Cheltenham Tips

Cheltenham Festival Focus: Catch Tully up the Cheltenham hill... if you can

Daryl Carter.
Daryl Carter was impressed with Tullyhill.

In week 16 of Daryl Carter's Cheltenham Festival Focus, he runs the microscope over the past week's action, looking at some of the final clues for the Cheltenham Festival...

  • Tullyhill, a stand-out Supreme candidate

  • Ballyburn to switch to Baring Bingham?

  • L'Homme Presse school teaches nothing new

Tullyhill is a massive player if Supreme Novice doesn't come too soon

I always like it when I have to go back and time a race for the second time, but with nine-length Punchestown winner Tullyhill, I had to do it three and four times to believe his comparative numbers.

Tullyhill went off a warm favourite, having been as big a 4/15.00 the evening before, and he dethroned No Flies On Him at the head of the market with a strong SP of 6/52.20.

The money was right as Tullyhill went from pillar to post, making all the running and never looked in any serious trouble to down some highly touted rivals, including No Flies On Him, who had clocked the best time on the card at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and was entitled to improve.

Tullyhill still leaves room for improvement in the jumping department, but this was a much-improved display on his seasonal debut when he trounced 24 lengths over 2m6f. Still, if nothing else, one thing was clear, and it's that 2m is certainly his optimal distance for now.

The form of this race looks very strong and arguably as good as Ballyburn's Dublin Racing Festival victory.

They bring different form lines into the Supreme Novice, but the loose bumper line through King Of Kingsfield for Tullyhill suggests he is right up there with Ballyburn at the top of the pecking order. Westport Cove allows a sighting into what official rating this form may be worth. He was well held here, but he pushed Quai De Bourbon close at Clonmel under similar conditions, and that winner was given a British rating of 140.

Potent front-running speed

The time was very good indeed. Tullyhill may have had a freebie on the sharp end of the pace, but he went so fast that it was more likely nothing could go with him.

His circuit time, he clocked a remarkable 3.52.53, some 15 seconds and 63 lengths quicker than the 2m4f race won by Paggane. Furthermore, he was quicker than the winners 3-F, 3-2 and 2-1.

When looking at the final circuit of the 3m race won by Buachaillbocht, Tullyhill was 47 lengths quicker and faster 3-F, 3-2, 2-1 and 1-F.

The comparative 2m flat race won by Sounds Victorious was slowly run, so it is not a plausible comparison. Still, for information purposes, Tullyhill was 52 lengths quicker and slower 3-F by only eight lengths.

Tullyhill's 2m circuit time was quicker than any other hurdle race/flat race on the card by a minimum of 47 lengths, and no other number below 148 - 150 can be allotted to this performance, taking into account the form and the clock.

No horse in the Supreme Novice Hurdle market has done such numbers on the clock this season. However, the third, Jigoro, ran well enough to suggest Mystical Power is in the mix alongside Ballyburn and Tullyhill. Still, that trio looks clear of anything else in the Supreme Novice.

Tullyhill reportedly took a good blow after this run, suggesting he could still come on plenty for it, but it was a big performance in heavy ground three weeks before the Cheltenham Festival.

If, and it is an if, he can recover and put in a similar front-running performance, he has a significant chance of winning the Supreme Novice - despite the unfavourable headgear statistic - on these numbers, and he would very much interest me with his running style, typically well suited to the opening race of the festival.

Furthermore, this is his only entry and provided he isn't feeling the effects of this race, he could easily go off close to favourite should his stablemate Ballyburn defect.

I am very keen on his chances for the Supreme Novice, but other firms are offering the same 6/17.00 price with the NRMB option, and I would prefer to have that given the proximity of this race and the festival, so I must hold off tipping him for now.

What does this mean for Ballyburn Supreme backers?

It all depends on the feedback given by Paul Townend. Still, on this evidence, Tullyhill would give Ballyburn his biggest test to date, so it's doubtful that the pair would clash, and given this is Tullyhill's only entry, it could easily mean Ballyburn moves up to the Baring Bingham.

The decision will likely rest on how Tullyhill comes out of his race, and if given the green light, it's unlikely the camp will pitch their two strongest Novice Hurdlers against one another.

Here's how I rate the top Novice Hurdler contenders

Ballyburn 152
Tullyhill 149
Reading Tommy Wrong 147
Mystical Power 146
Ile Atlantique 144
Slade Steel 144
Gidleigh Park 141
King Of Kingsfield 140
No Flies On Him 138
Jeriko Du Reponet 137

L'homme Presse pushed to 14/115.00 for Gold Cup after Betfair Chase defeat

Sometimes, you wonder what on earth riders are thinking. Anyone who had a bet on anything other than Pic D'Orhy should be outraged at how this race panned out.

Those riders of L'Homme Presse, Ahoy Senor and Sail Away in the Betfair Ascot Chase had allowed the excellent Harry Cobden to run them ragged, giving him an effortless lead.

Cobden's pace saw his Pic D'Orhy four lengths behind the bunched 3m Reynoldstown Grade 2 field at six out but himself ten clear of L'Homme Presse as those in behind gifted him this Grade 1.

Pic D'Orhy was slower than Henry's Friend overall, and L'Homme Presse was slower further by 12 lengths. How connections can quote after the race that they were "delighted" with this Gold Cup prep and jockey Charlie Deutsch, say, "We bumped into a fast two-and-a-half-miler" is baffling when looking at the clock.

Threeunderthrufive clocked a circuit time of 5.17.78 to Pic D'Orhy's 5.16.73.
Perhaps the only post-race comment worth reading as true was Deutsch's,

"I looked at today as I'd try and win, but if I don't, it doesn't matter".

After all, it was a "Gold Cup prep run", but still an unsatisfactory watch.

As for the Gold Cup picture, it's unwise to judge L'Homme Presse on this evidence, given we know he was here for a maximum of a trot around, and he has run nowhere near a 170 level but more like 150.

He is now 14/115.00 for the Gold Cup, but I would expect a far better performance in three weeks back up in distance and returned left-handed and on soft ground - his Brown Advisory victory is still fresh in his mind - so perhaps this was a small overreaction from the Sportsbook.

As for Ahoy Senor, he does not appeal for either the Ryanair 33/134.00 or the Gold Cup 66/167.00 despite this right-handed track being a negative and his taking a liking to Cheltenham.

L'Homme Presse is still firmly on my radar for the Gold Cup.

Britain's best Novice Chaser to skip Cheltenham

Etalon devoured his rivals at Sandown on Thursday 15 February in excellent style, and he looks like a highly progressive Novice Chaser and arguably one of Britain's finest. He took care of some useful battle-hardened handicappers, and expect to see him a big player at Aintree.

Ante-post selections

I will hold off on another ante-post bet this week as we are due the handicap entries on Wednesday, and I am slightly concerned that Fact To File will switch to the Brown Advisory and Grey Dawning will go to the Turners. So, for now, I want to let that play out.

However, we are well behind on last year's list, but there will be two, maybe three, to come in the next couple of weeks.

Until then, be lucky.

Daryl Carter's Tips: Balding and Murphy can clean house at Lingfield


Back Salvator Mundi to win the Triumph Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 25/126.00

Back Sir Gino to win the Triumph Hurdle @ 16/117.00 1pt NOW 10/111.91

Back Irish Point to win the Stayers Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 4/15.00

Back Envoi Allen to win the Ryanair @ 14/115.00 1pt win NOW 4/15.00

Back Jeriko Du Reponet to win the Supreme Novice @ 12/113.00 1pt NOW 9/110.00

Back Better Days Ahead to win the Albert Bartlett @ 33/134.00 1pt NOW 66/167.00

Back Indiana Dream to win the Turners Novice Chase @ 10/111.00 1pt

Back Flooring Porter to win the Brown Advisory Novice Chase @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 25/126.00

Back Mighty Bandit for the Triumph Hurdle @ 8/19.00 1pt win NOW 20/121.00

Back Mystical Power to win the Ballymore @ 25/126.00 1pt win NOW 7/18.00

Back Corbetts Cross to win the National Hunt Chase @ 20/121.00 1pt NOW 7/18.00

Back Mystical Power to win the Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 9/25.50

Back Grey Dawning to win the Brown Advisory @ 10/111.00 1pt now 5/16.00

Back Under Control to win the Mares Hurdle @ 50/151.00 1pt now 66/167.00

Back Fastorslow to win the Ryanair Chase @ 33/134.00 1pt NOW 10/111.00

Back Fact To File to win the Turners Novice Chase @ 10/111.00 1pt NOW 7/42.75

Back Good Time Jonny to win the Kim Muir @ 12/113.00 1pt NOW 8/19.00

Back Trelawne to win the Ultima Handicap @ 20/121.00 1pt win

Back Saint Roi to win the Plate Handicap @ 33/134.00 1pt win


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