Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com beforetheoff.com and racing radio station racingfm.com looks at days three and four of the Cheltenham Festival through the eyes of the panellists on the many preview nights that have been taking place in recent weeks.
Thursday: The JLT
Jim Culloty at the Goat Grill Preview Night, told the audience he had been speaking to Paul Nicholls recently and had informed him that PTIT ZIG has had his ulcer problems sorted out and that his trainer maintains that can make for a new horse. Katie Walsh on the same panel likes THE TULLOW TANK at a big price.
Wetherby’s Guide author Paul Jones doesn’t like PTIT ZIG back off a fall, while commentator Stewart Machin thinks SPLASH OF GINGE is overpriced. Both were panellists at the Bangor-On-Dee preview night.
The Racing Posts Paul Kealy speaking on the Galway Preview Panel said PTIT ZIG has a huge chance and has the best form in the race, while Patrick Mullins added that he was afraid of APACHE STRONGHOLD, but can’t have PTIT ZIG following his fall. He told the audience that VAUTOUR has been working really well and will win.
Meanwhile at Quinlans Bar in Cork, the Panel of Davy Russell, Noel Hayes from the The Tote, Phillip Enright and Johnny Burke all agreed it was a match between VAUTOUR and APACHE STRONGHOLD
Jockey Nick Schofield told the Preview night at Towcester that he had schooled WONDERFUL CHARM recently and let slip that he thought he had had his wind tinkered with since he ran in the King George.
Racing UK’s Oli Bell speaking on the same panel said that MA FILLEULE thrives in the spring and thinks that her second to BALDER SUCESS is strong form, while Niall Hannity said that a lot of DON COSSACKS form has come on right-handed tracks so 7/2 did not excite him.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood told the Warwick preview night that BALDER SUCESS will win as he is keen on horses winning at Ascot before going on to the festival. Commentator Richard Hoiles, guesting on the Europa Panel said JOHNS SPIRIT is of interest, stating that he travelled well enough for long enough in the King George and he has a good record at Cheltenham, while the drying ground is a plus.
Jockey Davy Russell speaking on the Quinlans Bar Panel said that DON COSSACK is finally the horse he thought he would be, but nominated JOHNS SPIRIT for value.
The panel at Galway were told by Patrick Mullins that DON COSSACK was the one to beat, with Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary very much in agreement with him. The Racing Post’s Paul Kealy however said DON COSSACK has a good chance but it would be MA FILLEULE for him.
Channel 4’s Jim McGrath speaking on the Waterford panel said that JETSON was a good each way bet. Trainer Donald McCain told the Bangor-On-Dee audience that he thinks COLE HARDEN has had a wind operation since the autumn. On the Goat Grill panel, jockey Bryan Cooper said that the late Dessie Hughes always thought a lot of LIEUTENANT COLONEL and he wouldn’t get off the horse for anything in the race. T
Mark Winstanley said that SAPHIR DU RHEU had come on bundles and nominated him as a big each way bet.
Robbie Power said that JETSON could place at a decent price with Robbie McNamara adding that he wasn’t the biggest ZARKANDER fan, but fails to see what beats him.
The Balbriggan audience were told by Kevin O’Ryan that SAPHIR DU RHEU had a fantastic chance. Trainer Tony Martin, speaking on the same panel, thinks REVE DE SIVOLA is the one to beat.
Friday: The Gold Cup
Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary said ROAD TO RICHES had an each way chance, with CARLINGFORD LOUGH a big player. While Patrick Mullins told the same audience he was a DJAKADAM fan, with jockey Davy Russell saying ROAD TO RICHES was the one to beat but wouldn’t swap LORD WINDERMERE for anything.
Jockey Nick Schofield said it was SILVINIACO CONTI’s Gold Cup, while adding that BOBS WORTH was too big a price, speaking on the Towcester preview panel. Commentator Richard Hoiles questioned wether SILVINIACO CONTI’s would get up the hill.
Jockey Paul Carberry speaking on the same panel said that ROAD TO RICHES won the Galway Plate well and would be better going left handed, adding he would love the ground and that ROAD TO RICHES had no negatives.
Jockey Jamie Moore told the audience in Towcester that he would ride MANY CLOUDS over anything else.
Trainer Jim Culloty speaking in Dublin said LORD WINDERMERE has had no health issues this year and is confident of his charge finishing in the first four.
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