| 17.7°C Dublin

Ricci on his exciting Festival squad

Tuesday

Douvan

Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle

He is a tremendously exciting prospect who we bought from France in the summer. He looks like a chaser and is like Faugheen in that he doesn't carry a lot of condition, so we wanted to keep him fresh for Cheltenham.

Faugheen

Stan James Champion Hurdle

He certainly looks the part but he hasn't taken on anything like a Jezki or Hurricane Fly yet. He's an incredibly exciting horse who has done everything so easily that we go there with high hopes, even though I think his odds are too tight. I'm confident in him, but it's a tough race.

Annie Power (pictured)

OLBG Mares' Hurdle

She has the Ladbrokes World Hurdle option - it's hard to say she didn't get home over three miles last year - but logically, given she won't have run for a while, the mares' race looks the right one for her. It makes a huge difference to us that the mares' race is now a Grade 1, but that could mean it will be more competitive now.

Vautour (above)

JLT Novices' Chase

We had lots of debate about whether we should take him chasing. Going into Punchestown last year, we were inclined to keep Vautour over hurdles rather than Faugheen, but the way Faugheen performed over two miles led us to consider it the other way round. The Festival will tell us whether we made the right decision. We have always thought of Vautour as a stayer, so the JLT looks the most likely race for him.

Wednesday

Champagne Fever

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

I thought he ran brilliantly in the King George. He jumped like a buck but just didn't stay. Although he's bred to stay I don't think he will ever get three miles because of the way he runs. We have always run him close to the front because he goes with the choke out, so I think we have to adapt our ambitions to him and drop him back for the Champion Chase. The Ryanair Chase is an alternative.

Au Quart De Tour and Bordini

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

We have quite a few bumper horses this year, which is unusual for us. I can't pronounce Au Quart De Tour's name; it sounds a bit like 'a quarter to four' so I call him '3.45'. He was impressive on his debut but we also have Bordini, who we plan to take, and a couple of others who might make it in Livelovelaugh and Pylonthepressure. We've had mixed fortunes in the race - we won it with Champagne Fever, who obviously went on to great things, but we had another we fancied called Day Of A Lifetime who was never the same afterwards. It's certainly a tough race.

Thursday

Kalkir (left) and Dicosimo

JCB Triumph Hurdle

Both horses are staying, chasing types for the future. Kalkir ran into good horses on his last two starts and we hope he can demonstrate what sort of horse he is at Cheltenham. Dicosimo's form got a boost in the race in which Kalkir ran second to Petite Parisienne at Leopardstown. We think he deserves to take his chance as well.

Djakadam (above)

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

We've always thought a lot of him and the Gold Cup is the plan. We've only had one previous Gold Cup runner, The Midnight Club, who ran as a prep for the Grand National, so it's exciting to go there with a runner we hope will perform well. He won very well in the Thyestes Chase under top weight but will have to improve again, which we think he can.

Irish Independent