Continuing my review of the recent Cheltenham Festival, I will look at the remainder of the novice races, then the "graded" races, and finally scan the handicaps.
This years National Hunt (NH) Chase over 3m6f was disappointing for me, as I had advised Mahler Mission as an eachway antepost wager at 9/1 and he looked to be romping away with the race when falling 2-out. There's a chance he could have been caught, but more "judges" than me reckon he wouldn't - we will never know for sure, although the results of his next few races should indicate whether he had the stamina to stay on or not. Certainly, the eventual 2nd Chemical Energy ran out of steam on the run-in, having been given a sympathetic ride by JJ Codd. The winner, Gaillard Du Mesnil stayed-on well but he'd been under a hard-drive from 4-out and I don't think he ran much better than when 3rd in the "Broadway" Novices Chase in 2022 to L'Homme Presse. As such, I can't see him making much of an impression in Grade 1 chases over 3-mile next season. I'm going to give Mahler Mission a provisional rating of 158 for this run, and assume he could have won by 3-lengths. What we have to note is the result of his previous race when 2nd beaten under a length by Churchstonewarrior as that one goes next for the Irish National and looks well-handicapped on OR147 should he run. Also make a note of the 3rd, Flanking Maneuver as that was his debut chase off a 2-year break and he was only btn just over a length. He surely "bounced" NTO, and that drop in trip to 2m4f probably didn't suit either; but he's worth keeping an eye on.
The final nail in my antepost portfolio came in the Brown Advisory (Broadway) Novices' Chase over 3-mile, when antepost wager Gerri Colombe just failed by a short-head to catch The Real Whacker. I had an interest in two horses in this race, the other being Thyme Hill who was disappointing (trainer reported he lost his jumping confidence). Connections of The Real Whacker had considered a Gold Cup entry after he'd won the "Dipper" Chase on 1st Jan, and he'd surely have been well outclassed in that race; but he was placed well in this given an enterprising ride by his jockey. He looks to be an adaptable horse who could return here next year with either the Ryanair or the Gold Cup as his target - if he were mine, I'd be looking at the former (as Albertas Run did when twice winning the Ryanair after taking the "Broadway"). As for Gerri Colombe, he looks destined for the top-table over 3-miles in Grade 1 races, as he probably should have won this race - although he did lack pace coming down the hill and was under a hard-drive for a long way. He looks a horse who will appreciate the 3m2f of the Gold Cup, but maybe 3-mile may be too sharp for him. The big surprise of the race was Bronn, just a 6yo and at the longest odds (50/1) of the 5 (yes, five) Willie Mullins runners. The horse never missed a beat, and it was only 150 yards from the line that he faltered. I will be surprised if he runs again this season as this was a tough race for him, and as he's been given a rating of just OR150 he could pick up a valuable handicap chase in the autumn. Unfortunately for Sir Gerhard the 3-mile trip found him out. He was very "raw" with his jumping, and his ability and brute strength took him into a challenging position before 2-out, just before his stamina gave-out. He's entered for the 2m4f Grade 1 Novices Chase as Fairyhouse on 09April, and he could be very interesting if lining-up for that race. If not, he could be a Ryanair Chase horse next season, but he does need to improve his jumping.