Honeysuckle Aims to Retain Her Champion Hurdle Title
The major players have all stood their ground at the latest forfeit stage for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. The only withdrawals were Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios, Alan King’s Tritonic and the Paul Nicholls-trained Monmiral. Honeysuckle is a best-priced 4-7 favourite to retain her crown ahead of Supreme Hurdle winner Appreciate It at 7-2 and impressive Gowran Park winner Teahupoo at 8-1. The other remaining entries are 2020 winner Epatante along with Glory And Fortune, Adagio, Zanahiyr, Saint Roi, Tommy’s Oscar and Not So Sleepy.
No significant absentees from Supreme Hurdle entries
If punters were hoping that the latest declarations would offer up some clues as to the final field for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle they will be disappointed. The on-going saga of which of the powerful Willie Mullins entries will run here in preference to the Ballymore continues with the Closutton trainer leaving eight horses in. These include Sir Gerhard, Dysart Dynamo and Kilcruit while State Man and Bring On The Night are also still entered. As expected, Pied Piper has been taken out by Gordon Elliott and heads for Friday’s Triumph Hurdle.
There is a supplementary entry for the Arkle Trophy with Gavin Cromwell’s Gabynako one of 14 entries. His connections have paid out £8,000 for the privilege and will need to finish fourth or better to recoup their investment. Edwardstone, Blue Lord and Riviere D’Etel were all declared, as were Haut En Couleurs and Saint Sam. Third Time Lucki was the most significant withdrawal.
There are fifteen remaining in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, headed by ante-post favourite Telmesomethinggirl. Mullins has left in five here: Burning Victory, Concertista, Dysart Diamond, Echoes In Rain and Stormy Ireland. Last year’s Pertemps Final winner Mrs Milner will run here for Paul Nolan but connections of Royal Kahala (still entered) are favouring the Stayers Hurdle.
Corach Rambler sneaks in with light weight for Ultima Handicap
Willie Mullins has taken Icare Allen out of the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, indicating that the JP McManus-owned gelding will take his chance in the Triumph. His price has fluctuated between 12-1 and 33-1 for that race in recent weeks. He was well beaten by stable companion Vauban at Leopardstown but bounced back with a win at Fairyhouse. Gordon Elliott has left in top weight Fil Dor who also looks Triumph-bound, but he could still run The Tide Turns in the Boodles. Gaelic Warrior remains a sold favourite at around 5-2.
Bryony Frost has been confirmed to ride top weight Frodon in the Ultima where 41 remain (maximum field 24). The presence of Frodon and a lot of defections has brought Corach Rambler into the line-up with just 10st 2lbs. Others to catch the eye include School Boy Hours with 10st 4lbs and Death Duty with 10st 6lbs. The likes of Come On Teddy (29), Chambard (37) and Gericault Roque (28) must wait to see if they will get a run.
There were no significant withdrawals from the closing National Hunt Chase where sixteen remain. Elliott and Mullins are responsible for nine of these including ante-post favourites Run Wild Fred and Stattler. Kim Bailey has left in Does He Know who is also still in the Ultima, presumably waiting to see how soft the ground is by Tuesday. Rebecca Curtis has declared Pats Fancy and Beatthebullet and Paul Nicholls has left in Threeunderthrufive.