17th March 2017

A magical Festival concludes today

The Cheltenham Festival 2017 draws to a conclusion today. There are stories to tell and races that will never be forgotten. It’s been fantastic racing, ultra competitive with a great atmosphere. It’s magical place to be. Every time you walk through the doors you feel the excitement. Although we’re riding every day, it is different. It is so competitive and with the Irish coming over, it really is the best of the best.

Willie Mullins had an unusually slow start, drawing a blank on the first two days, but he more than made up for it yesterday with a four-timer. What an incredible achievement with Yorkhill, Un De Sceaux, Nichols Canyon and Let’s Dance all scoring.

The highlight for me was Nicky Henderson - to train the first and second in the Stan James Champion Hurdle was very good with Buveur D’Air and My Tent or Yours.

Altior was impressive winning the Arkle. I love the way he jumps. He didn’t win by far in the end, but I love the way he goes about his racing, and Might Bite produced an incredible performance in the RSA Novices’ Chase. I'm sure he will be a Gold Cup horse next year.

I was very impressed with Yorkhill in the JLT Novices’ Chase, and it was lovely to see the ten-year-old, Special Tiara, win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Douvan was a lot of people’s bankers, but it proves horses aren’t machines. The whole meeting hasn’t failed to disappoint. The highlight is the Timico Gold Cup today and I think after Willie Mullins’ domination yesterday I am going to stick with Djakadam. He’s been trained with the race in mind. My heart is with Native River and Cue Card as they are English-trained and it would be great for the Westcountry to win a Gold Cup, but my head says Djakadam!

There’s also the St James Place Foxhunter, and I think Pacha Du Polder, with Bryony Frost on board, has a very good chance. He ran a massive race to finish fifth with Victoria Pendleton last year and he wasn’t that far away.

I’m on Un Beau Roman in the concluding Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup for Paul Henderson. I’ve been looking forward to riding him. He’ll need a lot of luck in running, but he has a nice racing weight and with a bit of luck on our side he’ll run a big race.

I’ve been to see Willie Twiston-Davies who had a bad fall on Foxtail Hill in the Close House Novices’ Handicap Chase. He is having an operation today on his back. He’s in very good spirits, and all things considered, he’s in good form.

There’s some good racing this weekend with the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday and cards at Kempton and Fontwell. On Sunday’s there’s racing at Ffos Las. There are some good entries for Exeter on Tuesday and hopefully I might have a ride or two there.