10 Cheltenham Festival losers who caught the eye
They might have trailed behind Quevega or Sprinter Sacre but a number of horses enhanced their reputations in defeat at Cheltenham. Chris McGrath selects those to follow
1. Barbatos (Ian Williams) 7th, Coral Cup
Had been absent over a year before resurfacing at the trials meeting and took a big step forward here, closing from off the pace when hitting two out and hampered by a faller. Doing well to regroup, he kept on steadily and remains young enough to make up for lost time. Had solid form to his name as a novice, including a win at Aintree, and worth a look if returning there for the National meeting.
2. Caid Du Berlais (Paul Nicholls) 2nd, Fred Winter Hurdle
Bumped into one miles ahead of the game in Flaxen Flare but did well to work his way through the rest of the field – not least because he stood out from the juvenile norm, with a stout pedigree and the build to go chasing sooner rather than later. His trainer had a slow week but has some promising new material here.
3. Diakali (Willie Mullins) 4th, JCB Triumph Hurdle
Had been thrashed by Our Conor in their trial and suffered the same fate here, but kept on steadily once swamped and could yet cut the mustard in big handicaps next season. Certainly he might prove a different proposition settled off a strong pace, having proved pretty free in a clear lead here, and worth remembering the touch of class he had shown in his first couple of runs.
4. Marito (Willie Mullins) Fell, Jewson Novices' Chase
Few miles on the clock for his top stable, and had made only a modest impression in winning a couple in heavy ground during the winter. But he was in the process of showing a lot more when coming down at the second last here, staying on strongly in fourth. That improvement probably owed much to the better ground and he remains totally unexposed at longer distances.
5. Nuts n Bolts (Lucinda Russell) 6th, JLT Chase
Soon had his work cut out after hitting the first, given time to get into rhythm, but closed really well over the last three and was never nearer than at the line. Having seen things out so well, he has increased future options – but this was a highly promising dip in the deep end, regardless, for a horse short on experience. With luck, his best years lie ahead.
6. Prima Porta (Evan Williams) 6th, OLBG Mares' Hurdle
This was only her sixth start over timber, and a couple of early mistakes soon left her with little chance – but she powered home over the last two and was only beaten eight lengths by the amazing Quevega. Having hacked up off 122 on her previous start, she looks equal to a new rating of 132 and her strong finish up the hill promises better again over longer distances.
7. Purple Bay (John Ferguson) 5th, Weatherbys Champion Bumper
The only four-year-old to get involved at the business end – and did very well to do so at all, after meeting plenty of trouble. Had also been held up in traffic when getting up to win his sole previous start at Doncaster, and his astute handler was not at all surprised to see him run so well. A good prospect for hurdles next season, he could be a factor if sent to Aintree.
8. Rival D'Estruval (Pauline Robson) Fell, John Oaksey National Hunt Chase
Goes well fresh and, artfully primed on that basis, had crept into contention under a very patient ride when falling two out. That was hard luck on his jockey and trainer, but at least he remains on the upgrade after just five starts over fences and could yet earn consolation in the Scottish National.
9. Rule the World (Mouse Morris) 2nd, Neptune Novices' Hurdle
A gorgeous animal with potential to become one of the very best to go through his trainer's expert hands. As a staying chaser of the future, he pardonably failed to match the acceleration of The New One at the end of a slowly run race. But the fact that he was able to hang in there so well confirms his raw class, and he already appeals as an ideal type for the RSA Chase next year.
10. Viva Colonia (Brian Ellison) Pulled up, Grand Annual
Badly hampered early on, he was trying to get back involved when blundering two out, rightly not persevered with thereafter. This was only his fourth start over fences but he had previously relished the sharp track at Musselburgh and could be the type to take to Aintree.
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