Festival Notebook – 3 dark horses?

L'Homme Presse came home by 10 widening lengths from The Glancing Queen on New Years Day at Cheltenham. He is being touted for the Cheltenham Festival in March, so what of his chances? He beat a very likeable mare in The Glancing Queen who herself did nothing wrong, jumping well and travelling equally as well but she was no match for L''Homme Presse. The race was at Cheltenham so we have one box ticked for the track. He did take a while to get to grips with the fences but once warmed up jumped well enough. He was rated 148 before the race and the Handicapper has put himup to 154. We can now compare the time with a race run on the same day at the same course and distance. Vienna Court beat Simply The Betts by 1.75 lengths in the feature race just 35 minutes later in a time nearly 1 second slower than L'Homme Presse who also carried 11lb more. The problem facing the horse at the festival is the strength of the opposition, if he goes for the Turner's Novice he will probably face Bob Olinger and if going for the Festival Novice he may face Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame but will go for one of those two races? He couId go for the Brown Advisory and has an entry for the race so it is certainly worth monitoring closer to the Festival who goes in which race. L'Homme Presse to my eyes would need to improve a good few pounds to be competitive with the Mullins hopes... but there is certainly hope.
And here is one that may turn up in the Pertemps Handicap Final at the Festival. Horses that run in the Pertemps Network qualifier in December have a very good record in the final at the festival, not particularly the winner, but one that has placed somewhere near. Last years winner Mrs Milner finished 4th , 2019 winner Sire Du Berlais who also won the race again in 2020 was 6th in the qualifier before his first win. Dunboyne is another horse like Sire Du Berlais he is trained by Gordon Elliot and ran 5th in this years qualifier at Leopardstown. Dunboyne stumbled just before two out and was also hampered by a loose horse at the final turn but still ran on very well to finish 5th. He was travelling better than most when making that stumble two out but it (maybe fortunately) put paid to any winning chance he might of had. He may not even turn up at the Festival because he still needs to go up a good few pounds in the ratings, but he should go in your tracker and keep a close eye on him in the future. If he does get into the Pertemps Final he would be of plenty of interest especially if Sire du Berlais runs and compresses the weights.
A Willie Mullins horse that has slipped under the Cheltenham festival radar? Poppycock I hear you cry, but this one may just be a little overpriced, at least at the moment.The Irish do seem to always come up with one to beat the best of the home team, and it does look a strong home team in the novice hurdle division this season with Constitution Hill and Jonbon at the head of the Supreme Novice Hurdle market. So what of this Mullins horse? El Fabiolo was bought from France after showing plenty of promise in a Listed Hurdle at Auteuil over 2 miles 2 furlongs on very soft ground where he finished 3rd just tiring a !little on hurdle debut and beaten three lengths.  He made his debut for Willie Mullins at Tramore beating stable mate Tempo Chapter Two by 13 widening lengths being eased at the finish on heavy ground. Willie Mullins was quoted has saying he is up there with Penhill, Saint Roi and Laurina who all won there maiden hurdles at Tramore, high praise indeed. The site stats suggest that El Fabiolo will be equally or even more effective in better ground than he has faced on to date. He is entered up at the Dublin Racing Festival in the Ireland Novice Hurdle which is a Grade One over 2 miles. He is also entered up in the Supreme at the Festival for which he is best priced 20/1 with Betfair, Paddy Power and Skybet. He is also entered in the Ballymore and is 25/1 for that with bet365 and Unibet. If he wins at Leopardstown his price will undoubtedly tumble for both races, probably to single figures.

Best wishes
the team at Cleeve