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CHELTENHAM READY…

09-03-2018

THIS WEEK The dreaded 'Beast from the East' took it's grip across the Lambourn Valley during the later part of last week leaving us somewhat stranding up here! Thanks to our outstanding, dedicated team of stable staff we were able to keep the show going, many of them had to hike up the hill from Seven Barrows to get up here only to then have to ride out into the abyss of the snow storm.  Not an easy task.  Now on the other side we are full steam ahead with 2 key runners on the card at Sandown tomorrow followed by 3 strong prospects in 3 Grade 1's next week at The Cheltenham Festival, quite literally the pinnacle of our sport.  We're all so thrilled to be in this position at still a relatively early stage in the yards journey and we just hope they all run their races and come back safely. Let's kick on and take the lead... HWR'S FESTIVAL CONTENDERS Simply The Betts will take his chance in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.  He burst onto the scene with an impressive bumper win at Market Rasen in September and looked a very exciting recruit.  He then went onto finish 3rd at Newbury and then 4th at Kempton, where he showed glimmers of his ability, without reaching the level we knew he was capable of.  He then went to Musselburgh and took a huge step forward to finish 2nd under a patient ride from Sean Bowen and if he hadn’t made a mistake at the last, he probably would have won.  The Supreme will be his toughest task to date, with the likes of Getabird and Kalashnikov setting the standard, but he certainly won’t be out of place in that company.  His preparation has gone well, his schooling has been excellent and he’s primed to produce a career best.  He’s capable of outrunning his odds of 33/1. Saint Calvados is set to take on the likes of Footpad and Petit Mouchoir in the Arkle Novices' Chase on Tuesday.  He is 3 from 3 since joining the yard and has progressed rapidly with every start, culminating in a 22 length demolition of the Grad 2 Kingmaker at Warwick last month.  He has a very high cruising speed, jumps very accurately and possesses a great attitude.  This is clearly his toughest task to date, but the ground is set to suit and he should have a great chance. Bigmartre will step up to two and a half miles and contest the JLT Novices' Chase on Thursday.  He was a three time winner for the yard over hurdles, but has taken his form to a new level since switching to the larger obstacles.  He put in foot perfect performances to win at Ludlow and Newbury, before stepping into open company and going down by the smallest of margins at Doncaster in January.  He hated the ground that day and still produced a career best.  The better ground and step up in trip should unlock some more improvement and we can’t wait to run him.  He is a very accurate jumper, with a fantastic attitude and deserves a crack at a Grade 1.  He isn’t just a lively outsider. OTHER ENTRIES The Dubai Way is set to take a big step up in class at Sandown tomorrow.  He’s progressed nicely to win all 4 of his starts this year and showed a good attitude to win on handicap debut last time out at Warwick.  The EBF final is one of the most competitive handicaps of the season outside of the major festivals, but he’s certainly earned the right to take his chance.  He handles soft ground well, the extra half mile shouldn’t pose any issues to him and he goes into the race in good form. Octagon is set to step back in trip and up in class in the Imperial Cup on the same card at Sandown tomorrow.  He produced a career best to win at Sedgefield on Boxing Day, but the 9lb rise does look at bit harsh.  He can be keen in his races and we hope the strong pace over 2 miles will suit him, but it is a bit of a fact finding mission.  This looks a very competitive renewal and Octagon will need to improve again.  He’s in good form and soft ground will suit. Charlemar missed potential engagements last week due to the horrific weather and is set to get his season started at Market Rasen on Sunday.  He is a much stronger horse this term and looks feasibly handicapped off a mark of 130.  He has always shaped like he possesses plenty of stamina, so he should be suited by this step up to 3 miles.  This is a qualifier for the Challenger Series final and with any luck he will end up there.  He’s in great form at home. Guiding Stars holds bumper entries at Warwick, Stratford and Huntingdon in the coming days, but we aren’t sure where he will go yet.  He was a good second on his only start this season at Worcester and has improved physically since then.  He is in very good form at home and should run well wherever he goes. The Go Tou Man holds hurdle entries at Taunton on Monday and Huntingdon on Wednesday.  He showed improved form to finish 5th in a competitive race at Huntingdon last time out and is progressing nicely with every run.  A flat track seems to suit him and he is in cracking form at home.  Wherever he goes he should run well.  He is from a staying family, but he’s not short of speed. Tierra Verde is entered in the same two maiden hurdles and is set to take on the boys for the first time.  The weather and the lack of Mares only races has meant we had to have a rethink.  She produced a much improved performance at Plumpton last time and has come out of that race in good order.  Hopefully she can take another step forward. Tangoed has been waiting for better ground and may well get it at Taunton on Monday or Huntingdon on Wednesday.  She’s had a good break since her last run at Towcester and looks feasibly handicapped against the best of her best bumper form.  The stronger pace of a handicap should really suit her and we are expecting an improved performance. Until next week...