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GG Cheltenham Ante-Post Book – 25th January

Cheltenham ante-post tipster Dave Young (A.K.A Cheltmental) is on hand to give us his A-Z of the Seasoned Hurdler division. He discusses some of the key horses who could be set to line up at the Festival, and which races they could/should be aiming for!

Dave has been involved in Antepost betting and the Cheltenham Festival for almost 20 years and he’s managed to make a good few quid from it. With this column, you’ll be able to have a fly on the wall experience as to what he’s looking forward to each week and how he views what’s happened after the events.

Alongside his thoughts on the racing, Dave will be putting up some suggested bets where he see’s appropriate.

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There’s some incredible action coming up over the next couple of weekends and I’m looking forward to running through the true key trials for finding a Festival winner which will be covered next week.

Two bets this week with full reasoning on each contained in the A-Z below for Seasoned Hurdlers which sees the final leg of this 4-parter.




For the purposes of this column everything will be put up to a 1pt win stake. I typically do not stake EW for long term Antepost bets as I would prefer to put myself in the position to have multiple horses running for me, where I see fit.

25th January



10th January

Lucky 15 – Thyme Hill (8/1 – Brown Advisory Novices Chase), Appreciate It (9/2 – Arkle Chase), Mighty Potter (7/2 – Turners Novices Chase), Chemical Energy (8/1 – National Hunt Chase) – Best odds currently with BetUK

4th January

Fakir D’Oudairies – Ryanair Chase @ 10/1 – NRNB with William Hill

20th December

Dawn Rising – Albert Bartlett Hurdle @ 25/1

7th December

THE STORYTELLER – Hunters Chase @ 9/1

HARMONYA MAKER – Mares Novices’ Hurdle @ 20/1

22nd November

PROSCHEMA – Stayers Hurdle @ 25/1

16th November

MONMIRAL – Arkle Novices Chase @ 33/1

BLUE LORD Ryanair Chase @ 33/1

Seasoned Hurdlers A-Z


8yo now who has been mostly seen on slower ground although his joint top RPR came on Gd/Yielding ground at the 2022 Punchestown Festival when just over a length behind KLASSICAL DREAM. Posted the same number last time out at Christmas behind HOME BY THE LEE but I’m reluctant to believe career best efforts which come in defeat are sturdy enough lines of form to make any sort of winning case for him here. He did run well in the Coral Cup last season off a mark of 152 and while his stamina is there but maybe not the strongest, he’s shown he can perform on better ground so that might just help him in the closing stages while looking for a place. For all that is a curious race and market this year, I’m not sure the 10 or 12/1 available is really warranted unless all of the doubtfuls don’t run, which could of course happen.


Big clumsy horse were my thoughts as a Novice Hurdler and while he clearly has or at least had an engine, it’s being treated like those two Grade 2 win’s at Cheltenham mean he absolutely and definitely would have won the Albert Bartlett and I’m not in agreement with that. Even if we gave the benefit of doubt to him and pitch him as a horse like PENHILL, who won the Albert Bartlett before coming to The Stayers to win first time in open company, that horse had run 7 times over hurdles before winning the novice race and while he couldn’t follow up at Punchestown, he came into the Stayers Hurdle with 9 runs over obstacles to his name. BLAZING KHAL has had just 3. Regardless of the fan club he’s amassed and the fact his trainer Charles Byrnes is often referred to as an absolute genius for plots, this is still an open Grade 1, this is the Cheltenham Festival and I think he’s a horrendous price. Could he win the Stayers hurdle, well anything is possible they say, do I think he will win, absolutely not.


Only defeat over hurdles came behind ALLEGORIE DE VASSY when she jumped horrendously but she was also beaten in her last bumper which I find hard to excuse. Bolted up at Fairyhouse last season and that was in a first time hood so it may just be she’s not straightforward because she clearly has a lot of ability. Yet to run at Cheltenham or face the excitement of the Festival so I’d have my reservations about her and we’ve not seen her this season as yet. Clearly has the ability to go well in the mares division but enough question marks around her to steer clear, for now at least.


Not too much to say about this lad other than he’s clearly one of the best racehorses we’ve seen in recent years and regardless of how you look at this Champion Hurdle division in terms of competitiveness and quality, if he wins a Champion Hurdle like he’s been winning up to now then we’ve really do have a monster on our hands. He’s unopposable but it’s competitive enough in behind that from a betting perspective the Without market is probably the only way to play.


She’s long been a mare I’ve thought highly of because I see a lot of potential in her. She is only 7 which is possibly lost on some because she’s been written off many times before. She’s a keen going sort but I did think she travelled better in the Cesarewitch on the flat and wasn’t too bad in the Hattons Grace either where she will have caught a few eyes when falling but staying on. She’s officially rated 150 which is just 3lbs shy of MARIE’S ROCK but ahead of joint second favourites BRANDY LOVE & LOVE ENVOI. She posted a peak RPR of 151 as a Novice, then 156 last season in behind HONEYSUCKLE at Punchestown and having won and been narrowly denied in two very big flat handicaps this season, I think she’s shown there is still more to come. She ran in the Mares Hurdle last season when beaten just over 6 lengths having travelled keen and not having the best of runs round. Truthfully, there was no excuse for her last season, she ran well but was beaten by better horses on the day but that was her first run at Cheltenham and if she can run a little less keen (which we know she can) then I think she’s a certain player in the Mares hurdle and the general 10/1 about her is more than fair.


Twice behind CONSTITUTION HILL this season so she’s was not really likely to be competitive and while she was a glaring omission in the Mares Hurdle entries, the comments from Nicky afterwards about supplementing her said all we need to know; she’s going to run in The Mares’ Hurdle. I talked about her earlier in this column in that I thought she was a potential bet in here but just never has been a big enough price. Even in the aftermath of the entry error she’s barely touched double figures on the Exchange and still sits a general 5/1 shot for March which doesn’t scream out value. On the bare form of it she was beaten by MARIE’S ROCK at Punchestown but that’s not a track that would suit as highlighted by Daryl Carter for the fact she’s not as good when having to quicken around a bend. Her Aintree run at the middle trip reads very well but you have to remember it wasn’t a forgone conclusion that she would have won and the distance is a large one because ZANAHIYR fells at the last. He’s been well beaten since too. She’s going to run this Saturday at Doncaster and her main market rival in MOLLY OLLY’S WISHES probably wants further than the 2 miles they’re competing at. So I think she’s going to win Saturday but I’m not expecting fireworks, so she’ll inevitably shorten for March although we’ll have learnt nothing. Yes she’s got a chance in the Mares’ but she’s never been and probably won’t be a backable price so we’re going to just have to let her go because she’s far from a certainty, much more so than the market would suggest.

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Reported this week as 50/50 at best to make Cheltenham and it’s not surprising that an issue has been found given he’s run way below his best twice this season. Not impossible to get him right and then excuse those couple of runs, but it would be a giant leap of faith and the risks attached to the Antepost price of 12/1 are not worth it, nor is the NRMB price of 5/1 given the actual form this term.


I played down his Lismullen Hurdle win at the beginning of the season and I’ve not touched on his victory at Christmas yet but for all that he’s beating the right horses on paper, I don’t see the field in behind as genuine Stayers Hurdle challengers in their own right. Of course you can only judge a horse on what they do themselves, and for me he looks a much improved horse but he was outpaced in the race last year which I think could happen again. It’s also worth noting that his run at Down Royal where he ran out could be notched up as likely race he would have won, but he was off levels with OFF YOU GO (a 10yo rated 141) and getting 6lbs from a 145 rated horse (who in fairness is being well touted for The Pertemps – SALVADOR ZIGGY). So I don’t think his form is really much more than a 150’s horse which even in a weak year doesn’t earn him the right to be as short a price as he is.


An all time great mare regardless of the doubts about what she’s really beaten because the 2 mile division hasn’t been the strongest but that’s irrelevant when you’re talking about a two time champion hurdler who went unbeaten for 16 runs in a row. I’m not completely ready to write her off of the back of just the last run but we’ll find out much more at The Dublin Racing Festival because she’ll be taking on the best Irish 2 milers who are also the new kids on the block. The mares allowance is still a great help to her, she is entitled to come on for that last run, and we know she’s gutsy so I think she’ll be ready and somewhere close to her now peak so it’s going to be a very interesting race pre-Cheltenham. When it comes to March, she’s no chance against CONSTITUION HILL but that’s the same for the entire field.


Another doubt for The Stayers Hurdle and the exchange market would lead you to believe it’s more likely he won’t make it but I’m still hopeful because I think he’s the key to this race. He’s better fresher so whether or not that’s by design this season is irrelevant as he’ll come here off a significant break should he line up. Quirky horse we know, and that doesn’t help his effort in the closing stages because he’s not looked the strongest stayer but I still believe he’s a 160’s horse at his best which this season could be enough to see him land the Stayers. It’s now just a question of whether he makes it.


Won her first start this season off top weight in a Handicap but for all that was a great effort, it didn’t scream out Grade horse in a Handicap and she was only racing off 139. Not really much more was learned next time out with her chief rival MARTELLO SKY posting in around 140 RPRs for sometime now but those appear inflated this season on actual form. Could be more to come from her but for all that she was second at Punchestown in her only defeat to date, she had a couple close behind her and this will be a much deeper race for her to compete in with Champion Hurdlers and established open Graded winners in the field too.


Very progressive last season going from handicap defeat off 135 onto winning the Mares Hurdle at both Cheltenham and Punchestown. Showed real stamina laden ability in winning the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Years day back in open company so she’s looked better than ever which means she’s the rightful favourite for the Mares Hurdle and she does look like the most likely winner. She doesn’t have the air about her that’s unbeatable though. She was beaten in that handicap I touched on which came over 2 miles, and while this race is over the Middle trip, I think she’s beatable with a turn of foot from a faster horse but she did show her own turn of foot at Punchestown in fairness. With the likes of EPATANTE, ECHOES IN RAIN, BRANDY LOVE, LOVE ENVOI and less likely but potentially HONEYSUCKLE all of who have strong proven form over 2 miles, this years race could be a little different to 12 months ago where the first 3 home were all staying hurdlers (MRS MILNER in 3rd won a Pertemps for example).


162 and 164 RPR’s this season are incredible for an 11yo and while the depth of what he’s beaten might not scream out to be tangible Grade 1 stayers, he’s got proven ability in this sphere and we know he loves the track. It’s hard to say he will win a Stayers Hurdle given he’s tried three times since he won the race and has failed to retain or regain his crown, but he posted 163 & 162 in the last two years so with the numbers he’s shown this season, he’s capable of those numbers still and only HOME BY THE LEE has posted a similar figure (163) over 3 miles this season. He’s a top price of 9/1 but a more general 8/1 chance which I still think is more than fair and could easily contract following his attempt at a 4th Cleve Hurdle this Saturday for which he’s around an even money poke at the time of writing although I do think there’s only so much shorter he can go, but it’s time to get him in the book.


I’m often reluctant to consider failed Novice chasers back over hurdles especially when they’ve not really achieved anything of note while  tohurdlers first time round, but the likes of BIG BUCKS and BUVEUR D’AIR in recent years mean that there’s always the chance they were destined to shine over the smaller obstacles. In SAINT SAM you’ve got a horse who wasn’t a top Juvenile although he was held in high regard. He is bred to be a chaser with his sire being SAINT DES SAINTS but GELINO BELLO has the same father and he’s another who doesn’t quite seem to have the hang of fences just yet either so maybe there’s a few chinks in the sires armour. He didn’t have much to beat at Christmas when he won well because ANY SECOND NOW in second was last seen as runner up in the Grand National and RUN FOR OSCAR’S last win over hurdles came off a mark of 133. Stamina could be assured from his dads side but his mum’s not produced anything to suggest the same and I’m quite stumped as to why he’s an across the board 12/1 shot for a race of this nature. That’s enough to warrant a mention in this A-Z, but I’m genuinely struggling to make a case that this horse can run into the 150’s yet let alone beyond.


Yet to travel to Cheltenham and while she’s not had a lot of racing in her career, she’s run 7 times in the last 9 months. Visually very impressive the last day when winning at Christmas and beating QUEENS BROOK but that was posting an RPR of 149 which was a career best and I’m not completely sure she can improve on that.


I like this horse for the Supreme before last season started and when he fell on debut the dream wasn’t completely lost but knowing Willie and what he’d done prior with SAINT ROI, a lenient handicap mark meant that he had to go in the County Hurdle. We were starved of seeing him and CONSTITUION HILL face off in hindsight which would have made analysing him this season a fair bit easier but he’s progressed beyond what he was last season so there’s no doubt he’s ready to himself justice in the Champion Hurdle. He does have The Dublin Racing festival to contend with first, in which he should face HONEYSUCKLE and VAUBAN again. Should be winning that on this seasons form, but if he’s to be a real threat to the favourite in March then he’ll need to dispatch of that pair quite comfortably, which he could easily do. Exciting prospect for sure and at this stage is the worthy second favourite.


Tries 3m in the Galmoy Hurdle on Thursday at Gowran Park so that will help alleviate any doubts about stamina because while he’s yet to be shown that he can’t stay, he’s also not shown that he can. He’ll be giving 9lbs to BEACON EDGE who will act as a solid yardstick for me and the same is true for LONGHOUSE POET. My issue with this horse is the comments in the past about him needing a slower surface and while he posted an RPR of 165 over 2m at Gowran last Feburary on heavy, he followed that up a 135 and 141 in Grade 1 company in the spring. Arguably the ground is less of an issue when he’s running over further because that brings a test to the race but I’m a little reluctant to trust him just yet, although a comfortable victory on Thursday would raise my opinion of him. While he’s a 1/2 poke to do that, I’d still want to reserve judgement on him being a stayers hurdle prospect until after he’s gone and done it.


A little bit behind this season so started off at Christmas where no match for STATE MAN but he did run well considering it was his first start in open company and he left the impression there was definitely more to come. Would want to reverse that form at The Dublin Racing festival if he has taken a step forward and while he looked a level above as a Juvenile, we know how tricky it is for the 5yo’s to take that step forward in a Champion Hurdle so any time away from the plan, which has happened to this lad, could be enough to thwart the improvement required for this season at least.