Cheltenham 2019 - Robbie Power: 'If I had my pick, I'd go for Buveur D'air in the champion'
It WAS great to get the weekend out of the way, albeit without a winner, but it's all systems go for Cheltenham now.
I've a busy start to the week tomorrow and my biggest book of rides ever at the meeting, so if that doesn't get you excited in this sport, nothing ever will.
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I suppose the last week or so is just a typical week in the lead up to Cheltenham. It's an exciting time but an anxious time. Horses are doing their final piece of work before the biggest race of their season and the last thing you want to see is the name of Jessica Harrington or Colin Tizzard coming up on your phone at a time they wouldn't usually ring for a chat!
Unfortunately, I had to take one of those calls about Fox Norton when Joe Tizzard rang me to tell me he would miss the Ryanair but both the Harrington team and the Tizzard team seem to be very strong going into this week and I have my biggest book of rides ever for the Festival.
I rode-worked for Jessie last Wednesday morning and schooled the Cheltenham horses on Thursday and I couldn't be happier with how that went.
On Friday morning I then went down to Henry de Bromhead's in Waterford to school Paloma Blue who I've picked up the ride on in the Arkle tomorrow.
Henry's horses have been in savage nick all season and he's a nice spare ride to get in an open-looking Arkle. I was very happy with how he jumped. He was fourth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last year so he has course form.
I went from Henry's to the airport to fly over for Sandown on Saturday. I stayed with Joe Tizzard on Friday night and got to sit on a few of the Cheltenham horses in Colin's on Saturday morning.
I've ridden all of the horses I'm riding for the Tizzards this week, either in races or at home throughout the season, with the exception of Master Debonair, who I ride in the Champion Bumper on Wednesday.
Saturday morning was my first sit on him and he's a smashing horse. I'm really looking forward to getting my leg over him again on Wednesday.
I flew back home on Saturday evening for a flying visit and to do the Cheltenham Preview evening in Kiltale for my local GAA Club Moynalvey. We had right craic at that and Gordon Elliott obviously has a lot to look forward to over the four days but I wouldn't rule out Espoir D'allen running a big race for Gavin Cromwell in the Champion Hurdle.
Gavin was saying he couldn't be happier with him and he might just upset the apple cart in a race that many people think revolves around three horses. Things didn't go my way at Naas but we'll leave that behind now and look ahead. I'm looking forward to getting a walk of the track this morning and to see how it is shaping up.
It's been such a funny season with so much good ground that, if it does turn up soft, I'm sure punters will have to look a little further back in the formbook for how certain horses handle an ease.
I'll ride out for Jessie in the mornings here and just try to relax as much as possible before racing. I hope to have at least 14 rides this week and maybe up to around 18 over the four days between Jessie, Colin and Henry and I couldn't be happier with my lot.
I don't ride in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday and I very much look forward to seeing how that develops.
If the race was at Leopardstown. I'd say Apple's Jade was a certainty but it's not in Foxrock, it's in Cheltenham and, therefore, if I had a free pick in the race I would ride Buveur D'air. He has been there and done it.
I think the Gold Cup could be a race for the ages.
There's three horses in this that could blow the field away – Native River, Clan Des Obeaux and Presenting Percy.
If the three of them jump the last upsides, it'll be some race up the hill and you'll never forget where you were for the 2019 Gold Cup.
I'll reserve judgement on what I think will win it for another few days yet I think! This is the best show in town and wherever you are watching from, enjoy it. There's going to be plenty of drama, excitement and surprises along the way.