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!)