Our columnist Charlie Hunt has went into detail his bankers and each-way fancies for the upcoming Cheltenham festival.
GETABIRD – W P Mullins 11/4
Supreme Novices Hurdle
Getabird is another hugely exciting prospect for the Willie Mullins/Rich Ricci combination. He is unbeaten in four starts. This consists of two bumper wins, a win in a maiden hurdle and a wide margin victory in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. That was a very impressive performance and with plenty more to come he goes to Cheltenham with a big chance to shine on the biggest stage of them all.
FOOTPAD – Willie Mullins 11/10
Footpad is a high-class individual. He was a very smart hurdler but has proved to be an even better chaser. He is 3 out of 3 over fences and produced a most impressive performance on the weekend winning the Irish Arkle. He beat his main contender Petit Mouchoir for the Arkle at the Festival. Petit Mouchoir is entitled to come on loads for that but it was evident during the race that Footpad had his measure a long way out due to his slick and fast jumping. Will prove very hard to beat. One for the accumulators.
APPLE’S JADE – Gordon Elliott 5/6
Apple’s Jade is a high-class mare who has proved herself against the other sex. She is a seven times Grade 1 winner at just the age of 6 and she is the one they all have to beat in the Mares Hurdle. Against limited opposition Apple’s Jade will be extremely hard to beat in defending her title and looks a banker
DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO – Nick Gifford 8/1
Didtheyleaveuoutto looks every inch a horse who can go right to the top. He scooted him to win by 10 lengths on his debut at Lingfield before stepping up in class to an Ascot Bumper which he was against a strong field with several winners in already. He cruised through the race and produced a smart change of gear to win by nearly 3 lengths. Didtheyleaveuoutto is a very special horse whose current price at 8/1 looks very generous indeed.
SAMCRO – Gordon Elliott 6/4
Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Samcro is arguably the most exciting novice in National Hunt Racing. He is unbeaten in 5 starts. Three wins in bumpers and he created a mighty impression when winning by 14 lengths on his hurdles debut at Punchestown. He followed up in style in Grade 3 company at Naas and won the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle most impressively at Leopardstown yesterday. He looks a superstar. Banker
WILLOUGHBY COURT – Ben Pauling 5/1
JLT Novices Chase
This year’s JLT doesn’t look to be the strongest race in recent years and Willoughby Court can take advantage. Already a winner here at the Cheltenham Festival last year in the Neptune, he made a winning chase debut at Huntington before beating Yanworth at Newbury. He was beaten by that rival in 3rd at Cheltenham next time but was unsuited by the testing ground. Back on better ground, Willoughby Court will be much more effective, and he is a massive player at 5/1.
SAM SPINNER – Jedd O’Keeffe 9/2
Sam Spinner has improved so quickly this season, coming from a runner up on his handicap debut at Chepstow to a wide margin winner of a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle at Haydock and then to an even better winner of the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle. Sam Spinner is a horse with frightening ability with very likely more improvement to come and he can fight off all of his opposition in the Stayers Hurdle.
HUNTERS CALL – Olly Murphy 14/1
County Hurdle. Possibly Coral Cup
Hunters Call is a fast-improving horse who is sure to run a massive race at the Festival. A strongly run big field handicap has proved to be right up his street. He won in great style at Ascot on his stable debut for Olly Murphy. Up 9lb, there is loads more to come from him and he rates a leading contender for the County Hurdle.
LAURINA – W P Mullins 2/1
Laurina has been so impressive in her two starts in Ireland for Willie Mullins. Starting off with a win at Tramore, she won a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse on her most recent start in very nice style. Laurina could well be the next queen of jumps racing and she will take a lot of stopping come March
APPLE’S SHAKIRA – Nicky Henderson 7/2
Apple’s Shakira is a very exciting Juvenile for Nicky Henderson and JP McManus. She makes a lot of appeal just on paper (Sister to Apple’s Jade) and she was won her first three races for Nicky in great style, showing a smart turn of foot in each. All of the victories came at Cheltenham which will stand her in good stead and with a 7lb Filly Allowance, it is very hard to see past this future superstar.
OUR DUKE – Jessica Harrington 16/1
Our Duke is very special. He had great form over hurdles and has made an even better chaser. He won a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last season and won the Irish Grand National off a mark of 153 by 14 lengths. That was an incredible performance. He disappointed on his return this season but was found to be suffering from a back problem. That was sorted out and he returned in the Irish Gold Cup where he looked sure to play a big part but for making a mistake at the second last. He galloped all the way to the line and is definitely worth another chance in the Gold Cup. He will go mighty close if jumping to his best
BURNING AMBITION – Pierce Power 8/1
Burning Ambition was a winning machine in points (won his next four after his runner up finish on debut) and produced impressive displays. He made the transition to racing under rules at Limerick at Christmas where he bolted up by 13 lengths. Burning Ambition is well worth his place in this and he goes there with every chance of taking the prize.
DIESE DES BIEFFES – Nicky Henderson 20/1
Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle
The Coral Cup is an option for this lightly raced hurdler, however he will definitely get into this. Diese Des Bieffes came 5th in a bumper for Dan Skelton and moved yards to Nicky Henderson. He won his first two in impressive style before finishing a very good second to If The Cap Fits at Kempton. He ran a nice race in 5th in the Lanzarote when the race didn’t work out for him and with plenty more to come, he is a leading contender at a nice price.