Next Race Newspaper
Free Bets
My Account

Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Leading trainers nominate their main hopes for the festival handicaps

Kalondra: fancied by Neil Mulholland for the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
1 of 1

Tom George

My son Noel fancies his chances in the Kim Muir on Wild West Wind, who looked sure to win a £100,000 race at Haydock but pulled up in front. There was nothing wrong and he was just in front too long, but he'd like a bit of rain.

It hasn't gone Singlefarmpayment's way but he is back to the mark off which he was second in last year's Ultima Handicap Chase. He's having some jumping practice on Thursday.

Nicky Henderson

Thomas Campbell will probably go for the Pertemps and we'll claim off him again. Ok Corral looks quite attractively handicapped in the Coral Cup and is a possible, but he might go for the Ballymore.

Gold Present and O O Seven will run in the Ultima, and both Rather Be and Divine Spear in the Close Brothers. Theinval will have another go in the Grand Annual, but he could be the only one there.

Style De Garde will be close to top weight in the Fred Winter, which is a shame, but he'll run. There are plenty more too, including a whole heap in the Martin Pipe.

Charlie Longsdon

Pendra will have top weight in the Kim Muir, as he did last year when he was just touched off. He'd had a very bad preparation then with pneumonia, but he's had a much better prep this year and could have run a month ago. I expect he'll wear blinkers again.

Bentelimar is very well handicapped off 136 if he gets into any of his three handicaps. If he doesn't make the cut he could go and win at Kempton on the Saturday.

Neil Mulholland

We aren't that strong this year but I like Kalondra in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, even though he's joint-topweight off 145. He ran very well in the Coral Cup a year ago and we've always seen this as the right slot for him as he likes the track and we don't want to be taking on the top horses off level weights.

Olly Murphy

Hunters Call is 99 per cent certain to run in the County Hurdle, as having won so well over Ascot's 2m I'd be annoyed if he didn't get up the hill in either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe. He's in very good form and I'm delighted he skipped that war of attrition in the Betfair Hurdle. It's asking a lot to win a second big handicap, off 9lb higher, but the strong gallop will suit and I'm hoping Jack Kennedy will be free again.

Oxford Blu was unfortunate not to win a £20,000 handicap on his last run. He got a bit lonely in front. I think he will outrun his price in the Fred Winter and we'll put a pair of blinds on him. I'd imagine Richard Johnson will ride him as he hasn't got a ride.

Ben Pauling

A Hare Breath loves Cheltenham and has been kept fresh for the County Hurdle. It's not going to be easy for a ten-year-old off 145, but he's got very low mileage and did a good piece of work at Kempton on Tuesday.

Le Breuil has been frustrating to train with foot problems, but he seems very well at home and will come on for the work he did at Kempton, plus two more serious workouts. He could be very well handicapped and is more likely to go for the Coral Cup than the Pertemps.

Fingers crossed Oistrakh Le Noir will sneak into the Fred Winter, but unfortunately he's been dropped 4lb from his original mark and it's borderline off 124. Forget his Ascot run when mine were all wrong, and he's come on again since Market Rasen.

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Ballyhill and Jameson could both go well in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, and I'm rather hoping Foxtail Hill will bounce back to form in one of the handicaps on the better ground after ruining my Cheltenham last year by putting [son] Willy in hospital.

Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on


Bentelimar is very well handicapped off 136 if he gets into any of his three handicaps
E.W. Terms
Sky bet