Cheltenham Festival: Concertista to miss Dublin Racing Festival ahead of Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase target | Racing News


Concertista looks set to head straight for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, according to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s racing manager Anthony Bromley.

The eight-year-old mare is a previous winner at The Festival, landing the 2020 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in stunning fashion by a dozen lengths.

But she couldn’t back that up in last season’s Mares’ Hurdle when the 10/11 favourite, going down by a head to Black Tears, then trained by Denise Foster.

Concertista leaves Darrens Hope in behind at Limerick
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Concertista leaves Darrens Hope in behind at Limerick last time out

She was underwhelming at the subsequent Punchestown Festival but looks to have taken to the larger obstacles, bagging a pair of Grade Two novice chases when seeing off the likes of Jeremys Flame and Darrens Hope at Cork and Limerick respectively.

That has set her up for a tilt at the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham in March, avoiding a clash with the geldings at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“She might go straight to Cheltenham,” Bromley said. “There’s no mares only options in February and if we take on the geldings we face all the superstars Willie has got already.

“So I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t go straight to Cheltenham for the Mares’ Chase.

“We did put a back-up entry in for the Mares’ Hurdle but that’s all it is, a back-up plan.

“We are going chasing and the thinking is the Mares’ Chase but we might just have to go there.”

Blue Lord heads for ‘very strong’ Irish Arkle

Exciting novice chaser Blue Lord is expected to run in the Dublin Racing Festival against stablemate Ferny Hollow, having impressed in his two chase starts to date.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a very strong Irish Arkle – maybe as strong as the English one will be in March.

“He’ll take his chance as long as everything goes right in his training prior to that.

Blue Lord and Paul Townend on their way to winning for trainer Willie Mullins and owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
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Blue Lord and Paul Townend on their way to winning for trainer Willie Mullins and owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

“Willie has got a Nap hand in the two-mile chase division with four or five horses in there that could all run.

“You haven’t got many options in Ireland and you are forced down a narrow alleyway – you either take the race at the Dublin Racing Festival or you wait until Cheltenham.

“So I suspect we’ll be taking on Ferny Hollow and maybe Haut En Coloeurs at Leopardstown but we are really excited about it.

“He’s a lightly-raced horse and we think he’s a better chaser than hurdler although he was a good hurdler.

“He would’ve been second in the Supreme but for hitting the top of the last hurdle and coming down.”

Sky’s the limit for El Fabiolo

Impressive Tramore maiden hurdle winner El Fabiolo isn’t certain to run at the Dublin Racing Festival, with trainer Willie Mullins boasting a whole host of potential runners for the two-mile Grade One novice hurdle.

“I don’t know [if he will run]. I think Willie has got 11 entered in the Grade One two-mile novice hurdle of which all of them deserve a shot at a Grade One but I’m not sure he’ll find 11 jockeys to ride them!

“But we’ll see. The race programme in Ireland forces you down these streets and whilst I like to think he’ll have a crack at it, he might be fourth or fifth string because they’ve got a very strong bunch of two-mile novices.

“Once you’ve won your maiden hurdle you are forced into a Graded hurdle and for us it’s the Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival next.

“We’ll see closer to declaration time what Willie wants to do. We’d like to see him in the race but whether it’s too many steps up the ladder I don’t know.

“He did look a phenomenal horse at Tramore but I’m not sure he beat much so you can’t get carried away.

“He looks a smart horse for the future as he only had one run in France before that run at Tramore so the sky’s the limit for him.”

Raffles to line up at Ascot or Cheltenham

Nicky Henderson’s Fusil Raffles could line up at Ascot this weekend if the ground dries out enough, with Cheltenham Trials Day another option for the Grade One-winning seven-year-old.

“He ran a cracker at Cheltenham in December and only just cried too much late on. He’s got a big handicap chase in him off 151 and we’ve put him in at Ascot on Saturday and we are tempted to run him if it dries out enough.

Fusil Raffles takes the Charlie Hall Chase
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Fusil Raffles takes the Charlie Hall Chase after the fall of Shan Blue

“The other option is to wait until Trials Day at Cheltenham as there’s a £100,000 handicap chase over two-and-a-half miles but I’ve just got a feeling that the Ascot race might cut up a bit more.

“He’ll run either this or next weekend but we’ve just got to see about the ground.”

Sceau Royal could skip Cheltenham after Game Spirit

Sceau Royal is to return over fences in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next month, with a question mark around his participation at Cheltenham in favour of a Grade One tilt at Aintree.

“Sceau Royal has had a great season over hurdles but now it’s time to go chasing and he’ll run in the Game Spirit at Newbury.

WINCANTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Daryl Jacob riding Sceau Royal clear the last to win The Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton Racecourse on November 06, 2021 in Wincanton, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
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Daryl Jacob riding Sceau Royal clear the last to win the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton

“Then we’ll decide whether he goes for the Champion Chase or if we wait for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One at Aintree.

“We might just swerve this year’s Champion Chase but if he wins well at Newbury we might just be tempted in again.”





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