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  1. #1

    Jockey Blogs, Columns etc

    AP in Telegraph and on William Hill

    Ruby in Examiner and Paddy Power

    Barry on ATR

    Davy at GoRacing.ie and ?

    Do Choc, Dickie, Jason, Paul Carberry have any ?

    Paul Townend was on joe.ie but seems to have gone.

  2. #2
    Forced Kin
    Guest
    Barry's Blog

    Cheltenham’s finally here and for me it’s like Christmas day – except that there’s four of them!

    There’s no doubt about it that my big present comes on the first day, Sprinter Sacre in the Racing Post Arkle Chase but there’s some good stuff for me to look forward to right through the week.

    But I’ve been around this great meeting for a long time now and I won’t be taking anything for granted – remember last year?

    We had a fistful of big chances but didn’t get on the scoreboard until the last day on Friday. You can take it from me that I’ll be disappointed if that’s the case this time.

    We’ll take a look at the races in time order and I kick off with a realistic chance of running very well on TETLAMI in what I consider a wide-open renewal of the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30).

    Darlan is a horse that I’ve won on twice and is fully entitled to start favourite. I was very impressed when winning average races with my hands full.

    It would have taken a brave man to say he wouldn’t have won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time when he fell two out, in which case he’s the one to beat as far as I’m concerned. He could be a player at a higher level this time next year.

    Tetlami will certainly make his presence felt because he has the pace to operate around Cheltenham.

    He’s done everything asked and a bit more because he won a 'jumpers bumper' last time at Kempton and he comes into this fresh and well and something of an unknown quantity because he’s won his two hurdles quite cosily. There’s definitely more to come from him and it’s just of a case of if it will be enough.

    There are other horses to mention which emphasises just how open this race is. Colour Squadron might be unfortunate not to be unbeaten as he fell at Newbury and hung his chance away when I beat him at Sandown on Captain Conan.
    Cinders And Ashes is a class horse that’s been given a nice, quiet build-up and from Ireland there’s Steps To Freedom – Jessie Harrington’s sweet on him – and there are very good vibes for Charles Byrnes’s Trifolium.

    Make no mistake, I think Darlan is going to be hard to beat but if there was a turn up it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. There’s tremendous strength in depth to this year's race.

    I make no apology for the comments I’ve made concerning my ride in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy (2.05), SPRINTER SACRE because, quite simply, he’s the apple of my eye.

    When I think about him my spine tingles and that’s because he’s simply the best I’ve ever sat on. I know it’s a big shout but it’s true and I think that he’s a horse that we’ll be talking about ahead of Cheltenham Festivals for several seasons to come.

    We don’t know how good he is but his winning times tell us that he’s a star athlete and all I’m hoping for is a clear round because I think that’s all he needs.

    At this time last season he had put me through one of the most difficult decisions I’d ever had to make when choosing Spirit Son over him in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. People have drawn too much from that day when he finished third to Al Ferof where many have said that he didn’t come up the hill. It was just that he was quite weak – half the horse he is now – and his wind wasn’t great and it’s been sorted out.

    Chasing was always going to be his job and he’s proved that – there’s no hole in him, I can assure you of that.

    Just six runners is ideal because I don’t need to worry about another half a dozen that shouldn’t be in the field but there's no doubt that my rivals are a select bunch.

    However, I think Al Ferof really will need to bring his A game to the table and I’m slightly more wary of Menorah who reminds me of his stablemate who won the race last year, Captain Chris. He was unlucky to fall last time and is a class act – he impressed me when I saw a film of him schooling at Exeter recently.

    Cue Card is a player and is another with a Cheltenham pedigree while I expect better ground to help Blackstairmountain.

    But when it comes down to it, I can be flexible on Sprinter Sacre. He’s more relaxed now and although I haven’t ridden him since he smashed the course record at Newbury last month I had a chat with Nico de Bonville, who rides him out all the time and did all the early schooling and he told me that Sprinter was really nicely relaxed – more settled than before Newbury.

    I’m anxious in a good way because I want things to go well for him over a course that is the ultimate test for a top-class novice chaser.

    MOSSLEY needs to get his jumping right to have a chance in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase (2.40) because that’s what’s been letting him down of late.

    If the session he had recently with Yogi Breisner has sorted him out than I expect a forward showing in a very tough race. I am sure that once he gets it together he is well capable of taking a race of this calibre. The pace and trip are fine, the jumping is the thing and if that’s ok then it wouldn’t be the shock of the season for him to run a big one.

    Hold On Julio is definitely the one to beat for all of us. Alan King's horse won well at Sandown the last two outings and there could still be mileage in his mark of 145.

    Quantitativeesing has class but a rating to go with it and I’m interested in The Package despite the long layoff.

    'Due to the niggles first with Spirit Son and then with Granduet, I'm having to sit-out the Champion Hurdle (3.20) this year, but I can’t see past Hurricane Fly in any case. He's rock solid and of the rest I think Binocular will give him most to do. He’s had a much better run-in to the race this time and looks really well and the vibes are very good. The best of the rest might be Rock On Ruby and Oscars Well.

    I don’t have a view about the Cross Country (4.00) and it would be a very brave man to field against Quevega in the OLBG Mares Hurdle (4.40) in which she’s aiming for a fourth consecutive win. But the place money is there for the taking and I’m hopeful that KELLS BELLE has progressed enough to get some of it. She tries very hard and some nice jumping ground will be very much on her side and it’s her speciality distance.

    It’s always an extremely dangerous thing to say that any horse is a handicap good thing so I won’t say it about TRIOLO D'ALENE in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices Handicap Chase (5.15) over two and a half miles.

    What I will say is that the handicapper has given him an extremely good chance, something that Nicky Henderson recognised after he got a mark of 136 after winning his British debut off 127 at Ascot in January and then put him by to guard it for this race.

    I’m in a privileged position because I won on the top weight, Hunt Ball, at Kempton last time. He did that really nicely and the weights are compressed so although he’s got 12st there’s only a 10lb weight range top to bottom.

    But he has only been winning average races and the handicapper whacked him up 15lb for Kempton and it’s possible that time might show that he was attempting a very difficult task in giving my mount 7lb.

    It’s worth remembering that Triolo D’Alene made a couple of novicey mistakes at Ascot and I blame myself because I shouldn’t have been asking him to come up on his British debut and instead just let him find his feet.

    I schooled him two weeks ago and he was very good so I’m thinking that a better round of jumping this time will bring more improvement from Ascot.

    Well, that’s my thoughts for the first day, wish me luck and the best to you for a fabulous four days. We’ll speak soon about Wednesday.

  3. #3
    Forced Kin
    Guest
    I am certainly down on the quantity of rides over the four days but, having said that, the quality is pretty good and I am at the stage now where I want to ride horses with chances and not just take a ride for the sake of having a ride.

    There are an above average number of odds-on shots this week but, unfortunately, I’m not on any of them though we all know this is Cheltenham, where anything can happen. They can’t all win can they?

    My three rides on Tuesday all have solid chances and, but for the presence of Hurricane Fly, I would be brimming with confidence of winning my fourth Champion Hurdle, and a second one on Binocular (3.20), who won it in 2010.

    The only horse to regain the title was Comedy of Errors, also an eight year-old, in 1975, but the rarity of the feat does not bother me.

    What does bother me is last year’s winner. He has won 10 Grade Ones and I cannot see any flaws in him. He looks exceptional, possibly the best in the last decade and the only time they met before, at Punchestown last May, he beat us by nine lengths.

    However, Binocular was not on top of his game last season and, when he won the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last month, he felt great. I was very impressed.

    The form of that race may not look fantastic but he moved better, jumped better and went better than he has since he won the Champion Hurdle. I was happier with the whole package than I have been for two years.

    Realistically, though, I believe we will finish second but this being Cheltenham I will hope for better. Rock On Ruby could be the one for each-way backers.

    My festival starts with Darlan (1.30) for Nicky Henderson in the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle. One Festival preview evening had Nicky winning nine races at the Festival so I hope this is one of them.

    He was half a length down and, I thought, coming through to win the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury when he fell at the second last and gave me quite a heavy fall.

    Critics thought him a “bridle horse” before that but he was certainly responding for me at Newbury, although it was some way out.

    It appears he was not as battered by the fall as I was and when we schooled him he did not jump like a horse who might have lost his confidence. In fact it was quite the reverse.

    Until then he was unbeaten in novice hurdles, including one here in December and, however good a horse, it is always nice to know they handle the track.

    Had Darlan won the Betfair he would be one of the odds-on shots but, on what he has actually done, he is a short enough price.

    On paper it looks an open race with no hotpots in it although that is what we said about last year’s Triumph which, form-wise, turned out to be just about the best race at last year’s meeting. I hope we will win.

    I have a lot of respect for Steps To Freedom and I have heard good reports of how he is going at home. If you fancy him then Prospect Wells, whom he beat here in November, should also appeal to you at a good price.

    I am hopeful Quantitativeeasing (2.40) can run a big race despite being burdened with top weight in the JLT Specialty Chase. The last horse to win it off that mark was Charter Party the year before he won the Gold Cup.

    He was second in the Paddy Power here in November and won the Spinal Research three weeks later. He loves the place and the trip will be fine and even with the weight he should finish in the top three.

    The Package and Hold On Julio, though his inexperience showed a bit at Sandown, are the main dangers.

    In the races I don’t ride in, I reckon Sprinter Sacre (2.05) is a good thing in the Arkle. He looks the business to me.

    He was a big, weak horse last year when I rode him to finish third in the Supreme behind Al Ferof but now he’s filled out and strengthened up he will be hard to beat. I would have no worries about him coming up the hill this time.

    Quevega (4.40) beat the boys in a Grade One hurdle last season so I can’t see any of her own sex beating her in the OLBG Mares’ which she also won first time out last season.

    Alan King looks like he is in for a good week and his Bless The Wings (5.15) would be my pick in the Pulteney Land Investments Chase.

    Scotsirish (4.00) looks the pre-eminent cross-country horse of the moment for the Glenfarclas.

  4. #4
    Forced Kin
    Guest
    What a way to start Cheltenham – at star is born! Sprinter Sacre delivered the goods in the style I was certain he would in the Racing Post Arkle.

    When you get a horse with his ability and potential it’s hard to describe in words what it’s like and the best I can come up with is poetry in motion.

    He’s as good to watch as he is to ride – he's something else completely. You’ve all known from early on just how much I think of this horse and it was great that the boss, Nicky Henderson, was able to equal the record for the number of winners trained at the meeting with a horse of his calibre.

    I’ve ridden star two-mile chasers in Moscow Flyer and Big Zeb and the hope has to be that we’ll be talking about Sprinter Sacre in the same terms over the coming seasons – because there’s more to come.

    As for the race, well, you just want things to go right with no mishaps but he made it easy for me, just tucked in then quickened away as he liked.

    I’ve never ridden a horse that does things so easily, you can put him where you want. For my money, the race was over at the water jump.

    Ask him to go long or short, he can do anything and he’s brave, too, because I gave him a little squeeze on the run-in and he clicked up another gear.

    He's the complete package.

    And no one should forget the input of Nico De Boinville, who rides State Benefit for Nicky in the first race, the National Hunt Chase (1.30) for amateurs on Wednesday. He did a lot of the ground work and is very much a part of what you see now.

    With the amateurs starting the day off, I begin with SIMONSIG, who has a very strong claim to winning the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle (2.05).

    I’d say that Simonsig is one of the better novice hurdlers that I’ve ridden in recent times. Plenty has been made of the fact that he won over two and a quarter miles last time and was beaten over two and a half by Fingal Bay at Sandown the time before.

    But I’m inclined to put that down to very sticky ground because he was travelling very nicely until after two out.

    He won two Irish points over three miles but the main reason I wanted to go for this rather than the Supreme is that I think he’s a chaser for the future and therefore a little extra time to jump might help him.

    There’s a big fancy from Ireland, Noel Meade’s runner Monksland, who has won his last three and is clearly smart.

    Willie Mullins has as strong a hand as always and I’d be inclined towards Sous Les Cieux being the best of his – stayed on really well last time.

    But I think my horse has plenty of pace and class and the good ground will be ideal for him.

    BOBS WORTH won’t have it easy with Grands Crus opting for the RSA Chase (2.40) over the Gold Cup but all I can say is that my lad is a much better horse than the one that finished second at Ascot last time and was beaten five lengths by Grands Crus at Kempton on Boxing Day.

    I saw him work recently and he went very well so I’ve no doubts about his well-being – definitely has come to himself and been helped a lot by a wind op.

    This is a circuit that he likes as he showed over hurdles - don't forget he beat Rock On Ruby last season - and I’d be very hopeful of making a fight of it with Grands Crus this time. The ground certainly won’t be against Bobs Worth.

    For the last two years I’ve been aboard Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20) and he’s done me proud winning and finishing second to Sizing Europe.

    This time I’m on FINIAN'S RAINBOW and I reckon if it was just those three in the field it would be a great race.

    I’ve got the greatest respect for the two former champions and on good ground I’d expect Big Zeb to get much closer to Sizing Europe than the five lengths he was beaten a year ago.

    Although they’re getting on in years at ten and 11, Moscow Flyer won it for the last time when he was 11.

    But against all that, the signs are that Finian’s Rainbow is coming right back to himself and when he’s on top form he’s a very classy two miler.

    He wasn’t 100 per cent at Ascot last time when he was caught by Somersby and his recent work is showing that he’s turned the corner.

    He’s much more amenable to being tucked in these days which makes my job a lot easier.

    SPIRIT RIVER is coming back to the scene of his most important hurdle victory, the Coral Cup (4.00) of 2010 which he won by four and a half lengths and is now only 4lb higher.

    Jumping fences doesn’t seem to suit him at the moment but the vibes are good although this is an extremely hard race. Nicky has Veiled in the field who would have a chance but he’s put me on Spirit River which is good enough for me.

    Later on in the afternoon, I think I’ve a chance of making the shake up in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40) on SOLIWERY.

    He showed plenty of courage on his British debut after two runs in France when he was beaten a short head at Sandown in early January.

    He’d taken time to settle in but I liked his attitude and his mark of 128 gives him a fighting chance as he’d have improved a good bit for that and we know he’ll come up a hill.

    I reckon I’m on the right one of Nicky’s two. Although Une Artiste was good in France she didn’t really operate at Kempton with me on her British debut.

    In any case, if you listen to Paul Nicholls and Alan King we’ll be fighting for the place money as they reckon that Ulck Du Lin and Vendor have been let in with seriously good chances.

    All I do know is it is a compressed handicap with just 13lb between top and bottom.

    I’ve picked up a very decent outside ride for John Ferguson in the Weatherby's Champion Bumper (4.40) in NEW YEAR'S EVE.

    He’s two from two and won his last race, a winners bumper at Market Rasen very easily from two fancied opponents.

    I sat on him last Thursday morning and got a very good feel from him on John’s all weather just outside Newmarket and there’s no question he’s got plenty of pace and that’s what will be needed. He’s bred to be a decent flat horse and I’d be very hopeful he’s got the desired kick on the home turn – he certainly looks the part.

    I think the best of the Irish runners is Moscow Mannon and if he were trained by one of the bigger stables he’d be shorter than he is – his form is very solid and he’ll stay well. He’s the one I think I have to beat. And I’ll pass on a good word for Jessie Harrington’s runner, Jezki who’s a four-year-old like my lad and has won his last two very nicely.

    Here's to a great second day.

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  5. #5
    Forced Kin
    Guest

    barrys blog

    What a way to start Cheltenham at star is born! Sprinter Sacre delivered the goods in the style I was certain he would in the Racing Post Arkle.

    When you get a horse with his ability and potential its hard to describe in words what its like and the best I can come up with is poetry in motion.

    Hes as good to watch as he is to ride he's something else completely. Youve all known from early on just how much I think of this horse and it was great that the boss, Nicky Henderson, was able to equal the record for the number of winners trained at the meeting with a horse of his calibre.

    Ive ridden star two-mile chasers in Moscow Flyer and Big Zeb and the hope has to be that well be talking about Sprinter Sacre in the same terms over the coming seasons because theres more to come.

    As for the race, well, you just want things to go right with no mishaps but he made it easy for me, just tucked in then quickened away as he liked.

    Ive never ridden a horse that does things so easily, you can put him where you want. For my money, the race was over at the water jump.

    Ask him to go long or short, he can do anything and hes brave, too, because I gave him a little squeeze on the run-in and he clicked up another gear.

    He's the complete package.

    And no one should forget the input of Nico De Boinville, who rides State Benefit for Nicky in the first race, the National Hunt Chase (1.30) for amateurs on Wednesday. He did a lot of the ground work and is very much a part of what you see now.

    With the amateurs starting the day off, I begin with SIMONSIG, who has a very strong claim to winning the Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle (2.05).

    Id say that Simonsig is one of the better novice hurdlers that Ive ridden in recent times. Plenty has been made of the fact that he won over two and a quarter miles last time and was beaten over two and a half by Fingal Bay at Sandown the time before.

    But Im inclined to put that down to very sticky ground because he was travelling very nicely until after two out.

    He won two Irish points over three miles but the main reason I wanted to go for this rather than the Supreme is that I think hes a chaser for the future and therefore a little extra time to jump might help him.

    Theres a big fancy from Ireland, Noel Meades runner Monksland, who has won his last three and is clearly smart.

    Willie Mullins has as strong a hand as always and Id be inclined towards Sous Les Cieux being the best of his stayed on really well last time.

    But I think my horse has plenty of pace and class and the good ground will be ideal for him.

    BOBS WORTH wont have it easy with Grands Crus opting for the RSA Chase (2.40) over the Gold Cup but all I can say is that my lad is a much better horse than the one that finished second at Ascot last time and was beaten five lengths by Grands Crus at Kempton on Boxing Day.

    I saw him work recently and he went very well so Ive no doubts about his well-being definitely has come to himself and been helped a lot by a wind op.

    This is a circuit that he likes as he showed over hurdles - don't forget he beat Rock On Ruby last season - and Id be very hopeful of making a fight of it with Grands Crus this time. The ground certainly wont be against Bobs Worth.

    For the last two years Ive been aboard Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20) and hes done me proud winning and finishing second to Sizing Europe.

    This time Im on FINIAN'S RAINBOW and I reckon if it was just those three in the field it would be a great race.

    Ive got the greatest respect for the two former champions and on good ground Id expect Big Zeb to get much closer to Sizing Europe than the five lengths he was beaten a year ago.

    Although theyre getting on in years at ten and 11, Moscow Flyer won it for the last time when he was 11.

    But against all that, the signs are that Finians Rainbow is coming right back to himself and when hes on top form hes a very classy two miler.

    He wasnt 100 per cent at Ascot last time when he was caught by Somersby and his recent work is showing that hes turned the corner.

    Hes much more amenable to being tucked in these days which makes my job a lot easier.

    SPIRIT RIVER is coming back to the scene of his most important hurdle victory, the Coral Cup (4.00) of 2010 which he won by four and a half lengths and is now only 4lb higher.

    Jumping fences doesnt seem to suit him at the moment but the vibes are good although this is an extremely hard race. Nicky has Veiled in the field who would have a chance but hes put me on Spirit River which is good enough for me.

    Later on in the afternoon, I think Ive a chance of making the shake up in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40) on SOLIWERY.

    He showed plenty of courage on his British debut after two runs in France when he was beaten a short head at Sandown in early January.

    Hed taken time to settle in but I liked his attitude and his mark of 128 gives him a fighting chance as hed have improved a good bit for that and we know hell come up a hill.

    I reckon Im on the right one of Nickys two. Although Une Artiste was good in France she didnt really operate at Kempton with me on her British debut.

    In any case, if you listen to Paul Nicholls and Alan King well be fighting for the place money as they reckon that Ulck Du Lin and Vendor have been let in with seriously good chances.

    All I do know is it is a compressed handicap with just 13lb between top and bottom.

    Ive picked up a very decent outside ride for John Ferguson in the Weatherby's Champion Bumper (4.40) in NEW YEAR'S EVE.

    Hes two from two and won his last race, a winners bumper at Market Rasen very easily from two fancied opponents.

    I sat on him last Thursday morning and got a very good feel from him on Johns all weather just outside Newmarket and theres no question hes got plenty of pace and thats what will be needed. Hes bred to be a decent flat horse and Id be very hopeful hes got the desired kick on the home turn he certainly looks the part.

    I think the best of the Irish runners is Moscow Mannon and if he were trained by one of the bigger stables hed be shorter than he is his form is very solid and hell stay well. Hes the one I think I have to beat. And Ill pass on a good word for Jessie Harringtons runner, Jezki whos a four-year-old like my lad and has won his last two very nicely.

    Here's to a great second day.

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  6. #6
    Forced Kin
    Guest
    Binocular ran well in fourth but I tracked the wrong horse in Hurricane Fly and, if I could ride the race again, I would have definitely been closer to the pace than I was. That said, I was still disappointed that I could not get past Hurricane Fly.

    Darlan, second favourite for the Supreme, ran on up the hill all right in second but he did not travel that well during the race and, if you are not travelling, you cannot use your gears to get out of trouble. Because of that, we got squeezed on the bend. He should be a nice horse for the future, though. Quantitativeeasing was never really going.

    Wednesday, though, is another day. I start with Nelson’s Bridge (2.05) in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. He is a nice horse and is unbeaten in two starts, a bumper at Bangor and a novice hurdle at Taunton in January.

    He was pretty green on that occasion and is inexperienced compared to some of his rivals. This is a huge step up in class for him and, while his form is nothing to write home about, I would not be surprised if he ran well above expectations and finished in the top half-dozen.

    Obviously, he is very much second string in the Henderson stable to Simonsig, who looks promising. He did win a point-to-point but I know the yard think he has a lot of speed and so the worry must be that he does not quite get home in a strongly run race. But I think he will take all the beating. Monksland looks the best of the Irish
    Get Me Out of Here (4.00) was second in the Betfair Hurdle behind Zarkandar last time, was second here in the County Hurdle last year and was second in the Supreme the year before that. He deserves to shake off his bridesmaid tag in this year’s Coral but, because of that consistency, he has been lumbered with top weight.

    The good thing is that the lowest weight is 10st 5lb so he is actually giving away nothing more than a stone and a half, but it is hard to imagine there is not something down in the weights who is less exposed and on the up. Spirit River won it two years ago and is capable of better, while John Ferguson’s Cape Dutch and recent Newbury winner Balgarry could be candidates for improvers.

    In the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle I ride Sportsmaster (4.40) for Edward O’Grady, a master at producing Cheltenham winners over the years. He was a useful mile-and-a-half handicapper on the Flat and was third in a handicap hurdle at Naas last time. He has ability and he has got a bit of experience which should stand him in good stead round here.

    The only thing I would question about him is his mental strength, but blinkers might help that. He has an each-way chance. Dark And Dangerous is another each-way shot, while connections have made no secret of the fact that they think Vendor, the favourite, is very well in at the weights.

    The Weatherbys Champion Bumper often goes Ireland’s way. A Welsh-trained horse has yet to win it and I am not sure The Romford Pele (5.15) is the horse to break their duck. He was second a couple of times then broke his duck at Bangor a fortnight ago, but he looks up against it here and his price is probably a fair reflection of his chances. Moscow Mannon has won his last three and looks the one to beat.

    In the races I am not in, my old friend Teaforthree (1.30) should go close to winning the Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase. He is a good jumper and stays, so four miles will not be a problem and he is just about the highest-rated runner in the field. Allee Garde is the best of the Irish.

    It is very hard to get away from Grands Crus (2.40) in the RSA Chase. My only worry would be that he did not settle early if they go no gallop and he uses himself up. The greater the test of stamina the better for Bobsworth.

    Sizing Europe (3.20) looks a certainty in the Sportingbet.com Champion Chase. They all look like much of a muchness behind him. Kauto Stone did not stay last time and will appreciate the drop back to two miles and, having followed Sizing Europe home in the Tingle Creek, he can do so again here.

  7. #7
    Davy Condon is in the Irish Indo...

    Todays picks
    Four Commanders ew daffern Seal
    Monksland
    Grand Crus ew Call the Police
    Sizing Europe ew Kauto Stone
    Spirit River
    Vendor ew Blue Cannon
    Moscow Mannon ew Jetzki

    Davys Double Sizing & Monksland

  8. #8
    Condons call

    shadow catcher
    citzenship
    bostonbob
    long run
    toner d'oudaires
    kid cassidy

  9. #9
    I’ve never gone into the final day of Cheltenham with five winners on the board. That’s the most I’ve ever had when I was leading rider for the only time in 2003. There were three days then and I won the Triumph on that final day with Spectroscope.

    But I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for an ultra-game effort from Riverside Theatre in the Ryanair who was superbly prepared like my other winners by Nicky Henderson.

    I asked him for a massive leap four out and he came for me and I still thought we were beaten when I fired him into the third last but he gave the right answer to the question.

    It was a win gained by pure heart, it’s a simple as that because as soon as I had Albertas Run in my sights at the last, I had him in three strides – and that wouldn’t be easy because he had the run of the race in many ways.

    As for Friday, what a Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.20) to be involved in. One of the all-time greats trying to recapture the title and the reigning champion attempting to retain it – and I’ll be looking to stop both of them!

    That’s going to be no easy task for BURTON PORT because I think that a peak-form Long Run is going to be extremely hard to beat – and from what I’ve seen of him at home, that’s exactly where he is at the moment.

    Nicky Henderson has his team absolutely buzzing and just as last year, Long Run has arrived for the big day looking a picture.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with the way Burton Port is and as I said before his comeback run after 15 months off at Newbury in February, the best thing to do was to back him for the Gold Cup without Long Run and Kauto Star.

    I certainly wasn’t hard on him at Newbury to finish second to Long Run and we were gaining at the line but we were getting 10lb and in my view we’ve got to improve that and a good bit more to have a chance of turning over that form.

    Because he didn’t have a hard race I’d be very hopeful that the “bounce” factor won’t come in.

    And the other thing to remember is that Cheltenham is a great course for Burton Port – he did finish just ahead of Long Run in their RSA Chase of two seasons ago.

    But it’s a great track for Long Run, too, and he’s the one that all have to beat and I say that with the greatest respect for the two-time winner Kauto Star.

    It’s been a fabulous effort to get him back to what looks like his best this season and winning the King George for a record fifth time was magnificent.

    But that fall he had schooling and the interrupted preparation that came after it is something you don’t want on the run up to any race, let alone a Gold Cup.

    If he overcomes that, it’ll be a truly great performance and if he doesn’t turn up, then we’ll know why.

    Of those that might be coming along for places, I reckon the run style of Midnight Chase isn’t really suited to getting into the money.

    He’s going to be out there to be shot at and it may be that he’s overtaken turning in. I’d be looking at Weird Al as the outsider with a claim.

    His win at Wetherby on decent ground in October was good and he didn’t do too badly on softer ground when he was ten lengths third to Kauto Star at Haydock in November.

    Donald McCain’s horses have been in top shape for the meeting and Weird Al will go into this a fresh horse.

    I kick off with a realistic chance of a forward showing in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (1.30) on ASAID for John Ferguson.

    I don’t think his price reflects his chance because he’s only 12lb behind the top-rated horse Baby Mix and ran much better than his final placing indicated when I rode him to finish just over six lengths fourth to Hisaabaat in the Grade 1 hurdle at Leopardstown in early February.

    He was very nervous over the first three hurdles, lost ground and was well behind after three out. I wound him up turning for home and he finished really strongly over a track that wouldn’t play to his strengths.

    John sent him to Towcester after that and he was suited by that test of stamina and won well – what’s more he jumped much better.

    This track will play to his strengths and I’d be very hopeful that he’d be staying on from two out and passing horses in a race that is probably more wide open that usual.

    I don’t think there is a stand-out juvenile at the moment and you could have five picks and still get it wrong.

    The weights have gone up enough for me to ride LIFESTYLYE for the boss in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle (2.05) which is as big a maze as ever.

    She’s lost her way a little since we won at Kempton over Christmas off 134 and although she’s dropping she’s still 4lb higher for a much tougher race.

    The only thing I would say is that the ground is very much in her favour and you’ve got to respect anything that comes out of Seven Barrows at the minute.

    If I had a choice of anything else in the race it would be Sailors Warn trained by Edward O’Grady. I’ve ridden him before and I thought it was a fine run in the Betfair at Newbury last time when he was beaten five lengths in sixth by Zarkandar off 143 and is on the same mark here.

    Nicky always has a very strong hand in the race run in the honour of his father, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (5.15) and I’m honestly not certain which would be the best of his six.

    I’m on TANKS FOR THAT who has a decent course record and was unlucky to fall the four out on the run before last. He was a little disappointing at Sandown in early January but he’s much better fresh as he will be for this.

    I just wonder if the handicapper has his measure off 149.

    In contrast, French Opera might be off top weight of 162 but he’ll have come on a lot for his reappearance when he finished second to Sprinter Sacre at Newbury last month and Jerry McGrath gets 5lb off him. Then there’s Kid Cassidy, Bellvano and Eradicate in good order plus Anquetta. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a pretty strong hand!

    I hope that you've enjoyed my blog throughout the Festival and that I've put you on to a winner or two; I'll be back as usual late on Friday with a preview of my rides over the weekend on the main attheraces.com site.

  10. #10
    Forced Kin
    Guest
    Ryan Moore joining Betfair is the new one. I'd say he will tell it like it is.

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