," said Wylie.

"I thought he was going to finish seventh when he came over the last in last year's Gold Cup, but by the end, I thought he'd maybe won it. He stormed up that hill, and to come second was brilliant. I had to supplement him for the race, and I was just thinking 'don't make an idiot of me'.

"He ran well in the Lexus, but the ground was heavy that day and it was a stamina test. That's what he wants. In the Hennessy, it was better ground, and Ruby got off and said three miles wasn't far enough for him.

"He's going back to the Gold Cup. It's three-mile-two, with a hill at the end, and hopefully the greater stamina test, run at more of a pace, might suit him."

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