With just 8 weeks to go until the roar goes up for the first at Cheltenham our team of racing writers will be bringing you all the latest festival build up and previews as well as the very best offers here at your number 1 bookmaker.
First up is Bar One Racing broadcaster Kieran Burke who examines the two big novice races over hurdles namely the Supreme and Ballymore.
We seem to have a bit of an obsession in Ireland and the UK when it comes to unbeaten records when in fact we should be a lot more understanding that good horses do get beaten for a number of different reasons but that doesn’t make them a bad horse overnight.
A fine and very recent example of this is Andy Dufresne who was caught for stamina when beaten by Latest Exhibition in a Grade 2 at Navan but bounced back to hold off the advances of the impressive Captain Guinness in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer at Punchestown on Sunday.
While it was certainly a workman like performance from Gordon Elliott’s charge the trainer suggested post race the fact Andy was headed on the home stretch before getting back up to win can only bode well for his gelding who often seems to do just the bare minimum to get by.
However, despite all of that and the fact the dryer ground come March should all suit Andy Dufresne I certainly feel he has plenty to find on Fiddlerontheroof and particularly Envoi Allen in this novice division.
Envoi Allen is currently 11/8 favorite for the Ballymore and looks almost certain to run in it, as opposed to the Supreme where he is a 4/1 second fav, and with the Cheveley Park star 7-7 under rules and already a dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles (as well a a Champion bumper winner at last years festival) then it would be understandable if Colin Tizzard would wish to avoid Envoi Allen and head for the Supreme, which is of course over 2 mile, as opposed to 2m4f, and with the son of Stowaway showing a blistering turn of foot in his recent Sandown wins then that looks an educated move by the Doset handler.
As impressive as Fiddlerontheroof has been in recent starts, when you examine the form of Abacadabras it’s hard to not be impressed. 4th behind Envoi Allen at last years festival Gordon Elliott’s runner went even closer on his final bumper start when beaten just a length by Colreevy at the Punchestown festival prior to consecutive hurdle wins at Gowran (maiden) and Navan (Grade 3) with the latest of those wins seeing Latest Exhibition just 3 lengths behind.
Giving Envoi Allen a real scare in the BarOneRacing.com Royal Bond Abacadabras absolutely romped home by 8 lengths in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice at Leopardstown when last seen over Christmas and holds entries in both the Irish Champion Hurdle and Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown next month.
With Fiddlerontheroof seemingly set to go straight to Cheltenham we could see some major price swings in this market off the back of the Dublin racing festival next month.
While both Abacadabras and Fiddlerontheroof will arrive at Cheltenham with very similar levels of experience and ultra-impressive form lines there is just a feeling that there may be still more improvement to come from Colin Tizzard’s charge.
Here’s what the trainer has had to say about Fiddler in recent weeks:
He’s got plenty of options because there’s no doubt he will stay further,” said Power. “If it dries up, two and a half would be your festival target and if it came up very soft on the first day, you’d probably go for the Supreme.
“I think he’s stronger than when I first rode him at Chepstow and, physically, he’s developing into a fine horse. He’s very good.”
While partner in the saddle Robbie Power had this to say after the pairs Tolworth win at Sandown:
“He’s travelled stronger the more the race went on, but the most pleasing thing of the whole race was when I gave him a squeeze going to the second last, the turn of foot he showed there was quite impressive. He was able to quicken in that ground when others weren’t, so it was an impressive performance.”
In conclusion, my first two ante-post selections for the 2020 Cheltenham festival are Envoi Allen to win the Ballymore novices hurdle at 11/8 and an EW stake on Fiddlerontheroof for the Supreme at 13/2.