For every Jump Jockey, Cheltenham is the pinnacle. It has an incredible atmosphere with the best racehorses competing for the biggest prizes in Jump racing.
Let me take you through my rides for the first two days of the Festival. I’ve got some great chances and I’m lucky enough to be riding in some of the big races.
2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Quarenta
Quarenta was a little disappointing first time out this season, but his two previous runs were decent. The Kempton form has worked out well. He’s a solid horse in his Grade. He looks like a bit of an outsider, but he’s trained by Jonjo O’Neill who’s a master round Cheltenham. He’s a nice spare to pick up.
You need a lot of luck in these handicaps. There’s a lot of runners, half of the challenge in these races is getting a clear run and getting into a good position where you’re not going to get hampered. If Quarenta runs like he did at Kempton, he’s got a little Each-Way chance in an open race.
1:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Getaway Fred
He’s an outsider but you should never underestimate Colin Tizzard’s horses. Kilbricken Storm was 66/1 at one point before going into 33s and he won an Albert Bartlett. He looks like a horse that’s going in the right direction. He’ll run a tidy race.
2:10 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase – Copperhead
He’s in good form. Joe and Colin Tizzard are very happy with him at home. He looked great last time out. He loves soft ground. I think he’s made for the race; he travels, he jumps and most importantly he stays very well. He’s probably one of my best chances of the week. I’m really looking forward to getting back on him again tomorrow.
I know what it takes to win one after Topofthegame’s win last year. But to be honest their two very different horses, Topofthegame is trickier to ride than Copperhead. Copperhead maybe straightforward but he is the real deal, he’s progressed really well this season.
He showed his true class at Ascot in the Grade 2 Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase where he won by 17 lengths.
3:30 Champion Chase – Dynamite Dollars
He’s looking a lot better, physically fantastic, still improving and he could be a good each-way chance in the race. I picked him over Politologue for the fact he ran to a high standard first time out this season at Newbury when he wasn’t 100% fit, so I think he could run very well.
Dynamite Dollars finishing third in last month’s Betfair Exchange Chase.
It’s a fantastic race, slightly concerning that Altior seems to have had a setback. Alongside the brilliant Altior is Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil, and those two have been faultless all season. You also have to remember, Politologue came second in this race last year, he had a good a prep this season and going there fresh, which is good.
I thought Altior’s performance at Newbury last time out was pretty special, he went past me like a five furlong sprinter. I think if he hadn’t had the lost to Cyrname at the start of the season and a injury setback, he would be very hard to beat.
So, in my opinion, this will be up there as the race of the festival. Considering the competition, Dynamite Dollars could run the race of his life and finish fourth!
4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Thyme White
I think he’s got a good chance. Paul’s got two in the race, but Thyme White is progressing all the time and he’s had a nice rest since Musselburgh. He’s a big leggy horse so hopefully that plays in his favour.
Keep an eye on GBR’s website, I’ll be giving you the lowdown on my Thursday and Friday rides later this week.