Cheltenham and Doncaster reviewed and a look at this week’s action
In his latest column, Ed Quigley aka “Longshot Ted” looks back on recent events, lets go and looks to the future
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Great test day
What a day full of fun and quality that was. The 9-race spectacle of Prestbury Park didn’t disappoint as we saw close finishes, class-leading performances and some big surprises. The story of the day was undoubtedly French attacker Gold Tweet, who turned heads as he landed the Cleeve hurdle in great style. Coached by Gabriel Leenders, the six-year-old traveled superbly and stayed strong up Cheltenham Hill for thrilling scenes among friends. The gelding born on 1.10. available for the Stayer Hurdle does not have an entry for the festival and so needs to be filled in – something Connections said they are very interested in. The scene with the lingering hurdle has been a mystery all season, and now this French beast has added another dimension to it. Paisley Park, who was looking for his fourth win of the race, finished a well-beaten third place and Connections seemed a little stunned by the 11-year-old’s performance. However, they have confirmed that the hero of the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle will be back in 6 weeks for another crack at the race.
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Publisher Du Gite caused major shock when he landed the rearranged Clarence House Chase, giving jockey Niall Houlihan his first Note 1 in the saddle just as the pair was gaining the upper hand Edwardstonewith energuma disappointing third place. This really put the cat amongst the horse pigeons as far as the Champion Chase is concerned. Edwardstone ran a smash in the defeat, although he looked like he might canter away Editeur Du Gite up the run, only to be overtaken in the final yards. Energumens didn’t jump with his usual dexterity and a mess at the last fence meant the game was over. All in all the Champion Chase looks exciting and after what looked like a two horse race a week ago it has been blown wide open.
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Back on the whip won the cross country and gave local trainer Martin Keighley another win at the meet. Delta Work, the defending champions of the Cheltenham Festival, ran a great race under his enormous weight load and will be bagging all the beating off-level weights in just over 6 weeks. stage star was the highlight of Paul Nicholls’ Treble and will now most likely go to the Turners’ Chase for which he’s a 16/1 poke, and rock my way gave coach Syd Hosie a memorable Grade 2 win. comfort zone booked his ticket to the Triumph hurdle with an overwhelming success screenwriter, where Joseph O’Brien’s representative showed real courage and stamina to defeat Milton Harris’ runner. It underpinned the claims of the Triumph hurdle favorite Lossiemouthwho sawed off comfortably comfort zone at the Fairyhouse in December.
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However, the undeniably good and poignant story of the afternoon was the return of form coached by Lucinda Russell Ahoy senor who landed the Cotswold Chase. Russell, whose father passed away later in the week, saw their stable star take a huge step forward after being beaten hard in King George. Assistant trainer Peter Scudamore suggested that they would be avoiding Kempton for the foreseeable future and that the horse had improved in terms of fitness and was enjoying the return to a more cantering track. He can be assisted at 14/1 to land the big one and Connections will be confident the horse who finished second at last year’s festival will put on a brave show.
As always, there were plenty of informative cues to watch at Cheltenham on Saturday, as well as some performances that left everyone perplexed. May I show more on the track for the Harry Fry team to be called the cliche ‘looker’ but completed a perfect preparation for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle. All the way up the hill he stayed good and necked the line and I think with hindsight I think Connections will be pretty happy with the result as he doesn’t get hit by the accessor to go outside his mark raise the rating band for the race and it prepared him very well for a tilt at the festival finals. Lorcan Murtagh was on board to reconnect with the 7-year-old, who had some outstanding rookie hurdles last season – chasing home Constitution Hill, Jonbon and Three Stripe Life. The step up in the journey will suit him in March and while there is an outside chance he could go to the Coral Cup, the conditionals race looks right for him and at 16/1 he looks like an important one player from my point of view.
This weekend is all cheering for the Dublin Racing Festival
Next weekend is a dazzling meeting; two days in Leopardstown that will really separate the wheat from the chaff. Of course, in some hoaxes, it’s billed as “Willie Mullins benefit reunion” and the like Simple Vegas, Chap’s gallop, Am grateful and Lossiemouth It could easily be an intriguingly good weekend for the Closutton handler based on the run. The race I’m really looking forward to is Sunday afternoon at 3:10pm and that’s the Irish Champion Hurdle. This has all the ingredients to be an absolute classic; with mighty mare honeysuckle in search of the winning thread, statesman Looking for its sequel, Triumph Hurdle sensational Vauban He wants to build on his seasonal return and is a multiple Grade One winner Sharjah trying to rekindle the old fires. It’s a box-office hit – don’t miss it!
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Don’t forget that Ed will be back on Saturday morning to preview the Dublin Racing Festival and place his best bets on one of the flagship events on the Jump Racing calendar.
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