Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Ahead On The Flat available to purchase

14-March-2023 16:29
in General
by Admin

The full details of the forthcoming edition of Ahead On The Flat and Updates have been uploaded to the Publications section of the site - the book isn't published until early April but it is possible for customers to purchase in advance. There is a full list of the Talking Trainers participants, plus news of the other sections in AOTF

Cheltenham Festival - Day one review

Honeysuckle ensured there wasn't a dry eye in the house on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The nine year old was winning at the meeting for the fourth consecutive season and registering her second in the mares' hurdle. Henry De Bromhead's mare had lost her unbeaten record at Fairyhouse in December and had been put in her place by State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle last month. However, there was no mistaking the determination she showed on the run-in to reel in the front running Love Envoi after a steady early gallop. It was a thirteenth Grade 1 win for an outstanding mare and a tremendous result for her stable who have endured a tough six months both on and off the track. Those positioned at the back of the field left themselves with impossible tasks in a race which was run over 22 second outside standard. 

Constitution Hill was imperious in the Champion Hurdle readily brushing aside the best of the Irish. State Man gave chase after the second last but couldn't never get near to Nicky Henderson's unbeaten hurdler. Indeed, the only scare came at the last when the six year old took off early and was low over the flight and could have easily done an 'Annie Power' and tripped up when victory was already in safe keeping. A nine lengths winner, the former Irish pointer is an exceptional hurdler and one suspects he will head to Punchestown at the end of April - I can't imagine the hometeam will be queuing up to take on the Blue Bresil gelding.

El Fabiolo was advised at 6/1 for the Arkle Trophy in the November Update and the ex-French gelding didn't let us down with a five and a half lengths win. Paul Townend's mount wasn't always fluent but Ireland's champion jockey was happy to sit off his front running stablemate Dysart Dynamo and Jonbon until getting involved after the third last. A good jump at the penultimate fence took the six year old to the front and the race was over as a contest. A huge gelding, he can only get better and is a tremendous chasing prospect - he will get further as well, if necessary.

Barry Connell has been telling anyone who would listen that Marine Nationale would win the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the six year old didn't let his owner/trainer down with an excellent performance in the Festival opener. Paul Townend felt he probably hit the front too soon on Facile Vega but I suspect it wouldn't have made any difference. The winning six year old was firmly on top at the finish and Michael O'Sullivan never had to get too serious. A three and a quarter lengths winner, he is a very good horse who appears to be equally effective on soft or decent ground. Facile Vega ran his race in second but was beaten fair and square, while stable companion Diverge ran a cracker in third. Given his pedigree, the gelded son of Frankel would be tailormade for Aintree. Olly Murphy was optimistic beforehand that Chasing Fire and Strong Leader - both unbeaten over hurdles - would be involved but the pair were outclassed, as was the Tolworth Hurdle winner Tahmuras. Irish trained runners were responsible for the first eight home.

As far as the OJA Cheltenham Festival Update is concerned, El Fabiolo was the only winner on day one but one can't help feeling Byker (advised @ 13/2) should have won the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle. Positioned to the fore throughout, I always think it is difficult to win big field handicaps sitting either on or close to the pace. Charles Byrnes' gelding held every chance on the run-in but found Jazzy Matty a neck too good. The two disappointments of the day included Tekao in the same event - he never looked happy after getting work up following two false starts, plus his jumping went to pieces. Nassalam was the other one - Gary Moore's horse made an early mistake and soon lost his position in the Ultima Handicap Chase. The six year old tried to get back into it but was a spent force before the third last. Both performances were too bad to be true.



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