The Cheltenham Prospects

February 1st, 2023 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

There was plenty on offer at Cheltenham on Saturday, even if a few of the results raised more questions than answers.

I liked the way that Comfort Zone and Scriptwriter pulled clear of the third in the opening Triumph Trial, with the winner’s only defeat from four starts over hurdles coming when beaten six and a quarter lengths by Lossiemouth in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse in December.

That mare is now a top price of 11/8 for the Triumph Hurdle – remarkably short given that there is still over a month to go. Having said that would you want to lay her?

As you may be aware I had been very keen on Edwardstone to beat Energumene in the Clarence House Chase and everything looked in good order when he swept into the lead after the last. However he may have been a touch short of peak fitness, because after looking all over the winner – he was backed at 1.01 on Betfair – Editeur Du Gite just managed to edge into the lead close home and prevail by a head.

This was not what I expected, having said beforehand that Edwardstone’s greatest asset is his stamina. I was expecting the strong pace and stiff finish to suit him but his trainer Alan King seemed happy enough afterwards, suggesting the horse had done a bit too much early in the race and was a bit ‘gassy.’

This should put him right for the Champion Chase in March, for which he is now favourite at a top price of 15/8.

I had a feeling, as the afternoon drew on, that Ahoy Senor was going to run well in the Cotswold Chase. I never fancied Protektorat to win and while hoping that Noble Yeats would go well, I wasn’t sure that Emmet Mullins would have him fully tuned up.

In the end Noble Yeats stayed on well to finish third, without displaying that astonishing turn of foot we had seen from him at Aintree in December, where had he had finished ahead of the winner and the runner-up. The slightly longer trip and the strong pace of the Gold Cup will suit him better, while he will meet the winner on 3lb better terms,

In the last Front View, in the colours of JP McManus, shaped in the manner of a horse with the County Hurdle in his sights. He started favourite when well beaten in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap in 2020.

We have a fantastic meeting at Leopardstown this weekend, with seven Grade 1 races including the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday. Ronan Groome has been in touch to offer his views in the Weekend Card, while I expect to have something for a lower profile venue.

Bye for now