I’m a bit on the fence with regards to Honeysuckle’s Champion Hurdle claims on the back of her PCI Irish Champion Hurdle success. She is undoubtedly an outstanding mare and there can be little doubt now that she has the natural speed to handle the tempo of a top-class two-mile contest.
I think her optimum trip is the intermediate trip of two and a half miles, but it’s easy to see her staying on strongly up the Cheltenham hill and possibly outstaying her Champion Hurdle rivals if connections confirm her for that contest.
My worry with her is her jumping, it is certainly not as slick as it could be and that is something that will come under the microscope in a strongly-run championship contest in March, while the form of Saturday’s race, with the 146-rated Darver Star just half a length away in second, wouldn’t be good enough to win a Champion Hurdle.
However, this doesn’t look a vintage year so she is impossible to rule out and her price (6/1 best odds) looks a fair reflection of his chance at this stage.
A mouthwatering clash between Chacun Pour Soi, Altior and Defi Du Seuil in the Queen Mother Champion Chase is going to be one of the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival – providing they all get there.
Chacun Pour Soi’s dismissal of 171-rated stablemate Min had Willie Mullins purring with excitement afterwards and there can be no doubt now that this improving young horse is going to be a massive player in March.
Brought along steadily by his master trainer this year, he is expected to be at his peak for the big spring festivals, and we all know what he did to Defi Du Deuil at Punchestown last May.
The only key question that remains with Chacun Pour Soi is whether he can produce his best at Cheltenham, and at this stage we have no reason to believe he can’t.Click Here For Cheltenham Festival Free Bet Offers
Faugheen is a legend and it’s the longevity of his career that has turned him into one. You won’t see many 12-year-old novices, and you will almost never see one as good as Faugheen who brought the house down in leading home a Willie Mullins 1-2-3-4 in the Flogas Novice Chase.
There is something so heartwarming about watching such a popular veteran digging deep to get the better of younger rivals and in many ways Faugheen epitimises everything we love about jumps racing.
What. A. Machine. Faugheen. Is.— Bookmakers.co.uk (@bookmakers) February 2, 2020
🏇 25 races
🥇 17 wins
🏆 11 G1 victories
✅ Unbeaten over fences
😍 The horse of a lifetime
What a great run to win the G1 Flogas Novice Chase for @WillieMullinsNH & @PTownend, @LeopardstownRC
The disappointing effort of Battleoverdoyen devalues the form a touch, but the reality is that Faugheen will head to Cheltenham as one of the best novice chasers in training and the Rich Ricci-owned star will bring the house down if he can repeat the trick in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He is 6/1 (Paddy Power and Betfair) favourite to do just that.
Delta Work should be pushing for Gold Cup favouritism after winning the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.
That was a career-best on the numbers, even better than his Savils Chase success over Christmas, and that’s because both Kemboy and Presenting Percy had no fitness excuses this time – indeed the vibes for both were very positive going into that race, and the form of that race looks very strong given it was the big three that came clear.
Delta work has now beaten them both fair and square, and there look to be very few flaws in his profile given he is versatile ground wise, jumps well, wins left or right-handed and - most importantly, is still improving.
Connections were adamant that he wasn’t quite right when he was beaten in the RSA Chase last year, but he is a better horse now and I would be surprised if connections didn’t think he was capable of reversing RSA form with Santini, who is roughly the same price in most Gold Cup lists.
Al Boum Photo is only an eight-year-old himself, so could easily still have more to offer, but the feeling now is that he will need to if he is going to fend off the challenge of the younger pretenders.
Willie Mullins has won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham nine times, most recently with Relegate in 2018, and he’ll surely be optimistic about the prospect of hitting double figures this year after Appreciate It bolted up in the bumper on Saturday.
The son of Jeremy was in a different league to his rivals, powering clear to score by seven and a half lengths (same distance separated second and third) and he posted a bigger number than Envoi Allen did when winning the race 12 months earlier.
Mullins told the media afterwards that he felt Appreciate It was a 'Cheltenham type' so it’s now all systems go for Wednesday March 11, and it is no surprise that the son of Jeremy stands alone as clear market leader for the Cheltenham Festival contest (top price 11/4).