horse racing

Five under the radar runners to take from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival…

Laughing because he knows he’s got this game by the b*llocks…

We all recovered from last week?!

The week after the Cheltenham Festival is always a bit of a comedown, made even worse by the fact Mrs NTF usually makes me do some jobs around the house/garden that I’ve neglected for the past 2-3 weeks (the calendar is marked out as ‘the Cheltenham zone’ during that period!). I seem to have escaped the chores this year though, she must be up to something, I best be on my guard…

To be fair I’ve spent most of this ‘down time’ going back over the 2018 festival form and compiling my exhaustive post-Cheltenham notes for full NTF members. The notes reach far and wide across the four days and here on the free blog I’ve cherry-picked five under-the-radar types (from the notes) that may have just escaped your attention amongst the festival fall-out…

Five under the radar runners to take from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival…

BALLYHILL (N Twiston-Davies)

9th in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

This wasn’t a bad effort considering conditions were probably slightly against him; he’s better with a run under his belt (this was first start for 45 days) and in smaller fields (9 or less runners) and I’d have prime conditions for him as…

2m0.5f+ | 9 or less runners | DSLR 30 or less…which gives a form line of 1F511 (3/5 – All 3 career wins)

Twiston-Davies has done his usual ploy of getting plenty experience into the horse and despite only being a 7yo he’s battled hardened enough to hold his own in the heat of the battle.

With form alongside the likes of Shantou Flyer, Top Gamble, Sceau Royal & North Hill Harvey there’s plenty to suggest he’s got plenty more to give from OR 136 (down 2lbs for this effort from OR 138) and he’s well worth keeping on the radar going forward from this.


6th in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

They’ve really tested this lad this season and I don’t think the results really reflect his true ability. He may just be one that needs more time than others but there’s plenty of talent there and he could yet turn into a G1 performer.

He cost a pretty penny after winning a bumper at the Punchestown Festival last season (£270,000) and Tizzard wasted no time in throwing him into the deep-end, starting him off in the Grade 2 Persian War Hurdle at Chepstow in October and then backing that up by running him in a G2 at Cheltenham’s November meeting.

He then threw away a winning chance with an error at the last at Hereford in December and off that run Tizzard decided to send him for a wind-op. He returned from that with a bloodless victory in a Listed event at Exeter before this 9.75L 6th behind the superstar that is Samcro.

He’s one with plenty scope to improve with age and I’m convinced there is a significant amount more to come from this 5yo.


3rd in the RSA Chase

A fine effort from the 6yo and this 14L 3rd has seen his handicap mark dropped a couple of pounds from OR 153 to OR 151. He’s now 0/5 at G1 level and I think his future, next season, lies in handicaps. His win at Newbury at the start of the season suggested the Ladbroke Trophy (Hennessey) would be a good starting point for next season, a race assistant trainer Joe Tizzard has already suggested is firmly on the horse’s radar.

With six chase starts already on his CV connections would be wise to draw stumps for the season, protect his workable handicap mark and get him primed to fire at some valuable handicaps next term. I suspect he’s a high 150’s horse, one of those stuck between the top Handicaps and top level graded races, and the mark they now find themselves on should give themselves plenty wiggle room to plan a couple of early season raids in the 2018/19 season.


11th in Brown Advisory Handicap Chase

Now extremely dangerously handicapped on his very best form and early promise, especially now he’s been dropped 5lbs for this effort to OR 140. Considering trip, track and probably even ground were against him here that 5lb drop looks like a bit of a gift.

It’s easy to forget he finished an 8L 6th in the 2017 QMCC, 3rd in the 2017 G1 Mildmay Chase at Aintree (behind Fox Norton), 2nd in the 2017 G2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown and 4th in this seasons Old Roan Chase. They’ve tried him in the G1 Betfair Chase and the G1 King George over 3m this season, and he’s patently not up to that level or trip, but those runs have seen the handicapper be extremely generous with his weight reductions and he’s now a hefty 16lbs lower than the mark he started the season on.

If they can find a handicap for him under the following…

2m4f & below | Good to Soft or better | DSLR 30 or less…which gives a form line of 3611 (2/4, 1p)

…then he’d be a huge danger off OR 140.

FOXTAIL HILL (N Twiston-Davies)

11th in Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Might have to wait until next season to profit from this lad but he’ll be worth the wait.

The 9yo has been suffering at the hands of the handicapper since winning on seasonal debut but he was dropped 2lbs to OR 141 for this run and that only puts him 1lb above his last and highest winning mark. He just seems to struggle in really big fields anyway as he can’t get the easy lead he desires (F80 in fields of 16+) so with that in mind this effort was no real surprise.

On the prime conditions front I’d be looking at something along the lines of…

OR 140 & below | G3 level & below | Chase-Hurdle | Oct-Jan…which gives a form line of… 111531P1 (5/8, 1p – All 5 career wins), a field of less than 16 runners would also be beneficial.

When he gets his conditions he’ll run for his life and given some of his recent form I’d expect some decent prices on offer for him when those conditions do come back around.

The above five horses all ran better than their finishing positions suggested and I would expect to see them all in the winners enclosure next term or, in some cases, prior to the end of this current season…

Ben (NTF)

2 responses to “Five under the radar runners to take from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival…”

  1. After his run on Hennesy Day last year (beating Black Corton fair and square) and then in the RSA, I’d agree with you Ben and draw stumps for the season, with a view to aiming him at the Hennesy (or whatever it is now) next season.

    • Hi Peter

      Yes, seems the logical thing to do. He’s had enough experience for now and another runner would risk ruining a very handy looking handicap mark.

      Summer off, strengthen up and bang him into the Ladbroke (Hennessy) next season (with or without a warm-up, probably without, again to keep that mark intact).

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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