Grosvenorsport.com ambassador Harry Skelton looks ahead to the opening day of racing at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
We’ve got to the Festival at last and everyone is buzzing. It’s the meeting we have all been waiting for and now we just want it to get started.
The Festival is where everyone wants to get a winner. It is the biggest four days of our season. I remember when I rode my first winner on Superb Story in 2016 how much of a relief it was, a big weight off my shoulders. I had finally done it.
Now I want the next one. I think I have some good chances this week and I am really looking forward to riding them. The horses seem in really good form at home. As a whole we couldn’t be happier with them.
Tokay Dokey – 1.30
I start in the Supreme which as usual is an ultra-competitive race. I don’t think there is a stand out horse in the race and it looks quite open to me.
Al Dancer heads the market with Angels Breath. On form Al Dancer has achieved more but I think the one to beat is the four-year-old Fakir D’Oudaries
I ride Tokay Dokey who had done nothing wrong until coming down at the fourth flight in the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton. That wasn’t an ideal preparation. We would have to see how much rain comes overnight.
Likewise, I think the Arkle is an open race with not one horse that stands out. The Irish challengers Ornua and Us And Them have good form, having run behind good horses Dynamite Dollars and Le Richebourg, neither of which are running at Cheltenham. I think those two will run well at an each-way price.
Crucial Role – 2.50
I am hoping that I will have a good chance on Crucial Role in the Ultima and the more rain that comes the better for him.
He has been quite impressive twice at Uttoxeter but was not so good at Haydock. He has bled on both visits to Haydock, I don’t know why. Maybe it was something to do with the long journey up there. It hasn’t happened at Uttoxeter which isn’t very far from us. It’s very odd.
The three mile trip and soft ground will be right up his street and he has an each-way chance.
Bridget rides Oldgrangewood for the stable in this, a horse that has been slightly out of form. He has dropped down the handicap but will have to bounce back to figure. He is stepping up to three miles on soft ground and that would be a question mark as well.
It would be great to see Buveur D’Air win a third Champion Hurdle. He has a tougher task this time with the two mares Apple’s Jade and Laurina in the field, who he has to give 7lb to. Nicky Henderson has always been open about how much work this horse needs. I think he will have him in tip-top shape. I rode in the Contenders Hurdle which Buveur D’Air won last time and I am sure he will have come on from that run.
He got beat at Kempton at Christmas because he got to the front very easily and ended up getting a bit tired. I don’t think you will see any of that this time. I think he will win a third Champion Hurdle.
Roksana – 4.10
Roksana was the horse I rode in that Sandown race behind Buveur D’Air, and Vision Des Flos, and I am really looking forward to riding her in Mares’ Hurdle. She had a nice run round Sandown and has really stepped forward since.
Willie Mullins’ mare Benie Des Dieux is going to be very hard to beat. They have said she is their best chance of the week and that says it all. But Roksana can still run well at an each-way price.
Leave a Reply