Important races took place, both in Britain and Ireland, over the weekend and there were implications for the the Gloucestershire meeting.
Cheltenham’s The Goal For Noel
Trainer Noel Meade had plenty to say about the prospects of Disko, whose performance at Leopardstown on Sunday indicated that he is getting in-step for the Festival.
“It’s a great thrill to have one to jump as well that and it never really looked a problem, he was gaining ground at every fence. Everything seemed to be going really well and it’s lovely to be able to watch something like that.
“You would never be confident in a Grade One, especially with the lads in behind you. You never want to build your confidence up too much, but I was happy when he jumped the last. It might have been the trip the last day. That trip (two-mile-five) seems to suit him and that’ll be the way we go I’d imagine.
“I’d say Cheltenham ground will suit him all right – the usual Cheltenham ground. I would never think that he would want quick ground. He’s a beautiful-moving horse.”View Our Cheltnham Day 1 Ante-Post Markets Now!
Williams Wary Over Clyne
However, less positive noises were made about Clyne – despite the 7-year-old impressing at Newbury in defeat. Evan Williams still feels that his inmate is looking exposed:
“We went into the race knowing we were well handicapped, the problem is we only had 5lb or 7lb up our sleeve and the first two had stones up theirs. The first two were the standout horses on the day. They were running off marks in the 130s and you wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up 160-rated horses at some time in their lives.
“Our horse isn’t as good as the two that beat him, it’s as simple as that really and we have no complaints. Clyne is a lovely horse and if all your horses were as solid as him the job would be easy. He’s in the Champion Hurdle, but that was a pipe-dream, so we’ll take him out of that in the morning.
“He’s badly handicapped now, so I don’t see any point in entering him in handicaps at Cheltenham as he’d only be running for the benefit of other horses. What we could do is aim for Aintree as there is some good prize-money on offer in those two-and-a-half-mile and three mile conditions races.”View Our Cheltnham Day 2 Ante-Post Markets Now!
Tizzard’s Tremendous Trio
Colin Tizzard’s yard continues to go from strength to strength and the trainer was pleased to see how Native River responded to a late jockey change at Newbury. Richard Johnson was taken sick, shortly before the race and this led to the able Aidan Coleman being called-in to deputise.
“I only think he asked him coming down to the second last. He just nursed him along. It showed he was a bit classier. His last two races he went a few lengths clear four out and just held on. We wanted to ride him a little differently and have that finishing spurt at the end and it’s worked brilliantly. He’s gone away at the line. Aidan’s not a bad sub!
Tizzard is now sitting on an embarrassment of potential Gold Cup riches, as he also trains both Cue Card and Thistlecrack.
“They are all lovely horses. I’m just so proud to have them in our yard. A three-horse race today I thought we might get outmanoeuvred, but no, he’s got a bit more class and is just a thorough stayer and he’s got a bit of pace as well.”View Our Cheltnham Day 3 Ante-Post Markets Now!
Sizing John has spent most of his career watching the hindquarters of Douvan, in big races, but there are signs that he may be ready to step outside of Willie Mullins’ star’s shadow. Victory in the Irish Gold Cup, puts him right in the frame for the Cheltenham showpiece and Jessica Harrington was delighted with the performance.
“He was brilliant,” she purred. “He was still cantering turning in as far as I could see and when Robbie (Power) asked him, he quickened up. I know he didn’t win very far but he still won and he wasn’t stopping.
“He’s my first runner in the Irish Gold Cup, and my first winner. He looks like a three-mile chaser, not a two-miler, and I was looking it up this morning, he’s been second to Douvan five times and third twice. If he’d won all those, he’d have started favourite for this race, but because he hasn’t, everyone has doubted he’d stay.
“That’s only his third run this season, so he’s relatively fresh, and we can freshen him up now and get him right.”View Our Cheltnham Day 4 Ante-Post Markets Now!