Tuesday 19 March 2019

Power happy with his lot as he chases more Festival glory

Robbie Power: Strong book of rides for Festival. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Robbie Power: Strong book of rides for Festival. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Cheltenham giveth and it taketh away. Usually, there is more of the latter but Robbie Power won't complain about his ratio to date.

It was very difficult to have to watch Newmill jump like a buck and bolt up the hill in the Champion Chase in 2006, with Andy McNamara sitting where he should have been, because of a broken leg suffered in a schooling accident.

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Just 13 months later, at Aintree, he was the beneficiary, however, when Jason Maguire was unable to take the ride on Silver Birch in the Grand National and an unknown trainer called Gordon Elliott called on his fellow Meathman to do the honours. Swings and roundabouts.

Remember the Wednesday in 2011, when Oscars Well stumbled after jumping the last in front and full of running in the Neptune? Power was inconsolable and needed a telling-off from trainer Jessica Harrington to stop moping, with another, albeit less fancied, prospect in the RSA Chase to focus on.

A little more than half an hour later, Power and Bostons Angel were enjoying that thrilling walk back into the parade ring, winners on the biggest stage of all.

In 2017, his career looked over, as he struggled with double vision. But having had special goggles developed for him, he came back just in time to win Irish, Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups on Sizing John, multiply his Cheltenham tally by four, with Supasundae and Rock The World also obliging, and win more Grade One prizes at Aintree and Punchestown.

"The week started off great with Supasundae in the Coral Cup and we quietly fancied him for that," recalls Power of that Cheltenham. "Looking back on it now, he was the greatest certainty ever when you look at the horses he's after beating since.

"Going into the Gold Cup with Sizing John was fantastic. There was no pressure on us except what we put on ourselves. The general public didn't feel he would stay. He had the class, he had the pace and I was confident because of the way he raced that he was going to get the trip. The three Gold Cups is something I don't think will even be attempted too often, and it's unlikely that another horse will win the three of them in one season again."

Sizing John has yet to make it back to Cheltenham, however. He had given Power the feeling that he was "as good if not better" just days before having the curtain brought down on this season and that is enough to give his pilot hope that as a young horse with not a lot of mileage, he can still reclaim his crown at 10.

Meanwhile, he is looking forward to a strong book of rides, largely through his associations with Harrington and Colin Tizzard. Supasundae leads the way in the Stayers' Hurdle.

"He was second in it last year and there's no Penhill. With the exception of Paisley Park, he's beaten every other horse in the race. He's had a good campaign again this year and since he won the Coral Cup, he has never been out of the first three.

"He's a bit like Un De Sceaux in that he doesn't always get the credit he deserves. He's an ultra-consistent horse who runs his race and always turns up on the day. Whether he's good enough, who knows? But you can be guaranteed if you have him backed, he'll be giving you something to shout about jumping the last.

"It looks this year that I'm going to have more rides than I've ever had at Cheltenham. I'll have six or seven rides for Jessie, at least that if not more for Colin and I ride Paloma Blue for Henry de Bromhead in the Arkle. Paloma Blue has only had two runs over fences and people were crabbing his jumping but I schooled him after racing last week and I was very impressed. There's no better trainer in the country than Henry de Bromhead to improve a horse's jumping and if he puts in a good round, I can see him go very close.

"I'm looking forward to Thursday. Lostintranslation in the JLT - I think he's my best ride for the week. Then either Walk To Freedom or Not Many Left in the Pertemps Final. Ground will be the deciding factor there but they both have got very good chances. Then Supasundae in the Stayers' and Emily Moon, who was very impressive when she won her maiden hurdle at Naas, in the mares' novice hurdle. They're four very good rides that I'm very much looking forward to."

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