They are joined by a host of others who might otherwise have been heading to Aintree at the start of next month – including several British hopefuls, despite the fact horses are currently not permitted to travel from overseas to race in Ireland.
History has proven the Festival to be a ruthless environment where only the toughest, most talented survive. This week will be no different. Some hotpots will enhance already lofty reputations while, for others, the bubble will burst. As ever, the challenge is what to trust and what to oppose, writesmakes his picks.
Willie Mullins is excited about the prospect of Al Boum Photo defending his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown three weeks tomorrow, and feels his charge has a “fantastic chance” of successfully doing so. Whilst he acknowledges history is against Joe Donnelly’s gelding, he doesn’t believe this year’s opposition is any tougher than the field he readily took care of in 2019.
When it came, the explanation made perfect sense. “Altior doesn’t look like Altior,” Nicky Henderson said as he explained his decision to rule his stablestar out of the Grade Two Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on Saturday, a race which was set to be his first start since surrendering his 19-race unbeaten record over obstacles when beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.
Corky Browne left Carrigtwohill for a life in racing, working with legendary trainer Fred Winter, in England, before forging a glorious partnership with five-time champion trainer Nicky Henderson. Browne announced his retirement, at 77, last week, ending a 62-year association with the sport.