Harry Cobden: Feeling McFabulous about Saturday

Blogs | 28th January 2022

Get the latest from top jockey Harry Cobden as he looks ahead to a big Saturday card at Cheltenham for Festival Trials Day.

After a couple of days away from the racecourse, I’m raring to get back on track for Cheltenham tomorrow. The day is dubbed Cheltenham Festival “Trials Day”, so everyone will be hoping a star can announces themselves as a real contender for the big week in March.

I’ve got a nice bunch of rides to look forward to and hopefully we’ll get a taste of the famous Winners’ Enclosure!

My Saturday Rides

12.45pm – ICEO

A really smashing type, I rode a couple of canters on him yesterday and he felt fantastic. He’s got a nice presence about him, though he was a little hot headed when he first arrived at Paul’s.

He won absolutely as he liked on British debut at Kempton, so this step up in Grade is the next logical move. Of the juveniles in the yard he’d be the one who stands out the most. Based on his homework we feel it’s well within his compass to be very competitive here.

If he wins on Saturday then he’ll stamp himself as our best hope for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival in March. We’re all really looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

1.20pm – SOLO

He’s been knocking on the door in very lofty company this season without doing enough to win. We’re confident though that he’ll be able to get his head in front soon.

I think going back to a left-handed track like Cheltenham will be a benefit to him as he jumped a little bit out to his left at Kempton last time and lost ground on his rivals.

The step up in distance to two and a half miles is another plus point. He’s not the sort of horse who can accelerate in the latter stages of a race, he just sticks on at an even pace. If we can get rolling down the hill and carry that momentum into the straight he should be very competitive. 


This arguably isn’t the strongest Cotswold Chase you’ll ever see. I like Simply The Betts’ chances, but hot favourite Chantry House is the one we all have to beat.

Our horse ran a nice race last time to finish a game second to Vienna Court in a handicap at the same racecourse. The pair pulled well clear of the pack that day and he showed he’s certainly in good heart.

It’ll be his first time racing over 3 miles, but I’m fairly confident he’ll stay the trip. He might not have the sort of profile you’d look for in a big race like this, but I do fancy he’ll serve it up to Chantry House. On official ratings there’s not much of a gap at all. 

The one minor point would be that there doesn’t seem to be masses of rain around – his form suggests that softer ground helps him show his best.


He ran better than the bare form suggested on New Year’s Day in the Relkeel Hurdle. The team were mindful that he’d had a long break as well as a breathing operation to fix a whistling sound we’d heard last year. I was relatively easy on him in the home straight as we chased Stormy Ireland home. 

He stuck on powerfully in the closing stages which gives us plenty of encouragement that he retains his ability. It also made us think a step up in distance was definitely the right way forward.

Bearing that in mind, I’m pretty sure the plan will be to drop him in near the back of the pack and wait to make a late move.

The staying hurdle division isn’t the strongest this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if this horse put himself forward as a contender for the big prize – The Stayers Hurdle – in March.

It is called Trials day after all, so hopefully we can spot a future Festival winner or two.