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Cheltenham Festival 2020: Horses to watch next season

18 Mar | BY Chad Yeomans | MIN READ TIME |
Cheltenham Festival 2020: Horses to watch next season

Chad Yeomans has watched the tapes back to reveal the horses that, despite not winning, you should keep an eye on when the new National Hunt season returns.

One True King (Nigel Twiston-Davies) – 10th in the Champion Bumper

I’m not usually a fan of the Champion Bumper, as I’ve long thought that it’s too much of a test for these inexperienced horses.

However, the type of horse that has been running in the race has changed during the last few years, and I think the 2020 renewal will produce plenty of future winners. That is especially true of the front three home, who are all way above average.

One who wasn’t good enough on the day, but certainly showed that he had ability was One True King, on just his second start for Nigel Twiston-Davies after winning his first at Ludlow in January.

His form in point-to-points isn’t anything to write home about, but his two appearances for his new trainer have been very promising. He travelled well in the race and was still green, but stuck on well up the hill.

He should have no problem winning another bumper, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they put the five-year-old son of Getaway away for the summer and we see him in novice hurdles at the turn of the autumn.

Golan Fortune (Phil Middleton) – 12th in the Coral Cup

Followers of my tips on the Betway Insider may remember me tipping Golan Fortune to win at Cheltenham in November last year at 33/1.

The horse just seems to improve for running at Cheltenham, which isn’t uncommon at all. He’s still very lightly raced for an eight-year-old, but there are plenty of good races to be won.

He travelled really well and went with them at both points of the pace quickening, highlighting that he’s got plenty of class to move forward at crucial times of the race. He was slightly outclassed in the end but stuck to his task well and, despite not getting the clearest of runs, he stayed on up the hill again.

He’s been left unchanged on a mark of 139 and his connections must be tempted to keep him on that figure for some soft-ground handicaps in the winter. 

Bachasson (Willie Mullins) – sixth in the Coral Cup

Bachasson is lightly-raced for a nine-year-old, but is able to prolong his career with the master trainer Willie Mullins.

He caught my eye last week as he was last for most of the way and didn’t have the kindest route, with plenty of bumps and traffic issues happening around him.

But he moved through the pack and, despite the race having gotten away from him as he approached the last, he stuck on well, showing there is still fire in his belly.

He’s a very strong traveller in his races and was a winner at Galway as a novice, so could he be aimed at the Galway Hurdle off his current mark of 141.

Galvin (Gordon Elliott) – second in the Northern Trust Novices’ Handicap

It almost looked a case of ‘how far?’ for Galvin approaching two out, but the eventual winner, Imperial Aura, had made a winning move by stealing first run.

Galvin was held up in the early stages and didn’t have the best jump at the first. Those mistakes set you back at the top level and he just lost a length of momentum.

But he jumped better as the race went on and, as they hacked down the hill, his rider Davy Russell was absolutely motionless. It was a sight to behold the horse underneath him travelling so well.

It reminded me of seeing Galvin run in the Ballymore in 2019, when he tanked through the race without having the class to be competitive, but still showed a desire for the undulations of Prestbury Park.

With his trainer a master at getting horses right on the big days, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest that his connections have already mapped out their plan for going back to the Cheltenham Festival next year, with the Plate on the Thursday the obvious handicap to aim at.

Lisp (Alan King) – seventh in the Grand Annual

The last horse to catch the eye was a staying-on seventh as they crossed the line in the Grand Annual.

Lisp, trained by Alan King, was well-backed and well-fancied for the race, but just didn’t have the rub of the green.

I think if his connections could have another go, they would almost certainly like to see him ridden a touch closer to the pace – the same tactics that have been deployed in plenty of his recent runs.

He’s always tended to show his best work as the pace speeds up and push comes to shove, and that was the case last week. After two out, when his rider got lower in the saddle, he started to realise that he had a race on his hands and began to fly up the hill. But, as is often the case with hold-up horses, there’s a danger that the race has already gotten away from you.

However, he’s still on a handy mark and should be winning again before too long.

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Chad Yeomans

Betway’s PR Manager and horse racing expert who can often be found at various racecourses around the country.

Chad Yeomans

Betway’s PR Manager and horse racing expert who can often be found at various racecourses around the country.