Cheltenham Festival: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle preview (16:40)
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a terrific record at the Festival, and his Full Shift is a fascinating contender in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (16:40).
The six-year-old has won two of his four starts over hurdles, beating a useful sort in Clever Cookie on his debut at Newcastle before going on to land a handicap hurdle at Kempton in good style by 3 1/4 lengths.
In between those wins, Full Shift finished a highly creditable second to Cole Harden at Newbury and the winner has developed into a very talented sort and is now rated 158.
That suggests that Full Shift should be up to winning races off a mark of 135, and it’s interesting that he was backed off the boards in this race last year off it when sent off the 9/2 favourite.
Although the gelding could only finish 11th of 24 to Don Poli, his chances were ended with a slow jump at the seventh and Full Shift is clearly thought capable of better.
Full Shift has not run since, but Henderson is more than adept at getting one ready and the son of Ballingarry remains totally unexposed and could be ahead of his mark.
Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins has saddled horses owned by the Gigginstown House Stud two win two of the last four renewals, and their representative Roi Des Francs looks a massive player.
The six-year-old has won two of his three starts over hurdles, with the last of those coming in a Grade 3 contest at Clonmel.
Roi Des Francs still showed signs of greenness, but only had to be driven out to score by 2 1/4 lengths from Fine Article.
It was a very taking performance, and the son of Poliglote has a similar profile to Don Poli, who landed the spoils 12 months ago.
An opening handicap mark of 139 may well be on the lenient side given Roi Des Francs remains unexposed and open to bags more improvement and, with the Mullins’ stable enjoying a superb Festival, a massive run looks assured.