It's always disappointing to come away from the Festival without a winner but it was another great meeting and I hope everyone enjoyed watching it.
The Irish dominated the week and it was a bit sombre in our weighing room, we were celebrating having a placed horse rather than a winner! I do think some people have got a bit carried away, though. The best horses at the moment are trained in Ireland, they’ve had better resources over the past few years to buy the best horses. But if you go back 10 or 12 years it was Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson who were winning everything. These things come in waves, they will change, but at the moment we’re playing catch up.
Native River ran well again. To finish in the top four in four Gold Cups is pretty incredible – it’s hard enough to run in four Gold Cups! I was never really happy during the race, we were in top gear all the way. He just didn’t sparkle like he did at Sandown but he showed what a good attitude he has again to keep at it and he was the first British horse home. He’s an absolute star and will have another day in the sun soon.
Zanza was frustrating in the Grand Annual. He nearly got brought down and I had to pull him up after that. He was fine but your race is over when something like that happens.
Aye Right ran really well to finish third in the Ultima. He’s still a horse on the upgrade and next season he should improve again. He’s the type who will get better with age.
UltimaWe were also very pleased with Some Neck in the Cross Country Chase, but it was incredible to see Tiger Roll win at Cheltenham again. I was probably in the camp that thought he’d lost his zest but he looked right back to his best. The way he travelled and jumped, it was a huge performance. We certainly haven’t seen the last of the Tiger!
In terms of the most impressive performances of the week, Allaho was fantastic in the Ryanair. They went really hard but he stayed on well up the hill.
Appreciate It demolished the rest of them and he looks like one of the most exciting horses around. He’s already won a point-to-point and he looks the perfect type for the Arkle.
Shishkin is the one English horse that gives us all hope. He was very impressive in the Arkle and looks head and shoulders above the rest.
LITTLE RIVER BAY – 3.25pm Newbury
She has been a fantastic mare and won well round Newbury two starts back. She just didn’t cope with the Sandown bog last time but the better ground will suit her here. She has to carry a lot of weight but that’s because she has the best form.
The Newbury win was under a double penalty and she was very good that day. She gave plenty of weight away then and hopefully she can do it again.
KALOOKI – 4.00pm Newbury
He has been a very good novice chaser but thankfully the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds which will help. He’s won and run well round Newbury this season and the drop back to two and a half miles in this will hopefully help him see out the race better.
ACROSS THE CHANNEL – 4.35pm Newbury
He’s a nice horse and has won an Irish point-to-point. He clearly wasn’t right when he had his first run a few months ago but he seems in good order at home and we hope he can put in a good performance.
SOCKS OFF – 5.45pm Newbury
Although he ran well under a penalty at Doncaster last time, he’ll need to improve on that in what looks a very competitive race.
AWAKE AT MIDNIGHT – 3.20pm Ascot
He ran a great race at Newbury last time to finish second and the recent rain will help his chances here. He’s gone up a bit in the weights again, but I’d like to think he goes there with a decent chance in what looks a pretty competitive race on paper.
GALA BALL – 3.55pm Ascot
He’s been a bit disappointing on his last couple of starts, but he’s been given a real chance by the handicapper now. He’s won off higher marks than this in the past, so if he could return to his old form then he’d have a great chance of being in the shake-up.
There is never much between the horses in these veterans’ races and hopefully he can go well, especially if the rain comes.