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Press Release 1st March 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark & Nick Seddon

A selection of trainers spoke today at a media event organised by The Jockey Club at Cheltenham Racecourse.


Today also saw the publication of the weights for the nine handicaps at The Festival.


Speaking as to how the large number of Irish-trained horses are assessed, BHA Hurdle Race Handicapper Andrew Mealor explained: “The policy for several years has not been to use the official Irish ratings when Irish-trained horses run in handicaps in Britain.


“Contrary to popular belief, we don’t just take the official Irish rating and add on an arbitrary amount – we rate all Irish races ourselves and use these figures when Irish horses run in handicaps in Britain. The idea is to create a level playing field for the Irish-trained horses and the British-trained horses.


“Last year in the handicaps, it was 5-4 overall to Great Britain but 4-1 to Ireland in hurdle races although Ireland had most of the runners in the hurdle races and that is likely to be the same again this year.


“Our main aim is to frame competitive races with close finishes involving a mix of Irish and British runners.”


Please find comments from all trainers interviewed today below.


Gordon Elliott


Conflated (Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup)

“He has had a good preparation and was good at Leopardstown the last day. He ran a good race in the Ryanair last year. He is in good nick and look it is a competitive race and I think it is an open race and we are looking forward to running him. Don Cossack was probably a classy horse and a quicker horse whereas this lad is a real galloper. I think the trip of the Gold Cup will really suit him. I think he was in the wrong race last year and we are really looking forward to the Gold Cup now.”


Delta Work (Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase)

“Delta is in great form. This has been the plan. He got more experience (of the Cross Country course) the last day (he was over) and he gave the first and second a lot of weight but he will be off level weights now. We are really looking forward to running him. Galvin will also run in the race as will Mortal and Hardline. Delta spoiled the party the last year for Tiger Roll and Galvin is a good horse and he could be the big danger.”


Mighty Potter (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase/Turners Novices’ Chase)

“It is very hard to say if he is one of the best that I have trained but he has done nothing wrong in his career so far. He looked a chaser and that is what he was brought to be a chaser. Mighty Potter is a very good horse. We will be nervous but we are looking forward to him running. To be honest he came out of Cheltenham last year and won back at Punchestown. He made a mistake early and never really got into a rhythm. Jack (Kennedy) very wisely eased up on him and saved the horse for Punchestown. He never really jumped hurdles as he does fences.”


American Mike (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)

“American Mike didn’t get his fourth run (in time for the handicaps) and I’d say if he runs it will be the Ballymore and I wouldn’t give up on him yet. He had a good blow after the last day as we missed a bit of time with him. He has been disappointing, but I wouldn’t give up on him yet.”


Three Card Brag (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

“Three Card Brag is in all the handicaps and the Albert Bartlett and obviously I will have to talk to Max (McNeill) and the whole team. At the moment we are probably leaning towards the Albert Bartlett. He is a very good horse and he is going to be an exciting chaser next season.”


Zanahiyr (Unibet Champion Hurdle)

“We will probably confirm him for the Champion Hurdle and see what numbers are left in it. If it cut up to be five or six runners there is every chance we could take our chance in the Champion Hurdle. It does look a very hot race with Constitution Hill, State Man and a few others.”


Andy Dufresne (Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase)

“He definitely runs in the Grand Annual. At the moment I’m leaning towards the County Hurdle for Pied Piper and Zanahiyr is up in the air and Felix Desjy is top of the weights for the Martin Pipe so they are two or three that will more likely run off top weight.”


Maxxum, The Bosses Oscar, Salvador Ziggy, Level Neverending

“All four will run. Maxxum didn’t get the best of runs the last day as he got stuck in a bit of traffic but the winner won well on the day Gavin Cromwell’s horse. The Bosses Oscar was second in the race two years ago. We are looking forward to them all running well.”


Gabriel Leenders


Gold Tweet (will be supplemented for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle)

“All is good and we’re ready to run in the big race. We are relaxed and well prepared, he did some hard work on Saturday and a gallop on the grass on Wednesday. English races are very different to French races and Gold Tweet is perfect for the races over there, so we decided to run him in the Cleeve. He jumps his hurdles very fast and he’s a very strong horse. He’s not big but he’s very strong and if we follow (the pace) he’ll have a fast finish, which is perfect for an English race.


“We’ve trained him for every possibility and if the race is fast or steady it’s not a problem. The jockey will keep relaxed and it won’t be a problem, he will be ready. Everybody is excited in France and I think he’ll have a lot of French people coming over to support him. It’s the first time since Francois Doumen that a French horse has come over and had a winner at Cheltenham so it’s very exciting for French racing.”


Charlie Longsdon


Rare Edition (Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)

“His trach was washed today and it looked clean but I’ve not had the results back yet. That will give us the green light to kick on with him. He is as fit as a flea as he only ran two and a half weeks ago. I’m not worried about fitness or taking him away as I don’t see there is a reason to. As long as those results are clean we will get the green light to do some fast work and if he schools well and works well we might go.


“To be fair the handicapper didn’t think he ran badly and the horse we were giving three pounds to and only got beat a couple of lengths got put up to 136 and we are 138. He probably ran a few pounds below. He just didn’t quicken like he normally does. The form of the Kempton win has been franked with Rubaud winning the Dovecote the other day. I think he will go there with an each-way squeak.”


Snow Leopardess (Glenfarclas Cross Country/Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase)

“She has been a mare we have been proud of all her career. She has won at Auteuil, she has won at Gowran Park and endless good races in this country as well. I think it has taken her time to get over her Grand National run last year as she hasn’t quite been on tip top form. Gavin Sheehan gave her a fantastic ride the other day as Aidan (Coleman) had to go elsewhere but she ran a cracker that day. She wears her heart on the sleeve and puts it all in. She came out second best, but only by half a length, but it was a great run and it is nice now we can go on for the rest of the season to make plans. That (Cross Country) will be the plan. I was glad to hear the Cross Country course is being well watered but we might have to make a phone call to Mr Pullin (clerk of the course) to ask if we can come to Cheltenham next week. The Cross Country is the plan but if it came up too quick we have got the option of the Kim Muir or the Midlands National.”


Glimpse Of Gala/Hector Javilex (Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle)

“She is only 15 hands so she is tiny but she has done nothing but improve this season. She won the qualifier at Warwick very comfortably and she has been a great fun mare to have around. The Tweed Clad Fossils (owners) are my landlords and they bred her out of a third generation mare. They used to have a box in the old stand and when Charlie Brooks wrote an article about the old tweed clad fossils they decided to call themselves that.


“The other horse we will have running is Hector Javilex, who won here on New Year’s Day. He has gone eight pounds but he is qualified. The fact he is a course and distance winner is always nice as well. Hopefully he can run well and Glimpse Of Gala always runs with her heart on her sleeve.”


Guetapan Collonges (Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase)

“He won on fairly decent ground at Uttoxeter in a decent handicap. He is only learning his trade and this might come a year too soon. He is in the Midlands National which he is one of the favourites for. I will leave it to JP McManus (owner) and his team to decide what they want to do.”


Hugo Merienne


Henri Le Farceur (will be supplemented for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle)

“We’ve been training him for this race. He likes the distance and I think he’ll like the track. It’s a challenge but we’ll see. He’ll need to come and improve but we will try. We were actually thinking about whether to go to Kempton over Christmas, but the horse had a hard race at Auteuil and we gave him a few weeks off. When Gold Tweet won the horse was in really good form and back in training and we thought we’d come over. There’s a lot of French trainers who’ve won in England and a few have come here already, it’s like a dream to come here. It’s like the World Cup and we’ll try.”



Emmet Mullins


Noble Yeats (Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup)

“We couldn’t be happier with him. He’s been in great form since the Cotswold Chase and we’re just hoping we get a clean run with him between now and Gold Cup Day. I suppose the cheekpieces made a big difference for him last year (in the Grand National) so we’re hoping for a repeat event. Ground-wise I suppose we’re quite laid back and we’ll take what we’re given. I think a proper Gold Cup test will play to his strengths. Obviously, he’s going to have to step forward from his last run but it’s something he’s been able to do in the past and hopefully we can repeat it.”


Mctigue (Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle)

“We’ll get the Morebattle out of the way first but we’ve a few different options. I don’t think the weight for age scale works to our advantage in England, in Ireland you run off the weight you’re allotted while it counts against us here in that sense, which might narrow our options. He’s got top-weight in the Boodles but if he wins the Morebattle he won’t carry a penalty because you can’t carry more than 11st 12lbs in a race – so that’s another angle for him as well. He was a good two year old on the Flat for Jim Bolger so he’s always been precocious in his own right and he’s taken to the jumps very well.”


Corbetts Cross (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

“He’s been a bit of a talking horse since the weekend (when winning a Grade Two contest at Naas) and to be fair he’s in very good form coming into it, so he has to be taken seriously wherever he turns up. He’s definitely a horse to look forward to.”


Filey Bay (McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle)

“He’s come out of the race well (second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury) so we’re happy with the horse. We were unfortunate to bump into a very good horse on the day there and he’ll be competitive at Cheltenham but he just might bump into something again.”


So Scottish (Magners Plate)

“So Scottish is good, he’s come through his work well and fingers crossed he gets to the Plate. I think Its On The Line has got a big shout as well (in the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase). It might come a year too soon as he’s still a six year old but he’s doing everything right and he’s in a rich vein of form at the moment. He could be a nice horse for next year, possibly even a graded horse but what he’s done as a six year old has been great.”


Jonjo O’Neill


Monbeg Genius/Iron Bridge (Ultima Handicap Chase)

“Monbeg Genius seems to like the softer ground and that will be the issue with a few of them. He is in the Ultima so hopefully he can keep going but he is also in the Midlands National along with a few other options but we will see nearer the time.


“It would be lovely really (if we could get a winner for the Hemmings family) but Iron Bridge seems to be dependent on soft ground. He ran very well at Warwick the other day and it was a pleasing performance. He does want it really soft.”


An Tailliur (Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle)

“I’d say he will probably run in the Pertemps. He is in good old form. He has had a long break but he had a few niggly things so we gave him a bit of time. He would like the good ground and if he is properly handicapped he should have a chance. He is a bit high (in the handicap) for me.”


Soaring Glory (McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle)

“On his day (he is good). He is a troublesome horse really and we tried him over fences early this time and it didn’t work out really. He keeps getting little niggly problems but hopefully we will get him back to run here. He is also in at Sandown in the Imperial Cup so we will see how he is nearer the time. He did a bit of work yesterday morning and he seemed okay. We will see how he is over the next 10 days.”


Petit Tonnerre (McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle)

“I hope so (that he has not done improving yet). He is quite a nice horse. He is there with his chance.”


Jamie Snowden


Ga Law (Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup/Ryanair Chase)

“He won the Paddy Power here through stamina over two and a half miles. We were keen to go up in trip and we went to the Sky Bet Chase. He was coming to win his race and he fell at the last. He got a nasty cut on his leg that day so he has taken a bit of time to get over that. I’m very keen to qualify him for the Grand National if we could. The handicapper put him up two pounds for his fall which suggests he showed improved form for running over three miles. It is a little bit frustrating you have to finish in the first four over three miles to qualify for the Grand National but they are the rules and how the frame work is set out. We have him in at Kelso over the weekend but I think that will come too soon so we are still in that dilemma whether we chase Shishkin home for some prize money in the Ryanair or go for gold and try and pick up fourth in the Gold Cup and qualify for the Grand National. As a novice chaser he was mixing it with the very best but he obviously had a year out on the back of that which meant he was quite nicely handicapped going into races like the Paddy Power. He has definitely got the ability to run in these races. I was thinking he might be one for the Gold Cup next year, but with the Grand National weights as they are I think he is nicely handicapped for that it is just a case of getting the qualification in time. Mike Wainwright of Boodles part owns him as well so it would be quite fitting if he run in the Gold Cup.”


Your Wear It Well (Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)

“She is doing really well. She is a classy mare and has won three of her four novice hurdles this season and just got beat by Hermes Allen over two and a half miles (in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury). We held her up that day but she is a quite keen going and free sort. She finished second and it was a great run. Had we gone forward who knows what might have happened. At Sandown we went forward with her and she won that pretty impressively. Luccia is obviously favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and we have some form lines that tie in closely with that but she is a nice mare and we will go for that race.”


Datsalrightgino (Magners Plate)

“I thought I was being quite clever running him in the Pendil the other day thinking he is definitely better going left-handed on an undulating track. I thought I would run him in the Pendil thinking he would pick up some prizemoney and the handicapper wouldn’t do anything to us. Unfortunately the handicapper put us up four pounds for that so I’ve slightly shot myself in the foot. I think we will probably come for the Plate. Off 141 it would be handy but off 145 it will be slightly tougher”


Passing Well (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

“He is a lovely horse that is in the Albert Bartlett. He didn’t quite stay when I run him at Haydock, and I think we rode him a little bit wrong that day but he has won two races and was fourth in the Challow and that race has worked out incredibly well. I think he is a talented horse but I think next year over fences would be for. The owners might be keen to go but we might just wait.”


Joe Tizzard


Eldorado Allen (Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup)

“The plan is to run him in the Gold Cup. He just comes up a little bit short really but (owners) John (Romans) and Terry (Warner) are keen. Terry is 90 now and he is not in the best of health so he is going to try desperately hard to get here for that so they are keen to have a runner. He was second in the Betfair and fourth in the King George. They went like the clappers at Newbury last time and he didn’t quite get home but we will ride him slightly differently and if he could nick a place it would be lovely.”


Elixir De Nutz (Johnny Henderson Grand Annual/Magners Plate)

“It doesn’t look like it will come up soft ground but he handles any ground. He is a soft ground two miler but on better ground he probably wants two and a half. He is probably in the form of his life as he is rated 147 now. He ran really well at Newbury and again Terry is keen to have runners here. The ground will determine which race he goes for.”


The Big Breakaway (Ultima Handicap Chase)

“He seems to be getting the hang of it without winning this season. He ran a strange race at Haydock. He was plagued with sore shins last season and we should have fired them and stopped but we did that at the end of the season and he seemed to grow in confidence at Haydock and ran a blinder of top weight in the Welsh Grand National. On his day he has got a lot of ability and we hold him in high regard. He will run well in the Ultima and then go on to the Grand National.”


War Lord (Magners Plate)                           

“He is in on Saturday at Newbury but he likes cut in the ground and it is good, good to firm so we will probably wait and come here. For whatever reason after the Haldon Gold Cup he was fine at home without ever really buzzing, then he ran lovely at Wetherby last time and Brendan (Powell) schooled him this morning and he seems to us that he is coming back. He is only in the Plate here.”


Oscar Elite (Ultima Handicap Chase)

“He is a funny horse and he really does come right this time of year. We were going to wait and come straight to Cheltenham but he did a lovely piece and he went to Ascot. It was a lovely run there and a great confidence booster. He has come out of that extremely well. I had a conversation with owners on the way up and they haven’t ruled out supplementing for the Brown Advisory if it cut up so we will have a chat later. I want to run him on the Tuesday in the Ultima. He is a pound higher than what he was in it last year and he comes into it in better form and I think that is the obvious route and we still have the novice options at Aintree and Punchestown.”


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