Jan 25, 2023


2023 is off to a nice start for me, having ridden a few nice winners this month and with some good rides in decent races to look forward to, including some potential runners at the Cheltenham Festival.

CREALION is going to Cheltenham this weekend for Trials Day. He’s a decent horse but he wants good ground. He’ll be competitive in handicaps  and he should be in the mix on Saturday given he's got a nice light weight. Before going to France, this horse had been struggling a bit in English races, but he’s adapted really well to the French style of racing. If he goes well this weekend, the Festival in March will definitely be an objective.

HIP HOP CONTI, who runs again this weekend, won the Prix Maurice Fagalde very nicely a couple of weeks ago. His trainer, Emmanuel Clayeux, likes having a horse for the Cheltenham Festival’s Cross Country Chase, but I’m not sure he’s going to be the one. The horse has won a couple of nice Cross-Country Chases, so never say never, but I’m not entirely convinced this is the horse for the job in the Glenfarclas in March.

I don’t think ST DONATS, who won the Prix Cambaceres in November, will be going to Cheltenham to take up his entry in the Triumph, but he probably won’t be going chasing this year either. He’ll stay over hurdles, going into Group races for four-year-old hurdlers, hopefully aiming at the Alain du Breil.

All being well, one that will be going to Cheltenham in March is ISALINE DE CHANDOU. She’s a four-year-old filly who was third in a Listed Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in December, where she ran well to finish third under Brian Hughes. I know her well now; she’s a really gutsy filly with a lot of speed. She’s tough, travels really well in her races, and keeps progressing. She’s placed in Group hurdles at Auteuil, and will be looking at the Mares’ Novices’ hurdle or the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.

IL EST FRANCAIS is in good form at home. He’s been quietly ticking away through the winter with light training. His first target is in the middle of March and, if all goes to plan, he’ll stay over hurdles for the first part of the season and look to go chasing later on.

A nice horse to keep an eye on this year will be JANEIRO VERDE, who’s from the same trainer as Isaline De Chandou, Donatien Soudeau De Beauregard. He’s a nice five-year-old to look out for who might go chasing this year.

JARDIN D’ARTHEL won well by three and a half lengths at Pau on Wednesday. He’s a nice horse of Emmanuel Clayeux’s and is one to keep an eye in 2023.

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