Keith Donoghue's Mid Season Review

<p>Last week was quiet enough on this side of the Irish Sea so I thought it was the perfect time for a bit of a mid-season review. Just to avoid any trouble, these are all my views only, and I'm sure Gordon and a few others will have different thoughts than me!</p>

Keith Donoghue's Mid Season Review
Keith Donoghue's Mid Season Review

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Novice Hurdlers

The best place to start this review was with the novice hurdlers in the yard. Ballyadam is naturally up first as he's been the most impressive of Gordon's bunch so far. He's 8/1 in places for the Supreme and I really couldn't turn anyone off him at that price. He's getting better with every run and he has a bit of improvement yet to come.

He didn't get the praise that he deserves for that win at Fairyhouse last time either. There was no pace at all in that race and he'd want to be a real machine to win by further than he did. He'll improve a lot for a better pace as he's so quick and I'd really fancy him over 2 miles in novice company against anyone really. It has to be said that this is an odd division this year as apart from him and Ferny Hollow, there isn't much noise around about many.

If Ballyadam does takes his place at Christmas and go on to win, which I think he should, he'll be much shorter than he is now for the Supreme!

You might end up seeing Eskylane and Fakiera at Navan on Friday and these are two novices I think a lot of, I'm just not sure if a novice race at Cheltenham is what either of them want this season. Both are more than good enough to take on horses at the top level, but at the same time both will make into very good chasers in time and we might not want to bottom them out just yet.

Gordon will give them of plenty of experience and time, and that decision can be made later on in the season.

Finally, Farouk D'alene disappointed last time and we couldn't quite figure out what caused it. I'm convinced he's a much better horse than that though and if he bounces back to his best again he might be a bit overpriced at 33/1 or so for the Albert Bartlett.

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Juvenile Hurdlers

We seem to be particularly strong in this division this season, and I took my first look at the ante post markets for Cheltenham for this piece and it's mad that Gordon has the first 3 in the market.

As I said in last week's Q&A column, at the moment I would just about pick Zanahiyr over Quilixios as the former was so impressive last time. Both are very good juveniles though and we will know a lot more over the next few weeks. There really isn't much between them and it remains to be seen what Zanahiyr actually beat last time.

We have a few more to come out yet who could develop into contenders, but Duffle Coat definitely deserves another mention. Adagio franked the form of his win last time and he's now 4/4 for the season.

There is no doubt that Zanahiyr and Quilixios are classier animals, but Duffle Coat is a real stayer and that's a massive bonus for a division like this. There is a circumstance where they go too hard in front and Duffle Coat stays on and goes past everyone.

I certainly wouldn't mind riding him anyway!

Novice Chasers

Obviously there is only one place to start here and its with Envoi Allen and what more can I say?

I genuinely don't think there is a horse in training as good as him, and while the Marsh Chase looks like his target, I'd have no fear taking on Shishkin or Monkfish in an Arkle or the RSA.

Nobody needs me to go on more about Envoi Allen, we're just very lucky to have him.

Felix Desjy will stick over 2 miles and he should improve a lot for that last run. I'm not sure he was 100% on that occasion as he jumped a bit wayward and took an age to get going properly. On the other hand the horse in second, Sizing Pottsie, has franked that form since by winning a major handicap off 149 so it's not bad form at all. He'll only continue to improve and he could cause a shock or two in this division over the season.

He's a staying 2 miler which is a great asset, and while Shishkin is a class horse who could be very special, Felix Desjy might just give him a race in March.

I discussed Easywork and Galvin in last week's Q&A blog, but just to reiterate, I'd love to see Easywork tried over 3 miles. I think he could go very well over this trip and could put it up to anyone if staying, although Monkfish has looked exceptional so far.

Senior Hurdlers

The Champion Hurdle division doesn't look overly deep this year and Epatante is definitely the one to beat. She was brilliant at Newcastle and if she turns up in that mood she'll be very hard to stop. I think because last year wasn't the deepest of renewals she didn't get the praise she deserved on the day, but she is very good.

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As I said last week, I really hope Coeur Sublime will develop into a contender. I can't stress how brilliant this horses' work is, but he's not translating it to the track. Hopefully one day he will and he can show everyone how good he is.

The main challengers at the minute from Ireland seem to be Saint Roi and Abacadbras, and at the moment I'd be convinced that Saint Roi is the main one.

He was the best horse in that race last time and you can understand why people still aren't convinced Abacadabras will get up the hill. Abacadabras was in a way handed the Supreme Novices last year with the carnage that happened and he was still beaten. He's a very good horse though, but still has a bit to prove. Saint Roi needs to step up as well, but he should go very close in this division.

We'll know a lot more after Christmas, but I'd be of the belief that Saint Roi is the one to take onwards.

This year the stayers hurdle looks to be a really strong division doesn't it?

Thyme Hill was unlucky in the Albert Bartlett and was very good last time, Paisley Park is still there, Sire Du Berlais is a big contender, as is Fury Road, and that's before we've even get to last years winner Lisnagar Oscar. It's a really deep division.

I'm still very hopeful that Ronald Pump is improving and can be a big factor. He'll take on Sire Du Berlais at Christmas and I'd be very hopeful of a big run. He's a great horse to be associated with and I'm very excited about him.

Senior Chasers

As I discussed last week, Samcro would be a definite Ryanair contender on the right ground, but Min will be very hard to beat. Samcro is inconsistent overall really, while Min just shows his class every time he runs and that's a huge asset.

The Gold Cup is still very open, but obviously Al Boum Photo is the one to beat. Delta Work will be much more suited to Leopardstown at Christmas as he doesn't seem to produce his best at Cheltenham.

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I'm not sure how well Presenting Percy sees out this trip properly, but he was impressive and is good enough if he can prove my trip doubts wrong. Delta Work will go well at Christmas, but the Savills Chase looks a bit hotter this year with Champ and Minella Indo, who has been really impressive this season.

It's a very hard division to break apart just yet and we might know a lot more after Kempton and Leopardstown at Christmas. If I had to pick one to ride in the race though to take on Al Boum Photo I'd be going for Minella Indo at the minute.

The Storyteller has been brilliant for me and I'm hoping he goes for staying chases like this over the season. I genuinely think with how good a stayer he is that he could grab a place and its now or never really to have a go. Gordon and the owners have a decision to make between Staying Hurdles and Staying Chases and I hope they pick the latter, but obviously its completely up to them.

A Dark Horse To Follow

Of course we can't have a column like this without making a long term prediction. I really like The Bosses Oscar for the Pertemps if he gets qualified, but Column Of Fire could be very interesting for this as well.

You need more than one for this race as its so competitive and they are both very good, but Column Of Fire was also very unlucky in the Martin Pipe last season and he could go very well in a Pertemps if he goes for that, although he'd also be very competitive in a Coral Cup as well.

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