Not convinced on Fastorslow's Gold Cup claims yet
Gaelic Warrior has super-star potential - Turner's Chase appeals
Back Jeriko to be Nicky's Supreme number one
Gaelic Warrior is a future Gold Cup horse
Have we just seen the 2025 Gold Cup winner? Gaelic Warrior was brilliant in winning the 2m3f Beginners Chase on Saturday November 25 at Punchestown. He made all the running to score effortlessly by 15 lengths over Inothewayurthinking. While some of his jumping was low and scrappy, he can improve significantly for the experience.
You could not help but be impressed with him, and he is improving run by run while his sizeable engine is a huge asset. A few on Twitter had suggested that nobody wanted to get near him. However, his circuit time was brilliant. He got to the second last 31 lengths quicker than Favori Du Champdou and crossed the line eased down. It was a case that nothing had the early speed to go with Gaelic Warrior, and he looks tailor-made for a future Gold Cup with a good blend of speed and stamina.
The Sportsbook was impressed, cutting him to 4/15.00 for the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices Chase. He looks like a Cheltenham Festival winner in waiting to my eye, but he needs to prove his jumping doesn't go to pot when he goes left-handed, having shown signs here that he may - although once he does, he is looking more like a 6/42.50 shot.
Still, I expect him to follow in the footsteps of Galopin Des Champs and take in the Turners. Willie Mullins holds an array of talent for the three-mile Brown Advisory, and he looks thin on the ground for Turner's horses, and this division is typically weak.
The other defining factors could be that the Turners is run on the more galloping New track and has 16 fences compared to the Brown Advisory's 20. The new track is not as sharp as the old, which would help should he continue to jump right. Re-wind to the Ballymore, and he got worked up before the race and, lost his earplugs on the way to the start and failed to settle. The shorter Turner's trip would negotiate many of the above issues, and it's wise to remember that only Impaire Et Passe has beaten this horse since his British debut.
Gaelic Warrior comes with risks attached at a short price of 4/15.00 but is the horse in the Turner's market that has the potential to go off a shade of odds-on.
The race has had odds-on favourites in Mighty Potter, Galopin Des Champs, and Envoi Allen (all beaten, although two fell) in the last three years, and this year looks like it could be the same.
He may be on this column next week!
On Thursday November 23 seven-time Grade 1 hurdle winner Klassical Dream made his chase debut at Thurles and recorded a seamless success.
It was floorless in the jumping department as he made all the running to score in good style. He won as he should, considering he beat a rival who was 32 lbs inferior on hurdle ratings. Klassical Dream was cut into 14/115.00 for the Brown Advisory and 10/111.00 for the National Hunt Chase. That looks like a big overreaction, as no form was enhanced, highlighted by his low RPR of 143.
On Thursday November 23 Westport Cove won quite nicely on his Maiden Hurdle debut to land the race Il Etait Temps won in 2022 and recorded the fastest time on the card. The form looks a little ropey behind the first two, but they pulled ten lengths clear of the third. The runner-up, Diamboy Des Carres, had been trounced 19 lengths by Ile Atlantique - who we have running in the low 130s for now (see week three) - so it's not a performance to get too excited about. He is 66/167.00 for the Supreme Novice Hurdle, but maybe a handicap could be on the cards.
On Friday November 24 at Fairyhouse, Mister Policeman scrapped home over owner mate Feu Du Bresil and Pinkerton. The race was slowly run and turned into a dash from two out to the finish. Mister Policeman did not look a natural over the larger obstacles to my eye with slow and careful leaps at many of his fences and losing ground in the air. It was an underwhelming performance, considering the hype surrounding him.
While Pinkerton in third had reached a fair level over hurdles, he was trounced by Imagine (a subsequent winner at the weekend) on seasonal return at the same venue, and the runner-up from that race was beaten 15 lengths effortlessly by Gaelic Warrior next time.
This was somewhat deflating for his fans, and he is now 16/117.00 for the Arkle. You would want to see much more before taking that price for March. While the feeling is in a better-run race, he will likely come unstuck.
On Saturday November 25 at Punchestown, State Man ran out a ready winner of the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at odds of 1/61.17. We learned very little with this steady run affair, with an overall time only two and a half lengths quicker than the following Novice Hurdle won by the 122-rated Yeats Star.
State Man is now a 6/17.00 chance for the Champion Hurdle bigger than stablemate Impaire Et Passe at 11/26.50. It's hard to see State Man reversing form with Constitution Hill.
Ever so tempted by 16/117.00 Flooring Porter for Brown Advisory
On Saturday November 25 at Punchestown, Favori De Champdou won the 3m Grade 2 Florida Pearl. It was a highly competitive race and one of the strongest Novice Chases we have seen this year. This was a well-run race and a strong piece of form. The winner sat well-positioned and picked up the pieces as Flooring Porter showed how desperately he needed to go left-handed, having hung that way in the home straight.
Favori De Champdou is a dour stayer, and his profile suggests the softer the ground, the better. He doesn't look classy enough for the Brown Advisory, but 12/113.00 the National Hunt Chase looks right up his street.
Of those in behind, it was a remarkable performance from Flooring Porter - a recent winner at Cheltenham who we discussed in week one - who set a strong gallop and was lit up by the loose-running Churchtownwarrior who caused him all sorts of problems throughout.
He hung violently left on this second try right-handed (his other ended in disaster at this same venue in 2021). Still, there were signs of his brilliant ability here, notably when quickening from the back of the third last to get back in front at the second last.
However, he hung his chance away, showing his quirks, but this was a performance to be very positive about when returning left-handed. The market has reacted by pushing him from 10/111.00 out to 16/117.00, and on his time figure here and at Cheltenham, it will take a darn good one to beat him returning to a left-handed track.
Gold Cup scars revealed
At Haydock on Saturday November 25th, the first Grade 1 of the season, The Betfair Chase, was won by Royale Pagaille, who outstayed Bravemansgame down the home straight and gave Charlie Deutsch a brilliant spin.
Protektorat, who went off far too hard. Harry Skelton's first circuit clocked a time more than 28 lengths quicker to the final flight in the home straight than the 2m5f race and was similarly ahead at the halfway point (12th).
Royal Pagaille had sat off the duelling pace between Protektorat and Bravemansgame and picked up the pieces highlighted by his 3-f time. Royal Pagaille came home 18 lengths slower than Grey Dawning from the third last to the line.
Bravemansgame was comprehensively outstayed, perhaps feeling the effects of his Charlie Hall second 21 days ago, but this was well below anything he had achieved last season. Bravemansgame is now 14/115.00 for the Gold Cup and Protektorat 66/167.00, while Royal Pagaille is not on the betting list.
The Gold Cup has left its mark on Bravemansgame, who practically walked over the line in last year's edition. He would be of far more interest for the shorter trip of the Ryanair for which he is 25/126.00.
Grey Dawning has moved into 16/117.00 for the Brown Advisory and is a progressive horse who stays very well.
I'm not falling for Fastorslow
Despite a second consecutive defeat at Punchestown on Sunday November 26, Galopin Des Champs remains a 3/14.00 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
This was a laboured display from the 2023 Gold Cup winner, who was beaten again by Fastorslow in a race that turned into a dash, having been tactical and dictated by Appreciate It from flag fall. Hiowever, Galopin Des Champs was close enough, if good enough, but he made little inroads inside the final furlong on the winner Fastorslow, who won this with a bit of authority.
All roads lead to the Gold Cup for Fastorslow, who is 5/16.00 and unappealing, given I feel it's the below-par efforts from Galopin Des Champs that make him look better than he is. After all, he was 21 lengths behind Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan in 2022, and it's hard to suggest he has improved that much on his last two performances - perhaps the Mullins horse has gone backwards with the Gold Cup, leaving a lasting mark.
I'd doubt his form until Fastorslow comes up against a fellow improver. Galopin Des Champs was slow over his fences here and lacklustre, while Paul Townend was off the bridle before Patrick Mullins on Appreciate It. I'm treating this form with caution and that of anything that ran in last year's Gold Cup.
On review of the Gold Cup 2023, Galopin Des Champs has been beaten on his next two starts, runner-up Bravemansgame has been beaten on his next three, the third, Conflated beaten on his next three, the fourth Noble Yeats beaten on his next two, and the fifth Protektorat beaten out of sight in the Betfair Chase. Only Royal Pagaille (beaten 24 lengths), Hewick (fell) and Minella Indo (pulled up) have seen victory from 25 combined runs of those that ran in the 2023 Gold Cup.
One of the shocks of the weekend was Shishkin refusing to start at Ascot on Saturday November 25 when favourite for the 1965 2m5f Chase. He hinted at being reluctant on the way to the start, dug his heels in and spun to the left.
Shishkin was racing in newly fitted cheekpieces, which made little sense given he has been a high-class horse in his career, running to high ratings rarely seen. The addition of the new headgear may have contributed to his antics, and he is now 12/113.00 for the Gold Cup. That price looks a little skinny on the back of this, and I would take this as a sign that he has had enough. Perhaps it was a one-off, but this is a big concern for his backers.
On Sunday November 26 at Cork, Halka Du Tabert, third in last season's Mares Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, made a winning chase debut at 4/71.57. She jumped well in the main, giving the impression going left-handed would suit and improved throughout the race, clocking the fastest time of the three 2m5f chases on the card.
The bare form of a 20-length victory over a 118-rated rival suggests she has run into the mid to high 130s, and the clock would back up that theory. With natural improvement, one would suspect a mid to high 140s rating is easily attainable, which would put her in with a big shout at the festival.
She was the horse to take out of the Mares Novice Hurdle last season at the festival, having clocked a good closing split, having sat off a controlled gallop and hit the line hard. The move up in distance has benefitted her greatly, and she is built for chasing. Surely, the 12/113.00 Mares Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has to be her ultimate aim, and she will improve for this outing. She is a brilliant prospect and firmly on the radar.
At Punchestown on Sunday November 26, Tullyhill proved disappointing when beaten at 1/81.12 by Shannon Royale. The market has reacted by pushing Tullyhill out to 40/141.00 for Albert Barlett, which looks like a huge overreaction. He was keen early and very green when putting in an extra stride at his hurdles, but with the freshness knocked out of him next time, he could prove a different proposition.
At this time of year, I don't mind taking a swing at a couple of Novices' and letting things play out until Christmas. Nowadays, the ante-post market moves any Novice that wins the first time up, so you have to be bold and risky.
There are two horses worth us backing in the Supreme Novice Hurdle market, but I want to hold off on the second. Still, I want to play Nicky Henderson's Jeriko Du Reponet 12/113.00 for the Supreme Novice Hurdle, who was as big as 20/121.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook before his Newbury workout earlier this week, which is frustrating. Still, the savvy odds compilers at Betfair seem to be ducking him at 12/113.00. That's annoyingly the shortest price with 14/115.00 widely available.
Jeriko Du Reponet was an excellent winner in his point-to-point - I have linked the video here if you want to watch it (black and white colours) - and while it's tough to get a handle on what he achieved, his RPR of 95 is fairly useful.
There was a small bit of confusion in his Newbury workout, with many thinking that James Bowen was riding Jeriko when, in fact, it was Nico De Boinville. You can take little from such a workout, but seeing him gallop and stride clear of a Scottish National horse in Dusart was nice. But he looked well, and there was something I liked about how he galloped through the line. This selection is undoubtedly a swing, and JP McManus has brought a lot of promising young Novice Hurdlers, including Mirazur West - a brother to Ferny Hollow - with Willie Mullins. Still, I wouldn't say I liked his head carriage.
You'd like to think that McManus sent this one to Nicky Henderson with the Supreme Novice Hurdle in mind. You don't send potential "handicap plots" to Nicky, but you do to Willie. JP has sent previous horses, Jonbon, Chantry House, My Tent Or Yours, to the Henderson yard to all run in the Supreme Novice and with the trainer's recent comments suggesting his smart Willmount will get 2 1/2 miles, it's wise to think we are on the right Henderson horse for the Supreme. Whether he is good enough, time will tell.
The selection is entered to run this week at Newbury - the race he started Jonbon off in and Buveur D'Air - and any victory will see his price move in the market while the race typically throws up a good one anyway with My Drogo and Lostintranslation two others that come to mind.
I am happy to take a chance.
Watch this week's episode of Weighed In HERE...