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THE BERNIE THE BOOK COLUMN


DO YOU APPRECIATE IT? WELL MAYBE AND BACK THE CHIEFS, THE ASP AND


IT’S FEBRUARY ALREADY AND MY ATTENTION IS drawn towards Prestbury Park in March. With crowds unlike- ly to be in attendance this year in any great numbers, if at all, it will be a muted event but still a glorious example of nation- al hunt racing. Trials Day has been and gone and most of the targets have been identified so below is my tips for the week.


CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL


So to Cheltenham. I hope you appreciate it! I say this because last year’s runner-up in the Champion Bumper is my headline nap for one of two races at Cheltenham. In the Supreme on the Tuesday APPRECIATE IT, trained by Willie Mullins is a massive price to win the opening race of the meeting. When I say massive, I mean massive. He is a whop- ping 4/1 for the two-mile Novice Grade One Hurdle. My only reservation is like with all ante-post wagers, he might turn up in a different race! Because Appreciate It is also 6/1 for the Ballymore on the Wednesday as this is the Champion 2.5- mile Novice Hurdle. So you takes your money, you takes your chance. However, William Hill are offering 2/1 on this horse winning whatever race he turns up in and this simply has to be taken.


On the same theme, ALLART is also priced up by Hills at 14/1


to win ANY RACE and as he is only 20/1 to win the RSA or 16/1 to win the Marsh (where he would be going up against the even-money hotpot Envoi Allen), it is probably better to side with Hills at 14/1


My other main fancy is ZANAHIYR (bottom left) in the Tri- umph Hurdle on the Friday where he is a best priced 9/2. He is owned by the next big thing in racehorse ownership, Noel and Valerie Moran (think of Rich Ricci or Graham Wylie a few years back) and you’ll know what I mean. Zanahiyr has been ultra professional so far and will scoop the Cheltenham prize for his new owners, he is trained by Gordon Elliott who is try- ing to expand his portfolio of owners since the O’Learys dispersed a lot of their jewels.


My other fancies at Cheltenham at this early stage, remain CHACUN POUR SOI at 5/2 for the Champion Chase and SHARJAH at 10/1 for the Champion Hurdle. Again they are both trained in Ireland although this time by Willie Mullins and my continued hope is that the Irish will attend Chel- tenham this year for which they are best priced 1/4 for the Prestbury Cup (only millionaires need apply).


However, the Gold Cup, the blue riband of the whole four days can return to England via SANTINI for Nicky Henderson and 10/1 is a respectable price for a working man.


In the Champion Bumper I was incredibly impressed by EILEENDOVER (oooh aah Vicar!) in a recent race at Market Rasen. Trained by Pam Sly (famous for Speciosa in the 1,000 Guineas from yesteryear) she is available at 12/1. The point about that Market Rasen victory was that the Irish maestro Willie Mullins used that race as a sounding board for his top bumper juveniles and his representative was well trounced. My reading of the situation is that Eileendover may just be on a par with the Mullins’ horses that farm out this race as their own. Take the 12/1 now.


Another recent trial winner was ROYAL PAGAILLE whose target is still to be decided. Whilst the owner (Ricci) often tilts at windmills, the trainer (the fragrant Venetia Williams) does not. Currently available at between 10 and 16/1 for the prestigious Gold Cup I think the ultimate target might be the Festival Novice Chase on the Tuesday where he is available at 6/1.


Other notable hightlights on Cheltenham’s opening day is the Arkle Chase (named after himself) and this year could go to Willie Mullins via the impressive ENERGUMENE at 6/1. In


94 FEBRUARY 2021


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