Cheltenham Update …
March 11th, 2018 | Marten's Current Racing Diary
Nicky Henderson reported that he was ‘very pleasantly surprised’ with the condition of the track when he took his traditional tour of the course this morning.
Although the ground is officially described as soft, with heavy patches, Henderson conceded that it was soft but a long way from being ‘desperate’. The new ground, which will be used on Thursday, came in for especially favourable comment. Conditions have been helped by a drying day, although around 10mm of rain is expected from Sunday evening through to Monday so the going is unlikely to have improved by the start of the meeting on Tuesday.
The two-day declarations came through on Sunday morning and there were, inevitably, a few surprises.
Samcro has not, after all the conjecture, been declared for the Supreme which leaves Getabird likely to start a very warm favourite. As suspected Yorkhill has been declared for the Champion Hurdle while Faugheen will be equipped with cheekpieces for the first time.
There are just five horses declared for the Arkle, with the notable absence of North Hill Harvey who is likely to appear in the Grand Annual on Friday. To my surprise Movewiththetimes is not in the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase, leaving the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Plate on Thursday as his likely target.
Nicky Henderson is, as he said, running three other horses apart from the favourite Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle. Charlie Parcs, rated 144, had other options and he could be the one to outrun his odds.
Apple’s Jade has eight to beat in the Mares’ Hurdle while the National Hunt Chase over the best part of four miles is going to prove a proper old-fashioned slog. The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase now looks very open in the absence of Movewiththetimes and Kalondra.
After all the talk about Douvan tackling the Queen Mother Champion Chase it now seems likely that he will avoid a clash with Min, also owned by Rich Ricci, in favour of the Ryanair Chase. Ruby Walsh is likely to stay loyal to Un De Sceaux, especially given that he is expected to get his favoured soft underfoot conditions.
Bye for now