It’s another fantastic day’s racing on Wednesday and I’ve got some nice rides to look forward to. There are a few short-priced favourites, but they don’t always win so hopefully we’ll have a bit of luck.
1.20pm Cheltenham – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
It’s a real England versus Ireland battle in this and I’m going to side with the English. Bravemansgame has looked very classy in what he has done so far and he could be a real improver. Paul Nicholls clearly likes him a lot. There doesn’t seem to be much between him, Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil – it should be a great race to watch.
SPORTING JOHN – 1.55pm Cheltenham
Sporting John is a really exciting ride in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase – we’ve always thought a lot of him. He’s taking on last year’s Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish who has been very good in Ireland this season and will obviously be very hard to beat.
We were thrilled with Sporting John in the Scilly Isles, though, and he should improve again for that. Three miles will be ideal for him and I also think a small field will benefit us as it will give him a chance to warm up through the race like he did at Sandown.
He jumped really nicely when I schooled him on Monday morning and everyone is really happy with him at home. You could see that at Sandown, he got better through the race and I’m sure it did his confidence the world of good. Of all the English horses, he’s the top rated and hopefully he’s the one who can give Monkfish most to worry about.
2.30pm Cheltenham – Coral Cup
I don’t have a ride in the race but I’ll be closely watching Thomas Derby who is a classy horse and finished second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a couple of years ago. He handles the track, stays very well and Olly Murphy’s horses seem to be in very good heart. I’m not sure he’s well handicapped but I could see him running a big race off top weight.
3.05pm Cheltenham – Champion Chase
This is the main race of the day and it really is very hard to see past Chacun Pour Soi after his efforts this season. The one question mark is he’s never run at Cheltenham before but you’re still trying to find reasons for him not to win.
I think Nube Negra is a good each-way bet. He’s unexposed and progressive, but he still has a fair gap to bridge with the favourite.
SOME NECK – 3.40pm Cheltenham
He won over course and distance in December, so we know he handles the track, but he’s got a bit to find on ratings with Easysland and Tiger Roll. Easysland is the one we all have to beat, he was very good in the race last year, while I’m sure everyone would love to see Tiger Roll run well. His record at the track is phenomenal. He’s a fantastic little horse and if I can beat him a short-head that would be perfect.
ZANZA – 4.15pm Cheltenham
Zanza is one of my best rides of the week in the Grand Annual. He was another in great form when I went down to Philip’s [Hobbs] on Monday morning. He was going very well when he fell at Cheltenham in December and is much better off at the weights with Sky Pirate and Ibleo who were first and second that day.
His jumping hasn’t been affected by that, he’s schooled really well recently. It’s going to be run at a very high tempo and it will be a real test of speed and stamina turning in. Novices have a good record in the race and he’s a strong traveller who stays very well. There is very little not to like and if we have a bit of luck on the day, he will go very close.
4.50pm Cheltenham – Champion Bumper
Willie Mullins has got a very strong hand as always and the Irish have a strong hand full stop. I don’t have a major view on the leading contenders like Kilcruit and Sir Gerhard, there are lots of talented horses in the race and whatever wins you’d think they’ll be back next year for the novice hurdles. It’s always a good race to watch, they’re the ones for the future.