Cheltenham Tips

Cheltenham Festival Focus: He really could take some beating in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle

Cheltenham racecourse
Daryl fancies Sire Du Berlais to reclaim his Pertemps crown.

"...the class horses do come to the fore and given his excellent record at the track (2114), it's hard to see any of these living with the graded horse in a handicap."

Welcome to week 16 of Cheltenham Festival Focus, and here with a run-down of the week's action and some more ante-post selections is Daryl Carter...

The weeks will become quieter and quieter in terms of fishing for those festival clues, but there has been plenty to talk over this week, and the handicap entries come out on Tuesday, so expect next week's column to be chockablock!

The Betfair Sportsbook are now Non-Runner-Money-Bac (NRMB) on all races at the Cheltenham Festival.

First, a look back to last Sunday at Punchestown, where Midnight Maestro narrowly came out on top of stablemate Shady Operator in the Cross Country Chase, and that pair are now 9.08/1 and 8.07/1 NRMB, respectively, for the Cross Country Chase in March. It wasn't a performance that overly excited me in, and their prices look no more than fair. We swiftly move on.

Midnight Maestro Punchestown.png

Ciel De Neige made it three for three over fences later on the card and ran out a convincing winner, seemingly having plenty in the tank at the finish. He seems versatile in regards to trip and ground. Sixth in the County Hurdle off of a handicap mark of 140 over hurdles last term, he has improved for the larger obstacles and is now rated 148 over fences in Ireland.

Still, punters must remember the English tax that will be applied (could be upwards of seven pounds). He could take in the Arkle, for which he is a 11.010/1 chance, although this would be an unusual route taken for a Mullins runner in this contest. He is 8.07/1 for the Grand Annual and 7.06/1 for the Cheltenham Plate.

Death Duty got back to winning ways in the Grand National trial. He could sneak into the Kim Muir (rating cap of 145), for which he is a 11.010/1 chance, but Floueur was the big eye-catcher having again jumped poorly but showed a sizeable engine. He could prove just too high after the English Handicapper makes his assessment (currently 141), but he is a 11.010/1 chance NRMB.

Mullins still unearthing potential stars

Trainer Willie Mullins yet again ruled the roost in the bumper, unearthing another sound National Hunt Flat horse in James's Gate who ran out a visually impressive winner at Punchestown last Sunday. It was an effortless display in testing conditions, so it's hard to get a handle on what he achieved at SP odds of 2/5. Still, the bookmakers were impressed installing him in the Champion Bumper at 9.08/1. Me, not so much at this stage.

Willie Mullins close up 1280 .jpg

At Clonmel on Thursday, Hors Piste was impressive in victory, and she could turn out to be another useful recruit for the Donnelley's having coasted away from her rivals in effortless fashion. The runner-up was a ten race Maiden rated 91, so it's not form to be getting too excited about, but she has a fine presence about her, and she improved considerably on her debut performance at Tramore. A lively outsider for the Mares' Novice Hurdle perhaps at 21.020/1?

Unfortunately, on the same card in the Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle, we lost the very talented Mr Fred Rogers, who was sadly fatally injured. Victor Shantreusse, for Henry De Bromhead, looks as though he will follow the footsteps of stablemate Minella Indo who finished runner-up in this contest before heading to the Albert Bartlett. Shantreusse is 50/1 into 12/1 but may want a deeper surface than he will likely get in March.

Aintree bound for unbeaten pair?

Another one that may be found wanting for deeper ground come March is Sandown winner Love Envoi who put in a powerful display in testing conditions to run out a comfortable winner and take her record to four from four over hurdles and five from five in her career. Much, much stiffer tasks await her, but she is worthy of her place in the Mares' Novice Hurdle should the ground come up soft and is 9.08/1 chance - too short.

From one unbeaten runner to another in Skytastic who scored in comfortable fashion at Ascot on Saturday. He is likely to go to Aintree so hold fire on any bets.

Be warned about heavy ground Ascot success

Does He Know Ascot 1280 x 831.png

Does He Know, was very impressive winning the Reynaldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot in testing conditions and is surely due a hefty rise in the weights after his 14 length victory over the 142 rated Doyen Breed giving him three pounds.

He is already rated 147, so the comment from connections about potentially heading to the Ultima Handicap is rather baffling. He will not be well-handicapped enough to land this event for which he is 6.05/1 favourite, and the National Hunt Chase must look a more sensible option 9.08/1.

Still, I remind you that this Ascot meeting, when soft/heavy, has a poor record of producing festival winners.

Good Risk At All was cut into 11.010/1 for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle and 8.07/1 for the Coral Cup after his handicap win off an opening mark of 127.

He improved significantly for the step up in trip and the soft ground, but his hurdling is so much better than it was earlier in the season. He looks like a horse on a steep upward curve, although much stiffer tasks await should he take the Ballymore route, and he has plenty to find on the ratings for Ballymore glory, so the handicap could be the way to go.

Fakir D'Oudairies put in a gutsy display to run down Two For Gold in the Betfair Ascot Chase, and he has been cut into 8.07/1 for the Ryanair Chase should connections want another crack at Allaho.

There was talk of this being a career-best for Fakir, and I would have to disagree. This was well below the level of his form last term in Ireland, and it was a laboured performance for much of the race. He eventually came out on top as his class came to the fore, but it's hard to see him turn around the form with Allaho on this evidence.

Hillcrest is now as short as 7.06/1 for the Albert Bartlett after running out a ready winner at Haydock by eight lengths. He is a fine beast, but his future undoubtedly lies over 3m and over fences. His jumping was sloppy at times, and he won't get away with that when faced with a Championship pace. He is a lovely horse, but he has been dictating ordinary races from the front.

I'd love the tide to come in!

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Over in Ireland on Saturday, Teahupoo ran out a very commanding ten length winner of the Grade 2 Red Mills Hurdle in an excellent time figure and will now head to the Champion Hurdle to take on Honeysuckle. He is a 9.08/1 chance and looks to be firmly on the upgrade. He would have a shout.

The big, big, big eye-catcher in the race was the four-year-old that finished fourth, The Tide Turns, who has no right to be in the race in all honesty but travelled the strongest and looked as though he would play a hand at the death but for having to switch before two out.

Jockey Denis O'Regan went to pull his whip through but refrained from using it as he saw the winner scooting away, likely aware that not getting close to the winner would leave his mount with a workable handicap mark.

He was also a big eye-catcher behind Vauban in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle when short of room on the inside. Connections expressed that they were keen to get him qualified for the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he is now a 6.05/1 chance.

He is improving with every run, and we are yet to see him fully extended. His current rating of 135 is due to be reassessed, but given he has beaten 23 lengths in receipt of 17 pounds, he is unlikely to be given a rise and could well be dropped unless the Handicapper rates Teahupoo around 170 - which would be ludicrous.

According to reports, the Boodles is high on the agenda, and he is a very promising Juvenile, and even with the English tax due on his mark, he is a very appealing candidate. Those toward the top end of the handicap in the Boodles tend to do well. In the last six years, horses rated 138-139 have filled the first two positions.

He is added to our list NRMB.

Back Du Berlais for third Pertemps victory

Dunboyne 10.09/1 has been a big talking horse this season for the Pertemps Handicap Final after qualifying at Leopardstown at Christmas when catching the eye of many, including myself. Still, I usually like to steer clear of this race until the day, and he may yet make this list, but his stablemate Sire Du Berlais 11.010/1 has gone a little under the radar.

Gordon Elliott's two time winner looks to have been laid out for this contest since his runner-up effort in the Stayer's Hurdle at the festival last year, and he is double the price off his run in that Grade 1 contest at 11.010/1 NRMB for an attempt at a third victory in the Pertemps.

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That's too good to pass up, and despite his age of ten, he has been sparingly raced over the last few season's and his trainer Gordon Elliott knows how to ready him for a spring target.

He was beaten just three lengths by Flooring Porter in the Stayer's Hurdle last term when clocking an RPR of 165 - that's 10lbs higher than his current rating of 155. The Irish Handicapper dropped him two pounds for pulling up at Leopardstown at Christmas - a track he has rarely performed well at in his entire career - and the British Handicapper dropped him a further three pounds to 155 for his qualifying run at Warwick.

He was only at Warwick to qualify for this event, the same race he prepped in before his victory at Cheltenham in 2020. He is only three pounds higher than when scoring in 2020 in good style over another extremely well-handicapped stablemate, and on balance, this race lacks stand-out potential stars or any other classy horse.

There's one qualifier left for this contest, and unless something comes out of the woodwork, it's hard to see Sire Du Berlais going off a double-figure price, let alone out of the frame. Top weights to do well in this contest, and the class horses do come to the fore and given his excellent record at the track (2114), it's hard to see any of these living with the graded horse in a handicap.

Recommended bets

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Back My Mate Mozzie for the Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 15.014/1 1pt win NOW 21.020/1
Back Eric Bloodaxe for the Albert Bartlett @ 17.016/1 1pt win NOW 34.033/1
Back Gaillard Du Mesnil for the Festival Novices' Chase @ 26.025/1 1pt win NOW 15.014/1
Back Constitution Hill for the Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 7.06/1 1pt win NOW 3.02/1
Back Mighty Potter for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle @ 15.014/1 1pt win NOW 14.013/1
Back Minella Indo for the Gold Cup @ 9.08/1 1pt win NOW 5.04/1
Back Shan Blue for the Ultima Handicap @ 9.08/1 1pt win 15.014/1
Back Funambule Sivola for the Grand Annual @ 21.020/1 1pt win NOW 9.08/1
Back Braeside for the National Hunt Chase @ 21.020/1 1pt e/w NOW 16.015/1
Back Vauban for the Triumph Hurdle @ 11.010/1 1pt win NOW 3.55/2
Back Brandy Love for the Mares Novice Hurdle @ 6.05/1 1pt win NOW 5.59/2
Back Appreciate It for the Champion Hurdle @ 6.05/1 1pt win NRNB NOW 4.57/2
Back Third Time Lucki for the Arkle @ 9.08/1 1pt win NOW 15.014/1
Back The Tide Turns for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap 1pt win @ 6.05/1 NRMB
Back Sire Du Berlais for the Pertemps Handicap Final 1pt e/w 5 places @ 11.010/1 NRMB

P/L = -5pts


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