21st January 2015

AP McCoy Blog – Hopes for this weekend

I am much looking forward to getting back to Cheltenham this weekend for Festival Trials Day. It’s great news that the course has been covered to give the meeting every chance of being on and the weather forecast looks much milder later in the week.

The BetBright Cup Chase is the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Trial on Saturday and I have won it a couple of times in recent years thanks to Exotic Dancer and Neptune Collonges. The race has been reopened this time so may not have the biggest field and my possible mount Holywell is also entered in the Galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle. We were thinking about the hurdle race for him as the ground may be testing and the hurdle race may suit him better, but with the chase being reopened he has an alternative engagement. He obviously unseated last time at Aintree, which was disappointing, but he does show his best form from the turn of the year so hopefully he will give a good account of himself whichever race he runs in.

I do think the closer we get to March then the better horse we will see and he is a horse who needs to be competitive so a run will help on that score.

I still have faith in this horse as all of his form has been in the new year, and we have never seen the best of him before Christmas. He always comes good in the spring and I am still hoping he can be a Cheltenham Gold Cup horse. The Cheltenham Gold Cup looks very open and while Silviniaco Conti has produced the best displays one could maybe argue that his very best displays have been on flat tracks. Of the other leading players in the race, Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere were both disappointing in the Lexus. Road To Riches won that race and he looks like an improver and he beat last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup second On His Own, so I don’t think there is an awful lot between last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup horses, and hopefully Holywell can be one of the improvers.

Rebecca Curtis has entered At Fishers Cross in the Cleeve but he has been disappointing this season. He kept jumping out to his right in the latter part of his last race at Leopardstown and lost whatever chance he had of winning. He was a horse who was able to beat The New One over two and a half miles around Cheltenham a couple of years ago and it is a while since he showed his best form. It might be something physical with him and he will need to show a bit more against those entered this weekend.

The Cheltenham card starts with the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial and it looks a really good race with the likes of Peace And Co entered and set to take his chance. Jonjo (O’Neill) has entered Matorico who raced on the Flat in France and is set to have is first start for us. He has never run over hurdles and this looks a tough place to start but he is a nice horse, the race is close to home and it will give us an idea of where we are going. Jonjo needs to get him out and get a run into him. This is a pretty high level to be starting him of with a few of the Triumph Hurdle favourites in there, and you’ll get a fair idea of what will start Triumph Hurdle favourite on the back of the race.

Tap Night has been entered in the Freebets.com Trophy Chase but he has been a disappointing horse overall. He has been tried back over hurdles on his last few starts and that hasn’t worked so he is back over fences this time. He is a typical American-bred, Flat horse and in a small field where thing go his way he can look ok, but anytime he is involved in a big handicap he is disappointing.

I could ride Beast Of Burden for Rebecca in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and he won well last time at Ffos Las. This will be a step up against the likes of Blaklion and Nicholas Canyon, with the latter a possible for Willie Mullins. He won the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse then unseated at Leopardstown over Christmas and he looks a pretty smart horse. He was smart on the Flat for John Gosden and could be the one we have to beat should he make the journey.

Looking ahead to Sunday and we will have another go at beating Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown with Jezki. Hurricane Fly bids to match Istabraq’s record of four Irish Champion Hurdles and he is nine from nine at the track so the stats are against us. Leopardstown just seems to suit Hurricane Fly and the ground will probably be pretty dead and testing after Christmas – which will suit Hurricane Fly more than Jezki. Looking back to last time they met, it was the closest Jezki has got to beating Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown, so from that point of view if we can make the same progress again then we have a chance of beating him, but you can’t knock Hurricane Fly. He is an exceptional horse.

Better ground does suit Jezki and I really felt that last year when I won on him at Punchestown. He really came off the bend and quickened, whereas when I came of the bend at Leopardstown at Christmas I felt he kept at it rather than quickening.

Looking at the Stan James Champion Hurdle picture, there is no doubt that Faugheen is a smart horse. He looks a proper horse and it is testament to him that he has won over three miles and then over a sharp two miles at Kempton over Christmas. The New One managed to win on Saturday but I don’t think that Haydock is the jumps track that is used to be. It is no longer a nice galloping track and is much sharper and tighter. A horse like The New One can look unimpressive there and I would forgive him the run. Haydock doesn’t suit every horse and better ground back at Cheltenham will suit him.

JP McManus’s team for Cheltenham is starting to come together and we have Jezki for the Champion Hurdle and More Of That for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Jonjo has been happy with him and he has had his wind done. Hopefully, somewhere along the way, he might have a run before Cheltenham to ready him for the defence of his crown.

I have Harry Fry’s Jollyallan to look forward to. He is a horse of enormous potential but needs to brush up his jumping, while Arkle hope Gilgamboa won nicely last time and has been going about his business well. He could run in the Irish Arkle this weekend but needs to progress again.

Shutthefrontfoor and Carlingford Lough are both going to be entered for the Irish Hennessy, but I would think that race is more likely for Carlingford Lough and Jonjo will see how happy he is with Shutthefrontdoor before making plans.

Away from racing I had a good, fun night at the PDC Darts final where I presented the winning trophy. It was a great final and an honour to present the prize. I am a William Hill ambassador so that was the main reason for that and it is a tremendous social occasion. My wife came with me and she loves the darts. It is more and more becoming something women are getting into and it’s not just a lads night out.

It was nice to be back on The Morning Line on Channel 4 last week and I even managed to pick a winner! Hopefully you can too this weekend as we continue to countdown to The Festival.

Enjoy Trials day.