Conditionals Handicap Hurdle Tips – Day 4 – Cheltenham 2015
Conditionals H'cap Hurdle
The penultimate race of Cheltenham 2015 is the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle for conditional jockeys (4.40), a fairly new event which has staged only six renewals, but the early signs are that a big priced winner could pop up once more.
Favourite of Double Figure?
Indeed, all bar Willie Mullins’, Sir Des Champs, winning as the 9/2 favourite in 2011, the remaining five winners returned 12/1, 16/1, 20/1, 14/1 and 25/1.
It’s also interesting to note that each of the six winners were 5-6yo’s, while Mullins won it for a second time 12 months ago, hence why his 6yo, Roi Des Francs, has been backed into 4/1 favoritism.
Mullins Takes Aim
Having finished second on debut over hurdles, Roi Des Francs made up for that by winning his last two races, including a Grade 3 at Clonmel last month (2m6f, soft). Faster ground should not be a problem as he won a bumper on good last year, but with Mullins stating he is a three-mile chaser in the making, the step back to 2m4f on quick ground may catch him out.
Mullins also has several more entries at the midweek stage, and it will be interesting to see who he declares for this, including McKinley (12/1), a Grade 1 winner in January (2m4f, soft), who is also a good ground winner and should be considered if sent for this.
Another of the Mullins team is Arbre De Vie (14/1), who has better recent form than Sepre Medici, having won his last two races, including a decent novice at Warwick last month by 11l (2m5f, soft). He has plenty of potential and a bright future, with the only slight unknown being the ground (all runs to date on soft/heavy).
Second Win For Nicholls?
Also from the right age group is the 5yo, Le Mercurey (8/1), trained by Paul Nicholls, who sent out the winner of this race two years ago. While this ex-French sort didn’t show much on his British debut in November, he stepped up to finish a 6l third in Grade 2 company at Ascot next time (2m4f, soft). The ground will be unknown to him, but with only five career outings he has the right profile for this.
Tony Martin’s 6yo, Quick Jack (12/1), is another of the leading fancies, having finished third when last seen in the Cesarewitch last October (2m2f, good). His last run over hurdles came in January 2014 when third in the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, soft), prior to winning a big Flat handicap at Galway (2m, good). Yet to race over this far, it will be interesting if Martin sends him here or for the County Hurdle over 2m earlier on the card.
Henderson Puts In Full Shift
Nicky Henderson also won the first running of this race in 2009 and has an interesting runner in Full Shift (14/1). This 6yo hasn’t been seen since a disappointing favourite in the same race 12 months ago, having previously won a 2m5f handicap. He won his maiden on good ground and it any market support could be significant.
While a number of big priced winners have landed this, there has also been one winning favourite, and Willie Mullins’, Rio Des Francs, could make it a second. He comes here race fit, handles the conditions and looks well treated having won a Grade 3 last time out.