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Charlie McCann: Notebook Additions From The Weekend


A quick look back on last weekend’s racing and a couple of horses to follow with Cheltenham in mind, and two who might be worth putting in the tracker for the longer term.

Elimay

I thought Elimay was an unlucky loser in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021 when she was constantly carried right by eventual winner Colreavy before being worried out of it close home by her more resilient stablemate.

She was a bitter disappointment at Aintree on her reappearance back in December, but it was the same day that a couple of Willie Mullins’ stable stars disappointed – Chacun Pour Soi in the Tingle Creek – and she didn’t jump with her normal zest when runner up to Mount Ida at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.

She was fitted with first-time cheekpieces when making all at Naas at the weekend – a race she also took en route to the Mares’ Chase last season – and her jumping was fast and fluent. Mount Ida gave her a couple of pounds at Fairyhouse but, despite winning the Kim Muir at last year’s Festival, she is better going right-handed and Elimay can reverse the form with the Gordon Elliot-trained mare next month.

The market for Cheltenham is headed by stablemate Concertista who is unbeaten in two starts over fences – both at Grade 2 level – and the favourite has a record at the Festival of 212 although I thought she was a good thing when beaten in the Mares’ Hurdle last year. Burnt Fingers.

Riviere D’Etel is likely to go to the Arkle and this is another division where I do believe the Irish horses have a bit in hand of their British counterparts. Elimay looks a solid each way recommendation.

Recommendation: Elimay 1pt each way at 9/2 with bet365 NRNB & Best Odds Guaranteed

Jpr One        

It may seem absurd to suggest a horse who beat just one home in the Betfair Hurdle might be worth following, but I do feel that is the case with the Colin Tizzard-trained novice hurdler who travelled like a class act, and led three out, at Newbury before he was readily brushed aside on what was just his fourth start.

Jockey Brendan Powell allowed his five-year-old to come home in his own time when his chance had gone, and he is likely to race over further and be ridden less prominently going forward. He will likely jump a fence next season, but he will be eased at least a couple of pounds from his opening handicap mark of 130. I will be disappointed if he is not a graded chaser in time.

Edwardstone

Alan King’s novice chaser heads the market for the Arkle chase in four weeks time and rightly so after a terrific performance at Warwick at the weekend in the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Hurdle. The winning time was an absolute stand out on the card with For Pleasure going very hard up front but Edwardstone did not miss a beat and had no difficulty in keeping Third Time Lucki at bay.

Edwardstone handles any ground, and I would be surprised if Third Time Lucki takes the Grade 1 winning novice chaser on again at Cheltenham. I expect Dan Skelton to keep his talented youngster – who needs good ground to be seen at his best – for Aintree.

Having been a huge fan of Blue Lord before the Irish Arkle – which he won – I do feel he will have to improve again to beat Alan King’s novice especially if Saint Sam – which seems likely – ensures a decent gallop. There was 5/2 readily available in the immediate aftermath of the race but he is 2/1 with Bet365 NRNB & BOG.

Valsheda

After just four career starts, I expect to see plenty of improvement from Nicky Henderson’s novice chaser who finished second at Kempton on Friday when he was ridden as if a clear round was the primary objective given he had taken a tumble at Newbury on his chase debut.

He is likely to go up a couple of pounds in the weights as a result of that run, but he should be up to defying the rise with that experience under his belt. He has not raced on ground worse than good to soft and he is likely to be kept away from deep ground going forward. He looks the type who might win a couple in novice or novice handicap chases this spring.