Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Marc Owen-Banks ValueChecker

Hollo Ladies Can Strike in Byrne Group Plate

Northern trainer Ferdy Murphy has proved adept at successfully preparing a horse for the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, as he demonstrated when Divers won on the first day on Tuesday. On Thursday I reckon he can strike again with Hollo Ladies in the Byrne Group Plate.

Aigle D'Or

Aigle D'Or

The six-year-old possesses a touch of class, winning a Grade 1 over hurdles for Noel Meade last season, and while he has yet to scale similar heights since joining Murphy, there are reasons to be optimistic. Hollo Ladies found 3m 1f on easy ground at Wetherby last time, too stiff a test. Dropping back to 2m 5f on a quicker surface here should be right up his street.

Although this handicap looks fiercely competitive at first glance, there is more in terms of quantity than quality on offer. Aigle d’Or is a worthy favourite judged on his victory at Newbury in November, and a 10lb rise for that display may not stop him faring much better in this race than he did last year. However, his profile is not the most convincing overall.

Quartz de Thaix will be popular in his bid for a hat-trick. He was smart over hurdles and has taken to the larger obstacles with aplomb, winning both starts in this sphere in the style of a decent chasing prospect, plus he’s nicely treated based on his most recent hurdles mark. On the flipside, this will be a far sterner test of his jumping than those two relatively minor events.

Irish raider Beautiful Sound has few miles on the clock and should run a big race for the in-form Gordon Elliott yard, while Bible Lord could go well at a price if putting his best foot forward. But I feel that Hollo Ladies’ turn of foot could prove decisive, and at around the 8-1 mark he appeals from a value perspective, too.

Recommendation: Hollo Ladies


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