Barry Knows Best – Cheltenham News Off The Track
With the 2015 Cheltenham Festival only a week away, it was a case of more news off the track than on it over the weekend with trainers and jockeys putting their final plans into place – others, however, are still scratching their heads!
Ruby Walsh for instance, has yet to commit to either Faugheen (5/4) or Hurricane Fly (8/1) in the opening day’s Champion Hurdle, and who can blame him? Does he go with the upcoming favourite who has the scope of a future champion, or the proven ex-champion who has been in the form of his life? Rumour has it Walsh will make his mind up this Sunday, so be on the lookout for any news before steaming in.
Mullins Runners Work Well
Willie Mullins’ runners were the leading subject at Leopardstown on Sunday where he worked some of his team following racing. The one that pleased Mullins most was the current 11/4 favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase, Vautour, who disappointed the trainer despite winning back in January, but went about his jumping a lot better on Sunday.
Mullins also reported that both Un De Sceaux (4/7, Arkle) and Djakadam (10/1, Gold Cup) also worked very in their gallops, while Black Hercules (6/1, Albert Bartlett) is in good order at home despite having not been seen on the track since December.
Trainer, Shark Hanlon, is also undecided whether to send last year’s Ryanair Chase runner-up, Hidden Cyclone (12/1), for the same race, or have a tilt at the Champion Chase (10/1). Much depends on the ground, as soft ground will see the latter 2m event as his race.
Good To Soft?
Arguably one of the most important components punters will need to take into account before placing any bet next week is the ground. Currently declared as good to soft (soft in places), which it has been for the opening race in four of the last seven years, there is a good chance it will be the same if the dry weather forecast (occasional shower) for the coming week is right.
Good to soft is chalked as the 4/9 favourite, although “good” ground started the meeting in two of the last four years, and is tempting 7/2. However, the money has arrived for “soft” ground, which started the 2013 festival, and is now 7/2 from 7/1 – does someone somewhere know that clouds will burst in a week’s time?
Barry Knows Best
Finally, Barry Geraghty told backers not to forget about Bobs Worth for the Gold Cup, as the three-time festival winner attempts to emulate Kauto Star in regaining the crown.
Reportedly in great shape at home and a picture of rude health, Geraghty is confident the bad ground was to blame for Bob’s Worth flop in the Lexus at Christmas, and that better ground, along with his current well being will produce a much better showing.
At odds of 12/1, Bobs Worth needs consideration.
Geraghty has also declared himself to ride Neil Mulholland’s improving chaser, The Young Master, in the RSA Chase. Mulholland reports his 6yo has improved and got stronger since winning a Listed handicap at Ascot in December, which may have been enough to lure Geraghty into riding him, and the jockey certainly knows what it takes to land this race having partnered the winner three times since 2006.