Nicky Henderson’s chaser teams up with Mick Fitzgerald to form a powerful combination at Cheltenham
Marlborough returns to his favourite track for a belated reappearance in Saturday’s Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham.
Nicky Henderson’s chaser has already won the National Hunt Handicap Chase at the Festival and the Chubb Chase round Cheltenham and, with Mick Fitzgerald on board, makes for a pretty potent force over the Prestbury Park fences.
Marlborough will be vying for Cheltenham Gold Cup favouritism if he can maintain the winning form which saw him unbeaten in three races last season.
Henderson has always insisted that Fitzgerald’s restraining tactics have been the making of Marlborough, who has had his debut delayed by an operation on a trapped epiglotis before Christmas.
The horse is back in rude health and Barry Simpson, racing manager to Marlborough’s owner Sir Robert Ogden, believes he is in better form than at any stage of his life.
Lord Noelie, fourth under 12st behind What’s Up Boys in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, won the Sun Alliance Chase at the Festival two years ago, while Cyfor Malta made a winning comeback after injury on that same Hennessy card at Newbury.
With Rince Ri travelling over from Ireland and Paris Pike fully recovered from the lameness, which caused him to be pulled up last time, this will be a full-blown Gold Cup rehearsal. Marlborough is expected to throw down a serious challenge for steeplechasing’s Blue Riband.
Turgeonev, so impressive in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, steps up to 2m 5f in the Ladbroke Trophy and could still prove too strong for Foly Pleasant and Lady Cricket, who represents the Martin Pipe-Tony McCoy combination.
France’s big hope for the Triumph Hurdle Tempo d’Or, trained near Bordeaux by Guillaume Macaire, attempts to follow up his Chepstow win in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.But he may find Jonjo O’Neill’s recent Warwick winner Quazar too tough a nut to crack.
Rodock’s confidence returned with great gusto at Haydock last Saturday and he should provide Pipe and McCoy with their usual Saturday success in the Byrne Bros Cleeve Hurdle.
At Doncaster Moor Lane, who made a winning return from injury at Newbury earlier this month, may be best in a tricky race for the Great Yorkshire Chase.