A letter for Cheltenham in 10 easy steps!

Champagne Fever gets the nod in the Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle Chase on day one of the festival. Trained and ridden by the ubiquitous pairing of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh the 7 year old son of Stowaway is on a festival hat trick with wins in the Champion Bumper in 2012, the Supreme Novice Hurdle in 2013 already to his name.With only an experience of competing in two chases so far in his career he might just lack a little in that department but that said the grey is tough and talented and will make everyone strive to pass him on the day. Best priced at 3/1 he might just give the Ricci family a great day out.

Hidden Cyclone funnily enough is another son of Stowaway with the 9 year old trained by John Shark Hanlon having an entry in the Ryanair Chase scheduled on the third day.Owned by David and AF Mee this horse is currently listed at 16/1 for the 2 mile 5 furlong contest and could well be a live outsider if travelling from his Co Kilkenny base.The 10 time winner has been placed at Ascot, Leopardstown and Cheltenham this season and might well have another big day in him in what is shaping up as a very competitive affair.

Europe or Sizing Europe to give him his proper title is set to race in the Betvictor Champion Chase for the fourth year in a row. A former winner of the race in 2011 he has been the only horse to make Sprinter Sacre truly race.The Henry De Bromhead trained and Andrew Lynch ridden 12 year old son of Pistolet Bleu started this season in great form but it has tapered off somewhat in the interim to raise some doubt as to his chances. Now listed among the 14/1 chances he is no back number, having won at Cheltenham twice and been second twice in five attempts at the track ,he obviously thrives here. Owned by Ann and Alan Potts he owes them nothing and it would be more than fitting if he could roll back the years and win!

Last Instalment has been given the green light to compete at the festival by the BHA following a precautionary test programme carried out at Philip Fentons Co Tipperary yard following a well publicised court appearance. The Gigginstown House Stud owned 9 year old son of Anshan was a most impressive novice chaser and his return to the form this season following injury has seen him win the Grade 1 Hennessy Chase under Brian O’Connell. He contests the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on the fourth and final day with only last years winner Bobs Worth and this seasons King George winner Silviniaco Conti being preferred in the betting with Fentons horse best priced at 7/1. This is a serious horse who jumps well and will relish the 3 miles and 2 and a half furlongs journey to test everyone on the day. Success here would be a great boost to Bryan Cooper who has the choice of the Gigginstown horses and would seal his appointment as their number one jockey.

Tiger Roll is a lively outsider in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at 14/1. This 4 year old son of Authorised is trained by Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper carries the silks of Gigginstown House Stud in the opening race on the final day. Pretty well unexposed his second to Guitar Pete at Leopardstown in February in a Grade 1 hurdle merits serious attention here. The Triumph Hurdle is a very difficult race to win with many stables throwing their best options here over the 2 mile 1 furlong contest. When you throw in Calipto and La Rocher an each way bet on the Tiger could yield a dividend.

Eastlake is one of the Johnjo O’Neill team which is likely to turn up from the Jackdaws Castle outfit. The 8 year old son of Beneficial is owned by JP McManus and has winning form at the track at Cheltenham having won here in December. The 10 time winner is a 20/1 shot for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase on the final day and he looks like being one of a handful of McManus horses in the last race of the meeting with Alderwood and Ned Buntline likely to run as well. McManus might well be the top owner at the meeting and he could well be waiting on the outcome of the final race to confirm it.

Next Sensation is a wonderfully named 7 year old son of Brian Boru. Trained in Britain by Michael Scudamore and ridden by his son Tom the former winning point to pointer under Declan Queally at Liscarroll has four options at the festival so it will be interesting which one Scudamore opts for. The three time chase winner might not be an obvious contender but he is unexposed, comes from a good yard and might spring a surprise!

Hurricane Fly looks likely to be the headline act in the Stan James Champion Hurdle whether he wins or loses. The 11/4 favourite will face a maximum of 12 challengers on the first day following the decision to supplement the 13 year old Captain Cee Bee by the JP MCManus team. Mullins always one to cover as many angles as possible has also left in Thousand Stars with Annie Power and Un De Sceaux in the event of something going astray with the Fly. This 10 year old son of Montjeu has broken all sorts of records to date and I wouldn’t be worried on his age or any other spurious issue that might be thrown up. His win over Our Conor in the Irish Champion Hurdle was a fair measure of both horses, with The New One and My Tent Or Yours likely to put it up to both of these. This remains a fascinating race with the dual Champion hurdler attempting to hold off last years top younger horses. He has only been beaten once in the past five years and that was in the 2012 renewal of this race when he may not have been 100% to win for his owners George Creighton and Rose Boyd. Much has been made of his age with only Sea Pigeon and Hattons Grace winning this race as a 10 year olds, both of these are legends and Hurricane Fly will be one on Tuesday.

Annie Power has been the talking horse of the season with the 10 for 10 winning daughter of Shirocco holding an entry in nearly every race at the festival bar the Foxhunters Chase. Bought out of Jim Bolger’s yard as a winning bumper horse by Willie Mullins for the Ricci family this 6 year old mare has progressed to hold a live chance in the Champion, Mares and World Hurdles. She will likely take on Big Bucks in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with that veteran 11 year old trying to win this race for the fifth time having comeback from injury. Currently 15/8 favourite, her jumping might just be a tad untidy and in truth a number of her wins have been in much much softer contests. Obvious dangers will be Big Bucks, At Fishers Cross and Zarkander but my guess will be that Rule The World could pose the bigger threat at a nice price. Will she stay 3 miles? Yes, does she have the pace? Yes can she win? Yes but she will need to run faster and quicker than ever before up the Cheltenham hill to take this.

Morning Assembly looks to be a real live option in the Grade 1 RSA Chase on the second day of the four day meeting. With Davy Russell booked to ride the 7 year old son of Shantou, the Pat Fahy Co Carlow trained horse looks a nice price at 8/1 to upset better fancied horses. Not seen out since the Christmas meeting at Leopardstown where he finished second to Carlingford Lough over 2 miles 5 furlong he will be better suited by the extra distance of this race. With the regular partner of the Clipper Logistics Group Limited owned gelding, Ruby Walsh ,claimed by Willie Mullins, knowing pretty much all he needs to know the tactics of this race will be more than interesting. Fahy’s horse already has victories over Don Cossock and Si C’est Vrai to his credit and should repeat these if asked to. Corrin Wood might be a bigger threat from Donald McCains yard but he is stepping up in class here.

Thats my letter for Cheltenham with all horses named spelling CHELTENHAM have a great festival.

Guest Post By Dick White From Talkinhorses.ie