Friday the 13th just might be our lucky day – don’t rule it out
Alan has made no secret of the fact that he thinks Lisp is his best chance of a winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, so maybe Friday the 13th will prove the lucky day for Barbury when we roll the dice for the final time at this year’s meeting in the Grand Annual Chase, in which he stresses we should not ignore his second runner, Ballywood.
Lisp is only a novice taking on seasoned handicappers, but Alan insists that does not concern him one iota, recalling:”I won this race with a novice in Oh Crick 11 years ago, and Lisp has solid form in big-field handicaps which suggests that he will cope with the switch to open company.
“Remember, Lisp finished fifth in the County Hurdle 12 months ago and, despite having taken well to fences, he can now run off a lower mark here.
“He won over the larger obstacles at Plumpton and then finished a good third in the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster, where, though wrong with the first two at the weights, he was still in front going to the second last.
“That qualified him for this race, which has long been the target, so, while they are sure to go a helter-skelter gallop, he jumps well and if he can get into a rhythm I’d be hopeful of a big run.
“Lisp would go on any ground, but for Ballywood the more it dries out the better his chance would be. He was a progressive two-miler last season, and, though he has never had the right underfoot conditions this winter, he ran well at Ascot and then boxed on bravely up the straight at Cheltenham, so any improvement in the going could see him in the mix.”
Our only other runner there on the final day is Lord Lamington in the Triumph Hurdle. Of his chance Alan added:”Like Ballywood, he has enjoyed a break, and, having run well to finish second in the Summit Hurdle at Doncaster, which might have come a week too soon after his win at Market Rasen, he again found one too good at Kempton.
“I was disappointed Lord Lamington didn’t quicken up in the straight at Kempton, but I put that down to the soft ground and he was giving the winner 6lb, so, he, too, would benefit from the going drying out.”