Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Henderson’s Lush Life to Win Pertemps Final

The Pertemps Final on the Thursday begins life as one of those puzzles that are devilishly difficult to solve but after a bit of research, I find my selection easy to come by.

Lush Life
© Racehorse Photos

Lush Life

Nicky Henderson may have had a few go agonisingly close on the first day and his runner Lush Life can get both he and Barry Geraghty on the scoresheet.

This 6-y-o looks to me to have the perfect profile to win a race like this; lightly raced, classy, progressive and in beating a large field of handicappers here on good ground in December, he went firmly into the Cheltenham notebook. Next seen at newbury in February, he had to be re-shod at the start and after behaving like a thorough gentleman, the starter inexplicably let them go before he had lined up. Farcical but there is an upside to emerge from that; the horse had a nice blow but given he was never in the race, his mark remains the same and I think he has a huge chance here.

They may be playing for second but Alfie Spinner looks one of the principal dangers. Relatively lightly-raced and most progressive under the competent guidance of trainer Nick Williams, this 6-y-o on the face of it has been hit quite hard by the handicapper, having been raised 11 lb for two defeats. Watching the replays though, I do think there is more to come and he will carry my each-way money.

The others that make the place shortlist are Kayf Aramis, the winner of this 2-years ago and a decent fifth last year. Festival form is all important and the 9-y-o is expected to finish thereabouts once again.

Gwanako has had a troubled couple of seasons over fences but he does go well at this track and he in undeniably well-treated over hurdles. Showed he could be a player over the smaller obstacles when a fast finishing fourth here on New Year’s day and could go very well for the Paul Nicholls yard.

Of the Irish challengers, maybe Henry De Bromhead’s Querios Bleu is one of the likelier types but it is easier to foresee him running well rather than winning.

Recommendation: LUSH LIFE


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