YOU know what time it is! The dream ante-post canadian bet is on. We didn’t do too badly in this space last season - Teahupoo landing a 12/1 long-ranger in fine style. Let’s see if we can get another on the board, at least, this time around.


Turners Novices’ Chase (25/1 general)

Firefox’s luckless run in the Supreme was a sign of things to come for Gordon Elliott on the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival but the trainer, and owners Bective Stud, came good in the end and Firefox has plenty time to come good as well. He was blocked off at a crucial time as the race developed in the straight, losing all momentum with Jack Kennedy forced to take him around runners. When in the clear, he ran on strongly to rake third. Kennedy thinks he might have even won had it not been for the interference and while that assertion certainly takes a bit of imagination, it’s clear he deserves significant marking up. More importantly this was a step back in the right direction after a poor effort in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle. A big, imposing gelding, he looks set to head chasing next term and the Turners looks an obvious target for him. His half-brother The Bosses Oscar was effective at trips from two and a half miles to three miles. He is also the only horse to beat Ballyburn this season.


Ryanair Chase (25/1 general)

Dan Skelton probably has more than one page out of Paul Nicholls’s book when it comes to training horses and perhaps Nicholls could do the same with regard to Bravemansgame. Skelton made a call early in the season that Protektorat wasn’t good enough to win a Gold Cup and the Ryanair was an easier target. He kept his horse running to a high level over three miles and then dropped him in trip and class for the two-mile-five-furlong Grade 1. Bravemansgame probably isn’t going to win a Gold Cup. His fifth in the race this year was a creditable effort but he was further away from Galopin Des Champs. It’s likely his season will revolve around a King George next term, but why not go for a Ryanair after? He’s a big cruiser who jumps really well and the intermediate distance division looks bereft of real quality with Allaho likely on the wane.

Romeo Coolio

Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle

(14/1 general)

Romeo Coolio looked set to win the Champion Bumper before Jasmin De Vaux flew down the outside for Patrick Mullins. Needless to say it was a big run from a horse Gordon Elliott is seriously excited about. With that said, it was very curious that the KTDA Racing-owned gelding was allowed to drift all the way out to 18/1 in the betting. He clearly defied some factor that was perceived to be against him. At the moment, both he and Jalon D’oudairies who finished third, look set to be the top novice hurdlers for Cullentra next term and on the basis of last week, it’s advantage Romeo Coolio. Expect to see him out at least twice at Navan in the run up to Christmas and if he gets to run in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle at Naas in January, you can nearly be certain Gordon thinks he is his best novice hurdler.

Jade De Grugy

Mares Hurdle (20/1 general)

I’d excuse both Brighterdaysahead and Jade De Grugy given the way the Mares Novices’ Hurdle was run - the race produced the fastest Finishing Speed Percentage of the week which probably played into the hands of the winner Golden Ace.

Brighterdaysahead fared better of the pair, but she may well be going chasing next term and in any case, Jade De Grugy, who was only a couple of lengths back in third, is available at twice the prices for the Mares Hurdle. Now, obviously the same stable have Lossiemouth, but she may well develop into a Champion Hurdle contender next term. Jade De Grugy will be more at home over a strongly run mile and a half, like she showed at Leopardstown over Christmas when she demolished a maiden hurdle from the front.

The Jukebox Man

Brown Advisory

(25/1 Paddy Power/Betfair)

The immediate appraisal of the Albert Bartlett this year was to label the three-mile contest a messy race, with The Jukebox Man and Stellar Story dominating from the front off a steady early pace, and the latter coming through to nail the former right on the line.

There probably was a benefit to the front two’s positioning throughout here but on the flip side, they took full advantage of that opportunity and came well clear. With this Festival form banked, they are both top novice chase prospects.

The Jukebox Man was clearly unlucky, with an awkward jump at the last and then perhaps he got lonely on the run-in. Nonetheless this was a huge step forward from his close third to Captain Teague in Challow Hurdle, further strengthening that contest’s recent propensity to throw up top class stayers (Champ, Thyme Hill, Bravemansgame and Hermes Allen was well on his way). All The Jukebox Man’s form is in heavy ground which is a slight concern, but there is no reason he can’t go on a quicker surface and these days it seems soft ground is as likely as quick ground at the Festival. Expect his excellent trainer Ben Pauling to have him back to Cheltenham with a big chance.