Promising Hinterland looks my best chance

I KNOW the Paddy Power at Cheltenham today is the major contest of the weekend, but let’s start with the horse I consider my best ride over the two days, Hinterland in the first, a three-year-old hurdle.

He won by ten lengths at Auteuil in May and we think he’s very exciting. To look at him you would never guess he was only three and is more like a four-year-old with a win in the point-to-point fields under his belt.

He is a fine big, strapping, mature horse, who is working well. I schooled him last Tuesday week and he more than pleased me.

I’d imagine I will be riding Hinterland on the pace, out of trouble, and will be disappointed should he give punters any scares along the way.

I’m on Mon Parrain in the Paddy Power and he has been the medium of sustained support all week. The five-year-old came from France and has run two good races for Paul Nicholls.

He won by 22 lengths first time up at Sandown and then managed, somehow, to get beaten over the Aintree fences in the Topham.

He did everything right that day and still failed to deliver. Mon Parrain got tired from the elbow, but I’m still at a loss to explain the defeat.

The Paddy Power is always fiercely competitive and it would be ridiculous to be in anyway positive regarding the likely outcome.

Of course my horse has a serious chance, but I’m a big fan of Philip Hobbs’ Wishfull Thinking and he is the fly in the ointment.

He simply blew me away when winning at Aintree and then came over to the Punchestown festival and, conceding Blazing Tempo 21lbs, kicked her out of the way.

Blazing Tempo is a very good mare, but Wishfull Thinking made her look fourth division! To my way of thinking, he is a potential Gold Cup candidate.

If I was able to ride one horse, outside of those trained by Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, then he would be the choice.

Promising Anshan, third at Ascot two weeks ago, should go well in a handicap chase over three miles, three furlongs plus. The trip will be no problem, but my worry is that he is reappearing rather quickly and just wish this contest was next Saturday.

Oscargo is relatively unexposed in a handicap hurdle, but does lack experience. He won a maiden at Chepstow in March and has an each-way shout.

And then there’s Edgardo Sol in another handicap hurdle. We could probably describe him as being famous for all of the wrong reasons.

He is, of course, the horse I partnered when incurring that five-day whip ban at Aintree. His jumping was unbelievable that day, but in a hurdle race that will be nowhere near as important.

I napped him when he won at Aintree, at a tasty 7-1 to boot, but I’m not half as confident on this occasion.

I end aboard Join Together in a novice chase. He fell five out, when travelling well, at Chepstow, but is actually a fine jumper.

If Restless Harry takes to fences he will be hard to beat. But unless his technique at this game, compared to jumping hurdles, is markedly different then he could be vulnerable. Let’s just say I won’t be tracking him anyway.

I’m at Cheltenham again tomorrow and kick away with Al Ferof in a novice chase. He completed a hat-trick of successes at the Cheltenham festival in March, landing the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

He’s a class act, but it did take him a run or two last season to hit top gear and the main priority now will be a clear round.

So, it will a clear round first and then winning after that. Mind you I have never won on a horse that didn’t manage a clear round!

Woolcombe Folly ran solidly behind Tataniano at Chepstow and is ready to rock and roll in a conditions chase. I don’t know if he’s good enough, but was at his best this time last year.

Sanctuaire has to hump top weight in the Greatwood Hurdle. As far as he’s concerned all that matters is what side of the bed he has got out of.

In another handicap hurdle Rangitoto has just flattered to deceive too often for my liking and I’m only hoping for the best with him.

Polisky is a live one in what appears a hot enough Grade 2 novice hurdle. He probably has a little to prove, but Paul fancies him.

I end on Salubrious in the bumper. He won by 21 lengths for Pam Sly at Stratford and Paul obviously liked what he saw and bought the horse.

Pam is not slow, so how much improvement will be forthcoming remains to be seen. Willie Mullins runs a couple in the race and I’d say Supreme Carolina won’t be far away.

Three of Willie’s I want to recommend at Naas and Navan are Quel Esprit, Boston Bob and Mikael d’Haguenet.

I will be especially interested in Mikael at Navan tomorrow. I’ve been riding him a fair bit in his work of late and feel he might be coming back to something like his best.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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