Wednesday March 16

From having his chin on the floor after a miserable first day at Cheltenham on Tuesday, Alan was “much happier” as he left Prestbury Park on Wednesday having, admitting to be “enormously proud” of third placed Messire des Obeaux in the Neptune and Who Dares Wins in the Coral Cup.

Alan said:”They both ran super races. Messire des Obeaux never stopped trying and was beaten by two very good horses – he’ll make a smashing chaser next season, while Who Dares Wins was always in the van and hung on in there up the straight. He’s a few pounds too high to win one of these handicaps, but he gives Henry Ponsonby and his team a lot of fun.”

Ponsonby praised Wayne Hutchinson for “a terrific ride” on Who Dares Wins, adding:”This horse is so versatile and he’ll go back on the Flat this summer. We might look at the Chester Cup as he dotted up on his one try around there, and races like the Ascot Stakes and maybe even the Ebor could be on the agenda, though whether he’ll be rated high enough to get into those handicaps is open to question.”

The final roll of the dice at Cheltenham comes tomorrow, and we are hoping that Master Blueyes steals the show in the Triumph Hurdle, in which we also run Coeur de Lion, both horses being owned by the Barbury Lions, which has only been going a couple of years and is proving a very successful syndicate.

Alan said:”I was so impressed with Master Blueyes in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton, and, though Nicky (Henderson) feels that Charlie Parcs would have beaten us had he not fallen, I fear he needs his eyesight tested!

“That Ludlow win for Master Blueyes gave him a lot of confidence, and he came out of the Kempton race very well. The better the ground the better his chance so I hope the rain does not arrive until later in the afternoon, as they are forecasting, though Coeur de Lion would not mind if the ground did ease as it would put the emphasis on stamina and he gets the trip really well.

“What the weather does would also determine how well Winter Escape runs in the County Hurdle. At the start of the season he was one of the horses that I was most excited about, but he disappointed us on his reappearance in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November and it has taken us most of the winter to get him back.

“However, I have certainly not lost faith in Winter Escape and have been very happy with him in the last three weeks, so if the rain stays away he’d be very interesting but he must have good ground.

Smad Place runs for the seventh time at the Festival when he has his third crack at the Gold Cup. He’s been third in two Stayers’ Hurdles and runner-up in an RSA Chase. He jumped as well as I’ve ever seen him when finishing third in the Cotswold Chase here last time, and we have nothing to lose by having one last shot.

“Finally, Gibralfaro runs in the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle. He was disappointing at Huntingdon, but he had to miss a couple of planned races before that when meetings were cancelled, so might have gone slightly off the boil. He’s probably too high in the weights, but he is fresh and well and has thrived for his little break.”