It’s great to be back at Cheltenham and I have three rides on the opening day of the meeting.
Hartur D’Oudairies (12:05) has come out of his last race at Warwick nicely. We couldn’t have asked any more from him. He’s a lovely, big four-year-old, but he is still raw and definitely not the finished article yet.
We feel this is a nice race to go for. It’s a lovely track; the New Course is a more galloping track than the Old Course at Cheltenham and that will suit him well. This race has more strength in depth, but we’ve always liked him, and we feel he’s going to be a proper horse in the future. At the moment there are no major plans for him, and he will tell us where to go next. Hopefully, he can go well again here.
I’ve schooled and galloped Santini recently (2:25). He’s felt good in his schooling and work. Polly Gundry is very excited about running him, but he’s got to put some poor runs behind him and hasn’t run since last year’s Gold Cup. This is very much the first step in his season. I’d be hopeful that he just shows some of his old spark, although I think it will be a tall order to see him win this off a mark of 159.
A couple of the younger horses in here could still be progressive. Enrilo seemed to be travelling well when coming down in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. He’s only a seven-year-old and if he’s got over that fall, he could be the one we all have to beat.
Shannon Bridge (3:35) has been out of form and showed us very little in three runs so far this season. This looks another really competitive race, but the handicapper is giving him a chance, and I think he should run a reasonable race. On what he’s shown so far it would be hard to see him winning, but we’re hopeful that he can run much better than he has been doing recently.
I finished ahead of Barbados Buck’s at Wetherby in October and maybe he wasn’t at his best there. Paul Nicholls is sure to have done plenty of work with him since then and as that was his first run over fences, I could see him improving plenty for the experience and going well in the novices’ handicap chase (12:40).
The 1:15 looks a competitive handicap hurdle. Broomfield Burg finished ahead of me last time at Newbury and that form looks good. He’s very unexposed so there could be plenty of improvement to come.
Rose Of Arcadia is quite well regarded and could be one to look out for in the mares’ handicap chase (1:50). She might just have needed the outing last time and could improve now sent chasing.
I don’t have a ride in the Cross Country at 3.00, but the one I would want to be on if given the choice is Diesel D’Allier. He has plenty of experience of this course and it looked the winner here last month. He might be able to get his head in front now with that run under his belt. You’d also have to respect Balko Des Flos for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.