With two weeks until the Cheltenham Festival gets underway, the Off The Fence team take aim at the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the Coral Cup.
Host Vanessa Ryle is back alongside former Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey Barry Geraghty and racing expert Tony Keenan for a look at the latest big-race clues.
Keenan was particularly taken by the performance of the Emmet Mullins-trained Corbetts Cross in the Grade Two Johnstown Novice Hurdle at Naas on Sunday as the six-year-old defied a significant drop down in trip (two miles) to beat the useful Found A Fifty.
Corbetts Cross holds just one entry currently at the Festival, over three miles in the Albert Bartlett, and Keenan believes his current price of 5/1 is still great value.
Keenan said: “I cannot stress how amazing this performance was and I couldn’t be any more positive about this horse.
“For Found A Fifty, you couldn’t have found a better race in the calendar, but Corbetts Cross was able to lay into him, travel with him without a problem and then get the better of him in the straight.
“There is no other horse in the Albert Bartlett field that could do that – they’d be run over.”
Geraghty was also impressed with the performance, but had a note of caution about whether the horse will line-up in the Albert Bartlett.
“That’s what I’ve been waiting to see from an Albert Bartlett contender because they’ve been running around beating each other and not by far,” Geraghty said.
“We’ve been waiting for something to put their head above water and he’s now standing waist high above everything at this stage.
“They’ve mentioned they might supplement him for other races though and the going is a concern so that could come into play. The Ballymore could be an option if they go that way.”
In focus: Coral Cup picks!
Geraghty and Keenan also nominated a Coral Cup selection ahead of the handicap weights being released this week.
Geraghty said: “The one I’m going to mention is Run For Oscar. He was third at Haydock on soft ground and won the Cesarewitch on good ground before that.
“He has a mark in England of 145 so that’s worth bearing in mind. He has better form on better ground and is in the Coral Cup so I’d be keeping an eye on him for that.”
Keenan, meanwhile, likes one from the Jessica Harrington team. “One I’ve had in mind for a while in the Coral Cup is The Very Man,” he said.
“I think he’s been running over a trip that’s too far for him in recent starts and has dropped down in the weights.
“He’s done very little wrong then won nicely at Punchestown last time. He’s going there with a decent chance and will hopefully be a nice price on the day.”