13th March 2017

The view from Sandhill at this week’s Cheltenham Festival

Diana Hobbs, who is assistant trainer to her father Philip, runs the rule over the stable's chances at this week's Cheltenham Festival

 

The yard is in good form at the moment, which we hope will continue for a Cheltenham Festival week. We are likely to have around a dozen runners during the week. We have reached over £1million in prize money and are on 86 winners for the season so far and counting. Our annual target is 100 winners by the end of the season on April 29th at Sandown Park, which we hope to achieve.

Our main chance of the week and favourite for the Triumph hurdle on the Friday is Defi Du Seuil. He is owned by JP McManus and will be ridden by Richard Johnson. Since joining our yard in October he remains unbeaten and therefore deserves to be favourite for this Grade 1 and we hope he has a favourite’s chance. We have won the race before with Made In Japan in 2004 and Detroit City in 2006 and we really like Defi Du Seuil as he is a strong, honest horse that has proved to be tough and consistent during the season so fingers crossed for Friday!

Garde La Victoire runs in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on the Wednesday. He has been a fantastic horse for the Whateley’s and to have in the yard. He was unlucky to fall at the end of last season and that is why at the beginning of this season we reverted him back to hurdles. He won the Welsh Champion hurdle at Ffos Las comfortably and was unlucky to just be beaten a short head in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November. He then went onto win a handicap chase at Sandown in January and we feel he deserves his chance to run in the Champion Chase, although we know that Douvan will be hard to beat. Sausalito Sunrise runs in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and he has schooled well at our local cross country course Pontispool Equine Sports Centre near Taunton.

It looks like we will have more runners at the end of the week on Thursday and Friday. For Good Measure, Golden Doyen and Fingal Bay all run in the Pertemps Network final handicap hurdle. Fingal Bay won this race back in 2014, which was a great day; although he is older he does seem to like Cheltenham and ran a good race there be 4th on New Year ’s Day. Village Vic has been a star for the yard and has been kept fresh and well for either the Ryanair or the handicap chase on the Thursday. He is top weight for the handicap chase, but the race won’t be as competitive as the Grade 1 Ryanair so we will make a decision closer to the time. Lamb or Cod runs in the Kim Muir Handicap under our very capable amateur Sean Houlihan who takes off a valuable 7Ibs.

The yard has plenty of entries for the Friday at Cheltenham, but we will have to wait to see on the Thursday at declaration stage to see if they get a run or not. Wait For Me, Verni and Ozzie The Oscar all have an entry in the County Hurdle. Mendip Express runs in the Foxhunter Hunters Chase again this year under owner/ rider David Maxwell. No Comment runs in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle. Bold Henry has an entry in the Grand Annual handicap Chase, but is unlikely to run as the ground won’t be soft enough for him by the end of the week.

We would be very pleased to have a winner at this year’s Cheltenham festival and have plenty of each-way chances in the handicaps. The main thing is that hopefully all horse and jockeys come back safe and sound and that everyone has an enjoyable week at the home of National Hunt racing!