Barry Geraghty’s William Hill blog: Mullins novices tough to beat

Barry Geraghty’s William Hill blog: Mullins novices tough to beat

Cheltenham, Wednesday

1:30pm – Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle

BALLYBURN will be very tough to beat. He looks to me like the top novice hurdler of the year and he put in a quality performance when beating a high-class field at the Dublin Racing Festival. It’s very hard to make a case against him. I like Handstands, he’s a progressive horse that is on the up, and while I don’t see him being good enough to trouble Ballyburn, he could be the one to chase the favourite home.

2:10pm – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

Gaelic Warrior did disappoint behind FACT TO FILE last time in Leopardstown, but the race time on the day was good and Fact To File’s time over the final two miles was very strong in comparison to El Fabiolo on the same day. There are a lot of positives with him – he jumps really well and has Festival form having finished second in the Bumper last season. He’s a very exciting horse and while Stay Away Fay is clearly a good horse too, I think Fact To File may have the class edge.

2:50pm – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

This race is always a bit of a minefield. The one I like though is JIGORO for Gordon Elliott. He has some good placed form behind Tullyhill and Mystical Power over two miles and now he steps up to two and a half for the first time, which may well bring about improvement. You can make a case for plenty in the race, but he’s the one I’d side with.

3:30pm – Champion Chase

EL FABIOLO is going to be very hard to beat. He’s done everything really well so far. His jumping is the only thing that ever leaves anything to be desired, and while he probably wasn’t as tidy as he can be on his reappearance this season in Cork, he jumped much better in Leopardstown last time. There’s potentially more to come from him too. Jonbon obviously fluffed his lines the last day in Cheltenham when it didn’t look like he had quite got his act together. Edwardstone won well at Newbury last time which highlighted his wellbeing, so he could be the one to chase El Fabiolo home.

4:10pm – Cross Country Chase

There are lots of class acts in this race, with former Gold Cup winner Minella Indo and multiple Cheltenham Festival winner Delta Work lining up. For me though, COKO BEACH is of most interest. He won over the banks at Punchestown and also won the Troytown earlier this season, so he has good cross county and big-field staying chase form. He beat Limerick Lace in the Troytown, and she would have a good chance in the Mares’ Chase later in the week. The Cross Country Course doesn’t drain as well as the other two courses, so the ground could ride a bit softer and this horse loves soft ground. This has the look of a veterans contest to it, with eight of the 12 runners aged 10 or older, but Coko Beach has age on his side too being a nine-year-old.

4:50pm – Grand Annual Handicap Chase

This is another tricky handicap to solve. HARPER’S BROOK put in a good performance when winning at Sandown last time and considering he still looked to have plenty of running left in him at the line, a four-pound rise in the weights might just underestimate him. He has form on testing ground and is unexposed over this trip, so he could go well.

5:30pm – Champion Bumper

The horse I like is ROMEO COOLIO, who beat Sporting Glory on his debut at Fairyhouse. Sporting Glory has since gone on to beat a good horse on his next start, so the form has worked out well. Romeo Coolio is a horse that impresses at home and lots of improvement is expected from his debut.

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12 Mar 2024



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