Harry Senior books Cheltenham Festival date
Aside from the main events at Cheltenham on Saturday, there were also a few other pointers for the March festival at the same meeting and Doncaster. Most notable among the other races was the performance in Harry Senior in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Prestbury Park and the indications for his plans in several weeks.
Trained by Colin Tizzard, the 6-year-old gelding raced three times over hurdles before finally winning at Chepstow over 2m3f back in late December. The extra distance that day proved to be in his favour.
When winning over an extended 2m4f trip on Saturday, Harry Senior was racing strongly at the end as he won by over two lengths from King Roland. Staying up the Cheltenham hill and extending his lead suggests that he will be a major player at the festival but there are signs that he could feature in the longer Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle where stamina is more of a key element.
Harry Senior will be difficult to beat in whichever race he is declared which may not be the case for Galahad Request who won the JCB Triumph Trial Hurdle at the same meeting. Just under four lengths separated the first four horses in that race and while winning on the track is a plus sign for the forthcoming festival, there appeared to be little threat from those horses to current ante-post favourites Goshen and Aspire Tower.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Lady Buttons won her third race from four starts this season when claiming the Mare’s Hurdle race at Doncaster over an extended two miles. In a slowly run race, the Philip Kirby trained mare arrived with a late surge to claim a three lengths victory but future plans remain fluid for this versatile horse.
Connections are still keen to race in the Queen Mother Champion Chase which appears to be a more open contest this year, and that could be a viable option after finishing only fourth in the 2m4f OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at last season’s festival. It may be a case of wait and see for the stable star who is now 10-years-old.