14:10 Cheltenham Wed 14 March 2018
Useful hurdler who has yet to be tested over this 3m trip over fences but is expected to improve for it. Won on his chasing debut and ran a fine race in the Grade 1 Flogas Chase recently (2nd to Monalee) despite not jumping fluently; progress likely.
Returned from a long absence to make a winning debut over fences (wore first-time tongue-tie) matching anything he did over hurdles. Jumped and travelled well but now faces a much stiffer task over a new trip; needs to improve and lacks experience.
Has on occasions come close to matching his smart hurdles form over fences (won 2/4). Testing ground and a galloping track are always likely to suit him best and despite some jumping errors in the past will be suited by conditions here.
Has gone from strength-to-strength all season winning eight chases from last summer in his usual straightforward style. His attitude and jumping ability will stand him in good stead here although there may be one or two with a class edge.
Lightly-raced over fences he improved on his debut over fences when taking a 2m4f novice last time appreciating the testing conditions. Despite the promise shown there this will be far more of a test and he can only be given an outside chance.
Despite losing his unbeaten record over fences last time he still took a forward step in terms of his form. Now has to reverse form with two of his conquerors from Leopardstown stepping back up in trip but hard to rule out this improving type.
Handed Black Corton one of his few defeats this season taking a significant step forward on his previous chasing form. Scored easily over this trip last time (odds-on favourite) without totally convincing, and may be better over further.
His initial chasing win came when he was well ahead of his mark in handicaps although the assessor has seemingly caught up with him. Well beaten here last time (found little for pressure) and faces a stiff task here. Wears first-time cheekpieces.
Not far off the best of the staying novices over hurdles and continued that upward trajectory over fences winning two of his three starts (fell in the other). Showed a superb attitude and jumping technique to win the Grade 1 Flogas Chase last time.
A Festival winner already (Pertemps Final), he's bettered that form over fences already proving that he's a high achiever in this sphere. A winner of three chases, he returned a career best last time despite being beaten by Our Duke; leading player.
Last Year's Winner
|T: N J HendersonJ: Nico de Boinville|
Presenting Percy (5/2), Monalee (10/3), Black Corton (5/1), Al Boum Photo (8/1), Elegant Escape (9/1), Ballyoptic (9/1), Dounikos (12/1), Bonbon Au Miel (33/1), Allysson Monterg (50/1), Full Irish (100/1)
- Presenting Percy
- Al Boum Photo
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Henry de Bromhead - Monalee: "He is in good form and he seems well. It was a great run at Leopardstown and I'm happy. I think he is a three-mile horse. I know a lot of people think he should be going for the JLT. It was two-mile-five last time and he needed that last furlong. If I blocked everyone else apart from the trainer, jockey and owner, there would hardly be a discussion.
"For me he is a three-mile horse. If it was two-five maybe you would start considering it, but it is 20 yards short of two miles and four furlongs. Death Duty beat him out of sight over two and a half over hurdles. It was two-five at Leopardstown on soft ground and he needed every inch of it, I thought.
"I don't think there is any penalty kick and there are some very good horses in it, like Invitation Only and Terrefort. We are happy and we think he is a three-mile horse. We hope we have made the right decision, but all will be revealed. He has won over three miles on bottomless ground at Clonmel and he loved it. I always thought he was more dependent on soft ground than good ground, but he seems to handle anything."
Owner Philip Reynolds - Presenting Percy: "He gave us a super day last year. It was following on from Mall Dini the year before and I never thought lightning would strike twice, but it was fantastic. He's a wonderful horse and he's been a great servant. He's run 15 times for us, winning eight and being placed three or four times. It's very hard to get a horse as special as that. We're very lucky to have him.
"I think opinion is probably split on whether his last run was a good run or a bad run, given we were getting weight from Our Duke, but I think people forget Our Duke won an Irish National by 14 lengths. To me it was a good run - I think he ran to his mark. I would have preferred it if he'd won on the day, but I think it was a fantastic performance, particularly for a novice.
"I don't think it was an overly hard race and he's absolutely flying since. He's in great, great form. I think Monalee is a huge danger to us. Outside that, I'd pick Elegant Escape as our main danger."
Joe Tizzard - Elegant Escape: "I love the way the ground is looking - he's an out-and-out galloper. His Newbury form with Black Corton is as good as there is in this country and there is not masses between the Irish horses. He's a horse that's progressing all the time and he had a lovely confidence-booster at Exeter last time."
Paul Nicholls - Black Corton: "What I like about him is that as you saw at Ascot, he jumped the last and was then gone - he took a bit of pulling up. He is really strong at the back-end of his races and that hill will suit him."
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