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GAVIN CROMWELL 2019 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winning trainer and Betdaq Brand Ambassador Gavin Cromwell previews his runners at this year’s festival, including Champion Hurdle hopeful Darver Star.


We can’t wait to get going at Cheltenham this week. We’re bringing over our strongest ever team and it’s brilliant to know that many of them have genuine claims. To have runners of that calibre in these big spring meetings is very special and we’re lucky to be in the position we are. If we could hit the board once we’d be absolutely delighted and here are my thoughts on all of our runners.

Tuesday

As Champion Hurdles go this year’s is about as open as I can remember and that means Darver Star has as good a chance as any of them. He’s more than entitled to take his chance on what he’s done so far this season and the form of his last two runs is very strong, so we can’t wait to run him. Those two pieces of form are some of the best bits on offer and although he’ll need to improve again we think he has.

With the 17 runners it will be interesting tactically how it shapes up, but if he gets the run of the race, he’ll have every chance. In terms of the ground, we wouldn’t want it to get any softer than it is at the moment but if conditions stay like they are now then it will be right up his street.

It’s an amazing story about how his owners got involved in the horse and I’m told there’s a party of 40 coming over to support him. They’ll be bringing flags, scarves and other bits and pieces – you certainly won’t miss them that’s for sure!

Wednesday

We’re really looking forward to running Alfa Mix in the Coral Cup. He’s not the most experienced in the field which is a slight negative but he won a 50k handicap two starts ago and was then touched off by Kilfenora the last day. The pair pulled miles clear of the third who has come out and won since, so there is plenty of substance to the form.

The UK handicapper left him alone on 142, meaning he looks fairly treated and we’re very much looking forward to running him. He looks the ideal type for the race and off a nice racing weight we’re hopeful of a bold show.

Later in the day we run Theatre Of War and Bajan Excell in the Boodles Handicap Hurdle.

Theatre Of War is in really good form at home and has pleased us hugely with his recent work. He was second in a maiden in Leopardstown and while he’s still yet to win, maidens have won this before so that’s not too much of a negative in our eyes.

We think he’s on a nice mark and he’s another we’re looking forward to running. He’s been off since December and this has been the plan since that Leopardstown run.

Bajan Excell is a bit more exposed having won twice. Conor McNamara gets the leg up for his first Festival ride which is great for him and he’ll get a nice spin off him. He’d be one that could do with a bit more rain and he’ll be doing his best work at the finish.

Friday

Hopefully Oscar Academy gets into the Albert Bartlett as it’s looking touch and go whether he will. It will be his first start for us having moved from Olly Murphy’s. He won twice for Olly, but looks up against it in this company.

We’re hoping we might have saved the best till last in the shape of Ilikedwayurthinkin in the Martin Pipe. Unlike Alfa Mix whose mark was unaltered, he’s been given an extra 7lbs by the UK handicapper which obviously makes his life tougher, but he did need that rise to get in.

He’s now off 142, but we’re really looking forward to running him in what’s clearly a very competitive race. He’s come on plenty for his for his run at Leopardstown and fingers crossed he can put up a bold showing.