Frazzled emerges from wherever he has been hiding and looks ahead to Thursday at Cheltenham, with Sinoria the first of the bets as they change to the more stamina sapping course for the next two days.
This race presents what looks to be one of the best bets of the festival in the shape of the Henry De Bromhead trained Sinoria and has actually forced this writer out of retirement to try and let others back in the winnings or share his considerable pain.
The front of the market is headed by the Nicky Henderson trained Epatante who excites most observers as a mare of potentially the highest class. However it is difficult to rate her based on two UK victories against dreadful opposition and where in the Kempton race she did just about everything wrong before her class allowed her to win cosily. She was a very decent "bumper" performer in France, winning a moderate race at Lion D'Angers before winning what is a traditionally strong race at Saint Cloud, but looked weaker than normal when she won it. The fact that she was bought from such high profile owners, might also be perceived as a negative but with the free reign that some of the JP reps now have in France, it is hard to conclude on the sale, given that some silly money may have changed hands.
Epatante could prove to be a very high class mare, but she looks short enough based on what she has achieved. The stronger pace may well help her settle, but could also expose her in this better company and she is passed over.
Posh Trish is next in the betting and we will be quicker in summarising her chances. She is an admirable little mare who has a great win to run ratio and looks to have plenty of pace, but she makes no appeal whatsoever. Since being outstayed by Queenpofhearts and stuffed at Aintree, she has traded wins with Lust For Glory and then won two egg and spoon races before being roughed off and kept for this. She should travel well enough through the race but will be found out up the hill.
The main reason that we are dismissive of the front of the market is that Sinoria looks like a really high class mare, who has yet to show exactly what she can do in a high class contest on a left handed track where her class can come to the fore. An Oscar half sister to Minella Rocco and the very useful bumper performer Pressgang, she is from an outstanding family and it's easy to see why Kenny Alexander added her to his talented team of mares. After winning, despite being so green at Borris House, she made a hugely encouraging track debut at Gowran when she still looked badly in need of the experience, but finished strongly under tender handing behind Ballyneety.
She then built on that display when stepped up to 2.5 miles at Christmas, when winning in a common canter at Down Royal and then defied the drop back to 2 miles and considerable market weakness on the Sunday at Punchestown when this author was unfortunately watching Monaghan defy considerable market confidence against Galway at Inniskeen.
Sinoria was never really considered for this contest it seems, as Honeysuckle seemed to be the stable choice. However as a setback to Honeysuckle has opened the door for Sinoria and she looks primed to take full advantage. There is no question that she will be better suited by a longer trip and if this race was over the same distance as the Mares hurdle, she would carry an even greater level of confidence. However Sinoria appeals as a potentially very high class mare, who will love the Cheltenham hill and she rates as a very solid bet at the current 8/1. Honeysuckle was set to be much shorter than this and Sinoria couild actually be a better mare than her stricken stablemate.
Willie Mullins has a batallion entered in this, with My Sister Sarah the strongest in the market. However she might be better served by sharper flatter tracks. Buildmeupbuttercup could be a big price based on her hurdling debut, if we can forgive her most recent outing, but the mare of interest is Eglantine Du Seuil. She is a mare bred for stamina, who was never going to be seen to best effect around the sharp Irish tracks in August and September last year, but posted a very decent display behind Aramon at Listowel in September. She might be one for the future but could make appeal in some of the side markets tomorrow.
2 points each way Sinoria at 8/1 with Bet365