After a very busy day at Hexham yesterday I find myself serving another suspension today, the upside of which is after riding out I’ll be able to watch all seven races from Cheltenham on this special day. Obviously, I’d far rather be out there on horseback than watching from the comfort of the sofa, but as I commented in Wednesday’s blog, such are the high and lows of professional sport.
Anyway, if I was at Cheltenham and had the option, I’d definitely like to in Mark Walsh’s shoes, partnering Sir Erec in the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30pm. Mark’s a good guy who I know from my days on the Curragh. It’s great to see him having such a brilliant meeting. Already he has the Champion Hurdle (Espoir D’Allen) and Ballymore (City Island) safely in the locker, and that haul could be set to improve again here as I love what I’ve seen his ride in the opener, a slick young hurdler who appears to have it all.
Later on, one who could be well worth keeping an eye on is the Rebecca Curtis-trained runner in the Albert Bartlett (2.50pm), Lisnagar Oscar. Rebecca’s a talented trainer who I’ve ridden for previously. As for her runner here, to my eyes he was especially good at Haydock Park four weeks ago and comes here on a hat-trick after also winning at Chepstow. He’s got very few miles on the clock and looks to me like he one day in the none too distant future could end up making a lovely chaser.
As for the big race, when the Gold Cup rolls around at 3.30pm I thought the winner would come from one of Presenting Percy, Native River, Elegant Escape and Anibale Fly. Presenting Percy would be a great story for the West of Ireland, Native River showed us all how tough he is when winning this race 12 months ago, and Elegant Escape is a strong stayer who is improving all the time. If you pushed me though and maybe gave me an each way charity bet for Racing Welfare to sweeten the deal, I’d just about come down on the side of Anibale Fly. Third in this and fourth in the Grand National last year, he’s back up to his correct trip now and has gone a little bit under the radar. Tony Martin will have him ready and I thought he ran an excellent prep race at Gowran Park. Whatever wins, enjoy the spectacle, it’s a line-up to savour.
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