Cheltenham Festival Handicap Entries And Weekend Runners
Friday 23rd February 2018
We enjoyed our trip to Lingfield Park last Friday and it was fantastic to see the Flat string continuing to excel.
Master Burbidge has been a terrific dual-purpose campaigner for the yard, and it was lovely to see him get his head back in front in the 2m stayers’ handicap. He’s one that can be quirky, but as a home bred it was an extra special win for the team.
Mike Burbidge has been a loyal owner for the yard and a good friend on a personal note, so it is always a pleasure when his horses perform. Mrs Burbidge almost made it the perfect afternoon but still ran an excellent race when finishing 2nd in the 1m4f handicap on the same card.
It wasn’t such good news on Saturday as Dieg Man failed to fire at Ascot in the 2m3f handicap hurdle. It was of course disappointing on the day but thankfully he appears to have come home in one piece, so hopefully we will get to see his true ability next time.
We had busy afternoon at Doncaster on Wednesday with Neachells Bridge making a strong start to his career over hurdles. We were delighted with the way he jumped in the novices’ hurdle to finish 5th in what appeared to be a competitive contest.
We had two in the 3m veterans’ chase on the same card and it was disappointing to see Carole’s Destrier run below par. So far nothing obvious has emerged to explain the run, so we will go back to the drawing board and aim to get him back on track.
Conversely, Halo Moon put in a terrific display to finish 2nd and he is a horse that continues to pick up plenty of prize money as he improves.
We were certainly out of luck at Huntingdon on Thursday afternoon as Lubatic was narrowly beaten on the line in the 2m4f handicap hurdle. The horse travelled like the winner so it was frustrating to get beaten, and on another day there would have been a stewards enquiry.
The countdown to the Cheltenham Festival is always a great time of the year and we always look to head to Prestbury Park with a strong team.
At this stage we are yet to decide on the participation of Tikkanbar, with a number of options remaining open. Missing the Festival remains a possibility, but he has been looking in good nick at home and we are not ruling out a tilt at either the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
One horse who certainly is likely to be heading to Gloucestershire is Impulsive Star with the National Hunt Chase the target. He has improved for his most recent run at Chepstow and we have always felt the conditions of the four miler would suit.
We made several entries for the various Festival handicap this week with Doing Fine another one that hopefully can go with a chance. The Kim Muir looks the ideal contest for a horse with his strengths, and if the ground dries out there is no reason why he can’t be in the mix.
Solighoster has entries for the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase and Ultima Handicap Chase at Prestbury Park, but first he will be trying to give his owner a Happy Birthday when he runs at Ludlow on Wednesday!
Looking ahead to this weekend, we have a busy Sunday with runners declared at two venues.
Kansas City Chief has been in excellent form recently and goes to Southwell for the 3m handicap hurdle. The Pertemps Final remains the target at Cheltenham but a strong performance is essential if he is to catch the eye of the handicapper and be assured of a run.
Finally, we send an exciting team to Fontwell Park including Niblawi who has been declared for the 2m3f novices’ hurdle. A talented horse, but he needs to jump better to have a chance in a decent looking contest.
Duke Of Kilcorral ran well at Bangor last time but might just have a tough time in the handicap hurdle off his current mark. Meanwhile, Cintex will join his stablemate in the same contest and did look in good form during his piece of work at home this week.