1:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
It’s going to be very difficult to beat Sir Gerhard here. I think that stepping up in trip is definitely a plus for him and should help his jumping as it will slow everything down a bit. I’m sure Paul Townend will keep things very simple up front. The Irish hold a very strong hand, but I Am Maximus could be the horse to chase Sir Gerhard home. He’s been getting better with experience and Nicky Henderson wouldn’t be running him here if he didn’t fancy his chances.
2:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
By the look of the market, the British hold the upper hand here. Bravemansgame has done nothing wrong over fences and has looked very impressive all season.
Ahoy Senor is a classy horse, but I think this track might put too much pressure on his jumping. L’Homme Presse has been improving throughout the season and I think there could be a bit more still to come from him, now stepping up to three miles for the first time. At Sandown last time he just seemed to jump slightly out to his left, but that won’t be an inconvenience now back running left-handed. He would be the one I’d want to be on.
2:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
I have a ride here in Unexpected Party. He’s been an improving horse and won very well last time out at Ascot. The handicapper did put him up 12 pounds for that win, but hopefully he hasn’t quite caught up with him yet. He carries 11-stone here, which I think is a nice racing weight.
The ground and trip should hold no fears for him and there no real negatives. It’s an ultra-competitive race, as you’d expect, but hopefully with a bit of luck in running he can run a big race.
3:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
I ride Nube Negra, who chased home winner Put The Kettle On in this race last year. He was good when winning the Shloer Chase first time out this season and we then went to the Tingle Creek, which came a bit too soon on ground that was soft enough for him. He’s a stone better when he’s a fresh horse, which he is coming into this race.
In last year’s race we probably didn’t go too quick a gallop, but I think this race is going to be run at a hell of a pace. I imagine Energumene will be up there with Envoi Allen, Politologue, Put The Kettle On and Chacun Pour Soi not far from them either – all of them! By the looks of things, I’m the only one who is a hold up ride and hopefully that can play into my hands.
We couldn’t have been happier with him at home, he’s been working very well and looks fantastic in his coat. We know he acts around the track and hopefully the rain stays away for him, as the better the ground, the better his chance. Obviously, we’ve got a big task on to try and beat Shishkin and Energumene, but we’re coming into the race fresh and that’s a big plus.
4:10 Cross Country Chase
This is obviously a bit of a different race around the unusual jumps of the Cross-Country Course on the inside of the Cheltenham track. Wouldn’t it be great to see Tiger Roll win?
One thing I will say is that Gordon Elliott is absolutely banging the drum about him, and I think that needs to be taken note of. He’s trained him for this race and couldn’t be happier with him. If he’s got him back to his old self, then he’s going to take all the beating. It’s a bit of a leap of faith on what we’ve seen this season, but if you’re a Tiger Roll fan then keep, you’re fingers crossed and hopefully he can win.
4:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase
This is a race always run at a frenetic gallop. It’s a hugely competitive race and one where you need a lot of luck in running, especially on this track. It used to be run on the New Course which is much more of a golloping track, and you had more time there as a rider. On the Old Course it’s a far sharper circuit and it can be very tight, which means luck plays a much greater role.
I’d be guessing in this race really, but perhaps Gumball, who was second last time out, might have an each-way chance. He’s been held up in his last few runs and might be suited by this strong gallop.
5:30 Champion Bumper
There’s been so much talk about the top two in the market – Facile Vega and American Mike. Apparently, they are going to have this race between them. How do you split them? I don’t know.
One thing I do know is, Kilcruit had this sort of hype before his Champion Bumper run last year and he got beaten, so there’s no such thing as a certainty.
There’s a filly in here of Fergal O’Brien’s called Poetic Music. She got no weight on her back and will be ridden to pick up the pieces. She might just be able to run on into a place.