Cheltenham Festival 2014: The Last Instalment

The Last Instalment in the Cheltenham Festival 2014 story is yet to come with the final day and the running of the Gold Cup

Ever since the stories broke surrounding the Fenton yard connections and punters have been uncertain whether or not the impressive Hennessy Gold Cup winner Last Instalment will take up his place in the Gold Cup field. The world of the turf stands ready for the decision of his owner and trainer, and what may come from it. The Last Instalment is yet to come of this story.

If the Fenton horse lines up he stands an excellent chance of being in the frame. Bobs Worth the current champion is a worthy favourite and will be at the top of punters lists alongside the King George victor Silviniaco Conti. The improving Triolo D’Alene has to be respected after his Hennessy win at Newbury and The Giant Bolster is certain to perform well.

Briar Hill in the Albert Bartlett is the strongest Irish fancy of the meeting but he will have to bring down the colours of Kings Palace (who comes from the in-form Pipe yard). Not to be overlooked in the race is the unbeaten hurdler Captain Cutter for Nicky Henderson.

The Fox Hunters has had a long list of favourites in the ante post market that haven’t made it to the race. With the likes of Beshabar, Salsify and Mossey Joe absent expect Alan Hill’s Harbour Court to lift the prize with Made In Time as the danger.

John Ferguson heads to the Triumph with a strong team, both Broughton and Rutherglen are highly regarded and should beat the favourite Calipto for the out of form Nicholls’ yard. However, Guitar Pete sets the standard in the contest and may Triumph.

Handicap plotters will see their plans come off or falter in the County Hurdle, Martin Pipe and Grand Annual. The whispers are that the County will go to Ireland with Minella Foru, the Martin Pipe to Pond House with Vieux Lion Rouge and the final race  of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 the Grand Annual to the Meade horse Ned Buntline.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Harbour Court (Fox Hunters 4.00)

The confidence surrounding this hunter chaser is palpable.  Harbour Court has two wins under rules and a recent point-to-point victory as preparation. He should have no problem with the field and the support he has received must be respected.

Crockford’s Whisper – Vieux Lion Rouge e/w (Martin Pipe 4.40)

The Pond House team have been in brilliant form this week and would love to add this prize to their haul. The impressive Vieux Lion Rouge has a strong whisper surrounding him and looks to be the quality act in this field. His only career defeat so far was in last year’s Champion Bumper; expect a bold show.

Crockford’s Cheltenham Festival 2014 Gold Cup day Gambles:

Triumph (1.30) – Rutherglen e/w and Guitar Pete e/w

County Hurdle (2.05) – Minella Foru e/w, Cheltenian e/w and Cash and Go e/w

Albert Bartlett (2.40) – Captain Cutter e/w

Gold Cup (3.20) – Last Instalment e/w

Fox Hunters (4.00) – Harbour Court and Made In Time e/w

Martin Pipe (4.40) –  Vieux Lion Rouge e/w  and Une Artiste e/w

Grand Annual (5.15) – Ned Buntline e/w and French Opera e/w

 

(Featured Photograph – Cheltenham Festival 2014 by Stuart Rice)

 

Cheltenham Festival 2014: Buck’s & Reputations On The Line

Both money and reputations will be on the line at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 when Big Buck’s and Annie Power clash in the World Hurdle

The much awaited and anticipated clash between Champion Big Bucks and the young pretender Annie Power is almost upon us. The mare Annie Power comes to the race unbeaten, but never having been truly tested. Big Buck’s beaten for the first time in years when third on his return in the Cleeve Hurdle will have to be at his best to retain his crown.

Markets have placed the mare as favourite and appear to somewhat overlook Big Buck’s record. Nicholls believes and hopes that Big Bucks is his strongest chance of the meeting and sentiments of many hope so too.

Alongside the two favourites, a rejuvenated At Fishers Cross and talented Celestial Halo make up what is a good field. With Curtis’s win yesterday in the RSA fresh in the mind it would be folly to discount the chances of At Fishers Cross. Celestial Halo ran well in the last renewal and has conditions in his favour.

In the Ryanair, Festival winners Al Ferof and Benefficient will fight out the finish, with Alan King’s Medermit having strong place claims.

Two highly regarded talking horses of the meeting Fingal Bay (Pertemps) and Cause Of Causes (Kim Muir) will look to deliver on the whispers surrounding them this afternoon.

Oscar Whisky will finally get the trip that he wants at a Festival when he runs in the JLT Novices, but he will have to fend off his old rival the much touted Taquin De Seuill.

The Byrne Group Plate looks an ultra tough handicap for punters with the mercurial Ballynagour in with chances alongside JP McManus’ Colour Squadron.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Al Ferof (Ryanair 2.40)

With three wins at the course including one at the Festival in 2011 expect this classy grey to put in another bold show today. His victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last season puts him right in the mix alongside his third in the King George. At odds of 9/2 the outstanding form seems to have been overlooked by punters. Al Ferof can be forgiven his last run.

Crockford’s Whipser – Cause Of Causes e/w (Kim Muir 4.40)

There have been strong whispers surrounding this Irish raider, with many saying that he will win whichever handicap he is entered. The masterful Gordon Elliott has teamed up with the talented Nina Carberry to guide this fancy home. Expect a bold show.

Crockford’s World Hurdle Day – Cheltenham Festival 2014 Gambles:

JLT (1.30) – Oscar Whisky e/w and Taquin De Seuill e/w

Pertemps (2.05) – Fingal Bay e/w and Utopie Des Bordes e/w

Ryanair (2.40) –  Al Ferof and Medermit e/w

World Hurdle (3.20) – Big Buck’s, At Fishers Cross e/w and Celestial Halo e/w

Byrne Group Plate (4.00) – Ballynagour e/w and Colour Squadron e/w

Kim Muir (4.40) – Cause Of Causes e/w,  Hunting Party e/w and Saint Are e/w

 

Cheltenham Festival: New Champion To Be Crowned

A new Champion to be crowned in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the second day of Cheltenham Festival 2014

With Sprinter Sacre sidelined for the season, the Queen Mother Champion Chase looks open to a new Champion to be crowned. Gary Moore’s Sire De Grugy has progressed in an impressive manner and looks set to step up to Champion status. His detractors point to his defeat by Kid Cassidy at the course before Christmas as their evidence, but there is no doubt the chaser has improved since that race. It is worth remembering that when the mighty Sprinter Sacre was still in the frame and quoted at odds on prices, Sire De Grugy was as short as 9/4.

Today he has drifted to around 3/1 without Sprinter Sacre, which represents massive value. The danger to his coronation is likely to be the former Champion Sizing Europe if he is back to form.

David Pipe yesterday had a surprise winner of the Arkle and is certain to do well with his more fancied runners – Red Sherlock (Neptune) and Dell’Arca (Coral Cup).

With Rebecca Curtis’s yard back in form don’t be surprised if the highly regarded O’Faolain’s Boy runs better than his price would suggest. Fourth last year in the Albert Bartlett he has the class and ability to be a real contender in the RSA.

Trainer Tony Martin is a master planner and stands an excellent chance of taking the Champion Bumper with Golantilla. Connections seem happy with his last run and expect a bold show.

The Irish are also counting on Big Shu to win another Cross Country, where Diamond Harry and Hey Big Spender could be his main threats.

Nicky Henderson gave Dawalan as his bet of the meeting a few weeks ago. With such an endorsement he cannot be overlooked in the Fred Winter.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Sire De Grugy (Queen Mother Champion Chase 3.20)

Improving throughout this season and brilliant when at his best last time out at Ascot beating the useful Hidden Cyclone. Moore’s horse may have be defeated at the course earlier in the season, but he has come on again since that day at Cheltenham. Without the imperious Sprinter Sacre expect this new champion to be crowned.

Crockford’s Whisper – Dell’Arca e/w (Coral Cup 2.40)

There has been a strong whisper surrounding this horse for the last few months, with the Festival always named as his target. Successful first time out for his trainer in the Greatwood and a notable second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, a place seems within his grasp in the Coral Cup.

Crockford’s Champion Chase Day Gambles:

Neptune (1.30) – Red Sherlock and Fennell Bay e/w

RSA (2.05) – Carlingford Lough e/w and O’Faolain’s Boy e/w

Coral Cup (2.40) – Dell’Arca e/w,  Calculated Risk e/w and Dunguib e/w

Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20) –  Sire De Grugy and Sizing Europe e/w

Cross Country (4.00) – Big Shu, Diamond Harry e/w and Hey Big spender e/w

Fred Winter (4.40) – Dawalan, Ivan Grozny e/w and Le Fin Bois e/w

Champion Bumper (5.15) – Golantilla e/w, El Namoose e/w and Seven National Army e/w  

 

(Featured Photograph – Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

 

 

Stan James Champion Hurdle: Crockford’s Verdict

With the final field for the Stan James Champion Hurdle declared Crockford assesses the chances of the nine runners

In what is a most anticipated renewal of the Stan James Champion Hurdle in years, the mighty Irish challengers will clash with the up and coming UK runners.

Crockford assesses the chances of each of the entries in what looks to be the race of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival:

Captain Cee Bee  (200/1)

Almost certain to bring the pace angle to the race for his fellow JP McManus runners. On his day he could have figured in punters considerations but those days are now gone.

Grumeti  (100/1)

Very useful on his day,  Alan King’s hope will be outclassed in this stella field. Grumeti has six and a half lengths alone to find with Melodic Rendezvous when finishing third behind him at Wincanton run in the Kingwell Hurdle.

Hurricane Fly  (11/4 JFav)

Unbeaten since the 2012 Stan James Champion Hurdle, Hurricane Fly comes to this year’s renewal with what looks to be a perfect preparation having already twice defeated the leading Irish challengers Our Conor and Jezki. According to connections the champion is still improving and at ten may be now at his best. As Patrick Mullins confirmed via twitter earlier in the week the team have no fears about the field size or the tactics of the pace. Worthy favourite to fly to victory in a third Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Jezki (9/1)

Some believe that Jezki could be a major player on the drying ground, said to be unlucky when he first faced Hurricane Fly and Our Conor this season. His price suggests the improvement needed for him to figure in what is the hottest of renewals.

Melodic Rendezvous (20/1)

Apparently overlooked by the markets Jeremy Scott’s horse has done little wrong this season. The only disappointment came with a fifth in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, but that effort has been put behind him with his wins at Haydock and Wincanton. Holds strong each ways at his best.

My Tent Or Yours (9/2)

As support has come for other horses over the last week or so My Tent Or Yours has drifted in the market. His victory over The New One at Christmas is one of the most talked about races. Just beaten last year by Champagne Fever, when considered the certainty of the Festival, connections will hope to go one better. May just be short of the ability of the Irish raiders.

Our Conor (4/1)

The endorsements keep coming for Dessie Hughes’ Our Connor. Earlier in the week the legendary gambler Barney Curley told Galway Preview attendees that Our Conor e/w was his bet of the Cheltenham Festival. This faith has been matched by the confidence shown by his owner Barry Connell. Imperious last year in the Triumph, he is sure to be ready for the race and does not need to improve much to be on terms with Hurricane Fly on their last racecourse performances.

Ptit Zig (50/1) 

Trainer Nicholls believes that this good horse is worthy of taking his chance in the big prize. Defeated last time by the in-form Melodic Rendezvous the limits of his ability may have been exposed. Worthy of his chance but hard to see him figuring in the finish.

The New One  (11/4 JFav)

Impressive winner of the Neptune last year at the Festival and so highly regarded by his yard, The New One is the young pretender. Some say he was unlucky at Kempton on Boxing Day and would have beaten My Tent Or Yours if were not for his mistake at the last. If the Champion Hurdle was over half a mile longer he might have irresistible claims.

Crockford’s prediction for Stan James Champion Hurdle:

1 HURRICANE FLY 

2 OUR CONOR

3 MELODIC RENDEZVOUS

The Irish will be smiling with a one-two in the big race. Hurricane Fly will claim a third Stan James Champion Hurdle and will finally get the full recognition he deserves. Our Conor will signal that he is a certain future winner of the contest and Melodic Rendezvous will provide excellent each way value for punters at 20/1 for the place.

 

* Odds quoted are from Stan James at 2pm Sunday 9 March 2014

(Featured Photograph – The New One at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

Pipe’s Imperial Cup Whispers

Whispers surround Pipe’s chances of an Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival Double with his entries Swing Bowler and Baltimore Rock

In seasons’ past the Pond House yard has farmed the Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival double and will look do so again with either the classy Swing Bowler or improving Baltimore Rock.

Conor O’Farrell who takes the ride on Swing Bowler has told Festival preview goers that he is very sweet on the chances of the mare.  Priced at around 6/1 for success in the Imperial Cup she holds entries in both the Mares and County Hurdle next week. The fifth placed gained on her return at Newbury has alerted connections to her credible chances of landing a valuable double and another coup for the Pipe’s.  In her way will be stablemate Baltimore Rock who comes to the race off the back of a win at Ludlow and is entered to make the County Hurdle line up on Friday.

Swing Bowler’s greatest dangers are most likely to be Imperial Cup Festival double seeking Regal Encore and Harristown. Regal Encore had been many punters idea of the race winner for a while now, alongside being labelled as a handicap good thing for the Festival. Harristown’s trainer Charlie Longsden won the race with Paintball in 2012 and aims to double up with a declaration in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham for his novice.

Over in Dubai the card at Meydan looks worthy of a top European summer festival with the likes of Shea Shea, Soft Falling Rain and Mars being amongst the runners.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Hitchens (Wolverhampton 4.40)

This Group Three winning sprinter has the class to see off his rivals now that he is back in handicap company. With Luke Dempsey claiming seven, the nine-year-old will be very difficult to beat in what is a weak contest.

Crockford’s Whisper – Swing Bowler e/w (Sandown – Imperial Cup 3.15)

The strong whisper that has surrounded the form of this mare has to be respected. Fifth in her return in the Betfair Hurdle last month at Newbury she is well placed to take the Imperial Cup on her way to the Cheltenham Festival.

Archer’s Selection – Soft Falling Rain (Meydan 2.25)

Archer would have not missed the ability of this De Kock five year old and would have insisted on taking the ride at the horse’s favoured Meydan. Soft Falling Rain will return to winning ways.

Crockford’s Gambles on Imperial Cup day:

Sandown – Carry on Sydney (1.30), Ceasar Milan e/w and Doctor Harper e/w (2.05), Soll (2.40), Swing Bowler e/w and Harristown e/w (Imperial Cup 3.15) and Side Step e/w (3.50)

Wolverhampton – Gabriel’s Lad e/w (2.20), Tres Coronas e/w (2.55), Hitchens (4.40) and Quixote (5.15)

Meydan – Emirates Flyer (1.10), Shea Shea (1.45), Soft Falling Rain (2.25), Meandre e/w (3.35) and Mars e/w (4.45)

Gowran – Followuptocarlow e/w (4.10) and Quel Esprit (5.20)

Chepstow –  Consigliere (3.55) and Bendant (5.05)

Ayr – Fentara (4.15)

 

(Featured Photograph – David Pipe and Alastair Down at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

Our Connor & The New One Threats To Hurricane Fly

Patrick Mullins tells punters that Our Connor and The New One are the threats to another Champion Hurdle win for stable star Hurricane Fly

With less than a week to go before this year’s mouthwatering renewal of the Stan James Champion Hurdle, Patrick Mullins told Crockford and Racing Post twitter followers that Our Connor and The New One were the strongest threats to Hurricane Fly.

This news came on the back of the legendary gambler Barney Curley’s prediction earlier in the week that Our Connor was the horse to back in the Champion Hurdle.  Curley tipped up the Hughes challenger as his bet of the Cheltenham Festival at the Galway preview night. Always keen to find value the shrewd Curley suggested an each way investment at around 6/1.

When asked about the possibility of  the unbeaten Un De Sceaux taking his place in the Champion line up, Mullins responded this evening that:

“At the moment we’re leaning against it. The horse might not have enough experience for Cheltenham and it’s questionable that it could set him back at this stage in his career”

Over the last few days support has strengthened for Our Connor following an encouraging work-out after racing at Leopardstown on Sunday, which has seen his price shorten to as low as 7/2 with Bet 365. Whilst money has poured in for the Irish horse, Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours has slightly drifted following reports of a minor setback even though the horse has been reported to be 100%.

With days to go the former Champion Hurricane Fly is battling out favouritism with the young pretender The New One at around 11/4. From Mullins’ comments it sounds like they may just battle out the finish with the third favourite Our Connor too.

At this stage, Hurricane Fly still remains Crockford’s ante post selection especially given the confidence from the yard in his continued ability to improve and adapt. As Mullins revealed via twitter tonight his views on the tactics and the shape of the race:

“Big or small field. Same with whether it’s a slow or fast pace. The Fly has the experience to adapt to both”

 

(Featured Photograph – The New One after his Cheltenham Festival win by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plotters Plan Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival Double

As the biggest week in the National Hunt calendar approaches plotters plan the elusive Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival Double

When the entries for Saturday’s Imperial Cup were revealed earlier today punters became clearer about the big potential doubles that are on the cards this year.

The plotters of Pond House have a strong record of landing the elusive coup and go to the weekend feature at Sandown with two outstanding chances in the shape of Swing Bowler and Baltimore Rock.

The Pipe trained mare – Swing Bowler – was impressive in her comeback run in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month and is hotly fancied to make a bold show in the County Hurdle on the Friday of the Festival. Priced at 7/1 for the Imperial Cup, odds of 16/1 are available for the County Hurdle and 14/1 for the Mares contest.  The whispers are strong from the stable, with jockey Conor O’Farrell really sweet on her chances of a Festival victory.

Last year’s Champion Bumper second, Regal Encore will also be back for more at this year’s Festival. To get in Honeyball’s horse will need the penalty that a win in the Imperial Cup would provide him.

If the bookmakers are right that should not present a problem, as the novice is the current market leader for Saturday’s race at 11/4 and is priced up at 5/1 for the County Hurdle and 7/2 for the Martin Pipe . If the trainer pulls the coup off, it is certain to go down in the annuals of Festival history.

Regal Encore is one of a pair of entries for JP McManus who have the chance to land the Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival double.  Get Back In Line could also make an appearance in either the County or Martin Pipe Hurdle.

Out of the nineteen horses declared this afternoon for the race, the following have the entries to attempt the Imperial Cup Cheltenham Festival double:

Baltimore Rock (County)

First Avenue (Martin Pipe)

Gassin Golf (Supreme/County/Martin Pipe)

Get Back In Line (County/Martin Pipe)

Harristown (Fred Winter)

Knight Of Pleasure (County)

Lac Fontana (Supreme/Neptune/Coral/County/Martin Pipe)

Little Jon (County/Martin Pipe)

New Year’s Eve (County)

Prompter (Coral/County/Martin Pipe)

Regal Encore (County/Martin Pipe)

Swing Bowler (Mares/County)

The Skyfarmer (County/Martin Pipe)

Vibrato Valtat (County)

 

(Featured Photograph – Swing Bowler before 2013 Betfair Hurdle by Stuart Rice)

 

Cheltenham Festival Ante Post: Golantilla 10/1

Tony Martin’s Golantilla is priced at 10/1 with Corals for a rare second attempt at the Champion Bumper

Last year’s Champion Bumper third is due to run at Naas this afternoon before a possible second attempt at the Champion Bumper. There is no doubt that Golantilla will face stiff opposition at the Festival, but it is certainly a move worth noting. Tony Martin is a master planner and has to be respected when it comes to such things.

Both Black Hercules who has a big reputation and Modus (the dual bumper winner) appear still to be good value. Black Hercules is 8/1 with Corals and Modus is 12/1 with Paddy Power.

 

(Featured Photograph – The Champion Bumper 2013 finish by Stuart Rice)

BetBright Bet Hobbs – Planet Of Sound

Trainer Phillip Hobbs has an excellent record in the BetBright Chase, so BetBright bet Planet of Sound

The twelve-year-old Planet of Sound bounced back to form when winning at Kempton last time out. The one-time quality performer has dropped down in class and appears to have found his level again.  With Hobbs having an impressive record in the race Planet of Sound looks outstanding value at around 12/1. His main opposition will come from Grandioso who has threatened to run big races this season and the conditions here in the BetBright Chase (3.50) would seem to suit. Bury Parade Nicholls’ other runner may have too much to carry and we cannot be certain if David Pipe’s Standing Ovation will be in the form needed to get back to winning ways.

There will be Cheltenham clues a plenty at Kempton today with the Supreme clash of Irving and First Mohican in the Dovecote Novice Hurdle (3.15). Irving is undefeated and is highly regarded by connections. First Mohican showed his hurdling promise when winning first time out and was once mentioned by the great Sir Henry Cecil in the same breath as the brilliant Frankel. Whoever comes out on top today is sure to shorten for the Cheltenham Festival opener. Don’t be surprised if Cup Final blows the whistle on both of their unbeaten records.

Up at Newcastle, the marathon Eider Chase (2.55) is a fascinating contest where a number of the field will look to get back to winning ways. Tim Vaughan’s Our Island has both the form and the stamina to make a bold show, with Gordon Elliott’s Tarquinius being an eye-catching entry.

At Lingfield in the Cleves Stakes (1.45) the siblings Ladiesareforever and Hoof It will make it a family affair in the listed contest.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Fago (Chepstow 3.05)

Paul Nicholls’ is Fago is certain to be in the mix in the Bombay Hunt Cup. An outstanding novice he has been pitched in against higher company than this on a couple of occasions this season. When last in this grade he won easily at Haydock and will do so again today at a big price.

Crockford’s Whisper – Our Island e/w (Newcastle – Eider Chase 2.55)

There has been a strong whisper for Our Island for the last few days. He showed that he had the stamina for this when running well in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival last year and will relish the conditions. With him down at the bottom of the weights expect him to creep into the frame.

Archer’s Selection – Grandeur (Lingfield 3.30)

Archer would have demanded the booking on this globe-trotting star. In what is a weak contest the jockey would have be certain of the prize money.

Crockford’s Gambles on Saturday 22 February:

Kempton – Activial (2.05), Fox Appeal (2.40), First Mohican (3.15), Planet Of Sound e/w (3.50) and Full Shift (4.25)

Newcastle – Our Island e/w and Tarquinius e/w (2.55) and Fentara e/w (4.30)

Chepstow – Gate Please (1.20), Swnymor e/w (2.30), Fago (3.05) and Tullyesker Hill (3.40)

Lingfield –  Hoof It (1.45), Welease Bwian e/w (2.15), Grey Mirage (2.50) and Grandeur (3.30)

Fairyhouse – Plinth (1.25), Mount Benbulben (3.10), Kalmann (3.45) and Seabass (4.20)

 

(Featured Photograph – Trainer Phillip Hobbs at Chepstow by Stuart Rice)

 

Riverside Theatre To Perform In Ascot Chase

Two time Ascot Chase winner Riverside Theatre is set to perform again in the Grade One feature this afternoon

Nicky Henderson’s ten-year-old won the Ascot Chase in 2011 & 2012 and appeared to be back to form when taking the Peterborough Chase earlier this season. Unseating his rider early on at Kempton it is hard to tell how this classy Ryanair Chase winner would have faired that day if completing. His rival today Captain Chris should again relish the track and conditions but looks too short at odds of around Evens. With Riverside Theatre at 11/2 he looks attractive to confirm the Huntingdon form with the  Hobbs horse. The most interesting runner in this quality field looks to Alan King’s grey Medermit, who is back from a long lay-off. King’s outsider has close form links to Riverside Theatre and can mix it with the best of them on his day.

In the Reynoldstown Chase (2.05) David Pipe’s talented hurdler Gevrey Chambertin will take on the well-regarded Many Clouds. Gevrey Chambertin took the valuable Fixed Brush race at Haydock in November and could be one of the stand out chasers of his generation. It is interesting to note he is pitched in at this grade for his first chase.

Pipe may have a good Saturday with the likes of Gevrey Chambertin, Un Temps Pout Tout, Heath Hunter and Our Father. Our Father is an enigma, who on his day can show true brilliance but disappoint as well. Crockford prefers the consistent Merry King who will be partnered by McCoy at Haydock in the Grand National Trial (2.55)

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Gevrey Chambertin (Ascot 2.05)

A lot can be taken from the confidence shown by connections in running this grey in his first chase at this grade. Good winner in the fixed brush at Haydock and impressive over hurdlers last season. To use the adage this Pipe horse could be absolutely anything.

Crockford’s Whisper – Tullamore Dew e/w (Ascot 2.40)

Low in the weights, this outsider has the ability to be placed in quality races including at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Gifford’s horse is quoted at 14/1 for victory today. As long as he stays in this ground expect him to be thereabouts at the finish.

Archer’s Selection – Bog Warrior (Gowran Park 2.25)

Archer would have noticed the form shown by Tony Martin’s horse last season and how he did well in the World Hurdle. Against this opposition the shrewd horseman would certainly have wanted to be up on this mount.

Crockford’s Gambles on Ascot Chase Day:

Ascot – Un Temps Pour Tout (1.30), Gevrey Chambertin (2.05), Tullamore Dew e/w (2.40), Heath Hunter (3.15), Riverside Theatre and Medermit e/w (3.50)

Haydock – Celestial Halo (2.20), Merry King e/w (2.55), Oscar Rock and Caledonia e/w (4.05), Sergeant Dick e/w (4.35) and Ninetieth Minute (5.05)

Wincanton – Advisor e/w (1.20), Molly’s A Diva e/w (1.55), Seebright e/w (2.30), Quaddick Lake e/w (3.05), Melodic Rendezvous (3.35), Tidal Dance (4.15) and Anton Chigurh (4.45)

Lingfield – Ocean Applause e/w (2.15), Three D Alexander (2.50) and Rebellious Guest (3.25)

Gowran Park – Bog Warrior (2.25) and Un De Sceaux (3.35)

 

(Featured Photograph – Riverside Theatre at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)