Cheltenham Festival 2017: Henry de Bromhead has discussed some of his leading contenders for The Festival, headed by impressive Thyestes Chase winner Champagne West and Stan James Champion Hurdle hope Petit Mouchoir.
The Irish handler has sent out three winners at The Festival, notably Sizing Europe in the 2011 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, and is enjoying his best ever season since taking out a licence in 1999.
“We have been very fortunate this season,” said de Bromhead. “We have got some very nice horses and we are very lucky to be in the position we are in at the moment.
“Hopefully, we can get the horses to The Festival at the top of their game.
“I would say we will have between 10 and 12 runners for The Festival. Looking at the logistics, the runners for the first part of the week will leave Saturday night or Sunday morning.”
Champagne West (Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup): “Our lad has done very little wrong this year. He won well at Tramore and then went on to win the Thyestes off 154, which was very impressive. It’s not easy to do that in a top handicap.
“He has gone up to 166 now. We will take our chance and see how we go. He has good form around Cheltenham. There is still a little question mark about his jumping. He made a little mistake five out in Gowran. But other than that, he has been pretty good.
“The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup is very open this year, especially when you see how closely rated they all are. It is very competitive.”
Monalee: “Monalee is in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
“He won well in Clonmel over 3 miles, having been beaten by Death Duty over two and a half. 3 miles in the Albert Bartlett would probably suit him better but do you want to be taking on a horse who has already beaten you giving you weight?
“He is by Milan and I actually think he will be better on better ground. He was beaten in a point-to-point bumper at Gowran last year on heavy. I could not wait to get him on good ground and then he ran really well at Punchestown on spring festival ground.
“He is in great form and a very nice young horse. Whatever he does this year will be a bonus.”
Petit Mouchoir (Stan James Champion Hurdle): Petit Mouchoir has won his last two at Leopardstown. He has done nothing wrong, bar falling at Newcastle. It was a bit disappointing but he looked to be going well and he then confirmed at Leopardstown over Christmas what we had hoped he might have done at Newcastle.
“He has since come out and won the Irish Champion Hurdle. He has had a fantastic season already.
“I would never be overly confident, but he is in good form and I would be hoping for a good run.”
Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase: Altior was hugely impressive the other day and has been all season. He is going to be very hard to beat.
“We could end up running three in the race – Some Plan who won the Irish Arkle, Three Stars who won a G3 at Punchestown and was just beaten in another G3, and Ordinary World who was second to Min on ground he would not have been mad about.
“They are all pretty similar on the form they have shown so far. I suppose for all of them, the better the ground, the better their chance.
“I hate going in with that train of thought [running to finish second]. Ratings tell you it is going to be tough, but I want to win.”
Special Tiara (Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase): Special Tiara is in mighty form. He has had two runs on ground he would have hated this season, but he won nicely on good ground in Kempton.
“He loves the game and has been third in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase for the last two years. I still don’t know how he wasn’t second last year!”
Sub Lieutenant (Ryanair Chase): “Sub Lieutenant has had a great year. He won at Limerick and then won the G2 at Down Royal when beating Outlander and getting a little bit of weight. He was then third to Djakadam and Outlander off level weights in the John Durkan. Last time out, he ran very well behind Sizing John at Thurles in the Kinloch Brae.
“I think his form is pretty good and the better the ground, the better he will run. I would be hoping for a good run.”
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