horse racing

NTF 3 to follow from Cheltenham: The Winners…

Wow! Safe to say that was a roller-coaster 4 days of high class National Hunt racing!

Highlight of the week for me had to be SYNCHRONISED. An AP masterclass on-board a willing horse and he proved his Lexus Chase victory was no fluke.

I had also stuck my neck on the line with this boy on a few occasions for the Gold Cup so I was more than happy to see him fly up the hill past LONG RUN & THE GIANT BOLSTER (!?). He was my ante-post selection to NTF subscribers back in January, he was one of 2 highlighted in my race day guide to subs and he was strongly highlighted by myself in the FREE Cheltenham Festival preview videos I took part in.

His victory also boosted the form of my ‘Is a festive outing the key to Gold Cup success?‘ blog post.

It’s safe to safe I had a few quid on the boy (at varying prices) and I like to think my fierce vocal support from NTF HQ helped propel him up the hill to Gold Cup victory!!!

There was obviously plenty of other high class action over the 4 days (just a little!) and as an extra to my ‘NTF 3 to follow from the weekend’ blog posts (Alfie Sherrin anyone!) today I want to give you the first of my NTF 3 to follow from the festival.

Today I’m going to give you the 3 winners that impressed me the most and tomorrow I will give you the 3 ‘losers’ that caught my eye the most (losers is maybe a bit harsh so maybe ‘non-winners’?)

Here are my NTF 3 to follow ‘Winners’ from the Cheltenham Festival 2012 –

BOBS WORTH (N Henderson)Wednesday – 2.40 Cheltenham – 1st in the 3m 1/2f Grade 1 RSA Chase

This was more like the real Bobs Worth. He travelled smoothly, hardly put a foot wrong at his obstacles and positively relished the battle up the hill with First Lieutenant. Was it the breathing operation after Christmas that made the difference or was it a return to a left-handed track, more specifically Cheltenham? Probably a mix of both but one thing for certain is this 7yo can be classed as a Cheltenham specialist. He is now 4 from 4 at the track with a Grade 2 and 2 Grade 1’s (both at the Festival) now on his CV. I’ve always been of the opinion he will prove even better over fences and he certainly enters the Gold Cup picture for next season; he looked to get stronger as the race developed on Wednesday and I can’t see the extra distance of the Gold Cup being any sort of stumbling block. He could be a Hennessy horse (rating dependent) and races such as the Denman Chase at Newbury or the Argento Chase at Cheltenham look prime targets for him. It will be interesting to see how he performs away from Cheltenham as although I think a track like Newbury, for instance, will be fine for him I still wouldn’t be convinced an Ascot or Kempton would entirely suit.

Bobs Worth Dosage figures – 2-2-16-6-2 (20+) 28 | 0.75 | -0.14

Those Dosage figures put him bang in Gold Cup contention.

SIR DES CHAMPS (W Mullins)Thursday – 1.30 Cheltenham – 1st in the 2m4f Grade 2 Jewson Chase

Hands down THE best jumping performance of the week. He was quick and economical at his fences and hardly touched a twig on his way to a most impressive victory. His jumping reminded me of the great Best Mate and the way he tackles his obstacles was a joy to watch. He was up, over and away from his fences in such a sublime manner that it had me shouting “he wins the Gold Cup next year, easy, job done!”. He really did impress me that much. The facts are he is unbeaten in all 7 National Hunt starts, is a dual festival winner, has won on varying going descriptions and has shown he can win on and off the bridle. This is a serious horse and even if they don’t go down the Gold Cup route with him I will be hugely interested in him. He has the attributes to go right to the top of the Chasing tree.

Sir Des Champs Dosage figures – 1-1-8-2-0 | 12 | 1.00 | 0.08

Those figures give him options. Gold Cup would certainly be within his compass but so would something like the Ryanair Chase.

BRINDISI BREEZE (L Russell)Friday – 2.40 Cheltenham – 1st in the 3m Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle

Campbell Gillies kept asking him for more and the King’s Theatre gelding kept finding more! This was some performance from the 6yo and he put a decent field away in style. He hurdled brilliantly and seemed to gain half a length at most of the flights, something that can only stand him in good stead going forward. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his performance was the was he kept fending off his opponents. A couple of contenders came at him, seemingly travelling smoothly, but the horse just kept on grinding it out. I guess when you tough it out up the Lucinda Russell gallop in the depths of the Scottish winter a few southern softies coming at you is a ‘breeze’! There were some quibbles beforehand that the horse might be a soft/heavy ground specialist but I think that idea can firmly be shelved now. He stamped his authority on this field in no uncertain manner and Scotland (and more importantly Lucinda, Scu and Campbell) certainly have a horse to go to war with going forward. Personally I think he will jump a fence just fine and it will be interesting to see what route they take with him next season.

Brindisi Breeze Dosage figures – 4-0-7-5-0 | 16 | 0.88 | 0.19

Not as chocked full of stamina as one may expect so it would not be inconceivable to see him run his opponents into the ground over slightly shorter.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my 3 ‘losers’ from the week to follow.

Of the festival winners which 3 caught your eye the most?

Who do you think we will see land the spoils at future festivals?

Drop me a comment below with your favorite festival winners of the week.

Oh and before I go here is that Gold Cup preview video again (go on give it a watch, you know you want to!)

Ben (NTF)


15 responses to “NTF 3 to follow from Cheltenham: The Winners…”

  1. Great posts, Ben…be very proud of Scotland; Russell, Gillies and Brindisi Breeze. For me the ride of the week was Geraghty on Riverside Theatre. The disappointment was Walsh throughout the week. Virtually every winner did so at the pace; Walsh, a great rider, has got it into his head that winning over 2 1/2 miles by a short head is the way to go (slight exaggeration, but you see what I mean). It was Geraghty’s week, right enough

    • Hi Peter

      Yes Geraghty certainly had Ruby in his pocket for most of the week!

      Riverside Theatre was certainly a monumental ride from Barry G, both horse and jockey seemed oblivious to the rough and tumble and were happy to get down and dirty and scrap for the win.

      Cheers for the comment – Ben (NTF)

    • Steve

      Very much so! Was thinking the same thing when looking back through his form. Not sure where the horse has gone since the turn of the year though…..

      Ben (NTF)

  2. Nice post Ben.

    I completely agree with you about Bobs Worth. Has to be respected massively at Cheltenham, but at a track like Ascot or Kempton I’ll be opposing him. I think this could prove to be a profitable plan, as he strikes me as needing a real test of stamina. He’s likely to be a short price on the back of his RSA win and should offer value on other contenders.

    Sir Des Champs was awesome. I had doubted what he’d achieved prior to the Jewson, but he well and truly made me look silly. I still think he’ll get a serious race from the other Gigginstown chasers in Ireland, but I doubt they’ll handle the Cheltenham conditions as well as SDC and he tops my list for Gold Cup contenders next year.

    Brindisi Breeze I overlooked on accounts of the ground. That certainly made me look silly again. I’m hopeful that this horse will be available at better prices next season due to the not so glamorous trainer and connections. I think Boston Bob will probably be the better over fences though, and he looks a strong early contender of next year’s RSA.

    • Simon

      Thanks for the comment.

      I’ll admit I had a tiny niggle for Brindisi about the ground (plenty of heavy ground-wide margin Haydock winners do not back up their performances) but I had a word with connections the week before and they had absolutely no quibble about the ground for him. They were very confident he would handle it just fine.

      I hope Bobs Worth will handle other tracks but like yourself I do think the galloping-stamina testing tracks will be his bread and butter.

      Thanks – Ben (NTF)

  3. What about Hunt Ball? What weight will be required to prevent that one from winning?

    Of the non-winners, I thought The Giant Bolster made a massive improvement.

    But what do I know about horses?


    • Ian

      Hunt Ball was indeed impressive. It will be interesting to see how he performs off level weights next season against the novices of this season.

      Will the fairytale continue….

      Ben (NTF)

  4. to ben
    bobs worth is in my ten to follow the other 2 next year i hope long run gets it right next year put a pro on might make a difference
    all the best

    • Hi Ron

      I can’t see the day they ever put a pro on Long Run. I don’t think his Gold Cup run was all that bad but obviously he now does not look the 180+ horse he was last season. My initial feeling is that he may have peaked already; a young French-Bred who has peaked and is on the way back down. Still although his figures are not as good as last season 3 placed runs in 3 Grade 1 races and a victory in a Grade 2 race aint all that bad.

      Ben (NTF)

  5. Hi Ben
    My performance of the weEk has to be Albertsa Run in the Ryanair on Thursday,the courage it showed fighting off challenger after challenger merited a victory in my humble opinion.

    • Hi Francis

      It was some run from Albertas. He deserved to land his 3rd Ryanair and 4th Festival victory. He comes out of the race with a huge amount of credit though, a HUGE amount.

      Thanks for your comment – Ben (NTF)

  6. Ben – I made a note when you commented previously that alfie sherrin looked suspiciously held back LTO – took an early £25 EW @ 40/1 with corals – expected a place maybe and couldn’t believe it when he romped in to win the speciality hurdle on the opening day !!! many thanks and keep feeding my notebook please !!!

    • Superb Kevin 🙂 thats the kind of stories I love to hear! Would have got your festival off to a bloody flyer!

      Don’t worry I plan to keep feeding people’s notebooks 🙂

      Ben (NTF)

  7. I had to post (late) as we have gone too many posts without anyone mentioning cinders and ashes. This is a horse who patently didnt stay n the bumper last year yet had strengthened enough to kick the last hurdle out of the ground and still gain 2 lengths up the hill straight after. One more year and the sky is the limit.

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