Hidden Cyclone On Course For Cheltenham – Weekend Review
It was an amazing occasion at Punchestown on Sunday when trainer, Willie Mullins, failed to win any of the races from his five runners – all of whom were sent off at 3/1 or shorter!
Not that there should be any cause for panic amongst Mullins’ followers, as the master handler sent out a double on Saturday, including a successful raid at Sandown via his Gitane Du Berlais.
Gitane Du Berlais
This 5yo put in a solid round of jumping to land the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase over 2m4f, and while the soft ground experienced here may emerge at Cheltenham, there is no reason to think Gitane Du Berlais may not cope with a livelier. He is currently 14/1 for the JLT Novices’ Chase, and 25/1 for the Arkle.
In Sandown’s Listed hurdle, Philip Hobbs’ Garde La Victoire, battled to win over an extended 2m, and he should be involved in the handicaps at Cheltenham next month, where the County Hurdle (20/1) may get preference over the Coral Cup.
Also at Sandown on Saturday was a key juvenile hurdle won by Alan King’s, Pain Au Chocolat, who despite a sedate gallop, managed to quicken impressively to win by 7l. A bigger field at Cheltenham will suit his style of racing, and having shown improvement in winning his last two, has to be of each-way interest at 25/1 for the triumph Hurdle.
King was also on the scoresheet at Wetherby on Saturday, when his Ned Stark took the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase by the narrowest of necks. It’s interesting to note that his jockey, Denis O’Regain, was of the opinion that better ground would suit the 7yo, who is now around 12/1 for the 3m handicap chase on Cheltenham’s first day.
Musselburgh also staged their biggest jumps card of the season on Sunday, where a number of decent trials took place, although the one, which caught the eye was Hargam’s victory in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson’s 4yo showed a smart turn of foot on good ground to land this Listed event by 6l, and he shouldn’t be underestimated if lining-up for the Triumph Hurdle itself where he is now the current second favourite at 7/1.
But, we end as we started at Punchestown, and despite Willie Mullins missing out, it did provide an opportunity for Hidden Cyclone to show he is back to his best in landing the Grade 2 BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase.
Past winners of the Tied Cottage have gone on to do well at Cheltenham, with the likes of Moscow Flyer and Big Zeb winning the Champion Chase, while Sizing Europe was a dual runner-up in the same race.
Trainer Shark Hanlon stated that the drying ground on Sunday suited Hidden Cyclone, who should enjoy the good gallop traditionally set in the Champion Chase, for which he is very attractively priced at 14/1.