SUN Racing top tipster Steve Mullen – Templegate to you and me – returns with his horses to follow in the countdown to Cheltenham Festival.
The action really hots up over the festive period so now is a good time to check the ante post markets before odds dip even further.
FOR a supposedly sub-standard renewal, Saturday’s Long Walk Hurdle proved pretty illuminating with Cheltenham in mind.
Champ shot to the head of the Stayers’ Hurdle betting at 4-1 after his impressive victory on return to the smaller obstacles.
This was billed as a step on the way to another tilt at the Gold Cup but connections may have a rethink now.
A lot will depend on how Chantry House shapes in the King George on Boxing Day.
If he were to win or go close at Kempton he would become JP McManus’s number one hope for chasing’s biggest prize.
Should he not perform, surely Champ will be going back over fences rather than taking a hurdling route.
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Either way, it was THYME HILL who cemented his place as my main fancy for the Stayers’ Hurdle with an excellent performance in second.
He was a bit keen, which is an issue for him, but finished well to give Champ plenty to think about.
He’s two years younger than the winner and will be eight in March and likely to be in his prime.
Philip Hobbs’ hope had to miss the Festival this year and showed his class when winning at Aintree a few weeks later.
His past visits to Cheltenham have been strong with a Champion Bumper third, Calificación 2 win and close Spa Hurdle third.
He handles any ground, which is good for a long-range punt, and the general 6-1 looks a cracking bet for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
NOTEBOOKS OUT FOR CHRISTMAS
Hopefully Santa will bring you a notebook for Christmas as we’ll be needing them on Boxing Day and beyond.
The King George at Kempton will tell us plenty with Minella Indo surely sharper for his rusty comeback run.
Como siempre, there will be plenty of clues from Ireland where Leopardstown hosts a cracking meeting.
It kicks off with Ferny Hollow going over fences for the second time in the Grade 1 Novice Chase.
The likes of Douvan and Min have won that so keep a close eye on how he fares.
His sights are being raised markedly here with the likes of Riviere D’Etel likely to be in the field.
A poor run could still see him take the Champion Hurdle run – at least my pocket hopes so!
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