A stellar cast assembled on a freezing afternoon at Prestbury Park where the Festival markets fluctuated and pulsated throughout the day. Baby Mix literally exploded onto the scene in the Triumph Hurdle Trial, upsetting hotpot Hinterland in the process. You have to be impressed with this performance even with the tail swishing. However before you lump on for Cheltenham, check out an inmate of Nicky Henderson’s called Hammersly Lake who finished in front of Baby Mix at Auteuil in March. Some shrewd judges are earmarking him for the Triumph at very fancy prices.
There was heartbreak in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle when Sea Of Thunder capsized at the last when holding a commanding six length lead. His performance in this race paid a handsome compliment to Hazy Tom who beat Sea of Thunder by twelve lengths at Wetherby. Albeit in a race a mile shorter, but most definitely a sure pointer to Charlie Longsdon’s charge. I actually highlighted Hazy Tom as an outsider for Cheltenham on JPFestival.com TV two weeks ago; shame I didn’t put on a little each way too! It seems almost poignant that Deireadh Re became the fortunate winner following Sea Of Thunder’s mishap. When translated into English the name means end of an era. Given that his trainer Paul Nicholls had retired heroic Denman the day before and that Deireadh Re was one of the last horses the late legendary Irish bloodstock agent Tom Costello had sold, the name is very fitting indeed.
Quantativeeasing who had twice been the bridesmaid in Cheltenham handicaps fully deserved his win in the really long titled Gold Cup. He had looked outpaced at the top of the hill and showed true grit to stay on. On this showing the proposed step up to three miles will hold no problems.
Grandouet is improving at a rate of knots and put himself firmly in the Champion Hurdle picture with his win in the Grade Two International Hurdle. He now stands a clear second favourite behind reigning champion Hurricane Fly. On this showing he must hold a live chance and totally silenced the “he won’t get up the hill” brigade. That said his Triumph Hurdle conqueror and the mighty Hurricane Fly are still yet to play their extremely strong cards this season.
For all the updates on Festival betting following this meeting tune into JPFestival.com TV on Friday in which I will be unveiling a dark horse for a Festival Handicap.
In the meantime turn your head towards Cleeve Hill, cup your hand around your ears and listen. We are nearly there; you can almost hear the roar.