With just a few days to the 2013 Cheltenham Festival we have had a look at the likely mounts of the three jockeys heading the betting for the 2013 Thomas Pink leading rider award.
It is still a guessing game with a number of horses holding multiple entries. We decided therefore to let the market be our guide when looking at the horses Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy were likely to ride. These three are already the winningmost Cheltenham Festival jockeys of all time. For 2013 they look set between them to ride 18 Cheltenham Festival favourites in the 23 races they are eligible to ride in.
With the pick of horses in Willie Mullin's and Paul Nicholl's stables Ruby Walsh once again has a strong hand for the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
Ruby spoke to Pat Keane of the Irish Examiner about his own mounts and the horses he fears in this interview ahead of the main Cheltenham Preview season:
We noted in the equivalent interview in 2012 that Walsh sounded a bit reticient about the chances of his 2012 Gold Cup mount Kauto Star. This time round he sounds bullish about the chances of Silviniaco Conti:
"I like him, I really like him. I thought he won well at Wetherby. I thought he was very good in Haydock . People say, 'He got first run on Long Run and he needed the run and you'd had a run'. It's the same with anything. If you want to pick holes in something you can. The form is there if you want to go and look at it. He's mature, he's only seven, he's a brilliant jumper, he's a good traveller, he'll stay, I think he has everything."
Sirs Des Champs : "He went to Punchestown and halved the last, nearly fell and he hasn't looked the same horse jumping since. I think he's gone a bit careful. They hacked along in the Hennessy and he got a chance to get into a rhythm. I think when they come out in the Gold Cup, he won't be in that comfort zone."
First Lieutenant, "He's missing something. The Lexus presented itself to him, he got back past Flemenstar yet he folded up. The race was there for him. I think the Irish horses have to improve a good bit."
Bobs Worth : "Bobs Worth definitely lacks a gear even though he stays."
Prior to this interview we had made our own early guess at Walsh's Cheltenham Festival rides. He has by our reckoning the option to ride 8 favourites at current prices. The shortest priced of these will be on Tuesday when Quevega goes for a fifth successive Mares Hurdle and Hurricane Fly is a 13/8 shot to regain the Champion Hurdle.
We wouldn't be sure that these will be his final mounts or that some of these horses will even run in the races indicated but they are generally the shortest price Mullins/Nicholls horse in each race. With Tidal Bay now ruled out we put Quevega into both the Mares and World Hurdle. If you think we are wrong let us know on the Fat Jockey Cheltenham Festival Forum.