Cheltenham test to suit Astre

  • By: Wayne Hutchinson
  • Last Updated: March 11 2014, 20:46 GMT

Wayne Hutchinson reflects on Grumeti's run in the Champion Hurdle and looks ahead to two rides at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

Astre De La Cour: Should be suited by the Fred Winter
Astre De La Cour: Should be suited by the Fred Winter

It was a tough ask for Grumeti in the Champion Hurdle and it has ridden like a very good race indeed.

He travelled up the straight to start with okay but was flat out going down the back and I tried to nurse home for some prize money but it was not meant to be.

He got a couple of bumps early on but it is a championship race and you ride tight at the Cheltenham Festival. That is the nature of the race and My Tent Or Yours was travelling more strongly early on and was able to make the position his own.

But Grumeti has run as well as could be expected and the plan now is to get him schooled up over fences and go chasing if the ground is suitable in May.

He is a strapping horse and has enough scope, so switching to the bigger obstacles should not be a problem for him.

It is on to Wednesday then and I am on board Yesyoucan for Brian Ellison in the Coral Cup.

I think that he is interesting. I won a novice chase on him in January at Wetherby over two and a half miles and he coped that day well with the soft conditions.

It is a bit of a unknown how he will handle the better ground and he did not jump very last time at Huntingdon behind Loose Chips over three miles.

I don't know why that is the reason he has gone back to hurdles but he was an improver and now runs off a mark of 139. When I rode him at Wetherby, he travelled well and I also remember watching him over fences at Newcastle earlier in the season on good ground and he was a strong traveller that day.

I don't think the ground should pose a problem then and he should have enough gears in what is likely be a strongly-run race if Tuesday is anything to go by.

I won this race 12 months ago on Medinas and it is a hard place to get a victory so I would be delighted if I we can finish in the first four.

I also ride Astre De La Cour in the Fred Winter as well on Wednesday - I went to Rob Walford's to sit on him last Friday and he is quite tall for a juvenile hurdler.

He has a future ahead of him for sure as he won a bumper in France and beat a horse called Azza, who has since done quite well since joining David Pipe.

He was then a faller on his first start over hurdles in France when he looked like the winner and Rob said he then disappointed on his first for start him at Kempton Park.

They went there very confident he would win but finished sixth and did not know what to make of him on his next run - but he was a different horse at Ascot and won well.

I really liked him when I schooled him so he could be of interest as he should be able to travel off a stronger gallop and see out the trip really well - the nature of the race should play to his strengths.

I spoke to Leighton (Aspell) a couple of days ago about him and the trip down to sit on the horse has also obviously helped me to get to know him better.

Finally, I think that Sire De Grugy has been a little unfairly treated ahead of the Queen Mother Champion Chase as he has done very little wrong this season.

I was especially impressed with him last time at Ascot and he won a Tingle Creek as well but there has been that question mark over whether he handles Cheltenham.

Good horses can run anywhere though and I think that he is a worthy favourite and the one to beat.

A few more horses are taking their chances this year with no Sprinter Sacre, so that has opened the race up and you can't discount Sizing Europe either.

I know he is 12 now but I think he will love the ground and he could just could be the forgotten horse going into the race.


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