2021 Cheltenham Festival preview – Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners.Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners

While Irish handler Gavin Cromwell might not boast the strength in depth of Willie Mullins, Henry de Bromhead or Gordon Elliott the Meath-based trainer nevertheless is often worth a second look at the Cheltenham Festival with his limited runners. We’ve picked out a few of the likely Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners and assess their chances.

A farrier by trade, Irish trainer Gavin Cromwell’s stock has been rising since taking out a training license back in 2005 and the Meath-based handler has enjoyed plenty of success both on the flat and over jumps.

While Cromwell might lack the strength in depth of Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott, he does very well with the horses in his care and dual-Grade One winner Jer’s Girl was perhaps the horse that really thrust Cromwell into the spotlight as a trainer to watch.

His biggest jumps success however came in 2018 when the ill-fated Espoir D’allen won the Champion Hurdle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival; but Cromwell is sure to enjoy further Cheltenham Festival success before too much longer and while his 2021 team might be small there’s some quality in his squad and some big runs could be on the agenda from the Cromwell runners.

We’ve picked out a few of the likelier Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners and assess their chances.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners on day one

Arkle Chase

A hugely progressive hurdler during the 2019/20 season which saw him win four times and place in three Grade One contests including the Champion Hurdle DARVER STAR has shown himself to be a classy chase exponent this term although it is debatable whether he’ll be quite good enough to trouble the best of his rivals in the Arkle Chase and perhaps a step up in trip could better suit the Kalanisi gelding.

Having scored on his chase debut at Punchestown back in October he made the frame in successive Graded races including finishing runner-up behind Franco De Port in the Racing Post Novice Chase although he disappointed when last seen in the Irish Arkle where he beat only two home behind Energumene.

He didn’t jump well on that occasion which may have been down to the holding ground and he might benefit from a less testing surface although he would face a tall order coming here in the Cheltenham day one feature in preference to the Marsh Novices’ Chase where he’s also entered.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners. Darver Star (right) could contest the Arkle Chase.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners. Darver Star (right) could contest the Arkle Chase.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners on day two

Coral Cup

Although we don’t yet know the likely handicap entries for the various handicap contests during the Cheltenham Festival GABYNAKO could be one to watch if dropping into handicap company where the Coral Cup could prove a good target for Gavin Cromwell’s charge.

The Tirwanako gelding has showed himself to be a classy operator over hurdles, finishing runner-up on each of his first two outings before getting off the mark at Naas where he beat Envious Editor impressively by six lengths.

He’s since come up short in graded company although he’s acquitted himself well in defeat with successive third-place finishes which include behind Bob Olinger in the Lawlor Of Naas Hurdle although he was disappointing back at two miles behind Drop The Anchor in a Leopardstown handicap earlier in February although a bad early mistake put him on the back foot and he never recovered.

Also with an entry in the County Hurdle he’s could be a lively outsider to consider whichever race he ends up in assuming of course he takes his Cheltenham Festival chance.

Grand Annual Chase

Like before we’ll have to wait on the entries to be revealed but if taking his chance ALFA MIX could be interesting in the Grand Annual which moves from its’ usual position as the final race of the Cheltenham Festival to its new berth on day two.

A dual winner last term over hurdles he ran well here in last season’s Coral Cup where he finished seventh of 25 behind Dame De Compagnie and he’s faced some stiff tests this term over fences.

He’s clashed with both Blackbow and Captain Guinness who have gone on to make their mark as Graded performers and latterly finished a good third at Fairyhouse in January behind Aramax. He was outpaced at a crucial point in that contest before rallying and had he jumped better he might have gone close.

Open to further improvement as a chaser he could be an interesting contender for this race if lining up.

Champion Bumper

The Irish handler looks to have a couple of decent contenders in the Cheltenham Festival second day closer.

LETSBECLEARABOUTIT won his first two starts, scoring at Tipperary and Punchestown respectively before finding only Sir Gerhard too strong when tried in a Listed contest at Navan.

Following a break he then went to Leopardstown and the Dublin Racing Festival where he proved no match for ante-post favourite for the Champion Bumper in Kilcruit where he was beaten twelve lengths.

Despite that reversal he turned in a very solid effort and was clear of the third home. On those couple of outings he certainly has to find some improvement, but the stiffer track here might help and he could be a decent each-way pick for those holding Cheltenham free bets and looking to take on the favourites.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners. Letsbeclearaboutit has claims of Champion Bumper success.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival runners. Letsbeclearaboutit has claims of Champion Bumper success.

PERCEVAL LEGALLOIS could also line up in the Champion Bumper although it would be a tall order for the Ballingarry gelding to collect the prize given he lacks crucial experience having had just one start.

That run did see him win impressively by almost six lengths from Noble Birth but as a four-year old he has history to defy given only three of that age-group have won this race with the last being Cue Card back in 2010.

He could of course improve for the debut experience but this could be a step too far for him at this stage.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival day three runners

Stayers’ Hurdle

FLOORING PORTER is progressing well over hurdles this term and the Yeats gelding could feature in the Cheltenham Festival day three feature contest having ran out an impressive winner of the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown where he beat the likes of The Storyteller by six lengths and more.

He had finished third in the Guinness Handicap Hurdle during last summer’s Galway Festival but was beaten behind Streets of Doyen in a Gowran handicap in October before registering wins at Navan and Leopardstown latterly in that Grade One.

Perhaps he was a beneficiary of a couple of his rivals underperforming, most notably Fury Road who could only finish fourth; but chasing a hat-trick of wins he is entitled to take his place in this Grade One line-up and a big run wouldn’t come as a huge surprise although it remains to be seen whether he’ll be good enough to mix it with an on-song Paisley Park or Thyme Hill.

Gavin Cromwell Cheltenham Festival day four runners

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

VANILLIER could represent the Cromwell yard in the day four Cheltenham Festival feature although he’s likely to need to find a fair level of improvement in order to do so.

The Martaline gelding has shaped with some smart ability over hurdles, winning at the second attempt when successful at Naas with a defeat of Fantasio D’alene and he showed the step up in trip to be no issue when getting to within a length of Farouk D’alene in a Grade Two contest at Limerick over Christmas.

He didn’t give his running when last seen in the Nathaniel Lacy Hurdle at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival but he’s surely better than he was able to show on that occasion and given he’s shown up well on undulating tracks he might find Cheltenham more to his liking and he could give a good account for all he’ll likely have to improve to take a hand.