Day 3 of the Festival is kicked off by the 2m 4f Turners Novices’ Chase Grade 1 race. This race has Mighty Potter heading the market and was deemed to be one of the ‘bankers’ of the week.
This race hasn’t been won by any real superstar in the last three years, even though they were all touted for big things.
Samcro won it in 2020, his form soon fell off a cliff after winning this. Similar comments can be applied to Chantry House, the 2021 winner. Bob Olinger won it in 2022, albeit in fortunate circumstances, and he looks like a Grade 3 horse at best these days.
I personally think it will be hard to beat the favourite in this…
Cheltenham 1:30 – Mighty Potter 10/11 (2pt)
I don’t think this race is very competitive. I think if the ground was drying it would make it more interesting, but we’re expecting a few millimetres of rain from now till the start of racing, so the track should remain soft.
Appreciate It was always deemed to be a top-class horse by the racing public and it was echoed through the Mullins camp throughout the year. He was a very good bumper horse and a very smart Novice Hurdler, which saw him win the 2021 Supreme by 24L. He’s a horse who has clearly had issues, as he was off the track for a year before he made his return in last year’s Champion Hurdle when he was touted to be the big challenger to Honeysuckle. He bombed out in that race, but he has made an encouraging start to his chase career. He won his first two races over fences, both races he shouldn’t have lost, beating horses inferior to him. I thought he was poor at Leopardstown last time around at the DRF. The form has been franked by the winner, El Fabiolo, but I don’t think he is gagging for today’s trip. He was passed by Banbridge late on in that race, who was miles behind when jumping the last. I couldn’t back him.
Speaking of Banbridge, if the ground was quicker, he’d be a live player in this. I was still tempted on backing him even on ground which doesn’t look to suit as he is a very nice horse who runs well at Cheltenham. He won the Martin Pipe last year when he was the Graded horse in the handicap. He has done alright over fences, winning a couple, but he was put firmly in his place by Mighty Potter at Fairyhouse on soft ground, and that was enough for me to think he might struggle to reverse that form.
Mighty Potter is a short-priced favourite, which doesn’t mean he’s a certified banker, as we saw with Gerri Colombe yesterday who burnt my fingers! However, he is the best horse in the race and if he gets a clear round of jumping, he should be deemed as close as you can possibly get to a banker at the Festival. He is unbeaten over fences and was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, there’s a lot to like about him. He seems to handle this ground nicely and has the cruising speed which I think is needed. His jumping has been sketchy, and he probably will make a mistake on the way around, but I think he is a fair bit better than this field. As long as he doesn’t make a massive blunder, this race is his.
We’ve seen over the years that the Novice races will more than likely always go to the Irish. This week has been no different and I couldn’t be backing Stage Star in this. He is a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, and he won a nice race off 12 stone last time out, doing it better than the winning margin would suggest, but people thought Tahmuras and Hermes Allen would be competitive in their novice races, and they were absolutely battered. People might get ahead of themselves and think because he won the handicap off top weight last time out, he has a chance, but he fumbled the bag at Newbury in a Grade 2 earlier this season when losing to Sebastopol, who in fairness isn’t anywhere near the Irish horses in this. I couldn’t see him in the places, but now I’ve said that he’ll go on and win.