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Two To Follow For The Cheltenham Festival Handicaps

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com

Brian Hayes  | 5 mins

Two To Follow For The Cheltenham Festival Handicaps

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We’re now only three weeks out from the Cheltenham Festival and the excitement around is really growing. 

This week we have decided to take a look at the Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and the handicaps where I offer up two to keep an eye on.

The Week That Was

I hit the crossbar twice on Saturday with both horses running nice races.

Bynx ran a blinder and should really be winning very soon. She seemed to handle the step up to two-and-a-half miles well and was in her comfort zone for longer than she’s used to, as she’s always been campaigned at two miles where it is usually a strong pace from the get go. 

Between the last two hurdles we got there to dispute the lead, but unfortunately, we just bumped into one in Ottoman Style, who rallied very strongly late on. She is still a maiden, but she should shed that tag soon for the shrewd Martin Hassett.

Macs Charm is another who should be winning over the next while for Colm Murphy. He jumped and travelled well and just bumped into an in-form rival in Grandero Bello. Macs Charm is one on the up and it shouldn’t take long at all before he gets his turn again in the winner’s enclosure.

Aintree Grand National

The Aintree Grand National weights were released this week and two in particular jumped out at me.

The first one, Mr Incredible, shouldn’t surprise regular readers as he’s a horse I know well. He would run off 10-04 and that would be a nice racing weight. He is number 51 at the moment, but you’d expect him to get in.

I rode him on his last start when second in the Classic Chase at Warwick where he showed his massive reserves of stamina. The fourth from that day has won since, so it is form that might work out.

He’s been a difficult customer in the past who has refused to start, but Patrick (Mullins) has put in huge work with him and its starting to pay off. He will go to the Kim Muir next and will hopefully go well there before having a big chance in Aintree. Mr Incredible is a 12/1 shot with generally so he’s definitely been well found in the market.

The other I like is Capodanno who would run off 11-05 and that weight might not stop one as talented as him. He will come on a lot for that run last weekend in Gowran Park. Capodanno is interesting at 33/1 on some betting apps.

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2023 Cheltenham Festival Thoughts

Firstly, in the Champion Bumper I think Ballyburn seriously threw his hat in the ring last weekend after a superb performance. Before Sunday, I would imagine Patrick (Mullins) was heavy favourite to ride It's For Me, but that wouldn’t be a certainty now I would imagine. He pulled so hard during the race that I was surprised he had anything left for the finish, but to pull away in the manner he did really impressed me. 

The last horse who pulled as hard as that in a bumper with Paddy and still won was probably Dysart Dynamo. In my mind he is a big player at 7/1.

A Dream To Share is another with a big chance after a brilliant performance at the Dublin Racing Festival so it promises to be an intriguing renewal of the Champion Bumper.

In the handicaps there are two I quite like. Firstly, De Capo Glory is very interesting. He is entered in the Martin Pipe and County Hurdle. He is trained by Padraig Butler who is an exciting young trainer going places and could be very interesting. He has only had seven starts, but has actually reached a very decent level in those starts and perhaps could be well handicapped.

In one of his bumpers, he finished fifth of 22 behind Adamantly Chosen, two runs back he finished third in a Grade One behind El Fabiolo and last Saturday he ran a very promising race on his reappearance behind Fil D’or and Sharjah. He is only six, has great form and 25/1 for the Martin Pipe looks very big. He could however also take up the option of a run in the County Hurdle.

The other I like is Winter Fog who still might have something up his sleeve. He got over a stone for that brilliant performance at Christmas under Kieran Callaghan, but that might not stop him yet. He is entered in the Coral Cup and the County Hurdle. He has plenty of pace to get a nice position, and will not be fazed by those big handicaps with all the hustle and bustle which is not every horse's cup of tea.

The Weekend Ahead

I have three nice rides on Saturday, but I am particularly looking forward to Jiving Jerry.

He actually ran a particularly good race last time behind HMS Seahorse, and he just could not quite get to them that day. He will be doing his best work late, and if the race works out for us, we could well be involved. Cadatharla for Colm Murphy, will be a big threat in this as he was very impressive last time.

About the Author

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com
Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes is a leading Irish jockey based with the Willie Mullins yard and regular rider at all the big national hunt racing festivals including Galway, Punchestown Aintree and Cheltenham. The Cork native has ridden high in the riding ranks despite not hailing from a racing background and quickly becoming a relied on partner for some of the best horses in top training yards.