Less Than 5 Weeks to Go Until Cheltenham Festival!
The greatest show on turf is a stone throw away and has all excited as The Festival’s key contenders have been coming out and bringing the heat onto the track. The Irish stole the show last weekend at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, with a number of runners looking to be on course to glory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Rachael Blackmore starred again
The Blackmore-De Bromhead combination struck again, taking two Grade 1 wins back to Knockeen Stables last weekend. On Day One, Rachael Blackmore and her unbeaten mount, Honeysuckle stormed to glory in the Champion Hurdle, taking her career tally to eight and De Bromhead’s stable star, Notebook, provided the second trophy in the Arkle Novice Chase.
He worked hard to fight off Cash Back, leading narrowly at the last before strongly pressing in to win by three and a half lengths.
Notebook is aimed for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, with the team still in debate about whether to run Honeysuckle in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle or Cheltenham’s opening day showpiece, the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Delta Work produced a solid performance
We all knew that the duel between Kemboy and Delta Work was bound to be mouth-watering and the show certainly didn’t disappoint!
The duo alongside, Presenting Percy, who Davy Russell had artfully kept in contention for the title were all neck and neck for much of the race until coming up to finish. Delta Work jumped the last a fraction before his rivals and whilst they did their best to catch up, their efforts were not enough. The Gordon Elliott-trained horse charged toward the winning line, proving he was just too good a match for his opponents.
Delta Work joins Al Boum Photo at lowest odds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup race. The question is, can he produce as good a performance on Gold Cup Day?
Does Willie Mullins have another Cheltenham winner in his midst?
Chacun Pour Soi, who Mullins describes as a “rare talent” could become the hot favourite for the Queen Mother’s Champion Chase on Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival after breezing to glory under Paul Towend in the Dublin Chase last Saturday.
He and another Mullins-trained horse, Min, dominated the race and Chacun Pour Soi travelled strongly against the five-times Grade 1 winner. Many were taken aback by his solid performance which has since labelled the horse as underrated. Is it too early to assume that this lightly run eight-year-old could challenge the likes of Altior and Defi Du Seuil in Wednesday’s feature race at Cheltenham?
More to watch out for at Newbury Racecourse
Nicky Henderson’s Altior returns to Newbury this weekend to reassert his status as the strongest 2-mile stayer. He’ll go the two miles in the G2 Game Spirit Chase in a bid to restart his winning streak ahead of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse.
This will be his third successive go in the race and the pressure is on for Henderson, who has received backlash for pulling Altior from two intended engagements earlier this season. He has since reported Altior to be “working as well as ever” and there’s no doubt that racing fans are eager for him to return to his winning ways whether that be at the minimum two miles or over further.
Native River heads to Newbury seeking the treble
The Colin Tizzard-trained horse will attempt to claim his third win in the Betfair Denman Chase and make a name for himself ahead of the illustrious Gold Cup race at Cheltenham. He saw success in the Gold Cup back in 2018, winning the title after an epic duel with Might Bite but was unlucky last year, unable to exert his usual dominance, he placed fourth behind Bristol De Mai.
He won’t run with his regular rider and champion jockey, Richard Johnson, who has been side-lined due to a broken arm but with Jonjo O’Neill on Saturday. Nevertheless, he’s still the short-priced favourite for the race, which will see him go up against his former nemesis as well as Secret Investor and Activial who are being drawn up as other strong contenders.
Will Native River be the one to beat in the Denman Chase?
It’s fair to say that Super Saturday at Newbury will be the highlight of this weekend’s sporting events, with a number of stars using the event as a warm up for Cheltenham Festival. With decent ground, the Newbury crowd will definitely be in for a treat.
The Festival is shaping up nicely, with a field of world-class runners and riders targeting Cheltenham races. If you’re playing catch up and still need to get your tickets and packages, we’ve got limited availability left for The Festival.