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Cheltenham Festival Timefigure Preview: Tuesday


Timeform's Research and Development team look at the best timefigure performances ahead of day one of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

In our Cheltenham Festival timefigure Lucky 15, we suggested that Ballyward in the National Hunt Chase (17:30) was one of our best bets of the meeting, and with the runners and riders now confirmed, there is no reason to think any different. Indeed, if anything, following the rain that has fallen since and with another half an inch forecast, we are even keener on him now with the emphasis likely to be even more on stamina.

A timefigure of 150 at Naas when beating next-time-out Grade 2 winner Chris’s Dream is the best chasing form on offer, and though Ballyward has three lengths to make up on OK Corral from last year’s Albert Bartlett, the six-year-old is clearly a much improved horse this year. The same can’t yet be said of the nine-year-old OK Corral, whose Warwick form hasn’t stood up so far.

The opening Supreme Novices Hurdle looks a wide-open affair with Al Dancer, Grand Sancy, Angel’s Breath and Fakir d’Oudairies virtually inseparable from a time perspective. Of the quartet, Angel’s Breath is perhaps open to the most improvement, while both Al Dancer and Fakir d’Oudairies have winning course form to their name. Al Dancer has impressed most of all from a sectional perspective, and is arguably better still than his overall timefigures suggest, but Klassical Dream had far better hurdles form in France than Fakir d’Oudaries and has won both his races in Ireland, so we’ll keep our powder dry here.  


Lalor has been at or near the head of the market for the Arkle (14:10) since making a winning chase debut here back in the autumn, but he has questions to answer on both overall and sectional times, and on top of that hasn’t been seen since a defeat at Sandown in November.  One-time Arkle favourite Kalashnikov would enter considerations if he could reproduce his 2018 Supreme second, but he was trounced seemingly fairly and squarely by the fast-improving Glen Forsa at Sandown last time.

All that said, the Irish duo Duc des Genievres and Us And Them have the best time credentials. The former was impressive in winning at Gowran last time out by fifteen lengths in a timefigure of 155 over two and a half miles, while Us And Them has found only Le Richebourg too strong on his last couple of starts. This race promises to be run at a fair lick and Duc des Genievres’ proven ability and stamina makes odds of 13/2 look too big.   

Much like the Supreme, there is very little to separate the main contenders on time in the Champion Hurdle; Apple’s Jade has the best (162) bare timefigure this year but dual champion Buveur d’Air recorded a figure of 167 when winning the first of his two Champion Hurdles, and both he and Melon posted 161 when fighting out the finish last year. Laurina hasn’t yet properly had the opportunity to post a fast time, but some of her sectionals since arriving from France suggest she is good enough to play a part too, while Brain Power was an improved horse last year over fences despite his jumping issues, and a 159 timefigure suggests that he, too, is right in the mix for a place at least in what looks a corking heat.


Anyone looking to timefigures to shed some new light on the Mares’ Hurdle will probably be disappointed. 2018 winner Benie des Dieux has a 9 lb advantage on time and though she hasn’t been seen this season, her trainer is a master at producing horses to win this race first time out. Roksana is interesting back at two and a half miles, having finished behind Santini and Buveur d’Air in falsely-run races on her last two outings, and she could hardly have been more impressive when winning a truly-run handicap from a BHA mark of 130 at Newbury last spring (timefigure of 132). Of Benie des Dieux’s rivals, she looks the one open to most improvement.  

So far as the handicaps go, Tower Bridge makes obvious appeal in the Close Brothers at 16:50 having finished second to Duc des Genevieres last time, but preference in the same race is for topweight Highway One O One whose last-time-out second to Kildisart was achieved in a very good time and looks really strong form. Chris Gordon’s runner has been raised 2 lb for that, but time will probably show he was up against it giving the up-and-coming winner weight, and the return to a big-field handicap scenario for the first time this year, as well as softer ground, will suit him ideally.

Recommended bets:  

Back Duc des Genievres to win the Arkle at 13/2

Back Highway One O One to win the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at 12-1

Back Ballyward to win the National Hunt Chase at 11/4



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Tuesday 26 March
Luke Morris silk Luke Morris
John Spearing
Tom Marquand silk Tom Marquand
Robert Cowell
Daniel Tudhope silk Daniel Tudhope jockey uplift
Rebecca Bastiman
Go to Full Race



1st S. B. Kirrane silk 1. UBLA (IRE) 6/17
2nd Adam Kirby silk ¾ 4. MOLTEN LAVA (IRE) 8/19
3rd Paul Hanagan silk nk 8. LA SIOUX (IRE) 11/26.5
J: S. B. Kirrane (7)  
T: Gay Kelleway  
11 ran. NRs: 5  7 


1st Cam Hardie silk 9. GREY DESTINY 8/19
2nd Rossa Ryan silk sh 10. DE LITTLE ENGINE (IRE) 16/117
3rd Phil Dennis silk 1 7. PEACHEY CARNEHAN 9/110
J: Cam Hardie  
9 ran. NRs: 1  11  5 


1st Hollie Doyle silk 9. SECOND COLLECTION 5/16
2nd Cam Hardie silk 2 7. KLOPP 15/28.5
3rd Andrew Breslin silk ½ 11. ASCOT DREAMER 25/126
J: Hollie Doyle  
T: Tony Carroll  
All 11 ran.


1st Shane Kelly silk 2. TOP BREEZE (IRE) 4/61.66f
2nd Phil Dennis silk 11. SOUND OF IONA 66/167
3rd Adam Kirby silk 3. MAJOR BLUE 12/113
J: Shane Kelly  
All 11 ran.


1st Megan Nicholls silk 7. KRAZY PAVING 11/112
2nd Jack Mitchell silk ns 3. DARING GUEST (IRE) 10/34.33
3rd Gary Mahon silk hd 10. WILD FLOWER (IRE) 50/151
J: Megan Nicholls (5)  
T: Olly Murphy  
12 ran. NRs: 6 


1st Jack Mitchell silk 3. KIRTLING 6/17
2nd Scott McCullagh silk 1 8. GIVEPEACEACHANCE 17/29.5
3rd Cam Hardie silk ½ 12. HUSSAR BALLAD (USA) 12/113
T: Andi Brown  
All 12 ran.


1st Mr Simon Walker silk 5. OROBAS (IRE) 7/18
2nd Miss Katy Brooks silk 1. LIGHT OF AIR (FR) 10/111
3rd Miss Becky Brisbourne silk nk 13. CLIVE CLIFTON (IRE) 16/117
All 13 ran.


1st Nick Scholfield silk 6. HEY BUD 8/19
2nd Ben Poste silk 13 5. ECLAIR DES SABLONS (FR) 50/151
T: Jeremy Scott  
All 7 ran.


1st Oisin Murphy silk 1. VIN D'HONNEUR (IRE) 17/29.5
2nd Charles Bishop silk 12. BONNEVILLE (IRE) 8/19
3rd Franny Norton silk 3. AL DAAYEN (FR) 16/117
J: Oisin Murphy  
All 14 ran.
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