Cheltenham Festival 2023

Cheltenham Festival 2023 Ante-Post Portfolio

Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle: High Definition 25-1 each-way (3-places)

Henderson Double: Constitution Hill (Champion Hurdle) & Shishkin (Ryanair Chase) 1.36-1 NRNB

National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase: Gaillard Du Mensil Evens NRNB

Arkle Chase: Jonbon 6-4 NRNB


Well that's two years on the spin Cheltenham has stung me, not as bad as last year, but sadly I still finish the four days -15.9 points to level stakes. A great few days as ever, even with some strange results, especially Thursday, but I am already counting down the days to next year! 


We have made it to day four. No daft marketing gimmicks, no silly names, there is no need, it is simply Gold Cup day! My results yesterday tell the tale, 3rd, 5th, 2nd, 2nd, 6th, 4th, 3rd, it was close but no cigar for me on Thursday. The going remains soft for Friday with the chance of more rain during the day. 

Grade One 2m1f JCB Triumph Hurdle

Willie Mullins had the top three in the betting for this last week telling you how strong a hand he holds, in fact Irish entries dominate and it certainly looks likely this trophy will be crossing the Irish Sea. Blood Destiny will be the fancy of many and certainly has a chance. Lossiemouth needs to turn around recent form with Gala Marceau at Leopardstown but it can certainly be argued she was unlucky in running that day, and I have a feeling she might be the best of the Mullins battalion. Rich Ricci has had a very quiet Festival by his standards but this grey filly can take full advantage of her 7lb allowance and take this prize. I am on at 13-8

2m1f McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle

A proper competitive handicap this. Sharjah, runner-up in both the 2020 and 2021 Champion Hurdles, is a fascinating contender off top-weight dropping back into handicap company. Pied Piper, third in the Triumph last year, is another dropping back into handicap company but both have plenty of weight to carry naturally. Hunters Yarn looks to be on the upgrade and you expect there is more to come from him yet. He won a Listed Novice at Navan last time with what appeared plenty in hand and is the pick for this at 6-1 this morning. 

Grade One 3m Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle

I have heard a few people talking up the chances of Three Card Brag and I quite fancy him as well. Of his five starts, his three wins have come on occasions when heavy has been in the going description, while he was only narrowly beaten in a Grade 2 on soft ground in December. Gordon Elliott has been quoted saying he was a "lazy" horse, I'd describe him more as a relentless galloper and all the rain we've had certainly hasn't hurt his chances. I am on at 5-1. Corbetts Cross looks a danger with  Hiddenvalley Lake also feared. 

Grade One 3m2½f Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

This has caused me a few sleepless nights as there are a couple I really want to back. I've only just got over the last fence fall of  Galopin Des Champs in the Turners last season! That is his only defeat over the bigger obstacles and the way he went away in the Irish Gold Cup he looks to have every chance of getting the longer trip this afternoon. The money has been coming for last years winner A Plus Tard with the yard in great form this week, but his build-up has been far from ideal and he was disappointing in the Betfair Chase. Bravemansgame is a real favourite of mine and you had to be impressed with the way he won the King George at Kempton. Nicholls knows how to train one for this and that has been this one's since Boxing Day. I am on the eight-year-old at 13-2 early to take what might be a cracker of a Gold Cup. 

3m2½f St. James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase

Chris's Dream and The Storyteller are joint top-rated in this and have to be respected having been in some big races in their day but neither are getting better at this stage of their careers. Billaway is back to defend his crown and is another that muct be shortlisted though he also is perhaps past his best now. Vaucelet is the most likely winner to my eyes. A regular winner in Points and under rules he is the one that may have more to give yet and I have the 5-2 this morning about him.

Grade Two 2m4½f Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase

Allegorie De Vassy
has won both her chase starts by big margins and though it's hard to know what she beat she has looked impressive. She jumped right at times last time which is a little concerning but you can be assured the yard will have been working on that before brining her here. As impressive as she was on both occasions there were obviously still bits to be worked on and if she gets it all right here she should prove too strong for this field. I am on at 7-4 and all being well a second win for Rich Ricci on the last day. Impervious is also unbeaten and is very much the danger. 

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

The lucky last of the week, it doesn't feel like two minutes ago I was travelling down for day one; time flies when you're having fun as they say. Might I is one I have backed before and though he hasn't perhaps achieved what would have been hoped for he is a decent horse who was second in an Aintree G.1 on his only run at this trip. He warmed up for this with a decent second over two-mile here in January. The tongue tie goes on for the first time and he is the pick at 8-1. Cool Survivor and Imagine are the two that can chase him home. 


Day three arrives and we switch to the New Course for the next two days. With a couple of seconds yesterday it was looking like being a bit of a damp squib yesterday for me until Adreamtoshare scooted up the hill in the last! At the least it put a plaster on the wound. The fight back begins on Thursday, look out Mr Bookmaker here comes Girdy!

Grade One 2m4f Turners Novices' Chase

Banbridge doesn't run which in my eyes makes this a little easier. I have heard Mighty Potter being talked of as a potential Gold Cup winner of the future and it’s hard to knock what he has achieved thus far over the larger obstacles, has two G.1 wins to his name already. He was pulled-up in the Supreme Hurdle last year but that is really the only blot on an otherwise pretty good looking copybook. I don't like punting odds-on shots at the Festival but I am on this one at 8-11. Appreciate It could be anything over this trip and is considered the danger. 

3m Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

Thanksforthehelp won as he liked over 2m7f at Chepstow last time and the 11lb rise may not stop him, but it is plenty. Walking On Air hadn't perhaps achieved what was expected of him until his last run at Exeter. He gets in here with just a 5lb rise for that win meaning he is off a mark of just 138 which could look very lenient after this. Apparently he was considered a potential Grade One horse once upon a time in Seven Barrows and if that is right he is chucked in here off his current official mark. The going is a bit of an unknown but at 9-1 he can be backed each-way (6 places) which is what I have done. 

Grade One 2m4½f Ryanair Chase

Shishkin is the second leg of my Henderson double after Constitution Hill destroyed the Champion Hurdle field on Tuesday. He won at Ascot as he liked on his first try over the trip looking to be back to his best following a few issues. If he puts in a similar effort and he did in the Ascot Chase he is home and hosed here. Blue Lord may be the one to follow him home. 

Grade One 3m Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle

I quite fancied Maries Rock for this for a while, especially getting the 7lb she would’ve but she went for the Mares Hurdle. Blazing Khal came back from over a year off the track to win the 2m5f G.2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month and having won twice here in 2021, the G.2 Hyde Novices' Hurdle over 2m5f and the G.2 Bristol Novices' Hurdle over track and trip, the seven-year-old has an obvious chance. Teahupoo wants the testing ground, he is unbeaten in seven starts on soft or heavy, and Gordon Elliott and his team must be delighted with the persistent rain we are getting. He never really got into the Champion Hurdle last season and his trainer was quick to point to the faster going for his sub-par performance then. With more rain to come again today I am on the Elliott trained six-year-old at 5-2

2m4½f Magners Plate Handicap Chase

A proper puzzle this one and the going hasn't made it any easier. So Scottish was very much at the head of my shortlist but all his form is on good going which has to be a concern. Datsalrightgino ran well when second over track and trip in January and again in defeat at Kempton last time over the distance so despite going up in the weights has to be considered. Il Ridoto won over track and trip in January, beating Fugitif, having also run well over C&D on New Years day. Off an 8lb higher mark today he needs to improve a little again and I am on at 8-1 in the hope he can. 

Grade Two 2m1f Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle

Luccia has looked potentially very good and maintained her unbeaten record at Exeter last month without breaking sweat.  She would have been a fair each-way punt in the Supreme but was pulled out at the six-day stage, and the decision to keep her to her own sex and slightly lower grade should see connections being rewarded. I am on at 13-8. Lot Of Joy was fair on the Flat and can chase her home. 

3m2f Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase

As on Tuesday the Amateurs are in the saddle for the lucky last Thursday. I have heard from more than one decent judge that the team at Willie Mullins yard won't hear of defeat for Mr Incredible. He will have the burden of top-weight but warmed up nicely for this when second in a decent handicap at Warwick in January over 3m5f on heavy. The lightly raced seven-year-old has some talent, chased home the likes of Ahoy Senor in his Novice season of 2021, and if Mullins has reignited the spark that was there a while back, and he behaves himself, he could win this hard held. I am on at 6-1Stumptown is at the head of the market but this is a step-up in distance and class for him as well as being 10lb higher in the weights. 


Day two dawns and I am suffering from the traditional opening day hangover. Great day down there yesterday, as ever even if not as profitable as I had hoped. Ladies' day as Wednesday is now marketed is one of my favourite days of the Festival, not for girls is daft hats, but because the main event is the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase; I do love the race, there is something about a great two-miler that sets the pulse racing. We race on Soft (Good to Soft in places) on day two with the chance of some rain on the day. 

Grade One 2m5f Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

It’s a good race to get day two underway and as strong a hand as Willie Mullins looks to be holding I think he will be playing second fiddle in this one. I noted Paul Nicholls naming Hermes Allen as one of his best chances for the Festival a while back and I fancy him for this. Nicholls mentioned in the interview for Tattersalls that the gelding has matured and it appears it has all come together at the right time for the six-year-old. He looked a talent winning at Stratford in October on stable debut and confirmed that winning over track and trip at Cheltenham in November in the G.2 Hyde Hurdle. He cemented his place at the head of the market with an easy victory in the G.1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury on new years eve and looks a solid bet to me. I have the 100-30 this morning. Impaire Et Passe has won both starts over hurdles thus far and announced himself as the Irish big hope when darting clear in G.2 in January at Punchestown; he has looked talented but has to prove he stays and despite the fact he has won on soft going that will still become an even bigger question mark if the rain arrives. 

Grade One 3m½f Brown Advisory Novices' Chase

Gerri Colombe is short but boasts an unbeaten record the last two being G.1’s having won the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase on good to soft last time and another G.1 on soft to heavy at Limerick prior to that. This will be his first attempt at three miles under rules, but a point-to-point victory over the distance and his pedigree both indicate it shouldn't be an issue, but it is a question that needs answering. Sir Gerhard is a dual Festival winner but has very limited chasing experience, one run which was a win in a Beginners Chase. He has run only once beyond two-miles under rules, when he won the 2m5f Ballymore Novices' Hurdle here last season, so has a number of questions to be answered at this level over this trip. Thyme Hill won the three-mile G.1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton last time on soft and I am a little surprised he is as big a price as he is. He won’t mind getting his toe-in, is a proven stayer, and looks to be getting the hang of of this chasing game; I will admit he had looked a slightly suspect jumper after the switch from hurdles. At the prices I think he is the value and worth a punt at 10-1 each-way.

2m5f Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Camprond will be fancied by many but all his best efforts have been on pretty decent going and all the recent rain has done his chances no favours. Run For Oscar is one I know well, I tipped him when he won the Cesarewitch, and he is very much on the shortlist. His hurdle mark has slowly edge upwards and this would now require a career best but if anyone can ready one it's his trainer! HMS Seahorse has done me a couple of favours, backed him each-way in the Fred Winter last year when fourth and when he won last time at Navan. Trainer Paul Nolan said after that win at Navan “The Coral Cup is the plan, and we'll train him for that. He's been gelded and that seemed to improve his jumping and make him more clued up. He’s a very small horse, he's only 15.1 hands, but there is plenty of depth to him. He’s a solid little horse and has a good attitude.” I am on the five-year-old again at 10-1 each-way (6 places) as I am convinced he'll place at the very least and could well nick this on going he will enjoy; Nolan aint far behind Charles Byrnes when it comes to ability to get one ready. 

Grade One 2m Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

A two-time track and trip winner and second in this in 2021 Nube Negra looks a big price but with just the seven lining-up the each-way option isn’t there. Edwardstone won the Arkle well last year and took the Tingle Creek in December but has a bit to prove after his last two runs. Last years winner Energumene won on seasonal reappearance at Cork but was well held in the G.1 Clarence House Chase last time, Edwardstone second, so also has questions to answer now. Editeur Du Gite battled gamely to beat Edwardstone in the aforementioned Clarence House on soft going and has to be shortlisted off the back of that run though they probably let him have it his own way a little there and I doubt he'll get an easy a time up front in this. He knows his way round here and has plenty of C&D form, plus he won the G.2 Desert Orchid Chase on soft in December. I have gone round and round with this race and have come to the decision that Edwardstone is the solid bet and I am on at 6-4 this morning. 

3m6f Glenfarclas Chase Cross Country Chase

Not everybody's cup of tea, I don’t mind the Cross Country and find it an interesting spectacle if nothing else. The Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work is strongly fancied to win for the second year running. Third here in January giving away buckets of weight that weren’t a bad effort at all but he is a very short price. Galvin is an interesting runner as a Festival and G.1 winner and would surely go close if taking to the nature of this. I think it is interesting that Davy Russell rides him and at the prices, 5-2 this morning, I am prepared to take a chance with the nine-year-old though it is obviously a leap of faith that he'll like the challenge. 

2m Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

A race as open as Billy Bunters fridge as they say and I can make a case for several. Third Time Lucki warmed up for this with a handicap win at Sandown last month and must have a chance odd a mark of 149; been rated in mid 150’s in the past. Final Orders has an impressive number of 1’s next to his name but is now up to an OR of 150 and I wonder if the handicapper has caught up with him. Andy Dufresne was second in this off the same mark last year and this has presumably been the aim again. He has been running in higher grades of late so the ease in class will certainly help. Dinoblue is relatively inexperienced for this race but has taken well to the bigger obstacles and as an unexposed type from the yard of Willie Mullins has to be respected. She never reached the heights expected as a hurdler but has looked at home chasing, has winning form on soft, and gets in off a very low mark of 140. She is a tentative pick at 6-1

Grade One 2m½f Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Stick a pin in time, well not quite but the Bumper as ever is a bit of a guessing game. It's For Me won as he liked on stable debut on soft at Navan and he would appear right up there in the Mullins pecking order with Townend riding. Fun Fun Fun has won both starts by wide margins and gets the 7lb allowance and looks like another good chance for the Mullins yard and owners Simon Munir & Isaac Souede (also own It’s For me). That said Adreamtoshare is three from three and has looked pretty decent from what I have seen the concern with him is the going; two wins on good and one on yielding but who knows might be better still on soft. A recent purchase by J P. McManus I don't like backing the jolly in this but he is the selection at 4-1 to beat the Mullins battalion.  


It's Cheltenham Festival week! As is now a long-held tradition for Champion Hurdle Day old Girdy will be up at sparrows fart for the pilgrimage to Prestbury Park. It’s the usual suspects of Mr Wilson, Mr Griffiths, Mr O’Leary and I though this year we have booked into the Festival Lounge, a step-up from the usual Club Enclosure. You get a free racecard and complimentary tea and coffee (not sure we’ll take much advantage of that) but all being well we should be able to get a sit down having a beer at some point as it is limited capacity - or exclusive as I like to describe it.

We are on the Old course for the first two days and the going on Monday evening is soft with the forecast for rain on and off all week. There will be little sleep from now until Friday evening; four days, twenty-eight races and plenty of fun. Here we go again.

Grade One 2m½f Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

The roar will go up at 1.30 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. High Definition is my each-way punt for this, I am on at 25-1 each-way (3-places) ante-post. Took a tumble when last seen giving Facile Vega a run for his money in the race that saw the jolly finally get beaten. Won well enough at Leopardstown in hurdling debut prior to that and I am still convinced if he comes over the last somewhere towards the front of the field his class and flat speed can see him place up at least. I just hope he has been doing plenty of hurdling practice at home. Tahmuras enters calculations with the soft undehoof conditions having won his last two starts on soft ground, including the G.1 Tolworth Hurdle. Facile Vega heads the market and it will be fascinating to see how they run him in this; the way he went out like a light last time I can't have him.

Grade One 2m Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase

The betting has had this as a two horse race for a while with Jonbon and El Fabiolo heading the market. I am in the camp that is far from convinced about the jumping of El Fabiolo, and if there is one place you need to jump well it’s in a G.1 at Cheltenham. He might get them all right and win, but for me his jumping is a little too suspect to be lumping on in a race such as this. Jonbon hasn’t perhaps had much to beat so far this year, but he has been winning as he should and most importantly has jumped well on every run. I am a little surprised he isn’t shorter than he is having beaten El Fabiolo in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree last year (the second let down by his jumping over the smaller obstacles) and the fact the only horse to beat him so far is Constitution Hill in the Supreme here last season; take the winner out the race and he would have looked a decent winner of that! I am on at the 6-4 I took ante-post last week.

3m1f Ultima Handicap Chase

The first of many tricky handicaps this week and a case can be made for a few of them. Lucinda Russell has been talking of her excitement to saddle the defending champion Corach Rambler. The nine-year-old is only 6lb higher in the weights than when winning last year and his chance is obvious. Jonjo O’Neil knows how to win this race so his Monbeg Genius has to enter calculations as he could have more to offer yet. Happygolucky is one I have talked of before, I backed him when second in this in 2021, and he is also shortlisted but he aint done much lately and the yard is in terrible form. The Big Breakaway stays further and goes on the soft so is likely to be staying on as others start to falter. The eight-year-old has gone well here in the past, is pretty consistent, and I think is over priced. I am on at 16-1 each-way (5-places) with Coral overnight in the hope he can pick them off up the hill he will surely at the least stay on into a place.

Grade One 2m½f Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

This should simply be a procession at the end of which Constitution Hill is crowned Champ. State Man is over from Ireland, and could give him a bit of a race at least, but on all known form the machine that is Constitution Hill should climb Cheltenham hill in splendid isolation. Unbackable at the odds, he is part of a Nicky Henderson double for me with Shishkin the second leg on day three.

Grade One 2m4f Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle)

A race that has been talked of a lot in the build-up but not necessarily for the right reasons. Anyhow, whatever your opinion is, Honeysuckle runs in this and no doubt will be fancied by many. I have never been totally convinced by her and I am happy to take her on here as I think she aint as good as she was, and she never was that good anyway. Epatante runs here now and has shown she gets the 2m4f trip winning the G.1 Aintree Hurdle last back end. She had a good view of the rear end of Honeysuckle in the last two Champion Hurdles though so I can’t have her. Love Envoi could run a big race with the amount of rain we’ve had and has an each-way shout. Brandy Love made her seasonal reappearance in the G.2 Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown last month when third, giving away in excess of half-a-stone to the opposition. She went well there for a long way after ten-months off and that will surely have put her spot on for this. Her win at Fairyhouse over 2m4f in the G.1 Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final last April was impressive, Love Envoi second, but I think she would ideally like it faster. Maries Rock, winner of this race last year, is back to defend her title and is the pick. She won the G.2 Relkeel Hurdle here over this trip on New Years day on the soft and I see no reason she can’t go in again. I have the 5-2 overnight.

2m½f Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Fred Winter)

Tekao has been short as in the build-up for this, 3-1 now, which is pretty skinny when you consider the type of race it is. That said, reports suggest he has been working well and a tilt at the G.1 Triumph was apparently considered. I can’t have him at the price though. I can’t have McTigue either who I backed recently after such a bad run. Paul Nicholls doesn’t run many in this so the fact Afadil is in caught the eye. A winner of his first two starts here in the UK having come from France he ran terribly at Haydock last month (trainer's rep could offer no explanation for the poor form shown other than the race may have come too soon for gelding). Has won on the soft and as a French import you’d expect soft would be fine anyway. I think he looked like one to follow until his shocker a Haydock and the fact Nicholls runs him suggests there is no real issue and at 20-1 I am on each-way (6-places) with Power.

Grade Two 3m6f National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase

The lucky last on day one. Gaillard Du Mensil has been trading short in the build-up and given the fact he is rated about half-a-stone better than the rest of the field and has Patrick booked to ride it perhaps isn’t surprising. A second-season novice he has more experience to call on than the majority of the field and has been in with some good ones. Last year he finished a well-held third to Galopin Des Champs at the Dublin Racing Festival, was third again this time behind L'Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at last season's Festival and put in another great effort when third in the Irish Grand National. Warmed up for this when behind Mighty Potter at Leopardstown last month over a two-and-a-half mile trip that is far too short for him; that will have put him cherry ripe for this though. I have a bit of the Evens NRNB I took ante-post.


8th March 2023

The betting for the Arkle Chase has had it as a two horse race for a while with Jonbon and El Fabiolo heading the market. I am in the camp that is far from convinced about the jumping of El Fabiolo, and if there is one place you need to jump well it’s in a G.1 at Cheltenham. Jonbon hasn’t perhaps had much to beat so far this year, but he has been winning as he should, and most importantly has jumped well on every run. I am a little surprised he isn’t shorter than he is having beaten El Fabiolo in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree last year (the second let down by his jumping over the smaller obstacles) and the fact the only horse to beat him so far is Constitution Hill in the Supreme here last season; take the winner out the race and he would have looked a decent winner of that! I am on at 6-4 ante-post as I think this one will get shorter as the Irish runner drifts. 

7th March 2023 

Gaillard Du Mensil has been trading short for a while in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase and I perhaps should have backed him sooner. A second-season Novice he has more experience to call on than the majority of the field and has been in with some good ones. Last year he finished a well-held third to Galopin Des Champs at the Dublin Racing Festival, was third again this time behind L'Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at last season's Festival and put in another great effort when third in the Irish Grand National. Warmed up for this when behind Mighty Potter at Leopardstown last month over a two-and-a-half mile trip that is far too short for him; that will have put him cherry ripe for this though. I have a bit of the Evens NRNB as think he will be odds-on next week.

6th March 2023

I couldn't help myself and this morning I have had the Henderson Double of Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle and Shishkin for the Ryanair Chase at 1.36-1. Both are odds-on, Constitution Hill likely to only get shorter, and look good things to me. There really isn't much else to say as their chances are there for all to see! It's far from the bravest bet I will have over the coming days but one I had to make. 

The long-range weather forecast suggests there is the chance of light rain most of this week and Cheltenham Festival week, even possibly sleet, with some pretty chilly nights also forecast for the four days of the Festival. Proper horse racing weather some might say :o)  

13th February 2023

It's far from a system but I do like to keep an eye out for anything that old shrewdie Paul Nolan has entered for the Cheltenham Festival; he doesn't send many across the Irish Sea from his base in County Wexford but they usually leave with some sort of prizemoney when he does. The one entered at the time of writing for this year's shindig is Sandor Cleange in the Grade One three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on the Friday. He doesn't send many across the Irish Sea but when he does, they usually run well and take home some sort of prizemoney. Last seen finishing third over 2m6f in a Grade One at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival this month he is one I will be keeping an eye on.  A recent purchase out of the yard of Tim Doyle Metamorpheus is another that may make the trip over for the Festival in March. Talking about this one the trainer said "Metamorpheus has arrived with us in recent weeks and is just settling in and doing his regular canters. The form of the Punchestown race he won seems strong. The Boodles is the plan with him. I was really impressed with how he jumped and went to the line at Punchestown. He looks like a horse that has no bother staying and you’d have to be really pleased with how he did it.” HMS Seahorse did me a favour placing-up last year in the Fred Winter and won for me the other day at Navan as well. Nolan said after that win at Navan “The Coral Cup is the plan, and we'll train him for that. He's been gelded and that seemed to improve his jumping and make him more clued up. He’s a very small horse, he's only 15.1 hands, but there is plenty of depth to him. He’s a solid little horse and has a good attitude.” He is one very much on my radar.

8th February 2023

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is still the aim for High Definition, I am happy to say, despite his first unseating at Leopardstown on Sunday. The five-year-old is reported to be none the worse for the experience and the Cheltenham Festival opener remains the target providing he proves his well-being over the next few weeks. Joseph O’Brien told reporters today "He has come out of the race well and we’ll see how he is over the next couple of weeks, but we’re potentially looking at going straight to the Supreme with him from here. We’ll see how he is before confirming that decision, but if he was to go to Cheltenham that would be the race. I wouldn’t be too worried about that (jumping experience). It would have been nice to get a nice clear round in Leopardstown, but I don’t think he did anything wrong and I was very pleased with how jumped the second and third hurdle.”  You know it makes sense Joe, just brush up on that hurdling with him a little for me! 

6th February 2023 

The big talking point of the weekend at the Dublin Racing Festival was Honeysuckle. I am on record as saying she is far from the greatest Champion Hurdler we have ever seen and similar to a couple of well known pundits feel she has simply been taking advantage of a division that hasn't been that good the last couple of years. Take off the 7lb mares allowance she gets and she doesn't even win half the races she has in my opinion! She wouldn't have got near Istabraq or Hurricane Fly and State Man put her firmly in her place on Sunday - and I don't give State Man much chance against Constitution Hill! It was fun whilst it lasted, and was good for horse racing PR with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, but the two-mile hurdle division looks a stronger one again now, don't forget Vauban may have more to offer yet, and she just can't live with the new boys on the block, it is as simple as that. 

High Definition and Facile Vega faced off on Sunday and it all went a bit wrong. The pair looked to be going a fair pace early on before High Definition unseated rider JJ Slevin at the fourth hurdle. Everyone then probably expected Facile Vega to win hard held but the alarm bells began to ring turning in and the odds-on shot wen out like a light finishing last. I remain relatively happy with my bet but there is clearly some work to be done with High Definition on his jumping; The Supreme suddenly looks a slightly more open affair! 

3rd January 2023

The tickets for the Club & Festival Lounge Package along with the train travel (strikes permitting) are booked; the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival 2023 has well and truly begun. 

The first of the Cheltenham Festival bets for 2023 was actually placed on Christmas Eve (see blog post) when I took 25-1 each-way (3-places) with Corals about High Definition for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle.

He was due to run in the All About Sunday Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and duly won the two-mile event making just about every yard, there was the odd mistake on the way, before drawing clear on the flat after the last. The five-year-old is now down to as low as 14’s for the Festival race. Facile Vega remains the red-hot favourite but it has to be said wasn’t exactly brilliant the day after when winning the G.1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle over the same track and trip at long odds-on, though is clearly the best in the division at the moment. High Definition can only improve and and I am happy enough with the bet. Speaking after the four-and-a-quarter-length success at Leopardstown trainer Joseph O'Brien said of the one-time Derby favourite that was trained by his father Aidan "He was a bit green at a couple and having to make the running on his first run over hurdles wasn't ideal, but that's the way it panned out. I'm pleased with him. He was a high-class Flat horse so you would be hoping he can make it into Graded company over hurdles. Obviously you would be looking at Cheltenham but he'll have to run somewhere between now and then. The Dublin Racing Festival is probably an obvious option but whether we want to go straight into that class or take baby steps, we'll have to see. I don't know how long it's been since a horse rated as highly as him on the Flat went hurdling."