Five @ Five: Cheltenham April Meeting

This latest Five @ Five focuses on the Cheltenham April Meeting and five horses from the five day declaration stage.

Handy Andy


17Apr13 2:45         (Four Day) at Cheltenham, Rundle And Co Handicap Chase

Slightly disappointed with his run at Haydock, yet even though connections stressed that the course would suit him I think the ground had turned against him come post time as when reviewing his run Joe Tizzard didn’t seem happy at any point and he didn’t jump with the verve or fluency of when winning at Newbury previously. Drying forecast will likely hinder his chances on Wednesday, should he run, yet another disappointing run would do his handicap mark and price no harm when returning to Newbury next season:

Newbury:                1131
Elsewhere:              PP0868083

Drum Valley


17Apr13 3:20         (Four Day) at Cheltenham, Auriga Network Handicap Hurdle

19Apr13 1:40         (Four Day) at Ayr, Play Golf At Close House Handicap Hurdle

This small Beat Hollow gelding has some fair form to his name in novice hurdles this season, and his most recent effort under a penalty was probably his best run. Prior to this he was given too much to do behind Uxiandre at Newbury, but that was an EBF Qualifier, and that was seemingly his target before missing out due to the heavy ground.  Back on better ground off 10-4, he is most certainly of interest in what looks a typically competitive Cheltenham handicap.



17Apr13 3:55         (Four Day) at Cheltenham, MacMillan Cancer Support Silver Trophy Chase (Limited Handicap) Grade 2

24Apr13 6:40         (Early closer) at Punchestown, Guinness Handicap Chase (Grade A)

26Apr13 4:20         (Early closer) at Punchestown, Aon Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A)

Chances of running have to be slim off 9-6. However, if Patrick Corbett was to get the ride then that would negate the weight issue, and the race make up would suit him ideally with Easter Meteor, Carrick Boy, Petit Robin, Ghizao and Champion Court likely to fight it out for the lead early doors. No doubt he went in to many notebooks following his run behind Rajdhani Express where Richard Johnson went the brave man’s route on the inside throughout but found his run stopped at a number of vital moments. As a result he was better than his finishing position, and this week’s drying forecast is ideal.

Changing The Guard


17Apr13 5:35         (Four Day) at Cheltenham, Pony Racing Authority Graduates Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals/Amateur Riders)

Strangely Jack Quinlan is booked for the ride. Given Christopher Ward has ridden on his previous five starts it is a slight surprise. However the recent form of Changing The Guard is strong. Following his double during the summer campaign he has finished with great credit behind the likes of Dark Lover over course and distance, Raya Star and most recently Cockney Sparrow at Aintree. Good ground and soft ground come alike as shown by summer form and his run behind Dark Lover here earlier in the season, and with his likely main danger Mr Mole a bit of a nutcase, Changing The Guard is by far the safer proposition.



18Apr13 6:00         (Four Day) at Cheltenham, Nicholson Holman Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

26Apr13 4:20         (Early closer) at Punchestown, Aon Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A)

The Punchestown entry doesn’t come as such a surprise given that he has shown a tendency to jump right, but I hope he takes his chance here on Thursday as I think we are far from getting to the bottom of him. A ready winner on handicap debut, the form of his subsequent win was franked with the second Ballypatrick winning easily at Fakenham, yet his best performance came at Sandown. I thought Sam Thomas, rather than Arbeo, was ponderous at the railway fences but from the second last fence he was galvanised and won going away. Connections were quick to point out that he disliked the ground, but also quick to mention the hike in the weights, yet the Punchestown entry suggest they think he has a bit left in the tank.