Look Out For Big Price on Stormy Ireland At Cheltenham

Santini put up a very good performance in the Cotswolds Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Cheltenham Trials Day
It was his second start of the season and he has definitely improved since his first start. He has laid down a marker for the Gold Cup. I’d be quite intrigued if they put a set of cheekpieces on him. He was a bit lazy at times and I think for Nico De Boinville’s sake it would make life a lot easier for him if he had a set of cheekpieces on him.

Paisley Park
It was another great performance from Paisley Park, especially in a race that was run not to suit him. They didn’t go a strong gallop and at times he did look beaten.

He just hits a spot in the race where he looks flat but in the end he always comes strong. He is a horse that is probably better this season than last season but I think he will have to be with the performance that Benie Des Dieux put up in Gowran Park on Thursday.

Harry Senior
I decided to run Harry Senior up the far side on fresher ground in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and it paid off. I took a punt doing that but I know he is a genuine horse and he stayed straight for me.

I think the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is the ideal race for him at Cheltenham. He has plenty of stamina and will have a turn of foot over three miles which a lot of the horses wouldn’t have which would be a great advantage to him.

Lady Buttons was very impressive in the Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday. She was given a great ride by Sean Quinlan. She is a really likeable mare and she has to have strong claims wherever she goes.

I’m not so sure if she will go to the mares’ race at the festival. She always runs her race whether its hurdles or fences, a bit like Magic Of Light; I like her a lot.

Ok Corral
Ok Corral was given a great ride by Derek O’Connor. He rode him cold and with plenty of confidence. I know Derek dropped his stick after the last but it was a great ride he gave him. What he did before the last was what won him the race though.

I don’t see Ok Corral being involved in any of the major races at Cheltenham but perhaps he will edge towards the BoyleSports Irish Grand National or the Aintree Grand National.

Minella Melody was the star of the show for me at Fairyhouse on Saturday especially in a race, on paper, that looked to be as good as the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins ran three very strong mares in the race that all won last time out.

I won on Minella Melody at Punchestown earlier in the season and I didn’t think she was at her best that day but I probably didn’t make enough use out of her either.

It will take a very good mare to beat her at Cheltenham.

Stormy Ireland
Stormy Ireland did exactly what you’d expect her to do at Naas on Sunday. She was taken on for the lead by Mengli Khan but she has too much class. She will be very competitive for the Mares’ Hurdle.

If Honeysuckle turns up at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown at the weekend there’s a strong chance she could go for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

If Benie Des Dieux goes for the Stayers’ Hurdle then Stormy Ireland is the one to beat in the Mares’ Hurdle. She sets a very high standard.

The antepost betting will be interesting because if Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle swerve the Mares’ Hurdle then you could get Stormy Ireland at a big price.

I thought Carefully Selected was very unimpressive. He made a bad mistake at the third last and has a lot of questions to answer. I wouldn’t be rushing to back him ahead of Cheltenham. He will most likely entered into the amateur rides novice chase.

The Big Getaway won well but again, I wouldn’t be rushing out to back him for any of the major races at Cheltenham either.

National Hunt Jockeys Championship
It was very unfortunate for Dicky (Richard) Johnson breaking his arm at Exeter last week. If Brian Hughes stays injury-free he’ll probably win the National Hunt Jockeys Championship.

Knowing Dicky, he will ride winners the first day he gets back racing.

He is the gentleman of the weighing room in England. He is an absolute star man and has set an unbelievable standard. When AP McCoy retired nobody thought that level could be continued but Dicky has continued it for the last four years.