Top trainers mark your festival card
Longwood, County Meath
Wins-runs 2016-17 223-1,404
Samcro will go for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. He ticks all of the boxes and we’re very happy with him. Cause Of Causes goes back for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase again. He won it last year and he’s won at the Festival for the past three seasons. Flawless Escape is our under-the-radar horse. He goes for the Martin Pipe Conditionals’ Hurdle.
Wins-runs 2016-17 171-676 Prize-money €2.86m
My best chance is Wonderful Charm in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase. He was unlucky not to win last year – he was beaten a head – and isn’t the easiest to get right. Romain De Senam should go well in one of the handicap chases if the ground is good, while Act Of Valour ran well at Musselburgh last time and could be one for the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Muine Beag, County Carlow
Wins-runs 2016-17 189-623 Prize-money €5.6m
Footpad has done everything right over fences. We’re hoping he’ll make it a third Grade 1 win in the Racing Post Arkle. Getabird has taken well to hurdles. He beat a Grade 1 winner a long way at Punchestown and will have a big chance in one of the novice hurdles. I liked the way Ballyward went about his job when winning his maiden hurdle at Naas. A longer trip will suit so he deserves a crack at the Albert Bartlett.
Upper Lambourn, Berkshire
Wins-runs 2016-17 154-624 Prize-money €3.25m
We were very pleased with Altior’s comeback victory in the Game Spirit at Newbury and hopefully all goes well before the Queen Mother Champion Chase, in which he must have a very good chance. If I can get Divine Spear in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase off the right weight he’d be quite competitive, while Santini won in style at Cheltenham on Trials Day and goes for the Albert Bartlett.
Wins-runs 2016-17 69-291 Prize-money €1.17m
If The Cap Fits has gone from strength to strength and his form looks pretty solid. We deliberately haven’t run him since Christmas because he wants better ground and we’re hopeful he can run well in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Drumcliff is two from three over fences and will line up in either the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap or the Brown Advisory Plate. We hope he’s on
an upward curve. If Whataknight gets good ground in the Pertemps Network Final he could outrun
Wins-runs 2016-17 118-700 Prize-money €1.48m
North Hill Harvey heads for the Racing Post Arkle. We were frustrated with his run at Warwick but it’s not going to temper our enthusiasm as he goes really well at Cheltenham. Nube Negra, who has won two of his starts and finished second to Apple’s Shakira, runs in the Boodles Fred Winter Hurdle and his mark does not look impossible. Oldgrangewood will have his first run at the track in the Brown Advisory and has good form on decent ground.
Wins-runs 2016-17 59-488 Prize-money €875,000
Moon Racer ran OK in the Betfair Hurdle. It was his first run of the season and I’m hoping it will have brought him on. He’ll go for one of the handicaps. King’s Socks had some useful form in France behind Footpad and ran OK on his debut for us at Kempton. He’ll go for a handicap, probably over fences. Vaniteux is likely to go for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
Guiting Power, Gloucestershire
Wins-runs 2016-17 95-587 Prize-money €1.77m
The New One could be
our best chance of the week in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle. We hope the extra distance will do the trick and that it’s his turn again. Ballyoptic is following a similar route to our 2016 winner Blaklion in the RSA Chase and is a decent price. Foxtail Hill could be my best option in a handicap as he loves Cheltenham and can bounce back from some disappointing efforts on bad ground.
Castletown, County Meath
Wins-runs 2016-17 58-385 Prize-money €1.31m
Road To Respect is going for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and if the ground is right – not too testing – he should represent us very well. Snow Falcon was a smart staying hurdler and has taken well to fences. He’ll go for the RSA or JLT. Moulin A Vent has loads of ability and stays well. He’s been slow to get the hang of jumping fences cleanly, but he’s getting there and could have a chance in the National Hunt Chase.
Barbury Castle, Wiltshire
Wins-runs 2016-17 104-490 Prize-money €1.53m
The Racing Post Arkle is going to be one of the hottest races of the week but Sceau Royal has won a Grade 1 and his prep went really well. I think Redicean is very good, and I hope he’ll go to Cheltenham with as good a JCB Triumph Hurdle profile as almost any of my best juveniles and probably more speed. Dingo Dollar could do well off a nice weight in the Ultima Handicap Chase, which I’ve won with a novice before.