The time between November and January was a pretty quiet one for the Charlie Longsdon stable, with the yard sending out just 10 winners from 141 runners, but as the days become longer, a better time of it is expected at Hull Farm.
Ladbrokes News spoke exclusively to Longsdon as he puts his string through their final preparations for the Cheltenham Festival, and the man himself is hopeful that a quiet few months for his horses can be rectified.
“We’ve been waiting for better ground, and they’ve picked up for that. It’s going to be a busy spring for us,” he told us.
And with the Festival just a fortnight away, there could be no better time for Longsdon to start hitting some form.
He took us through his main hopes of success at Prestbury Park.
Drop Out Joe – Ultima Handicap Chase 25/1
“He’s in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster as well on Saturday and it’s 50-50 whether he goes there or goes for the Ultima.
“It will depend on what jockey availability there is at the weekend. If there isn’t the right jockey free then we might go to Cheltenham.
“He’s had a break as he likes the better ground and has been in great form this year winning a couple of good prizes for the owners.
“His mark of 151 is a high one but there is no reason he can’t be competitive off that.”
Killala Quay – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase 20/1
“He’s come out of Saturday fine [after winning the Pendil Novices’ Chase]. The handicapper has put him up three pounds and I think the owner is keen to go for the Novices’ Handicap Chase.
“If he goes there, he should go very nicely.”
“He galloped at Kempton on Saturday and he’ll either go for the Novice Handicap or the Grand Annual but I’m guessing that the two-mile-four race will be the right race for him.
“He’s extremely well, and has had a break so will go there as a fresh horse.”
“He’ll probably go for the Pertemps and hopefully we’re going to Cheltenham with a fighting chance.
“He’s off a mark of 140, which we think is a nice mark. We think it’s a good handicap mark, but whether it’s a good enough one, we don’t know.
“We haven’t run him [since November] as we’ve been sitting on that mark.”
“I have a feeling he’ll go for the Pertemps as well. He’s been an absolute superstar for us, winning eight of his 10 races for us, going up 60lbs in the handicap in the process.
“I think he can win off his mark of 140. Whether he can win at Cheltenham is a different matter, but he’ll certainly win off that mark in a normal handicap.
“He’s a proper, honest old horse.”
Kilcooley – World Hurdle 25/1
“He had a gallop at Kempton this morning which all seemed to go well.
“He’s had a few soundness issues since Wetherby, hence the reason why we wanted to get him galloping today to see if Cheltenham was or wasn’t a possibility for him
“I am very happy with him and there is no reason not to go. I wouldn’t run him unless he had an each-way chance and he’s the second-highest race in the race so we’d definitely think he has a chance.”
Grandads Horse – Kim Muir Challenge Cup 25/1
“We were absolutely over the moon with his run the other day [when second behind Saint Are at Doncaster].
“He’ll probably go for the Kim Muir, a race that he was eighth in last year, having been bang there at the bottom of the hill, this time lower in the weight, so fingers crossed.”
Ballydine – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 14/1
“He could well go for the Albert Bartlett. His form looks good, only being beaten three-quarters of a length by the favourite of the race [Barters Hill] and yet we’re 14/1.
“I think there’s a lot of improvement in the horse, especially next season. Whether this year might be a year too soon for him I’m not sure.
“If we don’t go to Cheltenham with him we can still go to Aintree but we’ve got two weeks to decide with him.
“If he does go I think Barters Hill is very beatable after seeing him last time.”