13:30 Cheltenham Fri 16 March 2018
Won on the Flat over 1m4f (good) in France last summer prior to joining this trainer, for whom he has run very well on both starts in Grade 2/Grade 1 company, the latter on soft. Open to improvement and looks likely to be a contender.
Shaped well early in the season with wins at Stratford and Chepstow on good ground, but firmly put in his place by Apple's Shakira here in November (soft). Better effort at Huntingdon last time but needs improvement here in first-time tongue-tie.
Comes here seeking a hat-trick after winning his first two for this top trainer, an easy success in a Leopardstown maiden hurdle and then a 1¼L defeat of Farclas back there in a Grade 1 last time. Should be more to come and he looks a major player.
Progressive performer who has done everything asked of him in running up a hat-trick at Kempton, including an impressive Grade 2 success last time. Acts on soft, though jumping was better on good last time. Looks a leading British hope.
Acts well on testing ground, as he showed when posting an easy and visually impressive 10L win in a Gowran Park maiden hurdle last month on his hurdling debut. Looked to be scope for more and he is entitled to plenty of respect.
Won a 1m4½f maiden in France (v.soft) in April and was runner-up on hurdles debut over there. Won in spite of his jumping on debut for this stable at Naas in January, looking like there was more to come and he could produce significant improvement.
Has won two from three over hurdles, impressing at both Fontwell and to a greater extent Sandown (good to soft) in December. Was a 1½L runner-up to We Have A Dream in Chepstow Grade 1 and effort on AW last time was over too short. Not ruled out.
Unbeaten in four starts over hurdles and favourite for this race for some time. Lots to like about how she dismissed two Grade 2 fields by 17L/8L at this venue. Appears to have all boxes ticked for trainer who has won three of the last 10 renewals.
Went close on both starts in France before a jaw-dropping effort to win by 58L at Fairyhouse (2m, heavy) on debut for this yard. Has had plenty of time to come on for that and interesting for top connections.
Last Year's Winner
|Defi Du Seuil||4||11-0||5/2|
|T: P J HobbsJ: R Johnson|
Apple's Shakira (6/5), Stormy Ireland (9/2), Redicean (7/1), Mr Adjudicator (8/1), Farclas (9/1), Saldier (14/1), Sussex Ranger (28/1), Sayo (33/1), Gumball (40/1)
- Apple's Shakira
- Stormy Ireland
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Nicky Henderson - Apple's Shakira: "She is great and she has been a lovely filly. She doesn't know there is another racecourse apart from Cheltenham. She won one race in France, which was hardly a Triumph Hurdle trial or anything, and she is very lazy at home. I did, however, enquire into Apple's Jade and what she was like, and they told me that she doesn't do a tap at home so that was all I wanted to hear.
"She has learnt to race and Barry (Geraghty) has been at pains to ensure that she has learned how to race. He has held her up in behind horses and last time, he jumped the second-last and didn't necessarily take a pull, but left her with some work to do. She came right away up the hill - the further she went, the better she was. She gets the allowance, she comes here unbeaten and I couldn't be happier with her."
Alan King - Redicean: "He has shown plenty of gears at home and on the track, so in that respect he reminds me a little bit of Penzance. I've not deliberately gone to Kempton every time, it was just how things panned out. He got a mile and six (furlongs) on the Flat at Redcar so I don't think stamina is an issue. I'd love to have seen better ground as I do think he is better on that. I think the more testing it is, the more it will favour Apple's Shakira. We are happy and I've no issue with the fact he has not been round the course."
Patrick Mullins - Mr Adjudicator, Stormy Ireland, Saldier and Sayo: "Stormy Ireland produced a huge performance in Fairyhouse and although that's her only run for us, she has plenty of experience from running in France. She's in good form and we're very happy with her. Mr Adjudicator has the best form and has travelled over well. He is an ex-Flat horse, though, so you would just wonder about how he'll handle the ground. Saldier won very well in Gowran. He obviously doesn't have much experience, but I just wonder whether the ground will help the less experienced horses like him. Sayo won in Naas despite not getting a clear run and we hope he can run well, too."
Gordon Elliott - Farclas: "I think he'll improve an awful lot from Leopardstown and I'm looking forward to running him."
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