Next Destination (National Hunt Chase or Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase)
“We’ll talk about the National Hunt Challenge Cup. He’s also in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, which is a race we really want to run him in and if it’s soft we’ll run him in that. But we just put him in the National Hunt Chase because he obviously stays very strongly. A plus is that Harry [Cobden] can ride him now, and we’ll probably confirm him at the five-day stage for both races and make a plan. It’s almost certain that if it’s soft he’ll run in the Brown Advisory, but this is an option.
“He’s a horse who had the best part of two and a half years off when he joined us and he ran very well over hurdles at Wetherby. He’s had two chase runs, both in Grade 2 races, and won his debut over fences at Newbury and jumped great. Then he won at Warwick the other day, which was a bit sharp for him but he stayed on strongly. He’s got bundles of stamina and the softer the ground the better for him. He’s a very smart horse, and obviously Monkfish is going to be very hard to beat on all known form [in the Brown Advisory], but you never worry about one or two in novice races at Cheltenham, a lot can happen and you’ve got to jump well.
Bravemansgame (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)
“The Challow was a nice race to win at Grade 1 level and he won very nicely that day. He’s always been really progressive, right from the start of the season when he was beaten a neck by Soaring Glory, who won the Betfair Hurdle last weekend. I was impressed that day by the fact that Harry [Cobden] could hardly pull him up afterwards, and he ran green and jumped green and my God did he improve. Each run he’s got better and better and that culminated in him winning the Challow Hurdle at Christmas. He was really strong at the back of the last and stayed on strongly, so this is the obvious race for him. He worked nicely this morning and I’m very happy with him and his preparation.
“He’s a very relaxed horse, he’s not keen. At Newbury we just kept it simple because we knew he jumped and stayed, but a good strong pace suited him well. He’s a good ride and a class horse. It’s a hard race to win, years ago Denman was beaten in the race, so it’s a tough race to win and there’s some tough horses in it, but we think he’s got a great chance and he’s a lovely horse for the future.
“He’s definitely improving physically all the time. I think the best will come from when he jumps a fence in the future, but he’s going into the race with a leading chance I feel.”
Politologue (Champion Chase)
“I love this race, it’s a fantastic race and I’ve been very lucky to have some fantastic horses win it. Politologue winning last year was fantastic for him and for everybody connected with the horse and this year is his sixth Festival, which is amazing. If you could see him gallop this morning, he was very impressive, he comes good at this time of year and he’s in there with a chance.
“I think it was a good run [at Ascot]. The ground was probably testing enough for him that day, he’s slightly better on spring ground and it might be that Cheltenham just suits him very well. He’s a horse who gives his all, there were no excuses and he was beaten by a better horse on the day. He still ran to a very high level, which he will do in this race, and you know he’s solid, he’ll go a nice gallop and will give you a nice run for your money.
“Obviously Willie [Mullins]’s horse [Chacun Pour Soi] looks very smart, but he’s not run at Cheltenham before and he’s got to act on the track. I don’t doubt that if he does he’ll be hard to beat, but you should never be afraid of one and we’re going into it – being realistic – with a nice chance, but it’ll be hard. Harry Cobden rides.
Greaneteen (Champion Chase)
"Bryony Frost will ride Greaneteen. He ran a bit free in the Game Spirit at Newbury and carried a penalty. He’s a horse that if they go fast around there could run into a place. I’m not expecting him to win but he deserves to take his place.”
Duc des Genievres (Champion Chase)
“Duc Des Genievres – Duc as we call him – won the Arkle two years ago and has run some tidy races this year. I feel he’s just shy of a Grade 1 horse and we have to decide if he runs in this or runs in the Grand Annual, but he seems to be coming together now and he would probably want some slightly better ground.”
Shearer (Champion Bumper)
“He’s a very nice horse and just got beat on his debut at Hereford and then he won well at Warwick on ground that was far too testing for him. He’s had a nice break, has improved and definitely deserves to take his chance. I think he was named after Alan Shearer. Alan is well aware of the horse’s name and has followed him. Max [McNeill] who owns him wanted to call him Shearer.”
⚽ Shearer scores in the final minutes of 2020 @WarwickRaces - with @PFNicholls bagging a goal of his own.— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 31, 2020
💯 The @McNeill_Family owned winner - ridden to success by @adrianheskin - brought up winner number 100 for the team at Ditcheat! pic.twitter.com/Ose7GNmlCt
Hitman (Marsh Novices’ Chase)
“Hitman is an interesting one. I wanted to run him last Saturday at Kempton but couldn’t because of the ground. He’s also entered at Newbury this weekend and again the ground is an issue. In the back of my mind is the fact that in a perfect world I’d probably run him at the weekend and then go to Aintree for the two-and-a half-mile novices’ chase there, but if I miss this weekend for whatever reason, I could be tempted to have a look at this. I think it could cut up a bit with Envoi Allen and people might dodge him – so Hitman is still a possible in my mind, depending on whether we go on Saturday or not.”
Real Steel (Ryanair Chase)
“He ran very well in last year’s Gold Cup. Obviously they didn’t go a great gallop and he travelled into it and looked like he might win going to the last, but didn’t stay up the hill. He’s not a stayer, and I think this trip is right for him.
“He worked beautifully this morning when we took him away [to Wincanton], which was a really good sign and he looks good in his coat at the moment. He ran in the King George at Christmas and if you watch the race he jumped the last down the back going really well and travelled into the straight looking like he was going to be involved and then stopped. It transpired that he bled, which has been a bit frustrating, but we’ve got him over that and he looks good.
“Those horses who have come from Willie [Mullins] have been hard to get used to our routine. Obviously what they do is completely different to what we do and it’s taken some of them a little while to settle into our routine, but they’re getting there now and he definitely looked the best he has done in this morning’s gallop, and I was very pleased with him.
“He ran well in the Gold Cup last year and with better ground and the right trip he could run well.”
Barbados Buck’s (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)
“Andy [Stewart] has got some good young horses for the future and Barbados Buck’s is one of them. He has been really progressive this season. He is rated 143 now and his form keeps getting better. He has won his last three. The last day at Kempton he carried a 10lb penalty and he was strong from the back of the last and he won nicely. He is a proper staying horse and you need something here that will stay forever. He worked nicely this morning. He is so laid back he will be absolutely fine [with the step up in class]. We’ve progressed all along the lines with him.
Threeunderthrufive (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)
“He beat the horse that day [at Musselburgh] that Barbados Buck’s beat at Southwell [Fantastikas] which won at Fontwell on Sunday. They have got quite good form with him. He is unbeaten over hurdles but you wouldn’t know what is in the locker with him as he only just does enough. He goes along with his ears pricked, jumps well and he will definitely get every bit of the trip and is another with a nice chance. This is a nice horse.”
Frodon (Cheltenham Gold Cup)
“Earlier this season he won a handicap off top-weight over three-mile-one, he’s won a King George – King George winners stay and do end up winning Gold Cups. He definitely wants a trip. We ran him in last year’s Ryanair, and he was completely outpaced all the way, [so] we decided this year we would stay over a longer trip. He’s in really good form, he worked beautifully this morning.
“He loves to be fresh and fit and he loves Cheltenham obviously – I think he’s won there six times. Often on the last day [of the Festival] the ground is decent, which would suit him. No one would expect him to win the Gold Cup – but if he did, I wouldn’t be surprised because he’s that sort of horse.
“He keeps surprising people. No one ever expected him to win a King George, but if you watch the replay, he won very cosily and was probably [running] the wrong way round. He’s in good shape – and you know whatever he does, he’s going to give a good account of himself.”
“It’s very competitive. Last year’s winner [Al Boum Photo] is the one we’ve all got to beat – but I think after that, it’s very much of a muchness. A lot of the horses have beaten each other. We beat Santini in the King George, and Santini is a shorter price than us for the Gold Cup, which I don’t really get. Frodon is always underestimated a little bit, but he will give a good account of himself."
Bob And Co (Festival Hunters Chase)
“He would have a good chance on his day. It’s a race we have won quite a few times. The sad thing is David Maxwell [owner] bought him to ride himself in the race. He had a few issues with his wind last season but we sorted that out. He won very impressively at Haydock the other day and it is just a shame David has got such a fantastic chance in the race and he can’t ride it. He has been sporting and said ‘get on and run him’ but he will get back on him the first time amateurs can ride again. David puts a lot into the sport and he has got some lovely horses to ride and it is a shame he won’t be able to ride him in this race. I think Bob And Co has a great chance.”