Paul Ferguson has four selections from Cheltenham on Tuesday; Irving (1.30); My Tent or Yours (3.20); Quevega (4.00) and Shutthefrontdoor (4.40).
With ground conditions in his favour and the race sure to be run to suit My Tent Or Yours (3:20) is taken to land this afternoon’s Champion Hurdle.
The feature on the opening day of this year’s Cheltenham Festival looks a mouth-watering contest and threatens to be the race of the week. Dual Champion, Hurricane Fly will probably need to put up a career best to fend of the young brigade and, of those, Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old is given the nod.
A horse I have long been a fan of (as regular readers of my work will know), the son of Desert Prince is learning to settle better and, if he does just that off the likely strong pace this afternoon, there should be no excuses. I’m still convinced that AP McCoy’s mount has a performance in his locker that we have yet to witness and I’m taking the pair to deliver on the biggest stage. He was trading at 4/1 overnight.
Earlier on the card, the unbeaten Irving (1:30) is taken to land the curtain-raising Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Paul Nicholls and Nick Scholfield.
The speedy son of Singspiel, like My Tent Or Yours, is likely to relish the drying ground and strongly run race. The six-year-old is four from four to date and, while his form clearly needs improving on today, it is impossible not to have been impressed with the way he has won his four races to date. He, too, was a 4/1 shot on Monday, with Boylesports.
Of the opposition, Willie Mullins’ three runners obviously require plenty of respect – Wicklow Brave should relish the ground, while Valseur Lido remains an unknown quantity, but one that has impressed to date. At bigger odds, I can see Garde La Victoire enjoying the strong pace and decent ground – he can outrun his odds.
Elsewhere on the card, the handicap chases look devilishly difficult, though Wrong Turn is one to note in the 3m contest and Present View is a horse I am a fan of in the closing event – his price has contracted considerably of late, however, and, with the likes of Ericht and Art Of Logistics very much respected, this looks a wide-open heat.
The 4m National Hunt Chase lacks the same sort of strength in depth and, though we may have missed the boat slightly in terms of price (though I did put it up in my Racing Ahead column at 16-1) Shutthefrontdoor (4:40) is fancied to strike for Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus.
These connections have a fine record in this race and I had this race in mind for this horse before he even jumped a fence this season. He kicked off with a success at Aintree, before running a fine race here when runner-up to Le Bec in November. Clearly not right when last seen in December, the son of Accordion has since had a wind-op, which explains the poor show.
The seven-year-old will enjoy the ground and has the added bonus of Nina Carberry in the saddle. He was generally a 7/2 shot overnight, but hopefully there will be some 4s available this morning.
Finally, as we’ve become accustomed to Quevega (4:00) is proving easy to back in the OLBG Mares Hurdle, in her bid for an unprecedented sixth straight Festival success.
Willie Mullins’ top-class 10-year-old is a class apart against her own sex and she will be very difficult to beat. There was a bit of 10/11 available yesterday and I’m hoping someone will be brave enough to go Evs this morning.
1:30 Cheltenham Festival: Irving; 7/2 Boylesports
3:20 Cheltenham Festival: My Tent Or Yours; 7/2 betvictor
4:00 Cheltenham Festival: Quevega; 5/6 betvictor
4:40 Cheltenham Festival: Shutthefrontdoor; 7/2 WilliamHill
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14