Danny Mullins, Jane Mangan and John 'Shark' Hanlon
It’s back! The Cheltenham Preview Night returns, at Connollly’s Red Mills. This year’s panel consisted of jockey Danny Mullins, jockey and TV pundit Jane Mangan and trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon. In the hosting hot seat, was KLCR’s Matt O’Keeffe and Sue Nunn, broadcasting from Connolly’s Red Mills Cillin Hill Store.
Here are the highlights of the main races each day. Do note that we don’t have a definite race card yet with eight days out to the starting line.
Siobhan Donohoe & Jockey Danny Mullins at Red Mills Cheltenham Preview
Tuesday 10th March
1.30pm Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) 4-y-o plus of £125,000.00. 2m. 87yds
Danny: “for me it’s two of Joe Donnelly’s horses (Asterion Forlonge & Shinhkin) that are the top of the market. Willie Mullins trained Asterion Forlonge, which I was lucky to win on in Leopardstown recently. His form is slightly better ahead of Skinhkins (Nicky Henderson). Abacadabras for Gordon Elliott has a fair level of form, but for me at the price Asterion Forlonge is the one at 4/1.”
2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1) 5-y-o plus of £175,000.00. 1m. 7f. 199yds.
Danny: “If you are having a bet on Notebook (Henry De Brombead), wait until he gets to the start without any antics. The one that is going to give Notebook something to think about in the race is Cash Back (Willie Mullins). He came second to Notebook in Leopardstown and was only beaten by three quarters of a length. I’d take on the favourite with Cash Back, he is going to be that little more solid.”
Shark: “Rachel Blackmore really loves this horse (Notebook), she thinks he is an out and out machine.”
3.30pm 2m. 87yds. Hurdle 4-y-o plus 31 Entered, Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) of £450,000.00
Jane: “this race is lacking a stand out star this year, it’s the first Champion Hurdle as long as I can remember that there are no previous winners entered. It’s going to take a good horse to give Epatante seven pounds, the mare trained by Nicky Henderson. I think she is wearing the favourite’s tag at the moment. Nicky has had six winners in this race, with a brilliant record in the Champion Hurdle. He also has Pental Hills, who gets to the front but doesn’t really hit the line and that’s not good enough at Cheltenham when you have to hit the hill, he is not a strong enough finisher for me.”
During this broadcast, breaking news came in from Nicky Henderson’s yard that Epatante is reportedly coughing, but she is continuing her routine.
Shark: “Again there’s no sticking out horse this year. Nicky Henderson has a very strong hand with the first and second favourite. Gordon Elliot and Will Mullins will probably have two to three horses in it. I would love to see Henry De Bromhead’s Honey Suckle run here. She is a very good mare and if she runs with Rachel Blackmore they will take all the beating.”
4.10pm Close Brothers Mares Hurdle (Grade 1) 4-y-o plus of £120,000.00. 2m. 3f. 200yds
Jane: “Benie Des Dieux (Willie Mullins) and Honeysuckle (Henry De Bromhead) both potentially look like they are avoiding the Champion Hurdle this year and running in the Mares Hurdle. That’s probably the match of the day. I am a Benie Des Dieux fan, I’II stick by her. It’s a pity she is not taking on the boys in the Champion Hurdle, but this will be a brilliant race.”
Danny: “I would echo Jane’s opinion regarding Benie Des Dieux, but with odds on with 8/11, she is probably not a betting prospect. This is more of a race that you should sit down to watch and enjoy two proper mares who are going to make a proper race of it. From a betting prospect there’s a couple of others from Willie Mullins that are going to run a big race. Stormy Ireland at 6/1 is probably a little bit short.
Eglantine Du Seuil (Willie Mullins) won the Mares Novice last year and she is starting to come back to a bit of form this season with a good run in Leopardstown. At 25/1 I think she could be a good each way contender.”
Shark: “Ireland is going to win this race between these two horses. I really fancy Honeysuckle. It’s a two horse race, you couldn’t back the other horse at money on, I’d rather be taking 6/4 or 2/1 about Honeysuckle than taking money on Benie Des Dieux, because when it comes up the hill at Cheltenham there won’t be a length between these two mares.”
Danny Mullins, Jane Mangan, Ailish Durkin, John 'Shark' Hanlon and William Connolly
Wednesday 11th March
1.30pm Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) of £125,000.00 (4yo+, 77 entered)
Danny: “It’s probably going to be one of the Irish bankers of the week with Envoi Allen (Gordon Elliot), he hasn’t been beaten over hurdles. The English horses Sporting John by Philip Hobbs has won plenty too but I’m not sure if he lines up in this. The Big GetAway (Willie Mullins) and Getaway Fred (Colin Tizzard) could give Envoi Allen plenty to think about, but he is going to be hard to beat.”
2.10pm, 3m. 80yds. Novice Chase 5-y-o plus 34 Entered RSA Chase (Grade 1) of £175,000.00
Jane: “Ireland has a very good chance in this. I like Allaho (Willie Mullins) and I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. The favourite here is The Champ (Nicky Henderson) but he is coming off the back of a really heavy fall. Faughheen (Mullins) could turn up here, wouldn’t that be the story of the Festival. Allaho is the one that will carry my money.”
3.30pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) of £400,000.00 (5yo+, 1m 7f 99yds, 18 entered)
Danny: “This is going to be the race of the Festival, the top three in the betting is where I am sure the winner is going to come from. Altior (Nicky Henderson) is a deserving favourite but he has young contenders to deal with. Defi Du Seuil for Philip Hobbs and Chacun Pour Soi for Willie Mullins, they are going to Altoir plenty to think of.”
Jane: “Willie Mullins has never won a Champion Chase and I am not convinced Chacun Pour Soi is going to break that duck! Altior has never been beating over obstacles that are over two miles. We know he was messed about in the autumn, but he was back with a bang in Newbry, and he is the horse they all have to beat. Defi Du Seuil is the improver, he is the flashy horse of the season. 25/1 outsider each way for me is Dynamite Dollars trained by Paul Nicholls, who is one of the best trainers around at the moment. He missed most of this season but his comeback race was behind Altior. Everyone is going to talking about Altior, Defi Du Seuil, and Chacun Pour Soi but Dynamite Dollars will give everyone a good run for their money.”
Shark: “He finished behind Altior the last day and he will finish behind again! For Altior, in his last 22 runs, he has won 21 of them and came second in one. He loves Cheltenham and I know he is an older horse than the others but Nicky Henderson is after minding this horse for Cheltenham. He is the English banker for the week. I can’t see anything that will lay up to him.”
4.10pm 3m. 6f. 37yds. Chase 5-y-o plus 26 Entered Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase of £65,000.00
Shark: “Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott) if he turns up like every other year he will win. Gordon is minding him all year for Cheltenham, and to go back to Aintree, what’s going to beat him in it?”
Danny: “I think he will be beaten. I know he is the people’s horse but he picked up an injury there before Christmas. There’s a French horse called Easysland (David Cottin), he was a winner in Cheltenham in the winter. He was then bought by JP McManus and he went back to France. He is spoken about very highly in the horse circles in France.”
Jane: “How many Aintree Grand Nationals did Easysland ever win Danny?!”
Thursday 12th March
1.30pm 2m. 3f. 166yds. Novice Chase 5-y-o plus 46 Entered, Marsh Novice Chase (Grade 2) of £150,000.00
Danny: “This race fills the gap between the 2 and 3 milers. The horse I like here is Easy Game by Willie Mullins. He is not going to be starting favourite, you’ll get 10/1 about him. He won well in Leopardstown, he is a fast jumper over his fences, and he has improved an awful lot from jumping hurdles.”
Jane: “I like Mister Fisher (Nicky Henderson) in the Marsh.”
2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) of £350,000.00 (5yo+, 2m 4f 127yds, 29 entered)
Jane: “Henry De Bromhead will have the favourite with A Plus Tard. This horse continues to soar, he was a very good winner of a grade 1 race at Leopardstown at Christmas. There’s no mistake about it, this horse continues to improve. He is a young horse who likes the track. I wouldn’t beat against him. The biggest challenge for him will be from Frodon (Paul Nicholls).
Now here is a grade 1 race at Cheltenham, where the first and second favourite are ridden by women.”
3.30pm, Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) of £325,000.00 (4yo+, 2m 7f 213yds, 29 entered)
Danny: “Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle) is the rock solid here, he is one of the bankers of the meeting for me. Benie Des Dieux is second favourite here but it’s unlikely she will line up, it’s more likely she will line up in the Mare’s Hurdle. City Island for a small successful trainer Martin Brassil, beat the hot pot ‘Champ’ last year. Another one to watch is Emitom trained by Warren Greatrex, maybe an each way bet at 10/1. For me its Paisley Park, all he has to do is turn up.”
Jane: “ I agree, the likes of Benie Des Dieux and Paisley Park are horses for accumulators, they are too short for single bets, bar they turn up under par. As long as they turn up I will find it hard for them to be beaten.”
Friday 13th March
1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) of £125,000 (4yo, 2m 179yds, 38 entered)
Danny: “it’s going to be a proper slog, the English have a real handle on this race with Solo (Paul Nicholls). Gary Moore’s horse Goshen and Dan Skelton’s horse Allmankind is other strong contenders. For the Irish contingent, I would say Aspire Tower for Henry De Bromhead probably looks the best of them.”
Jane: “Up until last Saturday I was Goshen all the way. I was very impressed, but you couldn’t be blown away with Paul Nicholls Solo’s run on Saturday. Paul compares him to the likes of Masterminded, that’s enough for me for him to win a Triumph Hurdle. He has a mark of 157, which puts him 6 pounds clear of Goshen. The Hurdle this year has a lot of quality in it.”
Shark: “Solo’s run last week was unreal, the only thing that will beat him is experience. It’s definitely an English race, our Irish juveniles are not as good as they have been over the years.”
2.50pm 2m. 7f. 213yds. Hurdle 4-y-o plus 74 Entered, Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) of £125,000
Danny: “Thyme Hill (Philip Hobbs) is the favourite at 9/1. I give him a great chance but so many horses pop up here for at big prices. This race can often been seen as a graveyard for favourites. The horse that won last year was at 50/1. For the Irish, Paul Nolan’s horse Latest Exhibition is worth mentioning, his form is very strong.”
Jane: “Colin Tizzard is very fortunate to have good novices. He could have Harry Senior for this race. I think Thyme Hill is the best novice hurdler in England. I do like Latest Exhibition too.”
4.10pm 3m. 2f. 70yds. Chase 5-y-o plus 34 Entered, St James's Place Foxhunter Chase of £45,000.00
Shark: “We have a runner, Rewrite the Rules, he does everything right and he is only a 6 years old. I ran him twice last year and he won, and twice this year and he won both. He is 40/1, I think he will be in the first three. He is going with a very big chance and I think the race will suit him.”
Jane: “The Shark’s horse has a good chance, he has been in rock solid form. The favourite will be Hazel Hill (Philip Rowley), the best horse in Britain and is the justifiable favourite as last year’s winner. Enda Bolger has a talented horse Staker Wallace.”
3pm 3m. 2f. 70yds. Chase 5-y-o plus 20 Entered Bulmers Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) of £625,000.00
Danny: “a good starting point is Al Boum Photo (Willie Mullins). Paul Townsend won on him last year. I like Gordon Elliot’s horse Delta Work.”
Jane: “Delta Work was very good in Leopardstown. Lost in Translation has to prove a point but all angles points to Al Boum Photo.”
Shark: “Presenting Percy (Patrick Kelly), I’d put my few quid on him.