Past Winners » Alderwood


The case for Alderwood is straightforward, he is just a well-handicapped horse over fences compared to his hurdle rating. Rated 148 in Ireland at the end of his novice hurdle campaign last season which culminated in victories in both the Grade 2 novice hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, he has been given a rating of 140 by the British handicapper.

The Tom Mullins-trained gelding hasn’t been as good over fences this term as he was over hurdles but, just as he did last year, he has progressed with each of his four runs.

His latest run to finish second behind Lastoftheleaders in the Dan Moore Chase at Fairyhouse was most encouraging. He raced out wide throughout there, he was still travelling well around the home turn and he looked the most likely winner on the run to the last as he quickened up widest of all, but he had to give best to Lastoftheleaders who got a lovely split right up the inside.

His British chase mark of 140 is just 1lb higher than the mark off which he won last year’s County Hurdle, and he did really well to win that considering he suffered significant interference on rounding the home turn. He stayed on well up the hill and appeared to win with more in hand than the three-parts-of-a-length winning margin.

That proved that he handles Cheltenham’s undulations, the final hill and the pressure-cooker occasion, he should be better on the better ground than he has been running on all season, and it is probable that he has been trained all year with the objective of reaching his peak next week.

His mark of 140 sees him get into the Grand Annual on a nice weight – even if current top weight Wishfull Thinking takes his chance in the Champion Chase instead, as seems likely, he should be left well below the 11st mark, which is historically the mark beneath which you need to remain in order to win the Grand Annual. JP McManus-owned horses have won two of the last eight renewals of the Grand Annual, and novices have a terrific record. Alderwood could be a very well-backed favourite on the day.