Cheltenham 2020 Vision: Let’s get started…

With one Festival still warm in the memory, let’s consider a playful yankee for 2020 based a little on what we saw last week…

The Yearly Yankee:

Minella Indo, (RSA Chase), 20/1 

Improved dramatically to be a surprise winner of the Albert Bartlett, but it looked no fluke.  A physically imposing horse, he travelled freely near the front and still stayed on really well.  He jumps hurdles like a chaser in the making, and with Paisley Park standing in the way of any staying hurdle aspirations, a novice chasing career beckons.  If he chases as well as he hurdles, then this will surely be the target and the odds are twice what I would expect.

Defi Du Seuil, (Ryanair), 10/1

Tempting as it is to pick one of our heroes Frodon to defend, his brave all the way success was still significantly slower than Defi’s win an hour earlier in the JLT.  Connections resisted the Arkle with Defi, and with Le Richebourg likely to be aimed at the Champion for the same owner, and the Gold Cup likely to be too far, this seems the logical target and again he looks several points too big.  Altior would be a testing opponent, but surely his connections won’t feel the need to add a Ryanair to his sequence of Champion wins.

Paisley Park, (Stayers Hurdle),  7/2

It’s good yankee strategy to have a banker in the mix and this defending champion looks banker material.  Was never better than at the finish in victory this year, may still be improving and looks like injury is the single biggest threat in a race that is rich with repeat winners.

Santini, (Gold Cup), 12/1

History suggests the previous season’s RSA provides roughly half of all Gold Cup winners, and this year’s classic finish between Delta Work, Santini, and winner Topofthegame suggests they could all be players on the big stage in 2020.  Topofthegame was the worthy winner and Nicholls has no equal in finding more improvement, however Santini looks the most likely to be suited by the stiffer Gold Cup course and extra distance.  Considering he missed his prep race because of the equine flu, and was standing in his box with a poulticed foot for a week before the festival, there is cause enough to think a fit and well prepped Santini can prevail even before adding the benefits of the greater stamina test.

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