The Cheltenham Festival will certainly be different for us all this year but we will nevertheless enjoy supporting a decent number of runners by our stallions Kayf Tara and Schiaparelli.
We were disappointed to hear on Friday morning that Grade 1-winning hurdler Thyme Hill, who was bred here at Overbury, has been ruled out of the Stayers’ Hurdle with a minor muscular issue. We wish his trainer Philip Hobbs and his owners the best of luck in getting him to his intended target at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Kayf Tara still has plenty of other chances at the Festival, however, including Master Tommytucker, who is entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday. A productive season for the Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old has seen him win three times, including the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton at Christmas, taking his tally to six wins from 12 runs.
Another 10-year-old with six wins to his credit is Admiral’s Secret, who is entered for Tuesday’s Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase as well as the Grade 3 Paddy Power Plate on Thursday.
Kayf Tara celebrated his first ever Cheltenham Festival winner when Kayf Aramis romped to victory in the Pertemps Final in 2009, and he has two chances of being responsible for the winner of that same race this year as both Southfield Harvest and No Comment hold entries for the Grade 3 contest.
Treble winner Edwardstone is entered in the Grade 3 County Hurdle for his owner/breeders Robert Aubrey and Ian Thurtle, while another owner/breeder, John Studd, will be hoping for a further big run from his consistent hunter-chaser Porlock Bay, who has finished in the first two in 10 of his last 11 races and is set to line up for the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase on Friday.
Schiaparelli will also be represented in the ‘amateurs’ Gold Cup’ by the 11-time winner Salvatore, who comes into the race in good form off the back of two victories this season, including the Scottish Foxhunter Chase at Musselburgh.
Fans of Schiaparelli’s son Ronald Pump were dealt a blow when it was revealed that he would miss this year’s Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle, having finished second in the race last year. However, the Schiaparelli team is set to include last year’s Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle winner Indefatigable, who is entered for the Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
The Heather Main-trained dual winner Numitor has a pair of Grade 1 entries in the Arkle and the Marsh Brothers Novices’ Chase, and Schiaparelli could also be represented the day after the Festival in the Midlands Grand National by Benevolentdictator.