cheltenham 2014

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Four for the Festival: Mick Fitzgerald

With the Cheltenham Festival fast approaching, we've asked ATR presenters to nominate their four top fancies for the big meeting. Here, Gold Cup-winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald nominates his selections.

My selections this year are unrepentingly biased towards the Nicky Henderson team. The Boss has some short priced favourites at the 2013 Festival with most of last year's winning team returning.

Sprinter Sacre is not a betting proposition in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but you know what, sometimes it's nice to just appreciate a horse for what he is - a magnificent specimen of horseflesh. He still has to do it on the biggest stage at the top level, but it would be a brave soul being a bookie laying bets on him - incredibly one firm is offering even money about him in the run-up to the Festival to limited stakes.

The Ryanair is another race I am really looking forward to, it threw up one of the best rides I have ever seen at last years Festival, with our very own Barry Geraghty refusing to allow Riverside Theatre to drop out of contention. This year's race promises to be another cracker with previous Festival winners First Lieutenant and Cue Card locking horns; if Cue Card can get into a decent rhythm I think it will be a great duel.
 
The Gold Cup features two horses who have unbeaten records at the Festival to try maintain; Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs. Bobs Worth has followed the more conventional route of the Albert Bartlett and the RSA whilst Sir Des Champs has won a handicap and the Jewson. However, Willie Mullins has always said this horse is an improver so he must be respected in a great renewal of the Gold Cup which also features Long Run and the improving Silviniaco Conti. I have to admit to having had a little on Long run at fancy prices as he has never been out of the first three in all his starts, considering the company he has kept that is impressive reading.
 
My nap for this years meeting goes to Dynaste. I think there is doubts about his intended race but I feel whatever option they choose this lad is a sound choice in either the RSA or the Jewson.

Mick's Four for the Festival

  • DYNASTE (Any Festival engagement)
  • SPRINTER SACRE (Queen Mother Champion Chase, 3.20 Wednesday)
  • CUE CARD (Ryanair Chase, 2.40 Thursday)
  • BOBS WORTH (Cheltenham Gold Cup, 3.20 Friday)