Midweek Festival trials

Punchestown 16/02 – Five for Cheltenham?
Fiveforthree who hadn’t run for nearly two years returned to Punchestown which was the scene of his last racecourse victory to comfortably win the 2 mile conditions Hurdle.  Providing he appears sound in the aftermath of the race, the plan is to travel to Cheltenham for the World Hurdle. Four lengths back in second place was the admirable Newmill who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival in 2006. Five for Three is available at varying prices for the World Hurdle; Ladbrokes 14/1, Paddy Power 20/1 and William Hill 16/1. He has proven Cheltenham Festival form having finished 5th to Cork All Star in the 2007Champion Bumper and he won the Ballymore Properties Hurdle (now the Neptune) in 2008. Fresh from Fiveforthree’s win, the Mullins/Townend combination completed a quick double when Call The Police took the 2m4f Hurdle. This took him to the head of the market for The Coral Cup and The County Hurdle. A decision is yet to be made on the horse travelling to Cheltenham. Connections stated that he will run once more over Hurdles before embarking on a Chase campaign next season.
Kelso 17/02 – Next stop Cheltenham!
Peddlers Cross remains unbeaten in all starts after winning The Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso which was his delayed prep race for The Champion Hurdle. A bout of coughing had kept him out of his last intended engagement. The 1-6 favourite settled in third place throughout the race and took the lead from Bygones of Brid on the approach to the last. Jockey Jason Maguire had to issue a few reminders heading up the home straight as the horse was reportedly looking at the stands. One thing to remember about Peddlers Cross is; he is never going to be a horse that cruises on the bridle at the tail end of a race. This run would have blown away a few cobwebs and I’m sure that Trainer Donald McCain has left a bit to work on in the next four weeks. In scoring by 11 lengths Peddlers Cross did everything he needed to do, he remains largely unchanged in the market for the Champion Hurdle at 5-1 (although sponsor’s Stan James pushed him out to 6/1).

Cathryn Fry, 17 February 2011