Ben Pauling guides us through his Cheltenham Festival chances including A Hare Breath and exciting novice hurdler Gowiththeflow.
Gowiththeflow - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, Neptune Novices' Hurdle
He worked this morning and we were absolutely delighted with him. He looked very good and I’m happy where he is. I believe he’s really just coming to himself at the moment I’d be more inclined to look towards the Albert Bartlett but if it did come up really soft then we’ll look at the Ballymore still.
Going back to the start of the season, he just got touched off at Chepstow and then the race at Newbury (second to Mr Whipped) didn’t really work out in his favour. We had a bit of trouble in running and he jumped poorly but they pulled well clear of a decent yardstick in Melrose Boy and the form he showed at Doncaster last time when beating Paisley Park was more like it.
He's on an upward curve and he’s a horse we’re genuinely looking forward to seeing how he goes.
I don’t have any fears over the track at Cheltenham, he’s very straightforward and a real professional.
A Hare Breath - Randox Health County Hurdle
He’s not running until the Friday and hopefully the weather might get a little bit better as the week goes on.
He has been very much laid out for the race, he seems in good order and he’s working vey well, as he always does to be fair.
Although I do think a bit of spring ground would suit him, he has won on soft before and I don’t think it would be a massive inconvenience. We’ll see what the weather brings but as long as it’s not too bad he’ll be okay.
He takes a lot of work, he’s a pretty heavy horse and we have to do plenty with him. I think he’ll put up a decent performance in the County Hurdle.
Delire D'Estruval - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, Randox Health County Hurdle
I would imagine if he goes to Cheltenham he would go for the Martin Pipe. He’s had a very good season so far and he’s a very tough little horse. He jumps well and I think in a quite aggressive race like that I’d like to think he could hold his position well and run a decent race.
He has experience from France and he’s another thorough professional. His best form so far is over two miles but I think two and a half will be the right trip for him in time.
Le Breuil – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, Pertemps Final
I’m leaning towards running him in the Coral Cup. He’s a horse I’ve always thought a lot of and he’s had troubles with his feet this season so hasn’t really had a clear run at the game.
I was disappointed when he got beat at Aintree but he was beaten by a decent, well-handicapped horse and in hindsight it wasn’t a bad run.
His jumping is very, very good, he’s slick and accurate and he won’t be bothered by the hurly burly of a big Cheltenham handicap.
He does like a bit of cut but I wouldn’t want it bottomless. He does handle various conditions.
Red Indian – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
Red Indian is very hard, naturally, he’s extremely robust. He was very good in the Lanzarote when my horses weren’t in top form at all and unfortunately things didn’t quite work out for him at Towcester.
I don’t think that was necessarily through fault of his own and he goes to Cheltenham as a bit of a dark horse. He’s an improver and he ran well at Cheltenham earlier in the season.
He also handles pretty much any ground. Hopefully he’s one that could be capable of springing a surprise and get in the mix.
Kildisart - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
I don’t think he will get in and if he didn’t we’d probably look towards one of the races at Kempton on the Saturday after the Festival.
These races are a good idea and I’d like to think there’s a bit of room for manoeuvre from his current mark of 135. He ran well at Ascot last time when he made a bad mistake two out and he’s better than that.
Markov - Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
He's another one who I don’t think will get into his intended target, which is a real shame.
The Ultima is an option over three miles on day one if he didn’t get in the Close Brothers but I’ll have to speak to the owners.
If it had been genuine good to soft ground then I would probably have chanced three miles but thinking ahead I’m not sure he wants three miles on very soft ground at the moment.
There’s also Kempton on the Saturday for him as an option. It’s not Cheltenham but it’s a good back up.
Oistrakh Le Noir - Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
He's a nice horse and I’m really hoping he makes the cut for the Fred Winter.
That’s maybe looking quite doubtful so we’ve entered him at Sandown this weekend and we’ll take a look at that as an option.
That wasn’t plan A, but the handicapper dropped him 4lb for standing in his box and if he wins on Saturday then he’d get a 5lb penalty so it’s something we’ve got to consider.
Nestor Park – Weatherbys Champion Bumper
He's working well and if it's genuinely soft ground he'll run in the Champion Bumper as I don't see where else to go with him really.
He's not the quickest horse but he's lovely and if the weather came as predicted then he'll be there.
I don't go there expecting to beat Acey Milan after finishing fifth to him at Newbury but I do think he's improved a bit since then.
He's a smashing horse for novice hurdles next season and I see him as a classy type over obstacles.
Click on the image below to back Nestor Park at 33/1 for the Champion Bumper...
Missing the Festival
It was a really nasty infection Willoughby Court had and it’s actually taken a while for him to come back to himself but hopefully he’ll be ridden again later this week.
There are options at Aintree but we’ll just have to get him back on the road again in the next week or so and if all goes well then we’ll look towards that and if not maybe something else later in the season. It all depends how he comes along but it’s good to know he’ll be fine in the near future.
High Bridge will go straight to Aintree and that has always been the plan with him. It’s the same for Global Citizen, he’ll go to Aintree.
He’s a very exciting horse but we were never going to supplement him for one of the Grade One novices at Cheltenham and with his new mark (149) there didn’t seem much point in aiming him towards the County Hurdle.
Barters Hill is really well. I didn’t think it was fair for him to go to war at the Festival after having a tough enough race at Newbury on his comeback and we’ll look towards a couple of handicap hurdles there over two and a half to three miles.
He worked this morning and he did so really nicely so he’s certainly none the worse for his run at Newbury.