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Cheltenham Open Meeting Review

Ron RobinsonDid we see anything over those three days that will be competitive come March?

I’m going to start by telling you I think I saw a potential winner of the 2017 RSA Chase.

The Pipe yard had a stinker over those three days and one horse I was so much looking forward to seeing was CHAMPERS ON ICE. It was disappointing only four runners turned out for his race on the Friday and he had to make his own running, over a trip to short for him.

I was disappointed with the speed at which he hurdled though and at no point was I confident he would win that race. In fact, I knew he was a sitting duck from flag fall.

He was easily outspend by SHANTOU VILLAGE, who is unbeaten and looks very useful. What did please me though was was the way he stuck on and kept second place, beating a below par PENGLAI VILLAGE for that place.

CHAMPERS ON ICE already needs a minimum of three miles and a fence. Next season he will get them and he’s already my long range selection for the RSA Chase 2017.

The race before that saw the potential winner of this seasons RSA Chase hose up and he earned rave reviews. I’d hold fire before getting involved though.

He beat horses from the yards of Nicholls, Pipe and Henderson that will in no way be the best from those yards.

In fourth, beaten 11 lengths was MIGHT BITE (brilliantly named, that one….by Scorpion out of Knotted Midge) and he was simply awful at his fences. I’ve never seen one of Henderson’s spend so much time in the air or balloon their fences as he did. That he finished that close to the winner has me thinking we’ll see better over the next couple of months. MORE OF THAT will improve on this and he’ll be hard to beat but I’m looking!

In the Triumph Hurdle Trial on Saturday we saw a weird result and a couple of bubbles burst. WOLF OF WINDLESHAM had me thinking back many years to a horse called ASHENDENE. A plater on the flat he took the hurdling scene by storm and if memory serves he finished third in his Triumph Hurdle after winning about six on the bounce. WOLF OF WINDLESHAM is a 60 rated horse on the flat but much, much better with something in front of him to jump.

He’ll come up against some seriously good horses between now and March and I have already mooted a potential winner of this race trained by Paul Nicholls but his attitude to the game will count him in great stead and he’ll give everything a race.

The Arkle Trophy Trial again saw only four go to post but GARDE LA VICTORIA was a cracking good winner of this race, on ground he wouldn’t have liked much.

The highlight of the entire weekend though was SPRINTER SACRE returning to winning form. He looked something very much like his old self again, jumped brilliantly and when he was asked to put the race to bed he put lengths between himself and the rest very easily. I thought he was looking tired going to the last but he again left them for dead up the hill, winning by 14 lengths.

Now, I’m not going to get carried away. He should, if he was half the horse he had been, have won that race getting weight but if that’s an indicator of what’s still to come, those taking him on over two miles are going to know they’ve been in a race. His jumping is his most potent weapon and he’ll take lengths off many in this grade….I’d love to see him winning the QM in March and wouldn’t bet against him doing it if he stays sound.

The result that had me on my feet cheering though was that of UNOWHATIMEANHARRY. Our recent prize draw winner, Peter Lynn, owns 1/40th of him for this season, along with three other horses that will be running in the colours of the Harry Fry Racing Club.

Peter will get a very nice cheque come season end and has already enjoyed two other winners and a runner up from three previous runners. That really was the best prize we have ever put up.

So, what to take out of those three days?

RSA 2017 – CHAMPERS ON ICE

I doubt very much you would get much sense from a bookmaker right now if you looked for a price but come March, you will….get on e.w.

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE – SPRINTER SACRE @ 4/1

That’s a more than fair price and if you can spot something a little bigger then take it.

One I’m now very much monitoring is MINELLA PRESENT. He would be a cast iron banker to win a novice handicap over a slightly longer trip than he raced over on the opening day of this three day meeting.

I already have him on my shortlist for the horse I name as “the one” come Cheltenham, to pay for our entire season and coming from the same yard as “the one” that succeeded for us last season, THE DRUIDS NEPHEW, I don’t think I’m going to be much wrong if I do.

MINELLA PRESENT should have won his race on the Friday but several times was hampered in his run, the last time being by the eventual winner as they ran down to the last. To have been beaten just a length was a great run and that was money lent.

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