Boodles Hurde Tips – Irish Riviere Looks Beautiful For Elliott

A wonderful view of the runners in the Boodles Handicap Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

A wonderful view of the runners in the Boodles Handicap Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

2021 Boodles Hurdle Tips

It’s the last of Daniel Overall’s Cheltenham Festival odyssey and he ends it with the trick Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, which is often referred to as the Fred Winter.

Boodles Hurdle overview

Now run on the opening day, the Fred Winter can be a nightmarish puzzle to solve; which isn’t too surprising given that you’re dealing with a large field of unexposed juveniles. Six of the last nine winners were 25/1 or bigger but the recent victories of Aramax and Band of Outlaws did partially restore parity for the punters.

A Note on the Division

It is no secret that Gordon Elliott possesses has a plethora of talented juveniles at his disposal this term. He currently has a stranglehold on the Triumph Hurdle with Zanahiyr (7/1) and Quilixios (6/1) although it is interesting that both are entered here as well. Both are extremely unlikely to run in this race (although Gordon has often mentioned it for the latter) and their presence at the top of the market makes those at bigger prices more tempting propositions.

With Duffle Coat successfully beating one of the leading British juveniles earlier in the season, Gordon will have a good idea as to where his four-year-olds stand in the pecking order. Furthermore, he was won this race three times since 2013 while his five runners in last year’s renewal finished 1-3-4-8-9.

Therefore, Riviere D’etel (14/1) makes a lot of appeal. Second in a listed race on her sole start in France, she won comfortably on her Irish debut in a fairly weak affair before running well in a rated novice hurdle against older geldings. While her third-place finish looked disappointing at the time, competing as a four-year-old in January against her elders was a stiff task while the winner, Thedevliscoachman, has since franked that form.

Interestingly, she has run in the same two races as Elliott’s 2018 Fred Winter winner, Venner of Charm, while filles do have an impressive record in this race from limited representation. Still entered in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, she hasn’t looked the easiest of rides but she clearly possesses a fair amount of ability and she has a nice profile for this race.

Another to note for Gordon Elliott is Glorious Zoff (20/1); a maiden on the Flat for Charlie Hills, he won his first start over hurdles impressively, beating the now 121 rated Crassus (25/1) by 12 lengths although he was beaten at odds-on at Sedgefield next time out in a fairly modest event. No match for Monmiral at Doncaster on his most recent start over hurdles, he did win on the flat at Dundalk back in January perhaps in an attempt to keep him away from deep winter ground. Gordon noted that “he looks an obvious one for the Boodles” and given his trainer, he is entitled to respect for all that he might lack to class of others in the line-up.

Teahupoo (12/1) has won both of his starts in Ireland while the form of his win in France also has an impressive look to it. Considering he had a horse now rated 130 behind on his subsequent start and the fact that he’s entered in both the Supreme and the Triumph, the handicapper is unlikely to be generous while he could skip the festival all together, with Gordon mentioning the possibility of him running in the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse which takes place a couple of weeks after Cheltenham. If he was to run here, he’d be a major player.

Willie’s Woes

There aren’t many races at Cheltenham that Willie Mullins has failed to win but this is one of them. From 14 runners in the last 15 renewals, only Ciel De Neige managed to hit the frame although Voix Du Reve was mounting a strong challenge when he came down at the final flight. Given that he’s averaged less than one runner per renewal since 2006, this clearly isn’t a race that he targets and it may be the case that he only runs those that fail to progress into Triumph Hurdle contenders.

That doesn’t bode well for Saint Sam; a horse who came to Ireland with a big reputation but hasn’t quite lived up to it thus far. He was an odds-on favourite to beat Zanahiyr on his debut but he was comfortably dispatched by that rival, although the Triumph market leader did have race fitness on his side. Given a more patient ride when fourth behind his previous conqueror, that was a very slowly run affair so that effort can be marked up.

Tactics were changed again at the Dublin Racing Festival, with Danny Mullins going from the front using his mount’s natural exuberance but this time he bumped into another top-class juvenile from Gordon’s yard in the form of Quilixios. Rated 136 in Ireland, he could still run in the Triumph as that was his long-term target from the start of the season. But as mentioned previously, the Boodles appears to be the back-up plan for Willie and having contested three graded races this term, he wouldn’t appear to hold many secrets from the handicapper. 

Youmdor (14/1) was mounting a strong challenge to Teahupoo when falling at the last on his penultimate start; with the latter advertising that form well recently, Youmdor could be an interesting contender although he needs to bounce back from a bitterly disappointing run at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Other Irish Contenders

Busselton (12/1) has run with credit on his two starts in Ireland, finishing behind Zanahiyr and Quilixios respectively. Another who came with a big reputation from France, there could be more to come from him and an Irish mark of 133 does seem a tad lenient for all that the British handicapper will have his say. Joseph O’Brien won this race with Band of Outlaws in 2019 so he knows what is required, which is a plus for Busselton’s chances. 

Joseph also has Druid’s Altar (20/1) who has been disappointing in graded company but he did win a rated Novice Hurdle last time out. Interestingly, that very same race was won by both Band of Outlaws and Aramax on route to their victories at Cheltenham.

Quite what Druid’s Altar achieved that day is up for debate; the horse that finished second looked awkward when asked to challenge while his main market rival significantly underperformed. With that in mind, he’ll need to improve further to win this and he’s more exposed than most. 

Another to note is Coltor (25/1) who have Dermot Weld is first win over jumps in over a year when winning at Naas in January. Rated 86 on the flat, he has progressed with each run and there could still be more to come, although with an Irish mark of 125 he may struggle to get in without a rise from the British handicapper.

Assessing the British

Paul Nicholls has won this race three times since 2010 while a further six of his runners have filled the frame in that time; although it worth noting that his seven runners since 2017 have recorded form figures of: 00P9P00. Hell Red (33/1) made a very impressive debut for the yard but he has failed to build on that.

He reportedly made a noise at Cheltenham in November which promoted wind surgery, although he was a tad disappointing on his return run for all that he was racing against his elders. Now rated 131, he would have a chance if bouncing back to the form that saw him considered as an early contender for the Triumph.

Nicholls also has Houx Gris (16/1) who made his debut for the yard in the Grade 1 Coral Finale despite only just moving to Nicholls from France. While he finished 23 lengths behind Adagio, he shaped far better than the margin of defeat would suggest.

He travelled well through the race, trading at 2/1 in running as the field turned for home. He faded fairly quickly on the run to the final flight but it was still a very encouraging effort and you feel he will have improved significantly having had more time to acclimatise. Rated 128, it will be touch and go as to whether he will sneak in at the bottom of the weights.

Nassalam (10/1) won his first two starts for Gary Moore by a combined 108 lengths in a style not too dissimilar to Goshen. Having finished second in a Grade 1 and Grade 2 since, he could still take his chance in the Triumph. 

Boodles Hurdle Big-Race Verdict

Gordon Elliott’s strength in this division means that any he sends are entitled to plenty of respect. Glorious Zoff would appear his most likely runner but preference is for Riviere D’etel who ran well against older opposition when last seen while fillies have a good record in this race. Houx Gris is a danger to the selection having shaped with plenty of encouragement on his first start for Paul Nicholls and he looks sure to improve on that.