Daryl Carter Tips

Cheltenham Festival Focus: Mullins' 10/1 Turners chance could be special

Daryl Carter
Daryl Carter takes a deep dive into the past weeks action.

In week six of Daryl Carter's Cheltenham Festival Focus series, he looks back at the week, stacks up the divisions on his ratings, and is mega-impressed with a Willie Mullins Novice...

  • Mullins' potential monster 10/111.00 was the highlight of my week

  • Teahupoo Hatton's Grace win massively overegged

  • Novice divisions are stacked up and rated


Impaire Et Passe done for fitness, NOT stamina

We re-wind to last Sunday's Hatton's Grace on Sunday December 3 where Teahupoo won the race for a second consecutive season but this time took the scalp of the unbeaten Ballymore winner Impaire Et Passe.

Teahupoo and Impaire Et Passe jumping 1280.png

This was a strange race. This was falsely run and won between four-out and the line and is articulated in the sectional times.

Impaire Et Passe, in theory, should have been well suited by this tactical speed test in light of a Champion Hurdle campaign run over half a mile shorter for which he is still 5/16.00. He was a little free early in the race, but not so much that it should have been detrimental to his chances.

He jumped particularly well on the outside of the field and gained lengths at his hurdles, but was reigned back each time to keep in line with the steady pace.

The Ballymore winner looked to want to go a stride quicker than the race would allow. Paul Townend seemed to have a poll position as he turned into the straight. He traded at a low of 1.182/11 as he jumped the second last with Teahupoo all out to try and gather him in. Imapire Et Passe travelled comfortably but didn't have the speed after he jumped the final hurdle to fend off Teahupoo, who stayed on one-paced according to the clock analysis.

Teahupoo may have looked to outstay the Mullins Champion Hurdle hopeful, having built up momentum from the second last to the line to catch Impaire Et Passe flat-footed.

However, it's hard to suggest that is the case when looking at the overall picture from a sectional and comparative time perspective. Impaire Et Passe likely faltered in fitness.

Despite clocking a much slower circuit time, Teahupoo ran almost identical closing sectionals as the Juvenile winner, Nurburgring, from two out and the final flight to the line, suggesting he maintained no more than an ordinary pace.

The sectional times tell us they only got racing between four and two out. Given how well Impaire Et Passe travelled at this time, it was more likely the lack of fitness that saw the Mullins runner beaten rather than him being "outstayed" as such.

Unless Nurburgring is a beast hidden in plain sight - and the closing quicker sectional of the following 2m hurdle winner Common Practice of 28.53 (four lengths quicker) suggests he is not - then it's probably wise to take the view that Impaire Et Passe has blown up at the death.

The circuit time and finishing time from Teahupoo were so ordinary that this cannot be Impaire Et Passes true running. There's a danger of this victory from Teahupoo being very much overegged.

Teahupoo

Circuit time - 3.53.03
4-f time = 1.31.85
4-3 = 31.28
3-2 = 31.47
2-f = 29.34
1-f = 12.34

Nurburgring

Circuit time - 3.50.71
4-f time = 1.35.25
4 -3 = 32.28
3-2 = 33.63
2- F = 29.53
1- F = 12.44

Farrens Glory

Circuit time - 3.51.66
4-F time = 1.35.25
4-3 = 31.65
3-2 = 32.09
2-F = 31.12
1-F = 13.28

Impaire Et Passe may come on a good bit for the run, as many of the yards runners have. This race in isolation is no bad start but hardly bodes well for his Champion Hurdle claims from a sectional perspective. However, he could prove a different horse with a truer run race. For now, he has work to do.

Teahupoo is now 4/15.00 favourite for the Stayers Hurdle, which is probably the right price given this division is on its knees. It may just be a testament to him that he could win a speed test, but there's little doubt the favourite was not at his best, and when compared to the other contest run on the card, it could easily be argued that Teahupoo was well below what he achieved in this race last year.

Of the comparative races, Farrens Glory is not one I will dwell on, and his 16/117.00 for the Supreme Novice Hurdle is of no interest to me.

On the other hand, Nurburgring could surprise a few in the Triumph Hurdle 14/115.00 should connections wish to go that route. This was much better than his two previous hurdle runs, likely due to the gelding operation in September. After three runs, he already looks more like a Boodles horse - out early and with a handicap mark imminent, he is one to monitor closely.


Action roundup

The 2m4f Grade 1 Drinmore Chase on Sunday December 3, saw Irish National winner I Am Maximus drop almost a 1m in distance and land this race over Found A Fifty and Letsbeclearaboutit.

The second-season Novice wouldn't have been eligible for this race only a day later, but he ran out a ready winner. Lightly raced and introduced into the Gold Cup market at 33/134.00, he makes little appeal on this evidence alone, but connections have expressed they will stick to Grade 1s.

Letsbeclearaboutit - now 25/126.00 for the Turners Chase - was very disappointing, and this will be tough to bounce back from having had little excuse.

Sharjah's - 50/151.00 now for the Turners Chase - unbeaten Novice Chase run was short-lived. He could make no inroads and looked like a shadow of his former self. Perhaps the ground was too bad for him, but he needs everything spot on at his age and is vulnerable to younger legs, having been unable to go the gallop.

It was a valiant effort from Found A Fifty 20/121.00, but it was only okay. He is a solid Grade 2 horse on this evidence but may struggle in Grade 1 company from here on out.

The above are good horses; they are not Cheltenham Festival winners.

Mullins will be happy with chappy

The ground conditions were horrendous at Clonmel on Thursday December 7, but Chapeau De Soleil got the job done in good style over 2m3f.

This is typically a route that Mullins has used for Albert Bartlett types, and he was cut into 14/115.00 for that race in March.

It was a good performance, and he impressed me with how he finished in deep ground conditions while everything else was legless. Once a favourite for the Champion Bumper before he had set foot on a racetrack, he now could be ready to fulfil his potential.

He looks all about stamina, and his jumping must brush up significantly on this first outing. The Willie Mullins runner had little to beat on this occasion, and it's worth noting that anything in the race that had won a race carried a penalty. Still, he made all and won readily. He is a lovely type.

At Aintree on Saturday December 9, Zambella ran out an excellent winner in harsh conditions, enriching her brilliant record over this 2m4f distance to land her eighth Listed win. She never looked in trouble and made a sparkling, winning return to action on her seasonal debut.

This was an excellent start, and despite connections expressing that she will be lightly raced this season in a bid for the Mares Chase for which she is now 33/134.00, her owners suggested she might be covered in March, which would almost certainly rule her out, so hold fire if you like her.

British Grade 1s lack depth

At Sandown on Saturday December 9, 11-year-old Not So Sleepy easily won the Betfair Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle by eight lengths. This turned out to be a poor race with the defection of Constitution Hill.

Goshen and You Wear It Well tore each other a new one from the off. Love Envoi is now 10/111.00 to go one better than she did in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2023 after her second here, in which she ran a strange race.

She was making her seasonal return, and the market was mistaken in thinking she had a good record the first time out, having had a one by her name for the last two seasons, but in reality, what she achieved in those seasonal debut wins is a far cry from what was needed even in this depleted field.

Therefore, Love Envoi is not one to give up on, although she did dictate the Mares Hurdle last year when falling short to only Honeysuckle, but 10/111.00 is big considering she will come on for this outing and has a good record at the March venue.

The Novice Chase Grade 1 Betfair Henry VIII on Saturday December 9 was won by Gary Moore's Le Patron - the outsider of the entire field. Le Patron was always well positioned, jumped well on the whole and ran out a convincing winner in a below-par race renewal, with the first three having gained their only victories in handicap company prior.

The victor couldn't be knocked, and he showed a good attitude. However, his 50/151.00 price tag for the Arkle highlights how poor the British Novice chasers are this term.

One To Watch

Colonel Harry was still green and made a handful of niggly errors at Sandown, but his finishing effort from the back of the last was excellent, and he could have done with a stronger pace. One would like to see him revert to prominent tactics next time over 2m or up in distance to 2 1/2. He looks very talented, has a big future in this sphere, and will be of firm interest next time.

Jonbon won the Grade 1 Betfair Tingle Creek on Saturday December 9 at Sandown and confirmed recent Cheltenham form with Edwardstone.

Jonbon lacked his usual zaz, and this was a laboured display with some very sticky jumping, and he tended to go out to his left on many flights. He didn't have much to beat but was all out and took a while to get on top of the long-time leader, Haddex Des Obeaux.

He was never going to be caught on run-in with Nico de Boinville in full drive, but the runner-up Edwardstone made a bad error at the first of the railway fences, and there's little doubt that made a difference to the winning margin in which four lengths covered the first three.

The big asset Jonbon has/had was his prolific jumping technique, but that wasn't seen to best effect today, and maybe the tacky ground had something to do with it. He will need to be much better than this to take on the El Fabiolo in March in the Champion Chase 5/23.50.

It's For Me form emphatically boosted at Navan

At Navan on Saturday December 9, Caldwell Potter won the second Maiden Hurdle race on the card emphatically by seven lengths. He clocked a time from the landing side of the first hurdle to the line 8.85 secs (35.40 lengths) quicker than the opening Maiden Hurdle winner Jigoro.

This was a brilliant performance on the pace's sharp end, and he galloped strongly through the line. His time was recorded just over three seconds quicker than the bumper winner, My Trump Card. He looks more like a relentless galloper than anything else, but he has a high cruising speed. Interestingly, his connections said they would be taking things slow with the brother of the ill-fated Mighty Potter, which may mean Cheltenham is off the table.

Bartlett Blow

Our week five selection Better Days Ahead could only manage a fourth of five at Navan on Saturday December 9 in the Navan Novice Grade 2 Hurdle. However, I wasn't too disheartened with the performance with this run over a trip short of what he wanted.

He made an error at the final flight, having been on the sharp end of a good gallop throughout, and looked to be coming back at the winner and the runner-up at the finish. Whether this exposed his limitations in another matter and Betfair pushed him to 40/141.00 for the Albert Bartlett. Still, I wouldn't give up just yet, given this came quickly enough, 15 days after his last run.

The winner, Slade Steel, did this well and clocked a circuit time 4.43 seconds quicker than the opening 2m Maiden Hurdle won by Jigaro and 4.66 seconds (18 lengths slower) than 2m Maiden winner Caldwell Potter.

He travelled strongly, jumped well on the whole, and had more in hand at the line than the winning margin suggests, having idled a little, showing inexperience - he was a clear best here. He is progressing into a nice horse, and this race has a decent roll of honour over the past decade. He looks to have all the attributes for a Ballymore test for which he is 10/111.00 with Betfair.

The runner-up, Lecky Watson, is well worth a comment. His jumping needs some work, and he is not straightforward forward, but he has a sizeable engine and was ridden in the manner in which connections were finding out if he is a 2 1/2 miler or 3. Based on this evidence, he is an Albert Bartlett type, which he is 14/115.00. He reminds me of the old type of Bartlett horse - will arrive with plenty of experience and battle-hardened.

You'll remember he was squeezed out at a crucial stage in the Champion bumper when finishing fifth.


He stays all day, but is Fay quick enough?

Stay Away Fay is now 5/16.00 for the Brown Advisory after scalping the talking horse Giovinco 12/113.00 in the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Sandown on December 8. Paul Nicholls' youngster is improving with every run and is solid in the jumping department.

He looks like the right favourite for the Brown Advisory, although I would be concerned about the old track at Cheltenham. It's sharp and always on the turn. I like him a lot, but I'd like him a good bit more if this were run on the new course.

That would be the sole concern. Does he have the natural pace?

Interestingly, this Sandown Grade 2 was run much slower than the following handicap chase won by Animal. Stay Away Fay was 6.69 seconds behind the handicap leader at the pond fence (pictured below), equal to almost 27 lengths, suggesting they didn't go much of a gallop here but did build from four out.

Stay Away Fay came home around 14 lengths quicker than Animal over the final three flights but gradually increased his speed from fence to fence rather than showing a turn of foot.

Stay Away Fay 1280 Pond fence compared.png

In turn, Giovinco travelled strongly through the race, losing little in defeat when outgunned over the last. He may flatter to deceive, having found less than looked likely when under pressure and considering they only went a steady gallop, that's not a positive sign.

Stay Away Fay easily is the best British prospect for now and for a potential Gold Cup in the future. I want to keep very positive about him.


Novice Divisions rated

We are into the sixth week of this column, and I wanted to look at each of the divisions overall as now, before Christmas, feels like a good time to take stock.

Hurdlers

Willmount jumping 1280.png

History tells us that it's highly likely that we have seen the Supreme Novice winner on a race track over hurdles already. Nine of the last ten winners of the race had been seen before the middle of December, with Klassical Dream, who made his Irish debut as late as the 26th of the same month, arriving out the latest of those.

Looking back at week one, where caution was advised regarding the Champion Bumper form, it's interesting to see how that race worked out.

The winner, A Dream To Share, is off until the new year through injury, the runner-up, Fact To File, is over fences in the staying chase division, Captain Teague looks like a thorough stayer, Lecky Watson is doing good work over 3m, Loughglynn and Chapeau De Soleil both look like staying hurdles and have won in the mud over 2m5f and 2m3f.

Last year's bumper has produced a lack of speedsters. Mind you, Supreme Novice Hurdle winners Marine Nationale, Constitution Hill, Shishkin, Klassical Dream, Summerville Boy, Labaik, Altior, Douvan and Vautour never ran in the Champion Bumper. That's nine of the last ten winners. At the same time, Appreciate It, who finished runner-up in the Champion Bumper, arguably won the poorest renewal of the Supreme Novice Hurdle in a decade in the smallest field size in that same time frame.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the Supreme Novice Hurdle market is dominated by the unseen favourite A Dream To Share and horses who didn't run in the event. It's For Me 16/117.00 is tenth in the betting, having shaped like the best horse in the Champion Bumper, and was a strong fancy of mine last year - I may be biased.

Still, he tops the RPR ratings for Novice Hurdlers at this stage, as seen below, and he is quite some way ahead of his rivals after a promising start.

Current RPR ratings


16/117.00 - It's For Me 141
14/115.00 - Farren Glory 138
10/111.00 - Fire Fox 132
12/113.00 - Daddy Long Legs 131
10/111.00 - Willmont 128
12/113.00 - Ballyburn 128
20/121.00 - Mystical Power 126
13/27.50 - Jerko Du Reponet 120
16/117.00 - Down Memory Lane 116

Racing Post Ratings recorded by the Supreme Novice winners on debut in the last ten years read as follows - 125, 150, 140, 141, 129, 120, 126, 136, 143, 140.

It's For Me is in the top bracket of those, and he got a big form boost from Caldwell Potter in the 12:35 at Navan on Saturday. He is 25/126.00 in a place or two which is ridiculously big.

Willie Mullins could have a strong hand should improvement be forthcoming from Daddy Long Legs, who impressed on debut and is of firm interest. Jeriko Du Reponet has plenty to do on the RPR ratings above, but I have him running to 125, so better than what the ratings suggest, and he is open to plenty of improvement, as are most. I am sure they also have Down Memory Lane wrong, but time will tell.

Christmas should prove telling with this division with the 2m Future Champions Novice on December 27, and we will look to enter this market again before then.

Regarding the Ballymore Novice Hurdle, that is likely to develop over Christmas, too. The 2m Maiden Hurdle on Boxing Day at Leopardstown won by Sir Gerhard in 2021 on hurdles debut last term should prove informative.

Similarly to the Supreme, every Ballymore winner in the previous ten years bar Sir Gerhard had been seen on a track by December 20 - Impaire Et Passe was the latest out of those.

The Albert Bartlett is a moving market, and this is one where the Champion Bumper is likely to play a leading role.


Novice Chasers

Facile Vega 1280.jpg

When discussed in week one on what the Novice Chase divisions could bring, below are the original thoughts.

"Overall, this season's Brown Advisory and Turners Chase look open betting heats. Still, the Arkle is a two-horse race with the expectation for Marine Nationale and Facile Vega to dominate unless something extraordinary comes from the woodwork".

The 2m Novice Chase division concerns only three (Inthepocket the third). Facile Vega 5/23.50 is a more and more attractive price the longer we wait for Marine Nationale's chase debut, as Barry Connell has decided to miss Saturday's engagement due to soft ground and suggested that he will "probably wait until Christmas at Leopardstown on the 27th".

If I held a Marine Nationale ante-post bet, I would be concerned. This notion of avoiding soft ground is likely because it's his first run of the season, but if it's not just that, then you'd be asking yourself what would happen if we had a wet Cheltenham Festival. The other is inexperience; while he is making his debut, most of the 2m Arkle contenders would have gained an extra run on him.


My ratings Arkle

Facile Vega - 154

Inthepocket - 148
Il Etait Temps - 147

Le Patron 143
Matata - 143
JPR One - 139
Mister Policeman - 133


The 3m Novice Chase division typically relies on the previous year's Albert Bartlett form, and it is starting to look very windy indeed. The runner-up Affordable Fury was put in his place by Favouri De Champdou, as was third placed Sandor Clegane, the fourth Letsbeclearaboutit has disappointed on his second chase start when beaten over 2 1/2 miles by an Irish National winner in I Am Maximus easily in the Drinmore.

The fifth, Three Card Brag, looks very slow despite a solid second on chase debut, the sixth has yet to be seen since, and the seventh, Weveallbeencaught, has taken two batterings over fences.

Stay Away Fay and Corbetts Cross have done the form little harm, but there's no guarantee the latter goes for the Brown Advisory, and the former needs to gather a turbo from somewhere.


My ratings Brown Advisory


Flooring Porter - 150
Corbetts Cross - 149
Stay Away Fay - 149
Hermes Allen - 147
Favouri De Champdou - 144
Giovinco - 144
Grey Dawning - 142

As for the 2 1/2 mile division, Gaelic Warrior must have a huge chance along with Hermes Allen. Still, there's a new kid on the block in the form of Indiana Dream, and this remains wide open.


My ratings Turners Chase


Gaelic Warrior - 156

Indiana Dream 147
Corbetts Cross - 147
Hermes Allen - 146
Klassical Dream 145
Letsbeclearaboutit - 144
American Mike - 143


Chance Mullins' monster for the Turners Novices Chase @ 10/111.00

Not many horses will excite me in a season, but when one makes me scramble for the TV remote to catch an after-race interview, I know it's worth getting worked up about.

The horse in question is Indiana Dream, who won sublimely at Navan on Saturday December 9, in the Beginners Chase. He was very easy to back in the morning markets 9/43.25 out to 3/14.00 and then again in the ring 7/42.75 out to an SP of 5/23.50.

He was returning from almost a year off the track, having suffered a small setback that kept him off since effortlessly winning his Maiden hurdle by 15 lengths at Fairyhouse in January earlier this year.

The form of that Maiden Hurdle win has been boosted multiple times. The runner-up is rated 131, had previously finished second to Facile Vega at the same venue, and has won four times from May to August this year. The third, trained by Barry Connell, is rated 125 and won next time out, beating Law Ella of Gavin Cromwell's, who had been second to Ashroe Diamond in an Aintree Grade 2 bumper in 2022.

Still, it was unknown what to expect on chase debut after such an absence and in much deeper company, but he couldn't have been more impressive and won this in a canter. You can argue the race fell apart to some degree with the unseating of Hiddenvalley Lake at the third last (well held at the time, in my opinion) and runner-up Saint Felicien a suspect stayer and the third, the 132-rated Santonito, making his chase debut along with Shanbally Kid.

However, everything in this race, bar the winner, finished legless. The winner cruised through the line hard on the bridle despite making errors at the second, fourth, eighth, and four out. His most serious mistake at the fourth may have ended a lesser horse's chances early in the race, and it certainly would have had an effect in the latter stages of the contest - Mark Walsh did well to remain on the plate, and he did well to keep up the strong gallop.

This form only looks okay. However, the clock provides even more clues. I don't know what is going on with the overall times on the Racing Post, but they are rarely correct. According to the RP, Indiana Dream was four seconds slower than the Listed winner, Embittered.

However, that was different when I checked. Still, taking the time from the landing side of the first flight to the line, he was more like 0.3 seconds slower and almost identical from three out to the line despite running out a winner in no more than a canter. He carried 20 lbs more on his back than Embittered, who won his race by nine lengths off a rating of 137.

Easily one of the best Novice Chase debuts of the season

Overall, this is one of the best - alongside Gaelic Warrior - Novice Chase debut performances of the season, and by some distance, it is easily rated around 145-plus if not a little more.

The question is in what race he will run if kept sound. I'd expect him to turn up at Fairyhouse next in January over 2m5f, where Mullins ran Kemboy before running in the JLT a few years back, and the decision to be made then.

Based on this evidence, there is no reason to send the inexperienced five-turning six-year-old up in the distance over three miles. Time is undoubtedly on his side, and even if granted another two runs, he would be Willie Mullins's least experienced novice chaser in terms of total career runs in the last decade to run in either the Turners or the Brown Advisory 12/113.00.

However, looking at Willie Mullins's arsenal, he potentially has plenty of candidates for the Brown Advisory. The Betfair market sees that Indiana Dream is shorter than all other than Gaelic Warrior. According to the market, Grangeclare West, Klassical Dream, Minella Cocooner, Fact To File and Embassy Gardens - due to run Tuesday - are his likely candidates for this event.

Then, we must look at the JP-owned horses. Inthepocket looks Arkle bound, according to sources. Corbetts Cross could go either way, but his jumping might need to be better for the Turners, and he looked even more like a three-miler at Fairyhouse than he ever did over hurdles. Fact To File skipped a Novice Hurdle season, and he could prove a different proposition next time, but he is more likely a National Hunt Chase candidate, given he lacks a turn of foot.

Given his inexperience, class, and ability to go a good gallop, I lean towards the Turners - 10/111.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - despite being bred for three miles in time.

I have backed him for both races, but it's too early to advise both now at combined odds of 9/25.50. He is 12/113.00 and 10/111.00 generally for the Turners with other firms.


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