Nick Scholfield

24th March 2017

All systems go after a great Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is over and it didn’t disappoint. What a Timico Gold Cup it was. Well done to Jessica Harrington, Robbie Power and Sizing John. Robbie is a brilliant horseman, which is no surprise given his father is the showjumping legend Captain Con Power and his sister is the Irish Olympic event rider Elizabeth Power. Robbie grew up competing in showjumping, before switching to become a professional jump jockey, but he stills showjumps in the summer and he won the Speed Derby at Hickstead not that long ago. You can see it in his riding. I thought Djakadam would win – I got that one wrong!

Bryony Frost winning the St James Place Foxhunter on Pacha Du Polder was fantastic for the Westcountry and they must have a huge chance at Aintree.

It was a good week for National Hunt racing as a whole and ITV Racing were great with their coverage. Hopefully there will be a few more racing converts.

In this week’s news the British Horseracing Authority is to make it tougher to become a jockey after figures showed that less than a fifth of apprentices ride enough winners to lose the riding allowance. I think it is a good thing too as it will make racing much safer. Some people think its just riding a horse around a field but there is much more to it than that. It’s much more professional now than it used to be and racing needs to keep moving with the times. I’ve been riding for nine seasons and it’s a non-stop learning curve.

I think Nicky Henderson has a very good chance of being crowned Champion Trainer this season, although Paul Nicholls is a master at picking up mid-week prizes which all add to the tally. The Randox Health Grand National will possibly be the big decider but it will be ongoing until the final meeting of the season at Sandown Park, which feature the Bet365 Chase and the Celebration Chase Last year it was between Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls, this year its Nicholls and Henderson. It will be fantastic if it does go right to the wire as it brings the season to such a great climax. Richard Johnson has the championship title sewn up. He’s riding as well as ever, with four winners on Wednesday.

Jeremy Scott’s daughter Laura Scott is laid up with injury after a bad accident riding out. I hope she gets better soon as she’s in hospital, and will be for a while.

There are still plenty of meetings, even with Cheltenham over. The Flat racing season is nearly upon us but there are still plenty of really good meetings coming up, and May can be a very busy time too. With the ground being much softer than it usually is at this time of year, there are still plenty of horses running.

Tomorrow there are three meetings with racing at Newbury, Stratford and Bangor. Newbury’s meeting includes the EBF & TBA Mares’ Final, which is a great initiative and gives mares valuable black type. There’s also the sales bumper for horses that were sold at the Goffs Ireland Sale. It’s great prize money for a bumper and another really good initiative.