Thursday 17 October 2019

High hopes in Cheltenham

Model County seeking success after last year's blank

J.J. Slevin and Champagne Classic jump the last en route to victory in Cheltenham two years ago
J.J. Slevin and Champagne Classic jump the last en route to victory in Cheltenham two years ago

Dave Devereux

All eyes will be on Cheltenham this week, with Wexford connections harbouring high hopes of garnering further success at the famous track in the heart of the Cotswolds.

The Model county drew a rare blank at last year's festival, but there's a real chance that a local jockey or trainer will be celebrating victory this time around.

One horseman who is certainly no stranger to the winners' enclosure at Prestbury Park is all-conquering amateur Jamie Codd, and the Mayglass native, who already has a magnificent seven festival winners to his name, will be vying to add to his already impressive haul this week.

Codd will fancy his chances of coming up the hill in front on the Gordon Elliott-trained Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper on Wednesday, having partnered the horse to three wins in National Hunt flat races already.

The talented amateur jockey has yet to ride the winner of the St. James Place Foxhunter Chase, but he looks to have a decent chance of adding that race to his impressive role of honour with Ucello Conti having decent claims.

Codd does have a great record in the Kim Muir Chase, having won it four times, and he could further enhance his reputation on Thursday, if he's handed the ride on the highly-fancied Gordon Elliott-trained Measureofmydreams.

Codd also has a chance of being in the frame in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase today (Tuesday), as he partners Le Breuil for Ben Pauling.

Seán Flanagan steered Noel Meade's Road to Respect to a creditable fourth place behind Native Rivers in last year's Gold Cup, and he will fancy his chances of getting into the winners' enclosure this time around now that the talented horse has been aimed at the Ryanair Chase.

Flanagan will also partner plenty of other decent contenders for his boss, Meade, over the four days as he aims to get his first Cheltenham Festival win on the board.

Davidstown native Daryl Jacob's best finish last year came on Terrefort, which was second to Shattered Love in the JLT Novices' Chase, and he again teams up with the powerful owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede as he attempts to add to his two Cheltenham Festival winners.

Jacob takes the ride aboard Sceau Royal in the Champion Chase, where he will attempt to lower the colours of the seemingly unbeatable Altior.

He also partners Bristol De Mai in the Gold Cup on Friday, while the likes of Kildisart, Janika and Top Notch also hold live chances.

Caim jockey J.J. Slevin will have plenty of plum rides for his cousin Joseph O'Brien, including Fakir D'oudairies, Tower Bridge and Band of Outlaws, as he aims to add to his maiden Cheltenham Festival win, which he achieved two years ago when he steered the Gordon Elliott-trained Champagne Classic to victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

Tom O'Brien, who rode a winner at Sandown on Saturday on Third Wind, will also have his eyes on notching a Festival winner, with Elixir De Nutz holding realistic claims in the opening race, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

On the training front, Paul Nolan fancies the chances of Discorama in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase on the opening day of the festival, with Barry O'Neill on board.

Discorama outran his 33/1 odds to finish a very creditable and fast-finishing second in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle behind Gordon Elliott's Blow by Blow last year, and Nolan will be hoping he can go one better twelve months on.

Quamino should also have a fighting chance for the Davidstown trainer.

Here's hoping that there's plenty of Wexford success during the four-day racing bonanza.

Enniscorthy Guardian