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Horses To Follow – Five beaten horses to track after the Cheltenham Festival

  • We take a look back on the Cheltenham Festival and pick out five horses to track
  • Craigneiche and Cloudy Glen both finished second and make it onto our tracker
  • Elham Valley and Bear Ghylls also caught the eye
  • Edwardstone is the final name on our tracker list
mount ida
Cloudy Glen (centre) ran a cracker behind Mount Ida in the Kim Muir. (Getty)

The stands may have been empty, but the 2021 Cheltenham Festival still delivered it’s usual dose of drama, excitement and star quality. Rachael Blackmore deservedly hogged the headlines as the Irish horses dominated, winning 23 of the 28 races during the week.

Honeysuckle, Bob Olinger, Allaho and Minella Indo made the nominations for Performance Of The Week. Personally, I was most impressed with Galvin, who didn’t produce his most fluent round of jumping, but saw out the National Hunt Chase trip brilliantly. Jack Kennedy’s mount was pulling clear of two really classy rivals in the closing stages, and Galvin looks every inch a future Grand National contender.

Here are five horses who didn’t enter the winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival, but produced performances worthy of tracking during the rest of the season.

ELHAM VALLEY


Jeff Kidder upset the applecart to beat Saint Sam and Houx Gris in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Splitting the market leaders was Elham Valley, who stayed on from off the pace to finish a very strong third. Fergal O’Brien’s juvenile beat a future two-time winner on his hurdles debut at Sandown, but two subsequent defeats in Graded company resulted in Paddy Brennan’s mount going off at 66/1 for the Boodles.

O’Brien is an ambitious trainer, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Elham Valley was pitched into the 4-Y-O Anniversary Hurdle during the Grand National meeting at Aintree. However, a high-profile two-mile handicap would be more appropriate, with trips to Ayr and Sandown both very likely.

Bear Ghylls
Bear Ghylls (second left, near) jumping the second last in the Ballymore. (Getty)

BEAR GHYLLS

 
Despite carrying an unbeaten record into this year’s Ballymore, I gave Bear Ghylls little-to-no chance of challenging Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame at the head of the betting. Matt Griffiths' kept his mount wide throughout to give him a good look at the obstacles. His jumping, however, was still far from perfect, and I was fully expecting Bear Ghylls to fade out of contention as the leaders turned for home.

Yet, Nicky Martin’s youngster stuck to his guns gamely, and would probably have finished ahead of Bravemansgame had his jumping been a little slicker. Bear Ghylls clearly has plenty of ability, and he’ll have no trouble seeing out three miles. The Sefton Novices’ Hurdle looks the next logical step.

CRAIGNEICHE


Richard Condon has to be commended for the brave ride he gave Heaven Help Us in the Coral Cup, as the duo ran out deserved winners. My selection in the race was Craigneiche, who encountered traffic problems on a couple of occasions during the final half-mile, but stayed on up the hill to finish second.

That was a very composed, dogged performance from a horse who was making just the fifth start of his career. Nicky Henderson will have been very pleased with the way his seven-year-old hit the line, and I’m sure he’ll be stepped up to three miles before the season is out. The Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting could be Craigneiche’s next assignment.

heaven help us
Craigneiche (second, red with black) stays on for second in the Coral Cup. (Getty)

CLOUDY GLEN


Jack Kennedy gave Mount Ida a stunning ride in the Kim Muir. The winner was detached at the rear after the first circuit, jumping markedly out to her right, but came to the last swinging and pulled clear to win by six lengths. Cloudy Glen was forced to settle for second, but still ran a mighty race considering he too had to come from well off the pace.

Venetia Williams’ charge won well at Fontwell on heavy ground on his reappearance, but also proved at Cheltenham that he’s capable of contending on a sounder surface. In the Welsh Grand National, Charlie Deutsch smuggled his mount into contention turning for home, but soon knew he had left his challenge a little too late and didn’t give Cloudy Glen a hard time in the closing stages. 

We know his owner, Trevor Hemmings loves a National, so if Cloudy Glen lined up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr next month, he’d be of major interest running off a mark of 142.

EDWARDSTONE


Belfast Banter won the lottery that is the County Hurdle, coming through with a strong late charge to beat Petit Mouchoir. The winner, along with the likes of Third Time Lucki, Milkwood and Drop The Anchor will probably head to Ayr next for the Scottish Champion Hurdle, and all would be in with a good chance.

The one who caught my eye in the County was Edwardstone, who stayed on strongly from the rear to finish a three-length fifth. Alan King’s charge produced a similar effort to place third in the Betfair Hurdle, and could still challenge in the Scottish Champion Hurdle off a mark of 149. Judging by the way he travels and hits the line though, I think he’d improve for a step up in trip. King's star could still progress into a Graded-level performer over hurdles.

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