Edwardstone

(A. King)

Tuesday 2.10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

In an Arkle Chase where there is probably very little between the first three at the head of the market, slight preference is for this Alan King inmate who showed up well at Cheltenham last year when finishing fifth in the County Hurdle.

After coming to grief on his chasing debut in early November, this gelding has gone from strength to strength.

He was dominant in a weak Grade 1 at Sandown in December and has since added Grade 2 events at Kempton and Wincanton to his haul.

He looks by far the best English novice in this category and has been winning his races with a nice degree of authority.

Likeable

In summary, he is just a reliable, straightforward and likeable type who might just be able to see off Riviere D’Etel and Blue Lord although there is unlikely to be much between the three on the day.

Queens Brook

(G. Elliott)

Tuesday 4.10 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

This mare hasn’t yet reached the heights that looked likely when she finished third to Ferny Hollow in the bumper two years ago but the signs from a light season have been encouraging.

She progressed well from her comeback in October to defeat the very useful Ciel De Neige in a conditions hurdle at Fairyhouse the following month before a near four-month absence from the track followed. However, her recent comeback in a Grade 3 at Punchestown was very encouraging.

On that occasion she was beaten a length and a half by the former Triumph Hurdle heroine Burning Victory and there was a lot to like about the manner in which she chased home the winner from the last. Queens Brook is entitled to have progressed plenty for that Punchestown run and there could easily be more to come from her after just eight career starts.

The step-up to Grade 1 company on Tuesday is going to require another jump forward from this mare but it is worth taking the chance that she will play a major role in a race her yard has quite a decent record in.

Capodanno

(W.P. Mullins)

Tuesday 2.10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

It isn’t ideal that this gelding heads to Cheltenham off a non-completion in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month.

The home team for this contest is strong with Bravemansgame a worthy favourite and Ahoy Senor another strong contender but this Mullins inmate has the quality to make an impact over a trip that is likely to bring out the best in him.

In December he did especially well to come back from a mistake at the second last in a Naas beginners’ chase and record an improbable success. For his next start he was pitched in against Bob Olinger at Punchestown and he lost nothing in defeat. He gave last season’s star novice hurdle a thorough examination before eventually losing out by just under five lengths with this pair a long way clear of the remainder.

Capdanno now has to bounce back from that early exit at Leopardstown and he is going to have to do so against some high-class opponents.

There is a good chance that we have yet to see the best of him as a chaser. It is worth recalling the fairly impressive beating he dished out to rivals in what appeared to be a competitive Grade B handicap hurdle over three miles at Punchestown last April.

Chacun Pour Soi

(W.P. Mullins)

Wednesday 3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)

Chacun Pour Soi has some unfinished business with Wednesday’s feature and maybe this will be the year that he finally gets to show the British racing public the stellar quality that we have long been aware of on this side of the Irish Sea.

Back in 2020 a late setback robbed this gelding of what would have been a certain Queen Mother victory given the way that race unfolded.

Last year he looked a rock solid odds-on favourite and after appearing to be in control of the race from the second last he eventually had to settle for third behind Put The Kettle On.

performances

That defeat was followed by one of the performances of last season at Punchestown where he turned in an absolutely stunning effort against Allaho and Nube Negra.

His comeback defeat in the Tingle Creek is easily forgiven, last month’s Leopardstown success was reassuring and the memory of that Punchestown display last April is sufficiently fresh in the memory that he gets the vote over Shishkin and Energumene.

Thyme Hill

(P. Hobbs)

Thursday 3.30 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

He is going to have to improve a little to land the Stayers’ Hurdle but doesn’t have all that much to find and looks a solid candidate to provide the home team with a championship race success.

Thyme Hill didn’t get to run at Cheltenham last year but his two previous Cheltenham Festival appearances make for fairly encouraging reading.

He was a fine third to Envoi Allen in 2019 and the following year he returned to finish a highly creditable fourth to Monkfish in the Albert Bartlett where he was beaten less than two lengths.

The concern is that this gelding often seems to find one too good in top company. However, he is an extremely solid and reliable individual whereas some of his rivals, while perhaps more talented, are prone to the odd major lapse.

From four starts in open staying company over hurdles he has won a Grade 1 at Aintree and Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle to go with runner-up efforts in the last two editions of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Possibly next Thursday might see this reliable and likeable gelding enjoy his day in the sun.