David Pipe: My Festival team
David Pipe talks us through some of the leading lights in his Cheltenham Festival team.
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Goulanes: He won very well at Wetherby last time out in his first chase. He's lightly raced and came from the pointing field. He's unbeaten for us in two hurdles and now a chase. The great thing about this horse is his attitude, he isn't flashy, he's workmanlike and gets the job done. He handles most types of ground. He's a little inexperienced but is progressive and going the right way. He's in two races at the Festival, the RSA and National Hunt Chase a decision will be made nearer the time. We have Dynaste in the RSA and Jewson but I think owner Roger Brookhouse is quite keen on the RSA for Goulanes. He'd want every yard of three miles in the RSA, all he did at Wetherby was stay he loves to aim at something in front and has a great attitude. There's more to come too. He won't mind the ground at Cheltenham and is one of our bigger hopes for the week.
Flying Cross: He's the darkest horse we're sending to Cheltenham as he hasn't jumped a hurdle in public yet. He's in the Champion, Supreme and Neptune but won't run in the Champion and will go for a novice race. He'll be in both at the five-day stage before we decide where to go and he's unlikely to run beforehand. He was a very good horse on the Flat for Aidan O'Brien and finished third in an Irish St Leger. He was rated 111 on the level and if he can transfer that sort of form to hurdling he could be a very nice horse. He's schooled well at home, all he's done is improve. We've had him a long time, he's improving daily and his work this morning was probably the best he's ever done. We hope he's up to running at Cheltenham and off his Flat rating he deserves to take his chance. He's an out and out galloper who doesn't mind cut in the ground. The more you ask of him, the more he gives. He's done plenty of schooling and has been jumping quite flat and quick.
The Liquidator: He's out of Alikat who Dad used to train and finished second in Ireland before Roger Brookhouse bought him. He ran a cracking race at Cheltenham in November, finishing second in the listed bumper there. We decided then to go straight to the Festival for the Championship Bumper with one run in between and we found a nice easy race for him at Exeter the other day. He had little more than a racecourse gallop that day. He's not over big but has an ideal attitude for a race like this. He's not flashy, he's workmanlike and reminds me a lot of Liberman who dad won the race with. He'll handle the hustle and bustle and keep galloping up the hill.
Grands Crus: I don't know if he runs at Cheltenham where he's in the World Hurdle and the Ryanair. We're taking it day by day with him. He's on treatment for ulcers and while he cantered this morning, he's having an easy time. It's been a frustrating season for him. He disappointed in the Paddy Power after which we quarterised his palate after that and he ran cracking race in the King George. However he had a hard race there and perhaps the Argento came too quickly on the ground. Afterwards we found he was suffering from ulcers but our blood man felt he was just starting to come down with something. Perhaps it was a combination of all those things. All I can say is he's the same horse at home up the gallops. We're keeping him in the two races at Cheltenham and he'll have a racecourse gallop somewhere which will probably make the decision over him. Anything is possible at this stage. He's still got the engine and we'll get him back on track.
Gevrey Chambertin He's a full-brother to Grands Crus and has done nothing wrong this season being three from three. He's improving rapidly and is strengthening up. He's battled well in a couple of races and I was pleased he had an easier time at Wincanton last time where he won off 130 in what wasn't the greatest of races. He's up 15lb to 145 so will find life tougher but is obviously a very good and improving horse. He's in the two novices and in everything as far as the handicaps go. We'll go through everything closer to the time. I think he'll be better when he goes over three miles but whether we'll do that at the festival we'll see. 145 could still be a workable mark, he's a very good jumper and travels well and whatever race he goes in that will make life easier for him. He's a lot more straightforward than his brother and he's catching him up quickly.
Tanerko Emery: He's in the Supreme and Neptune and the handicaps as well. He's up to 141 now and probably ran his best race in defeat last time when third in the Welsh Champion Hurdle. I'd expect him to improve for that run but was put up six pounds for that so will need to. He was always a horse with a lot of ability but was very keen and we've got him more settled now. Like every horse he's been racing on very testing ground but Conor O'Farrell who rides him at home insists he'll be better on decent ground. He'll get into any one of the handicaps we want to and at this stage he's probably more likely to go down that route. He's a very good traveller and jumper and will have an each-way chance in whatever race he goes in.
Close House He won the Pertemps qualifier at Wincanton after which he went up to 143 and the plan has been to go for the Final since. He ran at Cheltenham last year where he finished fourth behind Simonsig and a lot of other good horses in the Neptune, running on strongly up the hill. He hasn't run over three miles yet but will love the trop and won't mind any ground. He's very talented and a little quirky and we've had to be very patient with him. That's now paying off and hopefully he'll run a big race at Cheltenham where he won't mind the hustle and bustle.
Buddy Bolero He won last time at Leicester in what wasn't the greatest of races but he's improved with each run. When he came back off his summer break he'd grown again and has some more filling out to do. He'll be stronger next season. He's always been a good jumper and appears to be an out and out galloper. The plan is to go for the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase. I don't know if he'll stay four miles but all he does is gallop and gallop and if he does get the trip he'd be one of our better chances of the week. Next season he'll hopefully end up in races like the Welsh National.
Dynaste He's still in the RSA and the Jewson. I'm down at an Exeter preview night on Thursday and his owner says he's coming down to find out what race he's running in! We'll stay in both and decide nearer the time possibly after the five-day stage. He's in good form and has done nothing wrong. He's stronger this year and put up a very good performance in the Feltham. He has a very similar profile to Grands Crus last year but is more straightforward than him.
Doctor Harper: He won nicely on his debut and is entered up later this week. If he wins, he could end up joining The Liquidator in the Bumper.
Junior: I think he'll go for the Pertemps. He's in decent form, stays well and has a lower mark over hurdles.
Consigliere: I think we'll give the Festival a miss with him this year. He's 12 and isn't getting any younger. We might look for a veterans' race.
His Excellency: He could run in the Arkle or the Grand Annual. He's had quite a busy season but he has already fully recouped his purchase price by picking up plenty of prize money. He is the sort of horse that you could maybe see being switched off out the back and coming through late on up the hill. What he appreciates is a fast pace and he should get that in either race, although obviously the Arkle might be a smaller field. We might just try some headgear on him.
Kazlian: He was very disappointing first time out and hasn't come down much in the weights. I don't think it was the heavy ground that beat him but something clearly wasn't right.
Swing Bowler: Ran a really big race in the Betfair Hurdle and she's in the reckoning for the County. She'll run there, or possibly in the mares' race.
Unique de Cotte: He was a bit disappointing last time and he's probably on a mark too low to get into the handicaps.
Dan Breen: He'll probably run in the County and give our conditional Francis Hayes another good spin - they get on well with each other. He wouldn't be the best handicapped but you never know.