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Tote ambassador and four-time Champion Jockey Richard Johnson talks us through his rides at Cheltenham on Saturday and Sunday.

Cheltenham, Saturday

GUMBALL – 1.50pm Cheltenham

He won nicely at Uttoxeter last month having improved on his first start over fences at the same venue when third to Fusil Raffles. Gumball is a very decent horse and I’d like to think we’ll finish closer to Fusil Raffles this time. It looks a good race with the likes of Eldorado Allen and Quel Destin, and you’d have to expect whoever wins will be high up in the rankings for the Arkle.

2.15pm Cheltenham – Paddy Power Gold Cup

No ride for me in the main race of the day but the obvious one is Simply The Betts. He has excellent form at Cheltenham, beating Imperial Aura on Trials Day and then winning the Plate at the Festival. You’d have to think he will go very well. Happy Diva won the race last year and she’s had a run which lots of them haven’t. She comes into the race in the right sort of form and looks a decent each-way option, or one for your Placepots.

MARTELLO SKY – 3.55pm Cheltenham

She has won two of her three starts, both at Fakenham, so she has a nice bit of experience coming into this. I rode a winner for Lucy Wadham and it’s nice to get another ride for her. This is always a very warm mares’ bumper but she definitely goes there with a live chance. Her experience will stand her in good stead.

Cheltenham, Sunday

DEFI DU SEUIL – 2.25pm Cheltenham

He’s a fantastic horse and they’ve been very happy with him at home. Nothing came to light as to why he disappointed in the Champion Chase. Up until then he’d had the perfect season, getting better with each run. He’s still only a seven-year-old and is really in the prime of his life.

I’ve schooled him and he seems in great form. He’s done plenty of work, but, like with most horses, whatever he does he’ll improve as it’s his seasonal debut. I’m very lucky to be able to ride him again and I’ll be speaking with Barry Geraghty on Sunday morning to get his thoughts. Hopefully I can do the same as Barry did last year and we can win the race.

Rouge Vif was very impressive here in a handicap chase last month and he’s the one you’d probably fear most. You’ve then got the Arkle winner, Put The Kettle On, who we have to concede 10lbs to and she obviously has very good form at Cheltenham. It’s nice to know with her that it will be a truly run race as she likes to go forward.

Defi Du Seuil

3.00pm Cheltenham – Greatwood Handicap Hurdle

This is always a very competitive race and the one who could be the value is Hunters Call for Olly Murphy. He was too keen in the Galway Hurdle as there surprisingly wasn’t much pace. He still managed to finish fourth, though, and he’s a very talented horse. Edwardstone was a good novice and is still on the upgrade, so you’d expect him to be bang there at the finish.

MASTEROFTHEHEIGHTS – 4.05pm Cheltenham

I won on him at Fontwell on his debut in September where he showed a good attitude. He stuck to the task well but was beaten at Cheltenham last month, so he would need to improve to take a hand in this.

Read Richard's thoughts on all his weekend rides every week exclusive on the Tote blog.


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