THE top trainers have been busy opening their doors to the media this week with the Cheltenham Festival less than three weeks away. I can never quite work out if the likes of Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls (left) and David Pipe actually enjoy waxing lyrical about their equine superstars. Ultimately, their main obligation is to their owners, so you have to applaud their openness, honesty and willingness to be questioned. Here are my main fancies from their yards…
Nicky Henderson: Yes, he has Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig, but two lesser names catch my eye. UTOPIE DES BORDES brushed aside Fago in a Grade One in France and has won two out of two since coming to the the UK. She could be very interesting if contesting the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
PETIT ROBIN has enjoyed a tremendous season over hurdles but has been nominated as a possible for the Grand Annual Chase, a race Henderson always tries desperately hard to win. It will be interesting to see what weight he is allotted and even more interesting if the talented Nico de Boinville claims a few extra pounds off his back.
David Pipe: Dynaste will fly the flag for the Somerset trainer in either the RSA or the Jewson but BUDDY BOLERO will be a fascinating runner in the 4m National Hunt Chase. He’s always been highly regarded and has won two novice chases in impressive style. He seems to just gallop and gallop, and the 14/1 may not last long.
GOULANES is another possible for the four-miler but his owner is keen to run in the RSA Chase. This boy is all stamina and in a race that can often throw up a big-priced winner, the 25/1 is tempting each-way value.
Paul Nicholls: PTIT ZIG made a favourable impression winning at Ludlow and could tick all the boxes for the Fred Winter.
But ZARKANDAR is one of the big white hopes of the yard. A hardy customer, he has done everything right in three races this season and he could be a very tough nut to crack up the Cheltenham hill.
The Cheltenham Festival betting market is really hotting up with the four-day meeting due to kick off on March 12.
Which horses do you fancy? And who will be crowned the top trainer at the meeting? Please leave a comment below…