Cheltenham Festival 2019
  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4

Cheltenham Success For Tikkanbar And Wincanton Runners

Stable Talk with Neil Mulholland

It has been a hectic festive period as you would expect with two young boys at home, and it has been equally busy in the yard.

We had a host of runners over Christmas and the New Year, and thankfully the string has been in excellent form. 

It is always fantastic to have a winner on Boxing Day, so it was extra special to have two in the winners’ enclosure. Dalaman manged to get his head in front at Wetherby in the novices’ handicap hurdle, and has now won three and finished 2nd in four starts since joining the team.

Richard Johnson gave the horse a fantastic ride, and we still hope there is a little bit of improvement to come on slightly better ground.

Bishops Court picked up his 4th win of the year in the handicap chase at Wincanton, and it was a special occasion for the owners who enjoyed a festive winner at their local track.

Elsewhere, Pilgrims Bay ran another fine race at Kempton to finish 2nd in the 3m handicap chase on the 27th December. He is a horse that performs best in bigger fields, so the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster and the Betbright Chase back at Kempton look two potential targets.

The highlight of the season so far came at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day with Tikkanbar winning the Listed Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. It is a real family affair with the horse owned by my father, and given he was over from Ireland to see his Grandchildren it made sense to run at Prestbury Park. 

The way he finished off his race up the hill was pleasing, and next we will look to step up in distance to two and three-quarter miles. To win a listed hurdle at Cheltenham with a horse that cost £5000 is already a great story, and at this stage the dream is still alive.

Tikkanbar wasn’t our only novice hurdler to win on January 1st, with Dieg Man also doing the business at Catterick. It was excellent to see him maintain his unbeaten record since joining the yard, and he continues to go in the right direction. 

Also at Catterick, Impulsive Star put in a solid round of jumping to finish 2nd in the 3m1f novices’ chase. He will benefit from a stronger pace and a galloping track, with the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham the main target. 

We took two to Bangor on Thursday where both performed with credit to finish 2nd.

Arden Denis was a little unlucky to be beaten a neck, but overall we were delighted with his improved performance in the 2m7f handicap hurdle.

Burns Cross is a lovely point-to-point winner we picked up at the sales in Punchestown, and he stayed on well to finish 2nd in the bumper. The 6yo is a horse that we hope has an exciting future as a staying chaser, but for the time being we will look for more of a testing track and stick to bumpers.

Looking ahead, it is a relatively quiet weekend, but we are hopeful that our two runners at Wincanton on Saturday can be in the mix.

Rainy Day Dylan has been a touch disappointing this term in three starts, but would have a chance in the novices’ handicap hurdle if he can recapture his best form.

Last but not least, Walt runs in what looks like a competitive 2m4f novices’ limited handicap chase at the Somerset track. He has been hugely consistent, and with champion amateur jockey James King taking 5lbs off we are hoping for a big run.

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17 NovSolighoster Success And Doing Fine Heads To Cheltenham
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