Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Novice Hurdlers, Hardline & Tiger Roll

Cheltenham Festival winning jockey Keith Donoghue is back and this week he discusses Tiger Roll's progress, Hardline and gives his verdict on Gordon Elliott's novice hurdlers heading to the Cheltenham Festival.

Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Novice Hurdlers, Hardline & Tiger Roll

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We're nearly there, the Cheltenham Festival is only over two weeks away. The final pieces of work are being done with the horses at home and it's a great time of the year in a stable - nobody has lost yet and hopes are high!

Tiger Roll

We brought Tiger Roll and Out Sam over to school over the Cross Country fences at Cheltenham on Friday and it went very well. Tiger was a bit safe early on over the first few, which is to be expected as he hadn't jumped them in nearly a year, but he warmed up as he went on and I was delighted with him.



That run at Navan has done him the world of good, we hoped it would wake him up and it definitely did - he's half mad now after it! It's is a great sign of him when he's as lively as he is now, as you really know he's in a good place when he's knocking rails over and generally acting up.

He seems to be back flying again and he'll only need a bit more work now before the festival as he's not the type of horse who needs loads of galloping. It's always more of a mental game with Tiger Roll as he finds his work easy and his two trips away from the yard now have done him the world of good.

Roll on two weeks time!


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Hardline

I rode Hardline to finish 3rd behind Any Second Now and Articulum on Sunday and I was happy with the run behind two good horses. He's not a 2 miler really as he doesn't jump quick enough and he doesn't have the gears either to really get himself properly into contention. There isn't many races for him over two and a half miles, so he is a hard horse to place really.

I think he's definitely worth trying over three miles and he might be heading for the Aintree Bowl next which I think would suit him great.

I still think there's another big one in him.

Envoi Is Something Very Special

I worked Envoi Allen this morning and his work was superb. Between the Royal Bond and Naas he had fallen asleep at home really and had an easy time of it overall as we were building him up towards the spring. Similar to Tiger Roll, he has really woken up since that race and he's been brilliant in his work since. He needed that last run, had a good blow after it and is really bouncing now ahead of Cheltenham.

I see on Twitter a few pundits looking to take him on and somewhat knocking his form which I think is ridiculous. His bumper form is seriously deep, he needed that last run and the Royal Bond is the strongest piece of novice form out there. He beat Abacadabras, a horse we think an awful lot of, and Darver Star was in third who himself nearly won the Irish Champion Hurdle.



I've said this several times this year - Envoi Allen is the best horse I've sat on, he really is something very special. He seems to be flying at the minute and the only way I could be happier with him is if I was riding him at Cheltenham myself!

He'll have 2 or 3 more pieces of work before he heads over and I really wouldn't be advising anyone to be tipping against him!


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Abacadabras

Abacadabras will head for the Supreme and while I wouldn't be as bullish about his chances as I would be about Envoi Allen, he definitely has a big say here. Jack Kennedy was always raving about this horse after his races and thinks he's very good.

I can understand why some people are knocking the form of the races he has won, but he can only beat what's in front of him and that was a huge effort in the Royal Bond behind Envoi Allen.

Some pundits seem to be suggesting that Darver Star would've finished ahead of him in that race, but I don't agree at all. Darver Star didn't have the best of trips of course, but jumping two out they are close enough to each other, but Abacadabras, who was wide out himself, showed a brilliant turn of foot and skipped away. As I've already said, Darver Star backs that form up and it's very strong.

His jumping has been getting better with each run, he's very quick and he has a lot of talent. On the negative side though he would prefer better ground than what it is now. He handles soft ground, but it blunts his speed somewhat and that would affect his chances.



I have no fear about him getting up the hill as he got up there just fine last year in the Champion Bumper, he just took on Envoi Allen turning in and was left in his wake. He got up the hill absolutely fine though, he was just beaten by better horses on the day. It also has to be remembered how immature he was last year overall, the summer did him the world of good and he really grew up.

I think Abacadabras has plenty of stamina for this race, overall it will suit him just fine and I can't see him finishing outside of the first three - but I'd just be worried there might be a better horse in there than him on the day. Asterion Forlonge really impressed me at the Dublin Racing Festival and I think he has a serious chance in this for Willie Mullins.

Abacadabras definitely has his chance of winning the Supreme and he's a great one to have for the yard so early in the week. Saying I'm not as confident about him as I am in Envoi Allen is not that bad a thing really!

Fury Road A Lively Outsider

As readers will know, I had Fury Road in my 10 to follow for the season and despite being disappointed in him last time, it's probably best to write that last run off. He just had an off day and didn't like the ground either at Leopardstown. He's still a very good horse and goes into the Albert Bartlett with a live chance.



Now he has to improve to get up to Latest Exhibition who's a very good horse and I think that horse will be really well suited to Cheltenham. It's great to see Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper with a good one and his chances have to be massively respected at Cheltenham. Paul and Gordon would be good friends and I don't think anyone would begrudge them a festival winner.

I just wouldn't be at all surprised if we saw a much, much better Fury Road back on softer ground and up to 3 miles at the festival. As I said, he needs to improve, but he might!


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