It’s Week 2 on the long road to the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, which means it’s time for our second antepost tip.
More specifically, it’s an exciting novice chaser, who could run this very week, that goes in the book at 20/1.
The Brown Advisory is a race I want to attack early. I’m unconvinced about the quality of this year’s Albert Bartlett, and three of the first four home in the Ballymore are either staying hurdling or injured, so it’s wide-open as far as I’m concerned.
It’s certainly less open after last week’s bombshell that Willie Mullins’ Gaelic Warrior – who was second in the Ballymore – is going chasing, despite previous reports that a Stayers’ Hurdle campaign was on the cards.
I like him a lot and he’s a fair favourite (6/1) at time of writing, but he’s not bombproof. His desire to jump right at every obstacle remains an issue, and it’s well-documented that he’s struggled with back issues in the past. Six-year-olds also have a poor record in the race, with just one winner – namely Don Poli in 2015 – from the last 17 runnings.
You know who don’t have a bad record in the race? British-based trainers, who’ve won seven of the last 10 renewals renewals. That brings me to Giovinco, for the brilliant Lucinda Russell.
The son of Walk In The Park was bought for £85,000 after winning a PTP at Dromahane in November last year, and then recorded a facile hat-trick over hurdles in the space of just over four weeks in the spring.
While ultra-impressive on the eye, he probably didn’t beat much over middle distances at Ayr and Carlisle, but his performance in a Listed race, on his first attempt over three miles, at Carlisle in late April was seriously impressive.
He didn’t beat nothing that day. The runner-up was rated 135 and Paul Nicholls’ Makin’yourmindup, who was 13/8f, won a Grade 2 at Haydock a couple of months prior.
The way he pulled 12+ lengths clear of his rivals without even coming off the bridle was seriously impressive, marking him as an almighty prospect for the new season – especially for a yard who excel with staying chasers.
Time is precious regarding this selection, as he’s currently entered for a potentially warm novices’ chase at Carlisle on Thursday. It’s hard to say if he’ll turn up, as G1-winning stablemate Apple Away also has an entry, but if he does, and wins, he’ll shorten dramatically.