Breakaway can make the frame against Envoi Allen while Slate House has to have good shot
Personally, it was a disappointing first day for me at Cheltenham.
Fiddlerontheroof never travelled and I’m not sure why but I could have pulled him up early, he was just never going.
Supasundae just couldn’t maintain that gallop on very soft ground but he tried his heart out and I thought going to the second last on Stormy Ireland that I had a chance but she jumped right at the hurdle and landed in a heap at the back of it. She got very tired thereafter.
Hopefully I’ll have better fortune for the rest of the week and the only positive was I’m staying in a house with Jamie Codd and the take-away was on him after he won the last!
Wednesday begins for me with THE BIG BREAKAWAY (1.30) in the Ballymore.
It’s going to be very difficult taking on a horse like Envoi Allen, and my fella lacks a bit of experience compared to him as well, but I’d still be hopeful that we can make the frame.
Envoi Allen is obviously a very special racehorse and in my book he is the only novice hurdler in Ireland who has stood head and shoulders above the English novices this season, but hopefully The Big Breakaway will prove that theory wrong on this occasion.
In the RSA Novice Chase, I have gone for SLATE HOUSE (2.10) over Copperhead on the advice of the trainer, Colin Tizzard.
Slate House is a Grade One winner this season and was very impressive when beating Black Op at Kempton. He is also a winner over the course, which is a big plus.
In my mind, Slate House is unlucky not to be a dual winner at the track this season as he was going very well when falling at the second last in the BetVictor Gold Cup at the November meeting.
He didn’t ever trouble the judge last time out here, when he was pulled up in the Cotswold Chase, but I’ve already put that run behind me now and don’t even think about it.
Allaho would look to be the best of the Irish in my opinion.
He was impressive when he won and blew up the first day over fences, according to Paul Townend, so he’s likely to be still only getting better and Copperhead is on a good run of form at the moment too.
Copperhead is shorter in the betting than Slate House and he has to have a decent chance, but I would just question if he has the quality of Slate House and Allaho.
Colin Tizzard seems very happy with Slate House and I schooled him in Colin’s last week and I was very happy with him myself so it’s all systems go for a big run today, hopefully.
I knew last week that Willie Mullins had booked me for the Coral Cup, but I wasn’t sure how many he’d run or which I’d be riding. On Monday morning at declaration time I found out he had seven in it and that I was riding STRATUM (2.50) and he’s certainly a good ride to have.
In a race like the Coral Cup nobody could stand up and make a confident prediction about any of the 26 runners in the field winning, but the form book does tell us that my lad has plenty of class.
Stratum won the English Cesarewitch at the end of last season on the Flat, but this is one of the most hotly contested handicaps over jumps every season and he would have to find a lot more than he showed on his last start over hurdles.
There’s every chance things could fall right for him and he won’t be put off by the hustle and bustle of the race anyway so fingers crossed he gives a good account of himself.
I’d say you could nearly stick a pin in it to find the winner but Barry Geraghty might be on an improver in Dame De Compagine for Nicky Henderson.
I was lucky enough to win a Grade One on CHACUN POUR SOI (3.30) at Punchestown last season and I’m will most certainly keep the faith with him today for the Champion Chase.
First of all, I think this is going to be a fascinating race to watch tactically as the pace is gone now that Un De Sceaux isn’t here.
Obviously, the entire complexion of this race changed on Day One when Nicky Henderson ruled Altior out of it and that does rob us a bit of the spectacle that could have been, as Altior remains a class act, but that’s the ups and downs of racing and Nicky had a day to remember, which will help him get over that Altior blow a bit quicker.
Of the two big guns in the race, Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil, I think it’ll be Chacun Pour Soi who will be the most adaptable to whatever way the race is run and if Paul Townend gets the same vibe off this horse as I did in Punchestown last year, he’ll take some beating.
Willie and Rich Ricci hit the crossbar a couple of times yesterday, but I think Chacun Pour Soi will give him a first Champion Chase win and give Willie a clean sweep of the championship races here at Cheltenham.
I spotted Tiger Roll on the gallops here early in the morning and he looked in fantastic shape. Everyone will be behind him recording a fifth win at the Cheltenham Festival as he prepares for his historic trip to Aintree next month and I think he’ll prove to be far ahead of all his rivals in this sphere again today.
NEVERUSHACON (4.10) must have a sporting chance of making the frame, though, and I will be cheering him on for Jessica Harrington and Paddy Kennedy.
With Tiger Roll in here, I think everyone is fighting it out for minor money but the banks at Punchestown seemed to rejuvenate Neverushacon the last day. Even though my days of riding in these races are over, I’d be thrilled for all concerned if this lad ran a big race.
Having beaten some seasoned Cross Country horses at Punchestown, there’s no reason why he won’t.
I won’t be riding in the Fred Winter but RECENT REVELATIONS (4.50) has a formidable trainer and jockey partnership of Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell.
Tony Martin has booked me for the bumper on Good Time Jonny who has a good each-way chance. He won a bumper at Musselburgh very well and ran a good race in a hot bumper at Leopardstown so I’m looking forward to him.
Appreciate It (5.30) is the standard setter, though, and will probably take all the beating on Day Two.
1.30 The Big Breakaway
2.10 Slate House
3.30 Chacun Pour Soi
4.10 Neverushacon (e/w)
4.50 Recent Revelations
5.30 Appreciate It