RACING AHEAD with Tony McCormick
Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and new racing radio station racingfm.com looks back at the weekend’s action in Great Britain and Ireland, while the countdown to the Cheltenham begins with your first Festival Notebook.
Runaway November Handicap winner Open Eagle suffered a defeat at odds-on at Punchestown’s Sunday meeting. The gelding appeared to have been found an excellent opportunity to get his jumping career off to a successful start, but having failed to convince in the jumping department, he had to make do with minor honours in third.
However, Supreme racing manager Steve Massey feels there is still plenty to look forward to for the rest of the season and beyond. Some Plan looks to have booked a place at the Festival following a fine win at Musselburgh on Sunday. The lightly-raced seven-year-old, who is trained by Tom George, made all the running to defeat The Grey Taylor by nine lengths in the Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle.
Some Plan is around a 33-1 shot for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle that opens the Festival on March 10 and connections are set to discuss plans.
Cheltenham Festival Notebook: Zarkandar will head straight to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with an upbeat report from trainer Paul Nicholls. The eight-year-old, who finished fourth to More Of That in last year’s three-mile showpiece, was touched off by Reve De Sivola in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas.
Sam Twiston-Davies’s mount was seemingly running all over Reve De Sivola but downed tools when hitting the front and his rival battled back to win.
The ex-Philip Fenton trained Bentelimar credited his new and rookie trainer Shay Barry with a big race winner, landing the Listed I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday under jockey Brian O’Connell.
Avant Tout could be headed to the Cheltenham Festival following a creditable effort in Listed company on Sunday. Owners’ the Supreme Horse Racing Club’s head Steve Massey feels the two-mile distance was on the short side and a potential step up to three miles in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has been mentioned.
John ‘Shark’ Hanlon is looking forward to Hidden Cyclone taking on the best two-milers around in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. The trainer’s stable star has a date with Britain’s finest, headed by Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy and Dodging Bullets on March 11 after landing his first success in 17 months in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday. Hidden Cyclone had run some creditable races in between those two successes, finishing second in four Grade Ones, including the Ryanair Chase at last year’s Festival.
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