Grosvenor Casino hosted their first Cheltenham Preview evening on Thursday 9th March and we were there to catch all the gossip.
Hosted by ITV The Opening Show presenter Oli Bell and with a panel of Paul Nicholls’ assistant trainer Harry Derham and jockey Nick Scholfield, a superb night was had by all in Reading.
The trio went through all four days of action with guests listening intently to try and catch any snippets of information which could help them win big at the Cheltenham Festival, which starts next week. Here are some of the best bits from the evening.
Derham keen Times can Move with the best
Some of the most interesting comments came from Derham who was very confident of Movewiththetimes running a mighty race in the opener of the Festival, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Second to Ballyandy in the Betfair Hurdle last time, Derham admitted that Nicholls’ charge had plenty to find with the leading fancies, which includes his Betfair Hurdle conqueror Ballyandy, but feels his horse is improving with every run and holds a decent each-way shout.
Bell fancies Brain Power to land Champion Hurdle
The Stan James Champion Hurdle is the big race of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival and Oli Bell gave a very strong mention to Nicky Henderson’s Brain Power. A winner of two handicaps this term, Henderson’s charge steps up to Grade One open company for his toughest assignment yet but Bell spoke glowingly about the Michael Buckley-owned gelding.
Scholfield fancies Yorkhill
He has come in for a lot of criticism in recent times for his jumping exploits but Andrea and Graham Wylie’s Yorkhill is a banker to win the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival, according to jockey Nick Scholfield. Winner of two starts over fences this term, rumours surfaced that the son of Presenting could fill the void for trainer Willie Mullins in the Champion Hurdle left by injuries to former winners Annie Power and Faugheen. However, connections have decided to stay over fences and Scholfield was effusive in his praise of the seven-year-old who he sees as one of the bankers of the meeting.
Derham confident in Bouvreuil
Arguably the most interesting horse mentioned on the night was Bouvreuil. Trained by Paul Nicholls, his assistant Harry Derham suggested the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate had been a long-term target for the Saddler Maker gelding who finished sixth, beaten seven and a quarter-lengths in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Prestbury Park in December. He is a general 11/1 shot for that race and Derham sounded bullish of the six-year-old running a big race.
Nicholls’ assistant also gave a strong mention to Art Mauresque, who looks set to run in the same race over an extended two-miles and four furlongs. Winner of his first two starts this year, the French-bred gelding was seventh to Taquin Du Seuil in the BetVictor Gold Cup and has been kept fresh for the Grade Three handicap. Nick Scholfield, who looks set to ride the horse also gave a positive bulletin on the Policy Maker gelding’s chance. He is a general 25/1 for the race, run on the Thursday of the Festival.
Bell also revealed that sources in Ireland inform him that Vroum Vroum Mag did a superb piece of work this week and could head for the Champion Hurdle, whilst on a visit to Gordon Elliott’s County Meath base, he commented that Elliott spoke very well in favour of Coral Cup hope Tombstone. Bell also suggested connections of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite are leaning towards a Champion Hurdle tilt.
Derham suggested Saphir Du Rheu would run in the Gold Cup but would love to see him run in a handicap, given his attractive rating, whilst he was hopeful that Coral Cup chance Modus could run into a place under top weight in the two and a half-mile contest.
Derham also said that Politologue could run into a place in the JLT Novices’ Chase but will struggle against Yorkhill.
Scholfield very keen on More Of That in the Gold Cup for Jonjo O’Neill and who was interestingly backed into 12/1 from 20/1 for Racing’s Blue Riband event earlier today.
Derham NAP – Bouvreuil (Brown Advisory Plate)
Bell NAP – Brain Power (Champion Hurdle)
Scholfield NAP – Yorkhill (JLT Novices’ Chase)
Thanks to Grosvenor Casinos for hosting the event. You can see more from there here: https://www.grosvenorcasinos.com/