Who knew that when you get older jet lag affects your mind and not your body. That is my excuse for missing my article last week after returning from the Breeders Cup, I completely forgot what day it was, missing the end of the flat season on turf at least, but bouncing back today with the jumps racing and a little racecourse we have over here called Cheltenham, but more of that later.
First up we need to congratulate Nicola Currie on riding out her claim at Kempton on Wednesday evening, and wish her all the luck as a fully-fledged professional jockey. The next year or two will undoubtedly be her hardest time in the saddle as she competes at level weights with her male counterparts which doesn’t need to be an issue. Although she is now no longer the “go to” apprentice she was earlier and we can only hope the rides do not dry up as she certainly has the ability to get to the top given the right ammunition.
On to Cheltenham now and as any Brits reading this will be fully aware that it is the “Mecca” of racing in the UK and something we all look forward to with March the obvious highlight and the pinnacle of the National Hunt season.
The three-day November meeting is seen by many, myself included, as the real start of the jumps season proper and although Friday will be over by the time you read this, we still have two days of action to look through.
Starting with Saturday and in the opener there has been a strong word for Nicky Henderson’s Never Adapt, a once raced French hurdle winner who picked up the equivalent of over £21,000 when scoring at Compiegne by ten lengths in March. She is upped in grade instantly by new connections including owner J P McManus, but gets weight from all her rivals and could be a cut above all of these, though I do admit, this is a tricky heat to call.
The 1.50pm is not a race I will be playing in by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worth mentioning the long-awaited return of 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree. Unfortunately for connections his career hasn’t exactly gone smoothly since with long periods off the track before pulling up on both outings last season at Wetherby and Newbury.
Eased when beaten the first time and tailed off the second he has had a wind operation in December last year but hasn’t been seen since, and it seems wishful thinking that they can get him back to his best though as a racing fan we can but hope.
One more horse will do for me on Saturday’s card as Willie Mullins allows Royal Illusion to come over the Irish Sea for the mares’ only bumper at 4.00pm as she looks to maintain her unbeaten record. Her trainer has any number he could have chosen from for this race but has decided to rely on the daughter of King’s Theatre who looks a little bit special and can take this before being sent over hurdles, hopefully later this season.
On to Sunday and I am only going to have the one bet you will no doubt be pleased to hear. Claimantakinforgan did win on his chasing bow at Uttoxeter but it wasn’t much of a race and I am happy to oppose him at the predicted odds with Defi Du Seuil who was top class in 2016/17 over hurdles and can be forgiven below par efforts last season when all was not well.
The Hobbs yard remain in great form as does jockey Barry Geraghty and if he can jump a fence, the great unknown, then he could well go to the very top at this game.
Never Adapt 12.40pm Cheltenham Saturday
Royal Illusion 4.00pm Cheltenham Saturday
Defi Du Seuil 1.50pm Cheltenham Sunday
Have a great weekend everyone.