13:30 Cheltenham Tue 13 March 2018
Third in the Champion Bumper here last season and made a promising start over hurdles with Newbury and Ascot wins before below par prep run at Musselburgh. Represents Seven Barrows and is the type to bounce back.
Runner-up in last season's Champion Bumper here, hasn't won in two starts over hurdles but far from disgraced behind Samcro at Leopardstown last month (2m, soft) in Grade 1. May improve again.
Progressing nicely over the winter and perfect three from three over hurdles without being asked any hard questions. Twice won on heavy already and a lively player if forecast rings true.
Represents trainer with terrific record in this contest and chosen by stable jockey. Very impressive last time at Punchestown when dispatching Mengli Khan by 9L to win Moscow Flyer. Goes in testing ground, though slight concern running left-handed.
Won a couple of minor events at Cartmel and Perth late last summer over 2m, should handle conditions but tailed off here over 2m5f in November when last spotted over timber in a handicap (rated 132). Has a lot to work on.
Progressing with each of his four runs, despite going down 4L to Summerville Boy in Tolworth at Sandown in January. Last month's victory in Newbury's competitive Betfair Hurdle most impressive and will have fast-tracked his education.
Maiden hurdle winner at Newbury in December over this trip on soft ground, no match for First Flow at Haydock in heavy-ground trial for this in January however and needs major improvement to land a blow.
Looked to be going places when winning 2m soft-ground Fairyhouse Grade 1 in December. Ran out at Leopardstown next time and well beaten by Getabird since. Tongue-tie called for representing last year's winning trainer/jockey combo.
Winner of a decent maiden on yielding ground over 2m at Leopardstown over Christmas, he wasn't disgraced when around 9L behind Samcro last time out in 2m Grade 1 on soft. Has enough about him to get involved.
Won a modest Newcastle novice event over 2m1f on good ground in September, disappointing in both hurdles runs since, including when tailed off at Kempton in November in Listed event. Seemingly here to take in the atmosphere.
Was travelling like the winner in Leopardstown Grade 1 over Christmas when coming down at the last, unsurprisingly failed to fire back there last month in race dominated by Ballymore-bound Samcro. Not disgraced and bounce-back more than possible.
Landed a maiden hurdle at Taunton in November over 2m3f but hasn't progressed in two runs and limitations seemingly exposed at Kempton in Grade 2 last month. Should handle cut in the ground.
Has run well without winning in three starts over timber, including narrow defeat in last month's Musselburgh trial for this contest (Claimantakinforgan third). Has improvement to find to be in the mix amongst this stellar field.
Promising start over hurdles included November success here (Summerville Boy behind) before going down to Claimantakinforgan in Ascot Grade 2. Perhaps found 2m4f beyond his liking here in January and could bounce back over reduced trip.
Closely matched with a few of these before career-best when running out 4L winner of the Tolworth at Sandown in January from Kalashnikov despite rider losing iron late on. Given how that rival performed next time out, merits serious consideration.
Beat Trainwreck at Punchestown in November before finishing fair second in four-runner Limerick Grade 3 (2m, heavy) at Christmas. Conditions in favour and proven in a big field, but plenty improvement needed on what he's achieved so far.
Promising early in the season but questions to answer now. No match for Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov at Sandown in January and runner-up in Listed 2m3½f Huntingdon contest en route here.
Talented mare on her day, as evidenced with 9L success in Listed Mares' contest at Newbury in December. No match for the boys over longer trip back there in Challow and beaten fair and square in Doncaster Grade 2 against her own sex since.
Well beaten all three starts over timber so far, latest in 2m heavy-ground Fairyhouse maiden in January having gone off favourite. No apparent reason for dramatic turnaround now.
Last Year's Winner
|T: G ElliottJ: J W Kennedy|
Getabird (7/4), Kalashnikov (5/1), Summerville Boy (9/1), First Flow (12/1), Mengli Khan (14/1), Paloma Blue (14/1), Claimantakinforgan (16/1), Western Ryder (20/1), Sharjah (20/1), Debuchet (20/1), Slate House (20/1), Us And Them (28/1), Lostintranslation (40/1), Simply The Betts (40/1), Dame Rose (40/1), Trainwreck (66/1), Shoal Bay (80/1), Golden Jeffrey (150/1), Khudha (200/1), Saxo Jack (200/1)
- Summerville Boy
Patrick Mullins - Getabird: "I think the rain is definitely in his favour as he handles the soft ground and he stays further than two miles. He has travelled over fine and has had a good preparation. Obviously he has got to improve from his current performances, but he is more than capable of doing it.
"It looks an open renewal but Kalashnikov sets a fair standard and Mengli Khan is a Grade One winner. He is a different type to a lot of our previous runners in the race."
Patrick Mullins - Sharjah: "I think he would prefer drier ground, and that would be the concern. It was just drier ground when he ran very well over Christmas."
Amy Murphy - Kalashnikov: "He was impressive at Newbury. Under 11st 5lb, as a novice, it was an extremely good performance. He was a big baby going into the race. He'd never seen anything like that before but we were delighted with him.
"He seems in great order at home. We'd rather it wasn't raining the way it is, but there's nothing we can do about that and at least with it being the first race we'll be running on fresh ground. We're excited to be there. For a yard the size of ours to have two horses with live chances going to Cheltenham is fantastic and we're very much looking forward to it."
Tom George - Summerville Boy: "His form is rock-solid. You can put a line through his first three runs as they all went at a canter and he needs to come off a strong gallop. The first time he got that was in the Tolworth, which he won fair and square. It didn't surprise me what happened. He needs settling in behind a good gallop and he will get that here. He coped with the ground well at Sandown, but I'm not saying he needs heavy ground as he will go on good ground as well."
Gordon Elliott - Mengli Khan: "I thought Getabird was very good in Punchestown, but I don't think Mengli Khan was himself. The third and fourth horses were too close to him and he looked a little bit light afterwards. I still think it's going to be hard to beat Getabird, but I think we'll have a different horse at Cheltenham, all being well."
Kim Bailey - First Flow: "He deserves to have a chance to go there and soft ground will certainly be a huge benefit for him. He's stepping up into a different league but he's done nothing wrong so far. I've always looked upon him as a horse that wants further. We started him off at two miles because he was always quite free at home."
Warren Greatrex - Western Ryder: "There is more rain coming ahead of Wednesday and I think it will be better running in the first race on the first day on the fresh ground. He is in seriously good form and he could be one of the forgotten horses in the race."
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