Grand Annual

16:50 Cheltenham - Grand Annual

Sky Pirate is two from three in 2-mile chases at Cheltenham and won this race last year, just prevailing from the fast finishing Entoucas. He’s a smart performer who has had a decent season, although he is still yet to find the winner’s enclosure. As well as that, he’s been handed the hefty task of having to carry top weight around for this year’s renewal. Given his recent form and the nature of his victory last year, this seems a hard task for him to go back to back.

Embittered was the favourite for this race last year and was enjoying himself before falling at the 9th fence. He’s ran quite a few times this season, which is a slight concern, however most recently he has been competing in graded races, winning a Grade Three and bumping into Riviere D’Etel subsequently. Thus, he’s taking a massive step down in grade today. That being said, he’s been put up a pound, in the weights, compared to last year and he’s due to go down five pounds in the future, which leaves him out of the handicap. Nevertheless, he is still a danger.

Andy Dufresne is a classy horse, who had a lot of hype around him when he made his debut for Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra Stable. Inconsistency plagued him over hurdles but he got back to winning ways when going novice chasing, beating the aforementioned Embittered, in a Grade Three. He found Monkfish too hot in a Grade One over two and a half miles, this time last year and didn’t jump well at all that day. He placed second to Captain Guinness, when conceding weight, on his seasonal reappearance and sole race this season. He looks primed for this target and hasn’t had a hard season like the majority of them in this race. Additionally, he’s won four out of his six races when racing over two miles, placing in the other two. I would be disappointed if the cream didn’t rise to the top today.

written by Kieran McHugh