MOVEWITHTHETIMES HAS GOLD CHANCE IF HIS JUMPING HOLDS UP
I’m riding at Cheltenham all weekend and any meeting there is always a thrill to ride at. It’s a different buzz there, the crowd are into every race. Every winner is applauded in a big way. It’s just different level. It’s great to have some very nice rides and it will be even better if I ride a winner.
The big one on Saturday is the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (14:25) and I’ve only ridden the winner of this race once before. It was all the way back in 2002 on Cyfor Malta, but I have great memories of it as he was absolutely deadly that day. He was some ride.
This time around I ride the Paul Nicholls-trained Movewiththetimes. I fell off him at Fakenham last time, which wasn’t part of the plan. It’s a bit frustrating, as he is a good jumper in the main, but he has a tendency to take a chance at some of his fences and he paid the price for it there. You’d hope with a good round of jumping he could be involved, but it would be hard to be confident in him. Holding his jumping together will be the key.
Earlier on the card I ride the Nicky Henderson-trained Never Adapt in the JCB Trial Triumph Hurdle (12:40). Nicky likes her, which is never a bad thing. I’ve schooled her at home and I liked her too. She has won over hurdles in France and while I’m not sure about the quality of what she beat, she was impressive in beating them by a long way. This is always a good race and we’ll have a good idea of where we stand with her after this.
My last ride on Saturday is in the Karndean Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race (16:00) on the Eoin Griffin-trained Pink Rock. She is a well-bred filly that is owned by Andrew Brooks and Eoin likes her. I’ve had good luck with Eoin in years gone with horses like Kazal and Lounaos, so hopefully she’ll make a nice debut and run well.
DEFI BACK TO GET BACK ON TRACK
My first ride on Sunday is in the Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase (13:50) and it is an exciting one on the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil. He was a really good juvenile hurdler and while it is always tough for any juvenile going into open company the following season, he just didn’t fire in his couple of starts last season for whatever reason.
He seems in good shape now though. I’ve schooled him twice over fences myself and was very happy with him. When I got off him after winning on him at Aintree as a four-year-old, I remember saying to Philip that he would be well able to jump a fence if he wanted him to, so now is the time that we get to find out. I’m looking forward to him.
I ride the Paul Nicholls-trained Le Prezien in the Shloer Chase (14:25). I know him well and it was great to win the Grand Annual on him here last March. I thought he ran well to finish second in Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on his seasonal reappearance last time and hopefully he can improve from that.
He has yet to prove himself in open Graded company and this looks a tough race. He wasn’t able for the step up in class at Aintree last April, so he has it to prove at this level.
The big one on Sunday is the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (15:00) and I ride the Nicky Henderson-trained Charli Parcs. Nicky has always held him in high regard. He was disappointing for much of last season, but I thought he ran very well in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in his last start which would give you encouragement.
Everyone in Nicky’s seems to be happy with him, but he’ll need a career-best effort to win a race this competitive.
Away from Cheltenham, I’ll be watching the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday with great interest. The big two are obviously there in Samcro and Faugheen, but I wouldn’t rule out Supasundae. His form over two miles is very good and he shouldn’t be underestimated. Samcro needs to improve on what he did at Down Royal, but Gordon seems adamant that he will. It’s a difficult race to call, but I think we’ll learn an awful lot from it.