Robbie Power will be approaching his 40th birthday this time next year, but it is not too difficult to argue that he is riding at the peak of his powers ahead of his return to the Cheltenham Festival.
The son of renowned showjumper Con Power has long been considered one of Ireland’s leading jockeys – and shot to international prominence when claiming Grand National glory aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained Silver Birch at at Aintree in 2007.
For a jockey of Power’s stature, winners at the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds have been relatively hard to come by, with Bostons Angel providing him with his first in the 2011 RSA, before he enjoyed a Festival hat-trick for his long-time ally Jessica Harrington in 2017.
The undoubted highlight of the treble three years ago was Sizing John’s triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – and he has high hopes of a second triumph in the blue riband later this month aboard Lostintranslation.
Colin Tizzard’s inmate moved to the head of ante-post lists for the Festival’s most coveted prize when toppling Haydock favourite Bristol De Mai in November’s Betfair Chase, but blotted his copybook when pulled up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
However, the Flemensfirth gelding has since undergone a minor wind operation and Power is confident his charge will make his presence felt when he returns to Cheltenham on March 13.
“I’ve definitely not lost any faith in him,” said Power.
“He was only a seven-year-old when he won the Betfair Chase and we do forget sometimes how much a race can take out of these staying chasers. From the moment the flag dropped in Kempton I never felt comfortable, but I’d just draw a line through it.
“He’s come into the Gold Cup a bit under the radar now, a bit like Sizing John did when he won it. People thought Sizing John wouldn’t stay and now they’re writing off Lostintranslation.
“I think in this game there’s a bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. People have been watching the likes of Delta Work win while Losintranslation hasn’t been running.
“I know how good his form is around the New Course – he was second to Defi Du Seuil in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festival and beat Defi Du Seuil in the Dipper.
“I’m just hoping for a bit of nice ground and I think he’ll run a big race.”
Another one of Power’s 2017 Cheltenham heroes was Supasundae in that year’s Coral Cup.
The son of Galileo has since established himself as genuine top-class performer with a hat-trick of Grade One wins, and Power views him as a lively outsider in what appears a wide-open renewal of the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
“It might look unlikely, a 10-year-old in a normal season isn’t going to win a Champion Hurdle on his first run in a Champion Hurdle, but this year is an exceptional year,” he said.
“Supasundae has won around Cheltenham and he beat Buveur D’Air and was second to Buveur D’Air on his last two runs of last season. What price would Buveur D’Air be if he was running in a Champion Hurdle?
“If we get a bit of soft ground, his stamina is going to come into play and I think he has a real sporting chance.”
One of the key components of Power’s success in recent seasons has been his link up with the aforementioned Tizzard.
As well as looking forward to partnering Lostintranslation, Power is set to be on board a clutch of seriously exciting novice hurdlers for the Dorset handler, including Tolworth victor Fiddlerontheroof and unbeaten The Big Breakaway.
“Fiddlerontheroof is in the Supreme and will probably be left in the Ballymore until the last minute. If he gets soft ground on the first day, I think he’ll be a massive player in the Supreme,” said Power.
“I think The Big Breakaway is a very exciting horse and I’d imagine he’ll run in the Ballymore. Envoi Allen looks like being there and he’s going to carry the tag of Irish banker for the week, but you should never be afraid of one horse and we’ll take him on.”
“The Big Breakaway has given me a really good feel in his two runs. He’s got an awful lot of potential and we just don’t know how good he could be. We’ll find out if we take on Envoi Allen, I suppose!
“Harry Senior was very impressive in Cheltenham on Trials Day and I think his most likely target is the Albert Bartlett.”
While the Harrington and Tizzard yards are very much Power’s chief supporters, he has also enjoyed big-race success for the powerhouse yards of Elliott, Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead in the last couple of years, so outside Festival rides are not out of the question.
His response when asked if he was looking forward to the big meeting in the Cotswolds was hardly surprising.
He said: “If you’re not looking forward to Cheltenham, you’re in the wrong game.”