2021 Cheltenham Festival – Embrace The Wild Side for Irish Winner of Kim Muir

Runners stream over a fence at the Cheltenham FestivalRunners stream over a fence at the Cheltenham Festival

2021 Kim Muir Tips

It’s the penultimate race that Lewis Tomlinson is tackling as he previews every race at next month’s big meeting. The race is the final contest on day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival

Kim Muir overview

After the confirmation this week that leading amateurs such as Jamie Codd, Derek O’Connor and Sam Waley-Cohen won’t be able to compete at Cheltenham this season due to the current government restrictions on grassroots sport, this year’s Kim Muir offers professional jockeys the chance to win the race for the first time since the race’s inception in 1946.

I must admit, the horse I initially had earmarked for this race, the Philip Hobbs-trained novice St Barts, didn’t feature amongst the entries earlier in the week, so it was back to the drawing board with a fresh set of eyes to run through this year’s potential field.

Key Contenders – Run Wild Fred

Last season’s winning team of Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud have the favourite once again in the shape of Run Wild Fred (8-1), a Grade 3 novice hurdle winner of his final start last season. He’s improved steadily as a chaser as the season has gone on, with his recent seconds to Longhouse Poet in a beginner’s chase and to Coko Beach in the Thyestes the best performances across his six starts over fences.

Run Wild Fred shapes look a thorough stayer- he’s already been given a Grand National entry at the age of seven and very much fits the profile of a horse that typically goes well in a Kim Muir. It’s also worth noting, that, whilst all of his recent form is on heavy ground, he did claim the scalp of Fiddlerontheroof in a good ground two-mile bumper two years ago, so that may give hope to anyone holding doubts about Run Wild Fred’s versatility ground-wise. He’s generally very solid, and won’t be inconvenienced if the race develops into a bit of a slog.

Time To Get Up

He’s joined at the top of the betting by Jonjo O’Neill’s Time To Get Up (8-1). The lightly-raced eight-year-old has only made the track on six occasions, and showed decent form as a novice hurdler last year without winning, finishing an 11-length second to Monkfish on his final start Joseph O’Brien.

He was able to break his maiden last time out at Wincanton, clearly appreciating the step back up to three miles and drawing further clear at the finish. He was off the bridle a fair way from home that day, but I got the feeling Jonjo O’Neill Jr never really had to go for everything in the saddle and an 8lb rise is probably fair. This will be a better race, but he’s unexposed

Hold The Note

Hold The Note (14-1) was third in the novice handicap at the Festival last season, but remains winless after nine starts in this sphere. He’s generally struggled for consistency this season, though produced his best effort of the year when getting to within half a length of Enrilo at Newbury. Still, I’m far from convinced he’s the strongest stayer and this race often goes to horses who look adept over even further this trip. I struggle to see him lasting home.

Le Breuil

Le Breuil (16-1) is yet to taste victory again since winning a gruelling renewal of the National Hunt Chase here in 2019, but has become a frustrating horse to follow and has fallen 11lb in the weights across the last 18 months.

There certainly have been glimmers of hope that Le Breuil retains ability in that period; he’s shaped well in the Becher Chase twice and his third at Warwick on his penultimate start looked to signify he was back on the right track, but he was utterly lifeless when tailed off the Edinburgh National last time out. Admittedly, that was a very quick turnaround, a last roll of the dice from Ben Pauling to try and push Le Breuil’s mark high enough for a crack at the Grand National, so there is a potential excuse for that poor display.

At his best, he’s very well handicapped and he’s shown flashes that he’s still capable enough to win a contest like this, but I think he’s a hard horse to have much confidence with.

Other contenders

Musical Slave (16-1) would have a chance here and possesses the ability to win a race of this calibre from 135, but his often sloppy jumping usually makes life harder for him that it needs to be, and Cheltenham is far from the most forgiving of places in that respect.

Vintage Clouds and Shantou Flyer, both of whom have gone well at previous Festivals are also 16s. Neither are the force of old, and of the pair, I’d prefer Shantou Flyer, who boasts a fantastic Cheltenham record and ran an adequate race at Wincanton on his most recent start.

Gordon Elliott’s mare Mount Ida (16-1) is a fascinating entrant, having gained black type on all three of starts over fences this season. They have all been in novice company, and against her own sex, but I’d be confident that her form is stronger than what most of this opposition have shown this season, though she doesn’t have a chase mark on Britain or Ireland as of yet which makes her chances even harder to gauge until the weights come out next week. Though generally campaigned over distances around 2m4f and below, she did win a point over three miles in her youth, and would be a real leftfield runner if lining up in the Kim Muir.

I don’t think this is a strong race, so I wouldn’t be averse to looking in the depths of the market but, not for want of trying, I’ve not found one that I can make a cast iron case for. Perhaps the strong stayer The Mighty Don (33-1), a winner on his seasonal debut in a decent Chepstow event and was eyecatching over course and distance in December, could be one to throw his hat into the ring at a price

. He’s since been outclassed at Taunton, and r hasan down the field in a jumpers’ bumper, but this race will certainly suit better and I can The Mighty Don plugging on into the frame.

Kim Muir Big-Race Verdict

This is a race that looks lack depth in terms of progressive up-and-comers, so RUN WILD FRED, who was an above-average novice hurdler and looks to be improving as a chaser, is the one I’ll be siding with. It’s not a race I’d be particularly against trying to find an each-way in, either, and The Mighty Don would be my idea of one who could outrun his odds at 33-1.