With just a week until the start of the Cheltenham Festival (14-17 March), yards up and down the country are putting in the finishing touches to their big race preparations. But there’s one horse who has just come into the reckoning for a very valuable bonus…
Cheltenham Festival one to watch: Cormier
The Brian Ellison-trained Cormier (pictured above with red cap), a six-year-old by Born To Sea out of Scotch Bonnet (by Montjeu), could land his connections a £100,000 bonus if he follows up on his recent Kelso success with victory at the Cheltenham Festival next week.
Jockey Sean Quinlan piloted the gelding to a one-and-a-half-length victory in the Bet365 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso on Saturday (5 March) which put him in for a shot at the sponsor’s £100,000 bonus on offer for any horse winning Kelso’s prestigious hurdle and a race at the Cheltenham Festival.
The bonus was won last year when the Emmet Mullins-trained The Shunter, then owned by Paul Byrne and ridden at the Cheltenham Festival by Jordan Gainford, followed up on an impressive win in the Morebattle at Kelso with victory in the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
Cormier has the option of two hurdle races at the Cheltenham Festival – Wednesday’s Coral Cup or Friday’s County Hurdle.
Slightly disappointingly, a low sun meant only four hurdles were jumped in the Kelso race, but this proved no problem for Cormier, a regular winner on the Flat.
“This horse used to be very keen when we first got him, but he’s settled now,” said Brian Ellison. “If anything, he got there too early but he tries. Taking out the hurdles didn’t bother him. Cheltenham will be different, but we know he acts round there [he won there in January]. Whether he’s good enough doesn’t matter, he’s won a £100,000 race and Dan Gilbert, his part-owner, lives just down the road from Cheltenham.”
Taking second at Kelso was Saint D’Oroux, ridden by Ben Bromley, with the Skelton team third with Faivoir. The contest also boasted the returning two-time Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air from the Nicky Henderson stables, who came home ninth of the 11 runners under top weight with Nico de Boinville in the saddle.
- Read the full report from Kelso, Newbury and Doncaster in the next issue of Horse & Hound, in the shops on 10 March.
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.