Catching Pigeons column with all the Cheltenham Festival gossip

Last Updated March 14 2018, 18:01Racing

Our gossip column covers the last two days of the Cheltenham Festival and Might Bite is taken to land in the Timico Gold Cup.

Terrefort can kick the third day of the Festival off on the right note in the JLT Novices Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday.

Nicky Henderson has enjoyed big race success with many a French import, but confidence was not at a maximum when this five-year-old made his debut at Huntingdon in January.

His work had not been startling, but it was soon clear he saved his best performances for the racecourse.

Jumping like an old hand, he turned a novices handicap into a procession, and booked his ticket to Grade One company with it.

He duly won the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown on his only subsequent start last month, producing another solid show of jumping to beat Cyrname with a little in hand.

That rival has boosted the form with a win in a Grade Two at Kempton on his next outing, and Terrefort looks sure to progress further.

His sound technique over the fences will stand him in good stead, and the forecast overnight rain should also be appreciated.

Unowhatimeanharry has not performed to his best this season, but he has been pleasing Harry Fry at home and rates an each-way selection in the Grade One Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle.

This looks a very open renewal of this championship race, and his past performances suggest he should not be far away.

Although Barry Geraghty has deserted him for the slightly enigmatic but well fancied Yanworth, Noel Fehily knows him really well, and has already made his mark at the meeting.

Last Goodbye can beat mud loving Pougne Bobbi and make it two wins from three so far this season in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.

Elizabeth Doyle's seven-year-old has not been the easiest to train, but bounced back to form in a valuable handicap at Leopardstown when when fitted with blinkers on her latest start.

This race has long been on his target list, and with so few miles on the clock, coupled with the fact he is a fresh horse, he should be open to further improvement.

Dame De Compagnie, a stablemate of Terrefort, can gain compensation for an unlucky defeat at Ascot last month in the Trull House Stud Mares Novices Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson has his problems with daughter of Lucarno after her impressive win on her British debut at Uttoxeter, but she showed she was back to something like her best when beaten only a nose by Point Of Principle in a good class heat at Ascot last month.

Barry Geraghty was not over hard on her after her layoff, and she could be the each-way value in receipt of 5lb from market leaders Laurina and Maria's Benefit. She has continued to thrive since her Ascot exertions, and the ground will suit her well.

Apple's Shakira can see off the Alan King-trained Redicean and give Henderson a seventh success in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The daughter of Saddlemaker has unfinished family business to attend to after her celebrity full sister, Apple's Jade, was second in this race two years ago, and no one can argue that she will not know the contours of this course well enough.

She has won her three races since her arrival from France on this course, and without coming under serious threat.

Although connections are looking forward to running her on faster ground, she should handle the likely soft surface here better than Redicean, and that, coupled with her 5lb allowance, should prove decisive.

Her homework is never really impressive, but she is in good order and ready for what is sure to be the toughest race of her career so far.

The champion trainer will not be looking forward to the prospect of further rain for Might Bite, but he has handled soft ground before and he is hard to overlook in the Timico Gold Cup.

His preparation has gone without hitch, and he should be able to see off the formidable challenge of the ultra game Native River, who arrives here a much fresher horse than when third 12 months ago.

Owner Jared Sullivan has a bright chance of winning the three mile novice hurdle if Chef Des Obeaux can overcome classy stablemates Santini and Ok Corral, and he should also go close with Diese Des Bieffes in the ultra competitive Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle.

The season's star claimer James Bowen takes the mount on this relatively unexposed five-year-old, who has won two of his four starts this season, and produced an eye-catching effort to finish fifth in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on his latest attempt in January.

The form of that race looks very solid, and he should be able to step up on the performance on his return from a two month break.

Chesterfield should give us a good run at a decent price in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle.

A smart performer for John Ferguson before being sold to Seamus Mullins, he has come back well from injury and produced a game effort to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr just under a year ago.

Although he has not quite lived up to that form this season, he showed his current well being with a cosy win in a jumpers bumper at Kempton earlier this month, and the handicapper has dropped him to a winnable mark again.

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