The Festival is almost here for another year and I’m pleased to report that My Tent Or Yours is on course for the Champion Hurdle after his little scare this week.
He obviously just stood on something, which does happen, but his trainer Nicky Henderson is very happy with him and that’s good news.
It didn’t interfere with his work at all and it is better that it happened this week rather than next, that is for sure!
I’ll give you my best ride of the week and my banker later, but even after riding at so many Festivals I still get as excited as ever, if not more so, as I know there are only a few left.
I may as well enjoy them while I am still going and I’m hoping I have some good chances next week.
Going back to the Champion Hurdle, My Tent Or Yours, Our Conor, The New One and Jezki all have chances but Hurricane Fly has been there, done it and is the one to beat.
Saying that, I am very happy to be riding My Tent and looking back he was a totally different horse at Kempton on Boxing Day than he was at Newcastle earlier in the season, even though he was impressive at Newcastle.
Hopefully he can improve again from Kempton and Nicky Henderson’s record training Champion Hurdle horses speaks for itself.
He is such a good traveller and such a good work horse that you would have to do so much with him at home to get him to have a ‘blow’, so his winning run in a jumpers’ bumper Kempton served a great purpose in that sense.
He is a keen-going horse and if we had raced him elsewhere on heavy ground he would have given himself a hard race whether he won easily or not, so that is the reason why he went to Kempton.
It is looking like I will kick off the meeting on Gilgamboa in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
He won the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown last time and probably needs to improve but he does have an outside chance.
The likes of Irving and Vautour are going to be well fancied but I think it’s an open Supreme so you never know.
There is a chance I am going to ride Cockney Sparrow in the Mares’s race against Quevega, but I do think that Quevega will probably win.
If she turns up in the same sort of form as she has for the last five years then it is hard to see her being beaten, but hopefully Cockney Sparrow can make the frame.
Looking ahead to Wednesday and Captain Cutter is a possible for the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle, but he is still in the mix for the Albert Bartlett too and I am not sure where he is going to run.
Wherever he goes he will have to improve to beat the likes of Faugheen and Red Sherlock.
One that definitely has a chance of making the first three is Carlingford Lough in the RSA.
He is a very solid 151-rated horse and will run to that mark all day long. It is just whether one of the others can step up again.
He was staying on nicely the last day at Leopardstown when I fell off him against Ballycasey.
The longer trip will suit Ballycasey but it will also suit my horse and I think he will be there or thereabouts.
With Sprinter Sacre out, Sire De Grugy is definitely the one to beat in the Champion Chase, and the only holes you can pick in his form s that he has been beaten twice at Cheltenham.
Has he improved? You would probably have to say that he has and he has the best form coming in to this. It is a very, very open Champion Chase but he is the one to beat.
I am going to be riding Kid Cassidy in the race and he has a little each-way chance.
He needs to improve as he was getting 10lb from Sire De Grugy when he beat him at Cheltenham in November.
Taquin De Seuil is my ride in the JLT Novices’ Chase and on form there is not a great deal between him and Oscar Whiskey.
It looks a really good race with the likes of Wonderful Charm and Felix Younger, but Taquin is a very solid horse and I am looking forward to riding him.
He has had a couple of goes around the track at Cheltenham which will help him and I’m hoping he has a good chance.
The big race on Thursday is the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and it has been well documented in the last few days that I have decided to ride At Fisher’s Cross over More Of That.
It was a tough decision and I rode More Of That yesterday morning and he is flying.
I was on him thinking, ‘Maybe I should be riding him at Cheltenham’ but the only worry I have is that it will be his first run at three miles.
Looking at the race with Annie Power now in it, Paul Nicholls will have four runners and the best stayer of them all is Big Buck’s – so it isn’t going to be a slowly-run World Hurdle.
Big Buck’s is the ultimate stayer. He will stay and then stay a bit more.
I know Zarkandar has a different owner but Andy Stewart owns half of Salubrious and all of Celestial Halo and Big Buck’s so I do think it will be a very true-run race.
I felt At Fishers Cross was much more like his old self at Cheltenham on Trials Day, and while he needs to step up again, things are going the right way.
His trainer Rebecca Curtis has been very happy with him since and believes he has turned a corner.
I think Big Buck’s is the one we have to beat because of the way the race is going to be run and Annie Power will have to prove that she really stays.
It would be different if Big Buck’s was going out there on his own as he would have to make it a test of stamina, but he is going to plenty of help on that score.
It was looking like I would have to sit the Gold Cup out and just watch it, but Rebecca has asked me to ride Teaforthree. He will be a good ride but Bobs Worth will be very hard to beat.
Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Last Instalment are the three to concentrate on but I think Bobs Worth has been campaigned with the Gold Cup very much in mind.
He was impressive at Leopardstown over Christmas, has a phenomenal Cheltenham record and I can’t see past him.
I’ll have plenty of other rides during the week in the handicaps and one I want to mention to you is Goodwood Mirage in the Fred Winter on Wednesday. I think he will run well and I hope he does for his owners.
He hasn’t had things run to suit him yet as he is a free-going horse and probably wants a good gallop.
It is more of a hope than anything else but I can see him going well and he was a pretty decent horse on the Flat.
Before I get to next week, I have plenty going on and am looking forward to launching Ace Performance in the next few days.
I have always been in to health and taking the right things and my wife Chanelle and her family have a pharmaceutical company.
Fellow jockey Dominic Elsworth got involved a couple of years ago with a vitamin tablet, so we have got together and put a lot of research in to what the right things sports people should be taking.
We have got different supplements for different people whether you are into body building, being a jockey or anything else.
There are products for if you want to build up weight and muscle and for people who may want to do the opposite and keep their weight down.
It was something that I thought was worthwhile investing in and they will be available online before hopefully being rolled out into a few stores.
They are called Ace Performance as the ‘AP’ comes in to it and I wanted it to have some relation to my name!
To finish up, I can tell you the horse I am most looking forward to riding next week is My Tent Or Yours in the Champion Hurdle, and if you’re after the most likely winner of the week it has to be Quevega.
On ratings, and what those mares have achieved, she is a long way ahead and has been there and done it for the last five years. I know she is a bit older but so long as she retains her ability she will win.
I’ve never been a big one for Cheltenham preview nights but I am doing a couple this year, at Sandown on Saturday and at Cheltenham on the Sunday evening.
Hopefully I – like you – will have a winner or two next week. Enjoy it and have a great Festival.
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