Robbie Power

BoyleSports horse racing ambassador Robbie Power gives his thoughts on the five Cheltenham Festival marquee races, while also covering Sizing John's latest injury setback.

  • Friday 31 January
  • Blog

CHAMPION HURDLE

The Champion Hurdle is very wide open, and I think it’s one of the most competitive Champion Hurdles that we’ve had for many years. If Honeysuckle wins the Irish Champion Hurdle this weekend, then she’ll definitely go the Champion Hurdle route and that will make things more interesting.

Epatante and Honeysuckle are due to get 7lb off the geldings and Epatante was very impressive in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. She probably deserves to be at the head of the market.

I thought Saldier was impressive at Punchestown but it’s a bit of a worry that he’s going from there to Cheltenham without a run. I’ve no doubt in his ability, I won on him at Punchestown and he’s a very good horse, but you’d have liked to see more of him this season.

Lack of experience going into a race like the Champion Hurdle is something he’ll have to overcome.

Supasundae will run in the Irish Champion Hurdle this weekend. He is a triple Grade 1 winner and has won a Punchestown Champion Hurdle and an Irish Champion Hurdle. He is probably a forgotten horse. He is going to run twice before Cheltenham, and I think he’s way overpriced.

Over the last two years he has only finished outside the top three once. He’s so consistent and if he gets soft ground at the Festival, he’d have to have a good each-way chance.

Sign up to BoyleSports and get up to £25 in free bets.

Terms - 18+. Cash stakes only. Min £/€10 stake required for initial £/€10 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £/€50 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal the average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £/€50 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.

CHAMPION CHASE

The Champion Chase is going to be a very, very good race this year. There’s a bit of strength and depth for the first time in a number of years. Defi Du Seuil has come through from being a very good novice last season, dropped back in trip and has done nothing wrong over 2m so he’s the up and coming young horse.

Altior has gone the other direction; he was – and still is - the Champion Chaser and they tried to step him up in trip against Cyrname at Ascot and it didn’t work. Nicky Henderson has had a few little niggly problems with him since then and he just hasn’t been able to get a run into him.

I’d imagine he’d go to Newbury the week following the Dublin Racing Festival. He’s a huge price at the moment as a dual Champion Chase winner.

For a horse having only his second run over fences, I was blown away by Chacun Pour Soi last year at Punchestown. It will be interesting to see how he gets on at the Dublin Racing Festival where he takes on A Plus Tard who beat him at Christmas.

I have no doubt that Chacun Pour Soi will reverse form with A Plus Tard. I think Henry De Bromhead will stick to his guns and go the Ryanair route with him.

Cilaos Emery is a very good novice. He only had the one run over fences last year; he would have been a banker for the Arkle but he missed it. There is strength in depth in the race but if I was to put my hand on my heart and pick one now, I’d go with Chacun Pour Soi.

RYANAIR CHASE

What A Plus Tard has done, beating Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown at Christmas, was very impressive.  Henry has said how much better the horse is going left-handed and there’s not many races in Ireland over 2m4f going left-handed before Cheltenham, so he’s been running him over 2m.

I’d say it was a bonus to get that win the Grade 1 at Christmas. Back on his home turf, 2m5f around Cheltenham where he has won before, and I think he’ll be very hard to beat.

I think his big danger could come from Riders Onthe Storm. Nigel Twiston-Davies has done a fantastic job with him and he’s obviously improved a lot. I know from talking to the jockeys that rode him in Ireland that they all thought he was a very, very good horse so he’ll be one to watch.

Frodon bounced back to form with a good performance in Kempton. That was more like the Frodon we knew from last season. He’s as tough as old boots and whatever passes him up that Cheltenham hill will know they’ve had a race of it.

A Plus Tard is a worthy favourite but I think Riders Onthe Storm could be a major threat to him.

Sign up to BoyleSports and get up to £25 in free bets.

Terms - 18+. Cash stakes only. Min £/€10 stake required for initial £/€10 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £/€50 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal the average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £/€50 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.

STAYERS’ HURDLE

I think Penhill is progressing the right way. He ran well at Christmas where he finished third behind Apple’s Jade and again ran well behind Benie Des Dieux at Gowran Park and I think he’s great each-way value and will improve for Cheltenham.

For the sake of the race I hope Benie Des Dieux runs here. If she doesn’t turn up I think Paisley Park is a penalty kick but if she does run I think she’s a massive danger to him regaining his title. I think Cheltenham should downgrade the Mares’ Hurdle to a Grade Two and it would entice these mares like Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux to go for these races.

If Benie Des Dieux turns up here she would be the one for me. I think she’s an unbelievable mare.

Sign up to BoyleSports and get up to £25 in free bets.

Terms - 18+. Cash stakes only. Min £/€10 stake required for initial £/€10 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £/€50 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal the average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £/€50 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.

GOLD CUP

Lostintranslation has been 100% since Kempton. He had a wind operation which is something that will help him. When you look back, he was very impressive when he won at Haydock, but he ran very flat in the King George.

He’s had a good break from Christmas until Cheltenham which is exactly what staying chasers need and hopefully he gets good ground at the Festival and he’ll be a big player in the Gold Cup.  He handles the course very well, he’s won there and also finished 2nd to Defi Du Seuil at Cheltenham last year.

It’s a fantastic Gold Cup this year. There are so many horses who have a chance. A lot of questions are going to be answered and a lot of markets are going to change after the Irish Gold Cup on Sunday.

Kemboy is going to line up in it, Presenting Percy is going to line up in it, Delta Work is going to line up in it and they’re three big chances to win the Gold Cup.

One of them will shorten, some of them will drift but the one thing you do know is that Al Boum Photo isn’t going to drift; the only thing that’s going to happen is that he’s going to shorten. So if you fancy Al Boum Photo for the Gold Cup, now is the time to back him.

I see the trip being a problem for Kemboy. I think the Gold Cup distance with his style of racing could be a big question mark for him.

Santini on the other hand stepped forward from his debut in Sandown which was very unimpressive with a good performance the other day but he’s a horse that likes to be ridden handy. If things don’t go his way in the hustle and bustle of a race where you’re going to have pace from Kemboy and Native River, it’s going to be very competitive up front and I wonder whether he’s the kind of horse that backs out of it.

DISAPPOINTING NEWS ABOUT SIZING JOHN

It’s very disappointing that Sizing John has been ruled out for the rest of the season. He had been in great form since he came back in this season and was running a lovely race in Punchestown when he came down three out when Barry Geraghty rode him while I was injured.

Everything had been going smoothly with him. He was a bit stiff and sore for a few days after that New Year’s Eve fall but his work over the past few weeks has been very good. He put in good work on Tuesday and he felt good after it.

I was so disappointed when I arrived at Jessie Harrington’s yard on Wednesday morning to find out that he was finished for the season. He suffered a new injury and it’s just so frustrating.

We all know how good he is and we were all looking forward to getting him back to the track. It was all systems set to go after the way he worked on Tuesday and I drove to Down Royal with a pep in my step on Tuesday knowing this.

I was looking forward to riding him at Leopardstown on Sunday so it’s just frustrating to get this close and then to be ruled out again but that’s animals and the way it works with thoroughbred racehorses. It’s all part of the ups and downs of horse racing.

It’s really unfortunate for connections who have been so patient with him and especially all the staff in the yard that have all worked so hard to get him back to where we were with him before. 

Robbie Power
Sign up to bet365 using bonus code ATR100
Up to £30 in free bets
Get £20 in free bets
£20 Risk Free First Bet
Up to £30 in free bets
Up to £30 in free bets
Up to £40 in bonus funds
Up to £25 in free bets
£20 Free Exchange Bet

Existing User?

Forgot your password?

New User?

Sign up using our simple one-page form and you'll be able to access free video form, tips and exclusive content straight away.