AT A recent Cheltenham preview night I attended, Tony Martin suggested that Boston Bob could be the next Arkle. Ruby Walsh picked him as his charity bet at another one while Willie Mullins has said time and time again that the son of Bob Back is the best novice hurdler he is bringing to the festival.
Reports suggest that he will sidestep the Neptune in favour of the Albert Bartlett and if he does go down that route, he is likely to plummet in price. But, while Boston Bob’s reputation soars, Gordon Elliott has managed to get MOUNT BENBULBEN to the festival without much ink. Behind the scenes, all at Capranny are getting jittery already. They think this is the best horse to ever trot in their yard.
Mount Benbulben has already been beaten by Boston Bob but there are valid grounds for thinking that he could turn around the form from their meeting at Navan before Christmas.
With just four runners in the field, Paul Carberry was forced to make the running and he didn’t like it. He jumped out to the right at every second hurdle and seemed to hate being out on his own at the head of affairs.
Expect completely different tactics to be used at Cheltenham and Carberry is a dab-hand at riding hold-up performers. This horse has always been the apple of Elliott’s eye and we may see why next week.
Even if Boston Bob does turn up in the race, I don’t see Mount Benbulben being any bigger than the 11-2 currently available and, if Mullins’ charge heads for the Neptune instead, he will be a very short-priced favourite. Now is the time to invest.
THE KEY trial for the Christies Foxhunters was run at Newbury in January when Chapotergeon quickened up impressively under Richard Barber to beat Cloudy Lane by 16 lengths.
But a word of warning. He didn’t stay 2m5f that strongly when running under rules and the trip looks sure to stretch his stamina.
MY FLORA was sent off 11-4 favourite for that Newbury race and she jumped superbly throughout before coming crashing down at the second last. She probably wouldn’t have won had she stayed on her feet but the way she travelled throughout the contest made me think that she would be a major player at Cheltenham.
She was too keen at Newbury and exerted far too much energy in the first mile. Expect Tom David to play his hand much latter this time and a recent point-to-point success by eight lengths proved that she is none the worse for that Newbury spill. She’ll still 10-1 with Ladbrokes and will almost certainly give you a run for your money.
My Flora is only eight, a toddler in a race full of veterans, and she will be getting 5lb from the rest of the field which will make a big difference on the day.
The home challenge is headed by Salsify who won at Leopardstown on Hennessy Day. Rodger Sweeney’s stable star glides through his races and better ground will suit. He’s only seven and there may be better to come too but he lacks the class of My Flora who is a prolific winner and has all the right credentials for the Cheltenham test.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
2pts 11-2 with William Hill
1pt win 10-1 with Ladbrokes