Gary McKenzie’s early thoughts on the Festival’s novice races
Gary McKenzie’s early thoughts on the Cheltenham Festival’s novice races
Less than a month to go and it’s time for an early look at the novice races.
It all starts with the ROAR! The first race of the meeting is the Supreme Novices Hurdle. And, as ever, the potential of these young horses is so exciting.
Shishkin is the current favourite following his two wins, both by 11 lengths. His latest win was over further, so the “hill” shouldn’t present a problem.
His trainer, Nicky Henderson, doesn’t have a great record in this but his last winner was some horse by the name of Altior.
Abacadabras is a Grade 1 winner and his only defeat this term was behind Ballymore favourite Envoi Allen.
One I do like is Fiddlerontheroof. He won the Tolworth at Sandown by six lengths and he could have a bit more to give. He may not want the ground to be to fast, but good to soft should be ok.
He should be staying on as he probably gets further.
Envoi Allen is very short for the Ballymore and, as he is unbeaten in all of his starts, that makes a lot of sense. He won last season’s bumper and that looked a hot renewal.
He looks as much of a banker as Samcro, his trainer’s winner two years ago. I do like Harry Senior and Thyme Hill but I think they may run in the Albert Bartlett.
That is also shaping up into a race to watch with the likes of Monkfish and Latest Exhibition also near the top of the market.
I think Thyme Hill is the best British novice seen this season so assuming he ducks a clash with Envoi Allen then he is on my shortlist for the so called “potato race”.
Triumph Hurdle favourite Goshen has won all three of his hurdle races by an aggregate of 68 lengths. On his last run he was hampered by losing both of his front shoes but was still eleven lengths too good at the line.
Allmankind also had shoe trouble when winning at Cheltenham two runs back. He had opened his hurdling account when winning by a ridiculous 37 lengths on debut.
But his last run, a nine-length victory over Cerberus in a Chepstow Grade 1, looks good. I like him a lot although he is a front runner and that could make him vulnerable to a fast finisher.
The Arkle is the first chase of the week and Notebook is definitely a player. He is four from four over fences and his Racing Post Novices Chase sets the standard.
Itchy Feet needs to be considered at a price following his Scilly Isles win. His trainer is Olly Murphy who also has Brewinupastorm entered here.
He hasn’t been seen since November but his trainer is confident enough to send him to the Arkle fresh. But he has won three times after a break. I am keen on him.
The RSA is always one of my favourite races. Last year’s renewal produced a great finish. Faugheen would be a very popular winner (he’s also in the Marsh Chase) but at this stage I am with Allaho, assuming he goes for the RSA and not the Marsh.
He has won both chases and will be even better over this three-mile trip I feel.
The Marsh Chase has Itchy Feet, Allaho, and Faugheen as the market leaders. I just think Easy Game is a bit overpriced at the moment.
He was beaten by Faugheen last time but he has a better than each way chance. One concern. His only trip to Cheltenham resulted in a big defeat last year.
I am sure I will change my mind before March. Things change and some horses’ targets will be changed. But I don’t think I have any donkeys on my shortlist.
I am getting very excited
Good Luck All
More for Cheltenham
Key runners in the Festival championship races http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3vE
Key runners in the Grade 1 novice races http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3vh
Key runners in the Festival handicpas http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3vs
Festival jockey stats http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3uo
Gary McKenzie’s early look: novice races http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3r1
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