THE annual Cheltenham festival this week will be a so much different experience for Cork owner Tomas Singleton.
Due to the present pandemic it will be the first time in 20 years he will not taking in the incredible atmosphere on the Cotswolds.
Tomas just loves the buzz of National Hunt racing and with the coronavirus restricting movements of the entire nation he took time to look over some of the races and horses that he thinks will make a big impression in the coming days.
“I think Appreciate It will get the Irish off to a flyer in the Supreme Novices and although he will be a short favourite I think he’s unbeatable as he’s already a winner of Grade I races on two occasions,” said Tomas Singleton.
“He won the Champion Bumper last year and the manner he came up the hill suggests he is a very good horse.
“In the Arkle you cannot look beyond Shiskin who is trained by Nicky Henderson in England and the difference in this race is the quality of Shiskin’s jumping.”
The Champion Hurdle is always a tough and pacey race but Tomas feels Rachael Blackmore will justify the favourites tag on Honeysuckle.
“In racing Mares get a 7lb allowance from horses and with one pound is the equation of a length and that’s going to be a huge advantage for Honeysuckle.”
On Wednesday Bob Olinger is strongly fancied to win the Ballymore for Henry De Bromhead.
The big punters will surely be plunging on Monkfish in the RSA.
“I don’t honestly think any horse will come near him and to me he is the Irish banker of the meeting.”
The removal of Sir Gerhard from Gordon Elliott’s stable shouldn’t stop him winning the Champion Bumper according to Tomas.
“Willie Mullins has the favourite in Kilcruit, but I think Sir Gerhard has the power to come that hill better.”
The talking horse Envoi Allen should have little difficulty in winning the Marsh Novice hurdle.
“I think Envoi Allen has been one of the best horses we have seen for many years and I think the sensible banker double would be Envoi Allen and Monkfish.”
Thursday will be a special day for Tomas as a former horse in his ownership Chris’s Dream will be competing in the Ryan Air Chase.
“Chris’s Dream is a horse I am very familiar with as after winning his point to point he produced a top-class performance in Limerick, and we had no other choice when the big players came looking for him.
“Robcour bought him he is now trained by Henry De Bromhead and when you look at his last run he was only pipped on the post by the Storyteller at Christmas.
“I know Chris’s Dream runs better fresh and after running in the Gold Cup last year they have now lowered their sights and I cannot see him being out of the three.”
The Mares Novice Hurdle is one that interests Tomas as he has cited a serious prospect.
“Jonathon Sweeney trains a horse called Roseys Hollow who is owned by JP McManus and I never heard a trainer talk so sweet about a horse prior to Cheltenham.
“The way he ran at Fairyhouse you would have to think that Roseys Hollow is a decent mare and I am really looking forward to see her run and hopefully she will win for Jonathon and JP.”
The closing day of the festival is always a special one and Tomas feels the Irish will get the day off to a winning start.
“We call this day the get out day as you are either chasing your losses or have a good bank balance and I think the Triumph Hurdle will be won by Quilixious who is from the Elliott stable who will now come under the stewardship of Henry De Bromhead.”
The Gold Cup is the premier race of the meeting and Singleton has swayed with an 8/1 outsider in the shape of Royal Pagaille.
“As we know Rich Ricci has put so much into the game and he rarely has a horse in training outside of Ireland and I think at 8/1 this horse is great value.
“I heard a story that Venetia Williams was in his company at a race meeting and he told her if she could get him a horse that could win the Gold Cup, he would buy it.
“Venetia Williams is the most decent and honest trainer in the UK and I honestly believe she has a serious chance of winning with this horse.”
Cork trainer Eugene O’Sullivan is a personal friend of Tomas’s and his 2020 66/1 winner It Came to Pass will be going all out to retain the Foxhunters Chase.
“Although he unseated his regular pilot Maxine O’Sullivan in the last race the ground was really against him and looking at him in recent days, he looks a millions dollars.
“Eugene knows how to handle horses and it would be no great surprise to me to see him having a serious go at retaining his title.”