Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Festival Followers: Dan Skelton's quality former flat raider Horseshoe Bay expected to make winning hurdling debut

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Connections are hoping Horseshoe Bay can utilise his impressive flat record, as he makes his first start over hurdles at Worcester this evening (7:05).

The four-year-old has only raced four times, and after two solid efforts in maiden company he won encouragingly by seven lengths at Newmarket.

His seven length romp at HQ, prompted trainer Sir Michel Stoute to test him in Group company, and the son of Arch was installed a second favourite for the Bahrain Trophy over 1m5f.

He ran creditably finishing fourth, by just over four lengths behind winner Mr Singh.

He makes his first start in over two years, but connections are confident he could be a potential star in the national hunt.

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Horseshoe Bay (black and purple colours) finishing fourth at Newmarket 783 days ago.

"Horseshoe Bay makes his long-anticipated return to the track this evening," owners Highclere posted on their Instagram page.

"This is his first run over obstacles after moving to Dan Skelton, and after a long lay-off.

"His schooling at home has been pleasing, and we are looking forward to seeing what he does."

A very ambitious target may be the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but bookmakers have currently installed him a 4-6 favourite for today's race.

His main competition looks to be Jonjo O'Neill's Mountain Path, who won a good bumper on debut but struggled in a Grade Two event at Aintree last time out.

A better run is also expected from Tom Lacey's Amadoue, who was unplaced at this track earlier this month.

Presenting: Star stallion's five best progeny

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The racing world lost a brilliant sire in Presenting. He's had numerous winners on the jumps and flat, and has bred some of our greatest horses in recent years.

Trained by John Gosden, he was a classy horse at two and three. He won six times from ten races, winning most notably the Group Two Geoffery Freer in 1995. A Derby third, his main glory was to come in the breeding barn.

James Stevens look at five of his jumping progeny best.

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Denman
A true Cheltenham great, Denman firmly cemented Presenting's reputation as a top stallion. Paul Nicholls' enjoyed plenty of success at the Festival, winning the RSA Chase in 2007, and finishing a runner-up in Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle the previous year. He won the Hennessy twice, including a top-weight success, and enjoyed four Grade One victories.

Denman's defining moment came in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, as Paul Nicholls' star came out on top against the great Kauto Star, winning in unforgettable style by seven lengths. His Gold Cup victory is one of the best in recent years. He ran well to finish second for the next two years.

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Ballabriggs
Ballabriggs was a popular Grand National winner for Donald McCain and Jason Maguire, and added more success to Presenting's sire record. He won Aintree's famous steeplechase in 2011, but a year ago was a Cheltenham Festival winner. He won the Kim Muir in 2010, and proved one of the most popular National winners in recent years. Siring sons to win a Gold Cup and Grand National established Presenting as a leading figure in the breeding world.

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War Of Attrition
Trained by Mouse Morris, War Of Attrition is best known for his 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup glory. A season before his Festival glory, he finished a disappointing seventh in the Arkle, but went on to strike at the top level at Punchestown. He defeated a good field in the Gold Cup, landing the feature race ahead of Hedgehunter, before striking once again at the top level. He remains one of the best sons of Presenting.


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First Lieutenant
One of the Festival's great servants throughout the last few years has been First Lieutenant. He was winner of the Neptune in 2011, beating eventual Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby by a narrow short head. The following year he found only Bobs Worth too good in the Gold Cup, before Cue Card beat him by nine lengths in the Ryanair.

Although the Mouse Morris-trained star is well-known for finishing second, he was a three time Grade One winner and a top horse.

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Yorkhill 
Yorkhill remains one of Willie Mullins' leading prospects in the yard, with two Festival wins already to his name. He justified odds-on favouritism to win the Neptune last year, before winning the JLT Novices' Chase this year. He is a four-time Grade One winner, and could be the main Gold Cup contender from Mullins' Closutton yard. He was a narrow loser at Punchestown last time out, but has plenty of good days ahead.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Five to watch from Killarney: A Supreme Novice third vying for Cheltenham glory four years on


In the final two days of the Killarney Festival, James Stevens picks out some runners who you should keep an eye on.

Brutal - 7:10 Friday
The burgundy colours of Qatar aren't often seen jumping hurdles, but Brutal may be a trendsetter. Gordon Elliott's three-year-old looks a smart prospect, having a flat rating of 101 and finishing fifth in the Group One Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile. He made a fine introduction to hurdles, winning a maiden event at Cork in good fashion. This test is tougher, but he's currently the favourite for the 2018 Triumph Hurdle and expectations are very high.

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Timiyan was a former winner on the flat for Dermot Weld

Timiyan - 7:40 Friday
Timiyan has the profile of a horse that can win a big handicap at the Cheltenham Festival. Gordon Elliott thinks very highly of this horse, who was an impressive winner on two starts earlier this season. He struggled last time in the Galway Hurdle, but is clearly much better than that, and looks to be progressing. This is a six-year-old with a big win in him.

Cymro - 1:30 Saturday
Making his hurdles and stable debut is Cymro, who has switched from Cheshire-based Tom Dascombe's yard to join Joseph O'Brien. He was a very good horse on the flat, rated 105, who once beat a great horse in Sir Issac Newton in a maiden. He even ran well in the Ormonde Stakes, finishing two lengths off a Group Three win. Nobody has a real idea of how good he will be over hurdles, but on his flat record he could be very good.

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Rathvinden was five lengths off Cheltenham glory in the 2014 Supreme Novice Hurdle

Rathvinden - 3:45 Saturday
For Willie Mullins' Rathvinden chasing has been all too easy. The nine-year-old has been absent for a number of years, and has always been a smart horse in the Closutton yard. He was third in the Supreme Novices back in 2014, beaten not too far by stable companion Faugheen. Four years later he's novice chasing, and going very well too. He finished second when needing the run at Ballinrobe, but has won his last two very easily. He will be well fancied to complete a hat-trick.

Santiago De Cuba - 4:55
In a intriguing bumper event, another for Joseph O'Brien who is out to prove his promise. He made a winning start on his debut, beating some good sorts in good style at this track a month ago. This four-year-old is bred pretty well and could be a Champion Bumper horse if he lives up to expectations. Willie Mullins' pair Poet Power and Vittorio look to be a big challenge, as does Gavin Cronwell's Soleglad.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Festival hero Unowhatimeanharry set for December return

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Harry Fry reports former Stayers Hurdle winner Unowhatimeanharry is in ‘great shape’, and will make his seasonal appearance in Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle on December 1st.

The nine-year-old tasted Festival success in the formerly known World Hurdle in 2016, but despite an eight race unbeaten record he could only finish third when attempting to reclaim the prize in 2017.

He finished third behind Nicholas Canyon, before reversing the form when the pair clashed in Punchestown in April.

“He’s just come back to us only a fortnight ago, but he seems to have summered very well,” said the Dorset-based trainer.

“He stayed over in Ireland and it’s great to have him back with us."

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Unowhatimeanharry will target a fourth Grade One in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, which he won in 2016

The JP McManus owned hurdler is set to return to Newbury, where he started his campaign last year, in the 3m event on Ladbroke Gold Cup day.

He defeated Ballyoptic in the race last year by six lengths, before winning Ascot’s Grade One Long Walk Hurdle in impressive style.

“The plan is to stick to hurdles and almost certainly follow the same sort of programme he did last year,” Fry added.

“We will take it race by race, but I don’t think too much will change in his programme.

“I would think we would start him off at Newbury in the Hennessy meeting, in the race he appeared in last year. 

“After that we would keep our options open, but we will probably go back to the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.”

Unowhatimeanharry is currently priced at 9/1 to win the Stayer’s Hurdle, with last year’s hero Nicholas Canyon the 7/1 antepost favourite.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Mullins unleashes latest stable star: Mares Novice Hurdle contender Shanning makes her debut at Sligo

Willie Mullins' exciting Mares Novices Hurdle prospect Shanning makes her hurdling debut at Sligo (5:20) this evening.

The four-year-old has already made a winning start to her career, taking a French maiden by one and a half lengths on her only visit to the racecourse.

Owned by the Supreme Racing Club, she joins a strong team of improving jumpers including Bunk Off Early, Listen Dear and Group One winning Airlie Beach.

"Shanning has her first run for us in the mares maiden hurdle over two miles," Mullins told his website.

"This is her hurdling debut, but she has schooled well at home."

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The Supreme Racing Club enjoyed Grade One success with Airlie Beach last season

"Her homework is good and this looks like an ideal starting point for her hurdling career.

"Hopefully she will have the measure of these rivals."

Shanning's long term target could be the Dawn Run Mares Novices' Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, where she is currently priced at 20-1.

Her County Carlow trainer has won both renewals of the Grade Two event since it joined the Festival's racecard in 2016.

However this evening she is currently priced at 4/9 to take the Diageo Mares Maiden Hurdle at Sligo.

Her biggest threat according to the form book is Liam Lennon's Amarillo Rose, who finished third last time out.

Commentariolus to become Frankel's first jumper for Gordon Elliot

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Cheltenham Festival's top trainer Gordon Elliott is set to make history, as Commentariolus will become the first son of the great Frankel to go jumping.

The three-year-old has been purchased out of French trainer Pascal Bary's yard, having run creditably in two starts in maiden company.

Frankel, who was unbeaten in fourteen starts, has enjoyed a good start to his breeding career with the likes of Derby third Cracksman, Group Two winning Eminent and Japanese Oaks winner Soul Stirring boasting him as one of the world's leading sires.

"He’s a fine stamp of a horse", said Elliot.

"He will go juvenile hurdling and is currently available for sale. We will keep him at the yard, and we're looking for owners at the moment.

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Gordon Elliott trained six winners at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year

"We're looking forward to the future with him."

Frankel enjoyed success at Royal Ascot this season with Godolphin's Atty Persse, and Commentarioulus may give Henry Cecil's superstar a win at jump racing's biggest week, the Cheltenham Festival.

The three-year-old may make his hurdling debut in the coming months.

Any buyers interested in the horse should contact Gordon Elliott's racing secretary Zoe Winston. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Harry Fry's leading Festival hope Neon Wolf suffers fatal injury

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Harry Fry has described stable star Neon Wolf as 'irreplaceable', after his Cheltenham Festival runner-up suffered a life-ending injury over the weekend.

The six-year-old won four times in his career, including a brilliant nine length success in Haydock's Grade Two Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle.

As a hotly fancied favourite in the Neptune he was an unlucky loser, when defeated by a head in the Grade One event by Willoughby Court.

For young Fry he was a classy horse, that could only improve the fast growing reputation of the Dorset-handler's yard.

"We are deeply saddened to report the loss of the brilliantly talented Neon Wolf over the weekend following a freak accident in his stable," Fry told his website.

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Following his narrow defeat at the Cheltenham Festival, he was well-fancied to go one better in 2018

"He had the potential to go right to the top and it is hard to come to terms with the fact that he has gone."

"It is a dreadful blow to his owners the Masterson family and all of the team here at Seaborough.

"We all shared such high hopes and dreams for Neon Wolf who came tantalising close to success at this year's Cheltenham Festival in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.

"A big, imposing fluent jumper who started his career in an Irish point-to-point, he was a horse who had everything you look for in a top class racehorse.

"Very sadly he will not now get the chance to fulfil the promise he had shown us, he will be irreplaceable."

Neon Wolf had been one of the leading novice chasers coming into the jumps season, with him as a leading fancy in the JLT Novices' Chase, Arkle and RSA Chase.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Willie Mullins expecting big season ahead from Supreme runner-up Melon

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Willie Mullins has revealed he's been impressed by Melon, who was narrowly beaten on only his second start over hurdles at this year's Cheltenham Festival.

The five-year-old was well fancied to win the Supreme despite only experiencing hurdles once in his career, when a ten length winner at Leopardstown.

With top rider Ruby Walsh on board he only found quirky 50-1 shot Labaik too good, to lose out by two lengths to Gordon Elliott's hurdler.

He finished off the year second best once again, finishing a length off stable rival Cilaos Emery in Punchestown's Champion Novice Hurdle.

"Melon has come back very strong," said Mullins.

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Melon would've been the least experienced winner of the Supreme in 25 years, but 50-1 shot Labaik defeated him.

"He's in good form and, while he could go the novice chase route, we'd probably be angling towards a hurdling campaign.

"He was very inexperienced going to Cheltenham last year."

Melon is currently priced as high as 25-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle, which could see him clash with the likes of Triumph winner Defi Du Seuil, and former winners Faugheen and Buveur D'Air.

But should Mullins opt to follow the novice chasing route, his former French flat winner is a 16-1 shot for the Arkle.

Leading jockey Davy Russell under investigation following Tramore 'punch' allegations

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Racing fans were left in disgust after footage broke of leading jump jockey Davy Russell appearing to strike his mount Kings Dolly at Tramore yesterday.

Russell, who famously won the Gold Cup aboard outsider Lord Windermere, struck his horse in the back of the head as he approached a 'show' fence yesterday.

At The Races covered Tramore's evening fixture, and their cameras caught the innocent which is currently being investigated by Irish officials.

"We only became aware of it late Saturday evening and it is been fully investigated," said Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan.

Two-time Irish champion jockey Russell is one of the leading jumps riders, having enjoyed 18 winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

He's steered the likes of Tiger Roll, Sir Des Champs and Weapons Amnesty to glory in the Cotswold, but his 2014 Gold Cup victory is his career-defining victory.

The Irishman enjoyed only one success at Cheltenham this year, winning the Pertemps Final with Presenting Percy.

Last month Shane Foley was also banned from riding for seven days, but reduced to five on appeal, after an 'unruly' strike on his horse.

A decision is yet to made on Davy Russell, Kings Dolly only finished ninth following the incident.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2018: Wednesday's Early Favourites

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James Stevens previews what could be a great second day at Cheltenham, which could feature a clash between superstars Altior and Douvan. Check out the early favourites for Day Two here!

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Neptune Novices' Hurdle - Debuchet (16/1)
Last year's leading trainer Gordon Elliott has the favourite for both the big novice hurdles, with Fayonagh in the Supreme and this horse Debuchet for the Neptune. The latter finished second behind the current Supreme favourite in the Champion Bumper at the last Cheltenham Festival before going on to take a listed prize in convincing style. He looks better suited to the 2m4f trip than the 2m in the Supreme, and if he can prove his class over hurdles could be a leading figure in the Neptune.

With uncertainty about Fayonagh's (16/1) ideal trip, he could end up in the Neptune and is a co-favourite with his stable companion. Another for Gordon Elliott in the race is the unbeaten Samcro (16/1) , who has carried the Gigginstown colours to four victories. He was last seen winning easily at Fairyhouse. Nicky Henderson's Champion Bumper third Claimantakinforgan (20/1) , and Willie Mullins' Next Destination (20/1) who finished a place behind him are both Neptune chances.

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RSA Chase - Yanworth (12/1)
One of the classiest hurdlers in training is Alan King's Yanworth (12/1), and he could be a force if switched over fences next year. In the race won by leading Gold Cup hope Might Bite last year, Yanworth could only finish midfield when sent off favourite in the Champion Hurdle but landed two top level prizes last season in the Liverpool and Christmas Hurdle.

Henry De Bromhead's Monalee (16/1) finished second at the Cheltenham Festival last season, and could improve over fences. Finian's Oscar (16/1), who missed out on the Festival, could make amends in 2018 for Colin Tizzard. He established himself as a top horse when winning the Mersey Novice Hurdle, before losing out by a nose in a Grade One event at Punchestown. Neptune first and second, Willoughby Court (16/1) and Neon Wolf (16/1) are also chances.

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Queen Mother Champion Chase - Altior (13/8)
Undoubtedly if the Champion Chase features both Douvan and Altior it may be one of the very best renewals of the race in its' history. Altior (13/8) is the bookies favourite at a short price, and Nicky Henderson's seven-year-old has been a sensation. The former Supreme winner enjoyed a faultless campaign over fences last year, winning the Arkle at Cheltenham along with the Celebration Chase, Henry VIII.

Douvan (7/2) would prove a very popular winner of the race following his massive disappointment last year. Willie Mullins' superstar seven-year-old lost his 14 race unbeaten streak when found lame after this run, and hasn't been since. Mullins' team is boosted by Yorkhill (10/1) and Min (12/1) who could represent the County Carlow master. Fox Norton (14/1) , who was second to Special Tiara, is another with a chance for Colin Tizzard.

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Cross Country - Cause Of Causes
One of the Cheltenham Festival greats is Cause Of Causes (9/1) who will return to the Cotswolds in search for a fourth Festival success. A winner of the National Hunt Chase and Kim Muir, he hasn't enjoyed success anywhere else than the March showcase. He won this race by nine lengths last year, before going on to finish second in the Grand National. Gordon Elliott's nine-year-old would be fancied to reclaim the prize.

Josies Orders (10/1) won the race in 2016, but missed out all of last season. The nine-year-old is a specialist on cross country courses, and would be fancied to win the prize for a second time. Improving Foxrock (14/1) is another who could appear at the Festival, he's beaten the likes of On His Own and On The Fringe in hunter events last year. Bless The Wings (16/1) was second in this last year before finishing in the same position in the Irish Grand National. JP McManus' Cantlow (16/1) and Auvergnat (16/1) could go to the Cross Country.


Leading Festival fancy Airlie Beach out to prove Grade One winning credentials on the flat

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Airlie Beach, who lost her seven race unbeaten record at the Cheltenham Festival, is expected to break her flat maiden at Tramore this evening (8:20).

Willie Mullins' star hurdler hasn't tasted victory since her impressive victory in Fairyhouse's Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in December.

The seven-year-old was fancied in the Mares Novice Hurdle at the Festival, but was extremely disappointing when only defeating two rivals, in a race won by stable companion Let's Dance.

She wasn't defeated too far on her flat debut at Killarney, with Mullins' She's So Flawless beating her by just under a length before strengthening that form with a third place finish in the Connacht Oaks.

After an encouraging place in the Galway Plate, connections are confident of a solid performance from the former Grade One winner.

"Airlie Beach goes for the Ladies Maiden over two miles with Kate Harrington on board," said Mullins.

"She ran a fantastic race when third in the Galway Hurdle and this looks an ideal opportunity.

"It'll be disappointing if she doesn't collect."

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Airlie Beach will hope to follow in the footsteps of Detroit City, who won both the Triumph Hurdle and Cesarewitch in 2006.

She has a wide array of options if she wins as expected tonight, with a good handicap mark she could pick up some valuable prize money throughout the latter part of the flat season.

Although she would need to raise her mark to get in, the likes of the Irish and English Cesarewitch could be an option.

The likes of Leading Light and Detroit City have won the Newmarket handicap, after good careers over hurdles.

Airlie Beach is a 1-2 shot to take the final race at Tramore tonight.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Gordon Elliott's history-making Brutal tops Triumph Market after impressive Cork victory

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Cheltenham Festival’s top trainer Gordon Elliott enjoyed his first trained winner for Qatar Racing, as Brutal made a winning debut over hurdles.

Elliott, whose best horses have been with leading Irish owners Gigginstown, is one of the leading National Hunt handlers, and has paid back some trust for the Qatari’s with an impressive win at Cork.

The four-year-old skipped over hurdles with ease, before pulling clear of the field in impressive style under Davy Russell.

"It wasn't the strongest race in the world, but he did what he did and will improve from it and will have to improve going forward," said the County Meath handler.

"I think he's a nice horse and had a good (Flat) rating.

"I'd have to say a big thanks to Qatar Racing and Sheikh Fahad for sending him to me as it's my first runner in those colours.

"Like a lot of those juveniles after their first run, they will go up or down or stay where they are.

"We've often had horses that were rated 60 (on the Flat) and they end up being better than the 100-rated horses, so it's how they take to it the next day is how you know."

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Brutal was defeated by 3 1/2 lengths by Rivet in the Racing Post Trophy last October

Brutal has bags of potential after some top form as a juvenile, when with Ger Lyons he most notably  finishing fifth place finish in the competitive Racing Post Trophy.

The three-year-old has currently been installed as the 25-1 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle following his encouraging defeat of Grey Waters.

Espoir D’Allen also is vying for Triumph glory, he’s owned by JP McManus and won the same French bumper that last year’s hero Defi Du Seuil won before switching to Phillip Hobbs’ setup.

The one-time winner on the flat heads the market along with French raiders Empreinte Reconce and Grand Sancy.


Elliott may begin to train more Qatari horses in the coming years, and their illustrious pedigree could give them some force over jumps.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Galway Festival 2017: Who impressed, and who could be heading for Cheltenham?

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The Galway Festival is one of Ireland’s leading fixtures, boasting some of the countries’ best horses both on the flat and the jumps, but what stars could be heading to the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

With Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott both enjoying six winners at last year’s Festival, and the Gold Cup heading to Jessica Harrington’s yard, Galway may have a few Cheltenham pointers.

Embed from Getty Images True Self (Won a Mares Flat Race on Saturday)
Willie Mullins has a brilliant record with his bumper horses, and this four-year-old made an exceptional introduction to the master of County Carlow.

Previously finishing second at Warwick, she easily defeated a good field to win by eight lengths, and her big margin win could’ve been extended. Her Galway test wasn’t the hardest, and she will have to prove herself; but wherever she goes after the manner in which she won the race.

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Balko Des Flos (Won the Galway Plate on Wednesday)
The Galway Plate is one of the most prestigious prizes in Irish sport, and it was good to see it go to a horse who has always gone close without winning in big races.

He fell when fancied in the JLT Novices’ Chase this season, but Henry De Bromhead’s seven-year-old was excellent in winning the handicap. Beating Shaneshill by almost five lengths, shows his true class and he will certainly be a good horse to follow next year.

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Housesofparliament (Won a novice hurdle on Tuesday)
JP McManus and Joseph O’Brien must be picturing some big days ahead with this four-year-old, after he finally got the hang of jumping. Formerly with father Aiden O’Brien, he enjoyed a terrific record on the flat. He was a winner at Group Three level, and finished third in the St Leger.

He’s had some tough days over hurdles, when second to Willie Mullins’ Meri Devie in a maiden contest and out of his depth in a Grade One event; but this time he was given a winning opportunity 
and grasped it well.

Although he didn’t win by a big margin, his first victory will give him his confidence for the rest of the season. He could be a real star.

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Airlie Beach (Third in Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap on Thursday)
Another for Willie Mullins who caught the eye is Airlie Beach, who was beaten five-and-a-half lengths in what looked a competitive handicap.

She came to Cheltenham last season with a string of 1’s to her name, but despite her strong market support she could only defeat two rivals in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle.

She’s run okay in top level mares event since, before boasting two good efforts in handicap company. She is improving, and would’ve gone closer had she jumped better; her trainer Willie Mullins will win a few good handicap prizes with her.

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Le Richebourg (Won a novice hurdle on Monday)
Another for Joseph O’Brien who caught the eye was Le Richebourg, who does look like a very good novice hurdler. His bumper form was boosted when Debuchet, who he finished second to in a race at Leopardstown, went on to land the Champion Bumper this season.

He’s currently unbeaten over hurdles, winning impressively in races at Killarney and at this week’s Galway Festival. His wide margin win was both impressive and professional, he’s a top hurdler and Cheltenham will certainly be on his agenda.

Nigel Twiston-Davies hopeful as improving Red Riverman hopes to wash out opponents at Market Rasen

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Local trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is hoping Red Riverman can urge forward towards the Cheltenham Festival, as the improving handicapper bids for a hat-trick at Market Rasen (3:00).

The nine-year-old made a brilliant return from a two-year absence to finish a close second at Catterick.

Remaining on a mark of 111, he improved from his outing at the North Yorkshire venue to win at Uttoxeter in impressive style.

When last seen at Stratford a week ago, he found a 6lb absence no problem to win a class two handicap by just under two lengths.

He faces only a 3lb rise from the handicapper, and Twiston-Davies, who owns and trains the horse, is looking forward to the hat-trick bid.

“He’s done nothing wrong this year, and we are really happy with him,” said the Gloucestershire-based handler.

“He won well last time, and has only gone up 3lb in the weights. He’s come out of that race well, so hopefully his good season can continue.”

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Zac Baker is one of the leading amateur jockeys in National Hunt racing

Red Riverman is rated 120, but has the potential to continue increasing that mark; potentially getting him into some of the Cheltenham Festival’s illustrious handicaps.

Promising amateur jockey Zac Baker takes the ride, and takes a valuable 5lb off. He enjoyed five wins last season, and has already visited the winner’s enclosure this season.

Harry Fry’s Innocent Girl looks the strongest of rivals, she hasn’t finished outside the top three since October and made a decent return back when third at Stratford.

Top weight Trafalgar Rock could also be a danger. Dr Richard Newland’s improving six-year-old won well at Southwell back in June and has been placed in his last two outing since.

Iconic Festival winning trainer Alan King is represented by Mille Nautiqu, who was last seen finishing second at this track, whilst Caroline Bailey runs the consistent McCabe Creek.

The six-runner field is completed by Domtaline for Northumberland trainer Peter Winks.