Millar's Method: Four Irish horses to follow after the Cheltenham Festival

20 March 2024

For my final piece on the Cheltenham Festival, I thought I’d look back and find one horse from each day that didn’t win but remains capable of better and would make a worthy addition to your tracker. Tuesday’s episode of Millar’s Mover’s largely covered the British horses so here are four Irish horses I think it will pay to follow in the next twelve-months. 


Embassy Gardens – 2nd btn 17L National Hunt Chase 3m6f

Probably the biggest disappointment of my week. Time might well show that he faced an impossible task against the impressive winner, Corbetts Cross, who appeared to jump far more slickly in the first time hood (Magician Mullins again).

However, I’m confident that Embassy Gardens isn’t a seventeen-length inferior horse.

The most important point to note is that the stewards reported that following a veterinary examination he returned with an irregular heartbeat. While not commonplace this does happen more often than you think, very often the heartbeat regularises on its own, though in cases of atrial fibrillation intervention is required – we’ll only know which of these it is if someone in the media asks a direct question of connections. It’s certainly enough reason to cause a below par performance. Coupled with this it was notable that on heavy ground he was ridden to conserve his stamina, to my mind this neutralised the benefit of his excellent jumping and is yet another reason I’m happy to simply put a line through this run.  

Much was made of the strong performance Fact To File delivered in the Browns Advisory when he had Sandor Clegane ten-lengths behind him. At Naas on his penultimate start Embassy Gardens beat Sandor Clegane by that same margin of ten-lengths and in good style, it’s this run I believe he should be judged on, providing all is well I expect him to take high rank in grade one staying chases in Ireland next year. I must also confess to having a small ante-post wager at 100/1 for next year's Gold Cup.



Fishery Lane – 5th btn 6L Champion Bumper 2m½f 

This was an unusual year for the champion bumper with seemingly no red-hot candidate from Ireland heading the market.

Willie Mullins was mob-handed as usual with Patrick Mullins choosing the right one in Jasmin De Vaux, in doing so riding his father’s 100th Cheltenham Festival winner.

Sounds Victorius was of interest finishing in fourth, shaping like a stayer in the making, but just half a length away in fifth was Fishery Lane, who had to cover more ground having raced out wide and came from further back, as such it’s his run I think is worthy of upgrade.

He was outpaced coming down the hill and had plenty to do, but found good reserves of stamina to finish powerfully, galloping all the way to the line, despite showing signs of immaturity when initially hanging to his left. This mirrored his debut effort from Thurles in February where he was only narrowly denied having again finished with a strong late run.

His sire Gemix was a grade one winner over three miles when hurdling in France, and from limited stock appears to be producing runners who stay well. Vision Sainte the dam was unraced but is a half-sister to Saint Goustan Blue, a multiple graded winner in France with form up to three-miles.

The visual evidence from both runs ties in to the suggestion from his pedigree that he is a horse that will be seen at his best when over a trip. I’m sure he’ll be a multiple winner in novice hurdles through the depths of next winter and may yet develop into an Albert Bartlett contender for next year, although the 25/1 on offer didn’t scream ‘value’ to me.


Life In The Park – 4th btn 2¾L Plate Handicap Chase 2m4½f

Henry De Bromhead enjoyed another excellent festival proving yet again that he’s a master of having his team peak for the second week in March.

Life In The Park had been disappointing so far this season in his three previous starts. 

Here he jumped soundly throughout under Mike O’Connor and was able to hold a position nicely down the inside rail. He was hampered four out when Rian blundered and brought down Saint Felicien and crucially lost his position before looking to get outpaced rounding the home turn. Heading towards two-out he seemed to find his stride and he powered home in eye-catching fashion (I would be surprised if any horse ran quicker from two out to the line in this race).

His very best form has come on a sounder surface and given how he finished here over this trip it’s surely worth trying him over further, for all that he’s yet to win over further than 2m6f. 

Punchestown must surely be on the agenda and on Monday the IHRB handicapper raised him 3lb to a mark of 140 (just 1lb higher than he ran off in the Plate) it’s not a mark that looks beyond him. 


Jungle Boogie – 6th btn 20L Gold Cup 3m2½f   

I had been quite keen on Jungle Boogie for a handicap assignment at the Festival, reasoning that his four wins from five starts, spread across four seasons and two trainers, put him firmly in the ‘could be anything' bracket. Especially given his only defeat came when just fourteen lengths behind El Fabiolo on his first start for 708 days. 

He ran a remarkable race in the Gold Cup, jumping largely jumping soundly but pulling far too hard, it’s a testament to his undoubted ability that he was still in contention when a mistake three-out checked his momentum, remarkably he still continued to run on before the petrol gauge his red landing at the back of two out, no doubt as a result of his early exuberance.

He’s now a ten-year old and as evidenced by his sporadic appearances he’s clearly a fragile creature, if Henry De Bromhead is able to keep him on the road he could yet shake up some graded chases. Further down the line he would have to be of interest for the Ryanair chase next year. Though clearly his fragile nature means he’s by no means a sensible ante-post proposition.

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