Sussex-trained runners to watch at the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching with four days of top-class racing action set amidst the rolling hills of Gloucestershire. Alongside established stars such as Honeysuckle, Altior, Envoi Allen and Al Boum Photo, we’ve previewed the hopes of the Sussex-trained contingent set to descend on Prestbury Park which features runners for Gary Moore and Nick Gifford.

Nick Gifford hopes for a successful week at Cheltenham / Picture: Getty
Nick Gifford hopes for a successful week at Cheltenham / Picture: Getty

Goshen the highlight for Moore

Gary Moore enjoyed his finest day in the sun at the Cheltenham Festival when capturing the 2013 Champion Chase with Sire De Grugy. He chases more Grade One success at Prestbury Park with Goshen.

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The five-year-old created one of the most dramatic moments in Cheltenham Festival history when unseating rider Jamie Moore at the final flight when clear in the Triumph Hurdle. After an inauspicious start to this season, which included two disappointing efforts on the Flat, Goshen bounced back to his brilliant best when landing the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last time out which reignited his Champion Hurdle hopes.

Goshen, a general 4/1 chance for the two-mile championship hurdling event, takes on defending champion Epatante and the unbeaten Honeysuckle who crucially also benefit from a 7lb mares’ allowance.

Elsewhere, Moore also looks set to saddle the exciting Nassalam who may have to defy top-weight in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, for which he is a general 12/1 shot. Successful on his first two starts for the Sussex trainer at Fontwell, the four-year-old finished a creditable second behind leading Triumph Hurdle hope Adagio in the Grade One Future Champions Finale Novice Hurdle at Chepstow.

Nassalam also hit the crossbar on his latest start when second to the progressive Monmiral at Haydock. A general 12/1 chance for the Boodles, he looks a lively player given the high regard in which he is held by his trainer and regular pilot Jamie Moore.

Another interesting contender for Moore is Botox Has who is a general 16/1 chance for the Coral Cup. A winner of two of his three starts at Cheltenham, the five-year-old has disappointed on his last two runs at Ascot, but looks more than capable of playing a leading role in this event over two and a half-miles.

Moore’s quintet for the meeting look set to be completed by Fifty Ball in the County Hurdle (14/1), following his fine second in the Betfair Hurdle and Beat The Judge who takes on Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Gifford hoping for rhyme and reason with Paddy’s Poem

Findon handler Nick Gifford is still targeting a first Cheltenham Festival winner, but has a number of contenders for this year’s meeting, including the hugely progressive Paddy’s Poem. Placed at Sandown on his first two starts this term, the ten-year-old recorded a smart success at Wincanton last time out. Entered in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual over two miles (16/1) and the Plate Handicap Chase (20/1) over two and a half-miles, he looks a fascinating each-way player for whatever contest connections decide to run in.

The Mighty Don recorded a first success over fences at Chepstow this season and shaped with plenty of promise when second at Cheltenham in December. Pulled-up at Taunton on his last start over fences, things failed to go to plan that day and he remains open to more improvement. Staying trips look to be his forte and a tilt at either the National Hunt Chase (50/1) or the Kim Muir (33/1) look likely.

Gifford’s trio are completed by Didtheyleaveuoutto who fell in three consecutive races in 2020, but hinted at a revival in a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton in February when a good second under Aidan Coleman. Given a run on the Flat since, he should be fit and firing for Cheltenham and the drying ground at the track would also be a bonus. A handicap mark of 130 might underestimate him and he could be interesting in the Martin Pipe at 25/1.

Sussex-trained runners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival (subject to change)

Gary Moore:

Goshen – Champion Hurdle (4/1, March 16)

Nassalam – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (12/1, March 16)

Botox Has – Coral Cup (14/1, March 17)

Beat The Judge – Marsh Novices’ Chase (66/1, March 18)

Fifty Ball – County Hurdle (14/1, March 19)

Nick Gifford

The Mighty Don – National Hunt Chase (50/1, March 16), Stayers’ Hurdle (80/1, March 18), Kim Muir Handicap Chase (33/1, March 18)

Didtheyleaveuoutto – Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle (25/1, March) and County Hurdle (50/1, March 19)

Paddy’s Poem – Plate Handicap Chase (20/1, March 18)

In association with Betting Expert