Cheltenham Festival 2015: AP To Go Out On High

Champion AP McCoy will hope to go out on a Festival high when he rides on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival 2015

Jockey AP McCoy will take his last ever Festival ride when it gets on board the Grand Annual favourite  Ned Buntline in the race named in his memory. Retiring at the end of the season, McCoy ensured that it was a meeting to remember with a brilliant front-running win on Alan King’s Uxizandre in the Grade One Ryanair Chase yesterday. The Champion also has a live chance of a fairytale farewell in the Gold Cup with the constantly improving Carlingford Lough who has some of the strongest form going into the feature. However, Ned Buntline provides AP with the best chance of a victory on his final Festival day.

In what is an open renewal of the Gold Cup, the consistent Many Clouds is certain to benefit from the softer conditions. With arguably the best stamina credentials the Sherwood horse was a good winner at the Festival Trials Day and will make a bold show today. Henderson’s Bobs Worth and Nicholls’s Silviniaco Conti are clearly talented but may be exposed to an improving horse such as Carlingford Lough, Road To Riches and Coneygree.

Crockford’s Gold Cup Prediction:

1 Many Clouds

2 Carlingford Lough

3 Bobs Worth

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – NED BUNTLINE (GRAND ANNUAL 5.15)

Unlucky not to have picked up this race last year under a patient ride from Paul Carberry. With AP on board and having been laid out for the race, expect an emotional victory for the Champion.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – MANY CLOUDS E/W (GOLD CUP 3.20)

Great winner of the Hennessy and of the Trial in January, this Sherwood horse is certain to enjoy the soft conditions and test of stamina. Many Clouds front-running style will test his rivals expect a big run and for him to step up to this standard.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – QUICK JACK E/W (COUNTY 2.05)

Archer would have remembered his bold attempt in the Cesarewitch on his last run and the trainer’s ability to win this with fresh horses. Archer would have be on what could be a steering job.

LUCKY CHANCER – TEA FOR TWO E/W (ALBERT BARTLETT 2.40)

This Lucky Chancer was an impressive victor of the Lanzarote Hurdle and looks to have been overlooked with massive odds of 33/1.

Crockford’s Gambles on Gold Cup Day of Cheltenham Festival 2015:

Peace And Co and Petite Parisienne e/w (Triumph 1.30), Cheltenian e/w (County 2.05), Black Hercules (Albert Bartlett 2.40), Bobs Worth e/w and Carlingford Lough e/w (Gold Cup 3.20), Muirhead e/w and Consigliere e/w (Foxhunters 4.00), Roi Des Francs, On Tour e/w and Edeymi e/w (4.40) and Ted Veale e/w (Grand Annual 5.15)

(Featured Photograph – AP McCoy with his Festival winner Uxizandre by Stuart Rice)

Cheltenham Festival 2015: At Fishers Cross Is World Beater

Rebecca Curtis’ At Fishers Cross will prove to be a world-beater in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival 2015

With Rebecca Curtis having already notched up a Festival winner, punters should not be surprised if the talented At Fishers Cross can bounce back to form in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. This year’s renewal has no clear superstar and looks open to the 2013 Albert Bartlett winner. In his way will be the improving Saphir Du Rheu and classy Zarkandar for Paul Nicholls, alongside a host of highly regarded Irish raiders. If At Fishers Cross can hold his jumping together he may well provide AP McCoy with his first 2015 Festival victory.

In what looks to be a weaker than usual renewal of the Ryanair, Hidden Cyclone and Ballycasey make interesting betting propositions. Ballycasey runs for Willie Mullins who will hope to continue his excellent Festival form with the grey.

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – EDEYMI (PERTEMPS 2.05)

Those punters watching Edeymi’s last start will realise why Tony Martin’s hurdler must not be overlooked. An eye-catching fourth made sure that he made many watchers notebooks. In the field at a feather weight expect the plot to be landed.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – MONETAIRE E/W (PLATE 4.00)

David Pipe won this race last year with Ballynagour and looks likely to land it again with this Whisper. A good winner at Newbury and weighted to go close in this.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – VAUTOUR (JLT 1.30)

Archer would have remembered Vautour’s impressive Festival win twelve months ago. With his trainer in such great form the shrewd horseman would have fought for the ride.

LUCKY CHANCER – AT FISHERS CROSS E/W (WORLD HURDLE 3.20)

Priced at around 25/1, Rebecca Curtis’ Albert Bartlett is a real Lucky Chancer. The hurdler may not have been in the form of old recently but he did improve this time last season and has the class to be competitive.

Crockford’s Gambles on day three of Cheltenham Festival 2015:

Hidden Cyclone e/w and Ballycasey e/w (Ryanair 2.40), Buywise e/w (Plate 4.00) and Tap Night e/w (Kim Muir 4.40)

 

(Featured photograph – AP McCoy and At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

Cheltenham Festival 2015: Sprinter Sacre Champion Again

Sprinter Sacre to be crowned champion again in a cracking renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Cheltenham Festival 2015

In what looks to be the best renewal in years Nicky Henderson’s former champion Sprinter Sacre will look to reclaim his Champion Chase crown. With Sire De Grugy coming back to form at Chepstow and both Dodging Bullets and Mr Mole having their best seasons, Henderson’s horse will face a stiff test of his ability and fitness. Punters would not be blamed for also throwing Champagne Fever into the mix given his Festival performances and the stables first day. However, if the mighty Sprinter Sacre returns to near his best he will be the one to beat.

The first day was dominated by Mullins and the Irish, and it would not be a surprise if that vein continued on day two with Nichols Canyon (Neptune), Daneking (Coral Cup), Bolger’s Quantitativeeasing in (Glenfarcas) and Weld’s Vigil in (Champion Bumper).

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – SPRINTER SACRE (CHAMPION CHASE 3.20)

Imperious two seasons ago when taking the 2013 renewal of the Champion Chase. The comeback run at Ascot showed real promise that the talent remains. Sprinter Sacre was not extended on his return and will now strip much fitter for the outing. Odds of 5/2 will look massive at 3.30pm.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – WESTERN WAY E/W (CHAMPION BUMPER 5.15)

Don Cantillon’s runner is sure to attract attention on its seasonal debut after a while away from the track. With some good form in the book expect a bold show from this Huntingdon winner.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – NICHOLS CANYON (NEPTUNE 1.30)

Archer would not have missed the style of this horse’s hurdle victories and his flat form. With Mullins in unstoppable form on day one of the meeting, the Jockey would have taken the booking.

LUCKY CHANCER – THE WALLACE LINE E/W (FRED WINTER 4.40)

This Lucky Chancer finished third at 66/1 on his last outing. Now quoted at around 40/1 and larger expect the hurdler to provide another run better than his price suggests.

Crockford’s Cheltenham Festival 2015 Gambles on Day Two:

Kings Palace (RSA 2.05), Daneking e/w and Lac Fontana e/w (Coral Cup), Sizing Europe e/w (Champion Chase 3.20), Quantitativeeasing e/w (Glenfarcas 4.00) and Vigil e/w (Champion Bumper 5.15)

 

(Featured photograph – Sprinter Sacre at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival)

Stan James Champion Hurdle 2015: Faugheen The Machine?

Crockford considers if the red hot favourite Faugheen “the machine’ can win the Stan James Champion Hurdle 2015

With a tally of facile wins under his belt the red hot favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle Faugheen has been labelled a machine by his admirers. Chosen by Ruby Walsh over the former champion Hurricane Fly his supporters  have become ever more confident of victory.

However, it may not be that straightforward when the young pretender to the hurdling throne faces the likes of  his stablemate, The New One and Jezki in the feature on the first day of the Festival.

Artic Fire – The third of the string of the Mullins horses. He has improved all season and is a worthy entrant but only has place prospects at best.

Bertimont – Talented on his day but will have to improve a lot to be anywhere near contention in this field. Beaten twice already this season by The New One.

Faugheen – Unbeaten in all of his starts including a win in the Neptune at the Festival twelve months ago. The stable jockey has chosen this young pretender over a proven Champion. Highly regarded but question marks remain in terms of the form of his races and how he will behalf if brought off the bridle.

Hurricane Fly – This record-breaking Champion deserves more respect than many credit him with. Connections believe it to be a close match between him and Faugheen. With rain falling he may just have the conditions that he craves.

Jezki – Last year’s winner has been defeated three times this season by Hurricane Fly, but may just be closer now back at Cheltenham. Will not be far away at the finish.

Kitten Rock – Worthy of his place in this quality field. This five-year-old is improving but likely to be out of his depth at this grade.

The New One – Posted four wins this winter, with the last looking more workman-like than usual. Finished fast up the hill in 2014, but might just find a couple to good for him again.

Vaniteux – Highly regarded by connections but could only muster three seconds this season. Not Henderson’s best chance of a winner this week.

Crockford’s Stan James Champion Hurdle prediction:

1 HURRICANE FLY

2 JEZKI

3 FAUGHEEN

The old Champion to have one last hurrah at the Festival showing his has still got enough to beat his old rival Jezki and the young pretender Faugheen

 

(Featured Photograph – Faugheen at Cheltenham 2014 by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2015: Hurricane To Fly Against Odds

On what punters are calling Ruby Tuesday the old Champion Hurricane Fly can fly against the odds on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival 2015

With the Irish Champion Ruby Walsh booked to ride a host of leading fancies on the first day of the Festival, the jockey may live to regret choosing the promising Faugheen over the proven Hurricane Fly. Last year’s Festival winner Faugheen has cruised to victory this winter and has the potential to be a world-beater, but the quality of his opponents is in question. Hurricane Fly on the other hand has beaten Jezki three times already this season and looks close to his best. The connections have questioned the disparity in the odds between the stablemates and believe them to be closely matched.

Ruby Walsh will expect to make the winners enclosure at least once with Douvan (Supreme), Un De Sceaux (Arkle) and Annie Power (Mares Hurdle) on what could be an excellent first day for the Irish. The Irish look certain to take the National Hunt Chase with either the short priced Very Wood or the unlucky 2014 Kim Muir runner up Cause Of Causes.

The Welsh trainer Evan Williams goes to Cheltenham with two live chances on the first day. Barrakilla has also been considered a Festival hope and Court Minstrel will certainly benefit from the faster conditions.

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – BARRAKILLA (ULTIMA 2.40)

Been long talked of as a Festival horse and the yard will be confident of a bold show given the weight and distance. Second last time when running at the course and would have been closer if the winner had not slipped the field. Highly regarded.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – CAUSE OF CAUSES E/W (NATIONAL HUNT 4.40)

Elliott’s horse has scooped some big prizes in the past and will have certainly aimed at this. A mistake in the Kim Muir last year cost him the race. At around 8/1 the chaser provides excellent each way value.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – HURRICANE FLY E/W (CHAMPION HURDLE 3.20)

Archer would have favoured this imperious Champion who has done nothing wrong this year. Ruby Walsh has certainly made a bold choice passing over this former winner Champion Hurdle victor.

LUCKY CHANCER – COURT MINSTREL E/W (ARKLE 2.05)

Priced at around 33/1 this Lucky Chancer will relish the faster conditions and always comes to his own at this time of the season. Best of the runners over the smaller obstacles, worth a chance when apparently overlooked by bookies and punters alike.

Crockford’s Gambles on Day One of Cheltenham Festival 2015:

L’Ami Serge and Tell Us More e/w (Supreme 1.30), Bitofapuzzle e/w (Mares 4.00), Keltus e/w and Generous Ransom e/w (Chaps Barbados 5.15)

 

(Featured photograph – Hurricane Fly at the Cheltenham Festival 2015)

Sire De Grugy To Be Back On Track For Champion

Connections and backers of Sire De Grugy will hope that he is back on track for the Champion Chase when he runs at Chepstow

Connections of the impressive winner of last year’s Champion Chase will hope that his second outing of the season will be more successful than his first. A faller at Newbury after coming back from injury, the Moore horse looked short of his best. Quoted at 6/1 for the festival feature, Sire De Grugy will take this race at Chepstow in his stride. If he doesn’t perform again he is certain to drift for the two mile championship at the Festival.

Paul Nicholls looks double handed with Easter Day and Rocky Creek in the Betbright Chase at Kempton. Easter Day fell when going well last time and Rocky Creek certainly has the class to be a contender at this level even with his weight.

The Eider Chase at Newcastle could be dominated by the top two in the weights Wyck Hill who holds course form and Shotgun Paddy is due to win a race like this someday soon.

With the All Weather Championships a couple of months away, the card at Lingfield will see many of the Good Friday hopefuls making appearances including the 2014 Champions Grandeur and Alben Star.

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – EASTER DAY (KEMPTON 3.45)

Fell three out when travelling exceptionally well at Cheltenham last month. The Nicholls will now be spot on for this valuable prize and is certain to go close.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – SOVEREIGN DEBT E/W (LINGFIELD 2.15)

This talented horse has Group One form in the book including a second in the Lockinge at Newbury. Now down in grade and having finished a close second at the course last time expect another bold show.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – SIRE DE GRUGY (CHEPSTOW 3.35)

Archer would have certainly have been keen to take the ride on the Champion two miler in this small field. Archer would have had faith that he would improve from his first outing.

Crockford’s Gambles on Saturday 21 February:

Kempton – All Yours (2.00), Melodic Rendezvous (2.35), Vago Collonges (3.10), Easter Day and Rocky Creek e/w (3.45)

Chepstow – Champagne Chaser e/w (1.55), Ashes House e/w (2.30), Albert Bridge (3.05), Sire De Grugy (3.35) and Katkeau e/w (4.10)

Lingfield – Alben Star (1.45),  Sovereign Debt e/w (2.15), Grandeur (3.25) and Fair Value (5.05)

Newcastle – Wakanda (1.50), Shotgun Paddy e/w and Wyck Hill e/w (2.55), Debdeddeb (4.05), Definite Dream (4.40) and Vintage Clouds (5.10)

Fairyhouse – Dogora (1.35), Spring Heeled (2.05) and Two Rockers e/w (2.40)

 

(Featured photograph – Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham 2014)

Mullins To Dominate on Hennessy Gold Cup Day

Trainer Willie Mullins looks set to dominate the quality card on Hennessy Gold Cup Day at Leopardstown

With four Grade One prizes on offer at Leopardstown today Willie Mullins heads to the track with a strong team. Eyes will be watching closely this afternoon as there will be Cheltenham Festival 2015 clues aplenty.

The first race on the card is the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.15), where the highly regarded Kalkir will be expected to get back to winning ways for the Mullins camp. The likely favourite is fancied for the Triumph in March but will have to get the better of Elliott’s exciting juvenile Vercingetorix. The Elliott horse is another of the Simon Munir team who look Cheltenham Festival bound.

In the Deloitte Novice Hurdle (2.15) the classy flat performer Nichols Canyon can return to the winners circle. The danger to the Mullins hurdler is his stablemate the unexposed grey Alvisio Ville who may just provide the retiring Champion Jockey AP McCoy with another winner.

Valseur Lido will be the favourite for the Flogas Novice Chase (2.45) and is many punters idea of the JLT Novice victor at the Festival. In what looks an open contest The Tullow Tank could be worth a second look at each way prices.

The feature of the card, the Hennessy Gold Cup, will provide key pointers to the Gold Cup. Boston Bob and On His Own run for Mullins but may be exposed to the improving Foxrock today. The better ground will also suit the 2014 Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere too.

Crockford’s Hennessy Gold Cup Day Gambles:

Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.15) – Kalkir

Deloitte Novice Hurdle (2.15) – Nichols Canyon

Flogas Novice Chase (2.45) –  The Tullow Tank e/w

Hennessy Gold Cup (3.50) – Boston Bob and First Lieutenant e/w

 

(Featured Photograph – Boston Bob at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

 

 

Cheltenham Trials Day: Reputations To Be Tested

With the 2015 Cheltenham Festival fast approaching reputations will be tested on Cheltenham Trials Day

An array of Festival hopefuls will have their reputations tested on Festival Trials Day, with the first being the leading Triumph Hurdle hope Peace And Co when he races in the first on todays Cheltenham card.

Peace And Co hosed up at Doncaster in a graded contest on his first outing in the UK and comes here as the clear 5/2 favourite for the Triumph. Alan King’s Karezak will provide a good benchmark for the Henderson horse given his second behind Simon Munir’s other festival fancy Bristol De Mai at Chepstow. The odds on favourite will have to win this convincingly to remain so ahead of the others in the Festival markets.

The highly regarded Stellar Notion will seek to win the Novice Chase (1.15) before a possible attempt at the Arkle or JLT in March. If he is impressive his price is certain to shorten for Festival success.

The six runner Betbright Chase (1.50) is packed full of quality, with Pipe’s Dynaste looking to pick up where he left off in the Ryanair on his return to the track. With consistent performances since then he is likely to strengthen his reputation for March. Many Clouds is an even more interesting prospects and could really throw his hat into the ring for the Gold Cup if he can add this to his Hennessy victory.

With prices available for the Neptune and Albert Bartlett connections will hope that Value At Risk will not put his reputation at risk in the Neptune Trial at (3.00). If he wins his claims for further glory will be touted.

In an interesting renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle (3.35) chasers return hurdling and challengers try an extended distance in the hope that the World Hurdle might be in their grasp come spring. Cole Harden and Saphir Du Rheu will have to deliver here to be real contenders at the Festival.

At Doncaster a strong renewal of the old Great Yorkshire Chase (now SkyBet Chase) looks set to be fought out between the King stablemates Godsmejudge and Medermit, with the danger being the in-form Fairy Rath.

CROCKFORD’S DEAD CERT – DYNASTE (CHELTENHAM 1.50)

2014 Ryanair winner has done nothing wrong since, finishing second in the King George latest. The Pipe grey looks certain to continue in that good vein of form and will claim this valuable prize.

CROCKFORD’S WHISPER – HORATIO HORNBLOWER E/W (CHELTENHAM 1.15)

On a featherweight in this novice handicap, Lizzie Kelly is a definite bonus for this Nick Williams Whisper. Good winner on Boxing Day and likely to build on that.

ARCHER’S SELECTION – ANALIFET (DONCASTER 2.05)

Archer would have respected the choice of fellow jockey Ruby Walsh to come across the waters to ride this highly regarded mare. This main chance would have been his selection.

LUCKY CHANCER – OLOFI E/W (CHELTENHAM 3.35)

Having posted two respectable runs this season, this horse is certainly worth a Lucky Chancer in what looks an open renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle where many reputations at this extended distance still need to be proved.

Crockford’s Gambles on Cheltenham Trials Day (Saturday 24 January):

Cheltenham – Peace And Co (12.40), Horatio Hornblower e/w (1.15), Dynaste (1.50),  Walkon (2.25), Value At Risk (3.00), Olofi e/w (3.35) and Dell’Arca (4.10)

Doncaster – Witch From Rome e/w (12.25), Runswick Royal (1.30), Analifet (2.05),  Blaklion (2.40), Medermit e/w and Godsmejudge e/w (3.15)

Lingfield – Pirate Cove (12.50), Indus Way e/w (1.25) and Wajeeh (2.00)

Uttoxeter – Winston Churchill (3.25)

 

(Featured photograph – 2014 Ryanair winner Dynaste and Tom Scudamore by Stuart Rice)

Top Weight Djakadam To Land Thyestes

Top weight Djakadam set to land Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase before festival plans

Trainer Willie Mullins will hope that his talented chaser Djakadam can land the valuable Goffs Thyestes Chase before heading to the Cheltenham Festival. Eighth in the Hennessy on his seasonal debut, the six-year-old is certain to come on from that outing.  His biggest challenge will be carrying top weight in what is always a competitive affair.

Of Djakadam’s rivals the most dangerous has to be the in form Gallant Oscar who will be partnered by Barry Geraghty in the Gowran Park feature. His trainer Tony Martin is certainly partial to landing valuable handicaps like this and cannot be overlooked.

Djakadam holds some impressive entries that include the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup, Ryanair and Cheltenham Gold Cup and is clearly held in high regard. With quotes of around 20/1 for the Ryanair and 50/1 for the Gold Cup expect those prices to shorten if he carries top weight to victory in the Thyestes.

 

(Featured Photograph – Ricci runner at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

Overlooked Fly Favourite To Be Irish Champion Again

Overlooked by punters for Cheltenham Festival  2015 success Hurricane Fly is odds on favourite to be the Irish Champion again

Willie Mullins Hurricane Fly will be odds-on favourite to win yet another Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday. Unbeaten at Leopardstown, the Mullins twelve-year-old will face his old rival Jezki and stablemate Arctic Fire in a rematch of their last start.

However, this weekend’s favourite appears to be totally overlooked for success at Cheltenham in March. Currently, priced at 14/1 with firms for the Champion Hurdle the former Festival winner is friendless in the market.

Both trainer and jockey have told the press that they cannot fathom the disparity between Hurricane Fly and the bookies short-priced favourite Faugheen. With the connections making such observations, punters would be foolish not to take heed.

 

(Featured photograph – Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)