16:50 Cheltenham Fri 15 March 2019
- Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1)
- 2m 62y, Good to Soft
- 19 Runners
- Surface: Turf
Looks as though he'll find this a lot tougher than the company he's been keeping in the North; season has been a frustrating one so far. Travelled strongly last time but was outbattled in the closing stages; faces a similar scenario here.
Fine front-runner who is a C&D winner; finished second in this last year to Le Prezien (weights virtually the same). Not getting any younger but has twice run well this year (yard coming back to form); faces the progressive Magic Saint again.
Winner last year off a 1lb lower mark he's been poor for the most part this season; produced an error-strewn effort last time. Will take some training performance to coax him back to last year's form; owner and trainer both have a good race record.
Progressive individual who scored in convincing fashion (from Gino Trail last time) when dropped back to 2m for his third GB start. Only a five-year-old but jumped with great enthusiasm and style last time; hard to rule out further improvement.
Turned in a career-best performance on his return when winning by 8L here (Old Course) in November; stable in cracking form at the time. Only seen once since off a 10lb higher mark when second over C&D; may find this too competitive off 148.
One of three runners in this for the yard (other two ran in this last year); made a well-treated rival work hard on reappearance but went backwards last time. Ground/yard form may have been valid reasons for that; not written off on softer ground.
Trainer closely associated with this race; this will be just his fourth chase start though (could lack experience). Won two small-field novice chases the last twice, will find this a very different proposition, jumping could do with tidying up.
One of two runners in the race for the trainer he had a rather chequered start to his chasing career before everything clicked in spectacular fashion at Ascot in November. Jumped and travelled well in a high-intensity race; up 5lb, interesting.
Admirable sort who keeps defying the handicapper turning in a career-best when last seen to win by 14L. Given a 9lb rise for that Wetherby romp he'll need to improve again (back from a break); hard to dominate a field this big though.
Not been seen at his best since his third in this last year (yard have been out of form); fallen on his last two starts. Headgear combination that he wore last year returns (left off last time); 6lb lower than last year, generally runs well here.
Quirky sort who often travels well but finds little; found this trip a bit more to his liking in two summer events (last win off 135); 8lb higher now though. Last two efforts have been tame; doesn't look up to this kind of test.
The sole Irish challenger (unusually) who has been highly-tried on a couple of his chasing starts and found handicaps much more to his liking last time (2m1f). Did his best work late on, rather caught out when tempo lifted, finished well; shortlist.
Usually saves his best for Ascot (last two wins have come there over longer trips than he faces today). Not in the same sort of form since, once over a longer trip on this course (bad mistake four out); likely to find things happening too quickly.
Has done well over fences for this yard coping well with gradually more difficult tasks although his jumping has been rather hit-and-miss. Looked as though he needed the run last time (possibly given too much to do); track/ground may find him out.
First run back from a wind op and before that was starting to look as though he may be starting to fire for this yard. Looks on a good mark (based on his old form) and has won here (Old Course); back from a break but likely to be tuned up for this.
Twice run well in this without winning (finished third and fifth) but has only been seen once since that 2017 fifth place off a 2lb higher mark. Shaped well enough when last seen but returns from another long break that makes life tough here.
Three wins from four runs now over fences (clearly progressive) but does have to prove himself in this grade. Form of his last Sandown win has been franked and a mark of 138 gives him some handicapping scope; can't be left out of the equation.
Both his novice chase wins have come at this trip (didn't stay over 2m4f); looks to be favoured by a speed test, clearly has his quirks too. This will be much tougher than his two wins (does look nicely handicapped), his course form is poor though.
Won his first two novice starts over fences before getting rather found by the course (Old) here in November , the task proving too stiff for him. Shown the ability to win off this mark over hurdles; question marks remain at this level over fences.
Last Year's Winner
|T: P F NichollsJ: B J Geraghty|
Magic Saint (9/2), Not Another Muddle (6/1), Mind's Eye (7/1), Brelan D'As (8/1), Whatswrongwithyou (8/1), Le Prezien (8/1), Bun Doran (11/1), Marracudja (11/1), Gino Trail (14/1), Top Gamble (18/1), Caid Du Lin (25/1), Diakali (25/1), Forest Bihan (33/1), Theo (33/1), Champagne At Tara (33/1), Tree Of Liberty (33/1), Mr Medic (33/1), Theflyingportrait (50/1), All Set To Go (50/1), Croco Bay (66/1)
- Magic Saint
- Not Another Muddle
- Mind's Eye
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