Cheltenham Countdown: Dark Horses

Champagne Fever – A Willie Mullins bumper horse. ‘Enough said’, I hear you say. Always well regarded after his Point to Point win, he finished second to Thomas Eddison (subsequently bought by JP Mcmanus) at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Since then, he bolted up at Fairyhouse. Heading the betting for the Bumper at 10/1, he could go off a lot shorter on the day.

Our Father – David Pipe always targets handicaps at the Festival and this could be another potential 'blot'. Having won his handicap debut off 129 at Ascot very cheekily, he could be open to more improvement and is currently 12/1 for the Pertemps (usually stable mate Buena Vista’s season long target).

Minsk – Probably the most exciting novice hurdler around and he has yet to even run as of yet. Dessie Hughes' 4-year-old cruised through to win the Irish Cesarewitch effortlessly at the back end of last year. He has a big reputation and could be out in the middle of February to sharpen up for the Triumph. Dessie, a veteran on the trainers’ circuit, describes him as 'potentially the best I have trained' – quite a statement.

Vendor – Alan King's juvenile has ran only once (scored a soft ground Newbury Hurdle) in this country, but has some solid soft ground form in France and may be well treated once the weights come out. The Fred Winter is always a plot race so keep an eye out.

These dark horses could be household names in Mid March. The Cheltenham Countdown continues...

Article submitted by Rob Holmes.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of

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