Cheltenham Festival: Cheveley Park runners set to star
Sir Gerhard’s Cheltenham Festival target remains undecided, but the owners of the Cheveley Park Stud are in favor of a tilt at the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
The seven-year-old was the winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the meeting last season and is undefeated in two races since graduating from the hurdles.
After winning the maiden from him by eight lengths at Leopardstown, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding posted an impressive six-length victory in the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Mullins has entered him in the two-mile Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the two-mile, five furlong Ballymore, but connections are considering the latter option next week.
“We definitely go for Ballymore but I can’t give you a decision yet because Willie is still considering it,” Cheveley Park manager Richard Thompson told Sky Sports Racing.
“It looks like the Ballymore in balance, but there hasn’t been a final decision yet.
“I’m very relaxed to be honest with you, we’re very relaxed at Cheveley as to which race he’s going to go to.
“It’s up to Willie, he will look at the final form of each race and see how it looks in terms of his own stable, as he has other riders.
“With Sir Gerhard, the feeling is that he can get the trip to Ballymore, and the feeling is that with the quality that he has he can compete in both.
“I think he would win either one, but the Supreme is, at the moment, the strongest race, hands down.
“It’s a good balance, but if Willie tells us he’s a horse that can compete in both and Ballymore is a slightly weaker race, then of course Ballymore would be the race we’d go for.”
Thompson also said that he and Bromhead’s Henry are leaning towards entering the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase with Envoi Allen, who also has a Ryanair Chase ticket.
The bay came into last year’s Festival with an unbeaten record, but fell out of the Marsh Novices’ Chase and hasn’t been easy since, reaching Punchestown the following month, where he picked up an injury, and finishing sixth in John Durkan before winning. a perfunctory renewal of Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase in December.
“He’s been working really well lately, studying really well, he’s probably going for the Queen Mother,” Thompson said.
“Again, he’s not completely decided, but that’s the way we’re definitely leaning.
“He’s a fast horse and he jumps fast. I know he’s been a bit out of his mind since Cheltenham when he crashed last year, but we have a lot of faith in the horse, he’s beaten us six grades one, two at Cheltenham.” .
The stallion will continue to be represented at Ryanair as they intend to take Mullins-trained eight-year-old Allaho, who was a brilliant 12-length winner of the show last year and is a horse Thompson considers his “banker.” of the meeting.
“He’s a quality horse, he’s Allaho. Last year it was perfect for him on Ryanair, the two and a half miles,” he said.
“We are very confident, Allaho hasn’t done anything wrong recently, so we just have to hope that the race goes well on that day.”
“I think the banker has to be Allaho, Envoi could run a better race than people think. We expect a great race from A Plus Tard, but I think Allaho has to be the banker.”
A Plus Tard was runner-up at the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup last year and will line up for the blue belt again, with Thompson hoping he can prove the toughness of his after he was bested by Minella Indo 12 months ago.
“He has a tremendous resume and won at Cheltenham in 2019,” he said.
“Things are looking very positive for A Plus Tard and we look forward to being in the reshuffle.
“There is no way he will race for Ryanair, he will race in the Gold Cup and he has a great opportunity.
“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have any stamina issues to stay up the hill.
“Last year he got into a battle with Minella way too soon, potentially, and Minella obviously got the better of him.
“We know he has the class, I think he has the stamina and we know he has the spin.”