After all of the excitement of last week’s Cheltenham Festival it looks like being a quietish week for me, but I’m heading up to Haydock on Wednesday for a nice ride for the boss.
Ubetya has only had two runs for Paul Nicholls, finishing second in a novice handicap chase at Plumpton and third in a handicap chase at Wincanton, but he’s run okay both times and he ought to be competitive at Haydock in the 13:35 University Of Liverpool Horseracing Mba Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
I rode the runner-up, The Cob, when Ubetya won over hurdles at Uttoxeter a couple of years ago, and I thought he looked quite useful that day. He ran two good races over fences the following season and ran well both times, but he then had a longish break and he’s probably just finding his way again now.
Nearly all of his runs so far have been on soft and heavy going, and it could be that the drying ground will help him get home better at Haydock.
Frodon home safe and sound
As it turned out, my own Festival was over by Tuesday night, but after two good rides on day one I was able to enjoy the rest as a spectator.
You may have read that Frodon was struck into on his right hind hock when finishing in mid-field in the Ultima Chase. The hock is a complicated area, but while it looked nasty it was relatively superficial, thank goodness, and the cut avoided tendons and ligaments.
The vets at Cheltenham did a good job flushing it out at the track, and then he was cleaned up again when he got home. Frodon is A1, and the main thing now is to keep his hock free of infection, so in the short term that means box rest, which he’s not very keen on. I’ve looked in on him a few times, and he’s very impatient!
My other ride was on Martello Sky in the Mares’ Hurdle and we had a great spin. We didn’t go as quick as I expected us to, so I made an early move down the back so that I wouldn’t get left behind on the sprint down the hill.
We came down the hill well and we were upsides at the second-last, but on Tuesday’s better ground a few of them had a bit more speed than us on the uphill run to the line, where we were just keeping on at the same pace.
It was a hot race, as anyone can see, and I thought she showed she definitely had the talent to make an impact at that level one day. I remain a big fan, and if we had been on Wednesday’s ground it might have been a different story, as they wouldn’t have been able to have sprinted away. She’s been happy at home since then, and hopefully we’ll have another go at Aintree.
I was looking forward to riding Thyme White in the Grand Annual on Wednesday, but of course it rained relentlessly all day and Paul took him out.
Rachael is our Cheltenham Queen
We saw some amazing performances from both horses and jockeys over the four days, and what a difference the crowds made. Every winner had its story, as it always does at Cheltenham, but there’s no doubting that Rachael Blackmore stole the show with her double in the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.
It was fantastic to see Honeysuckle defend her crown in such style in the Champion Hurdle and then return to such a fantastic noise for their reception, and then the ride she gave A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup was awesome. They had moments in the race where they stacked up, resulting in a tightly packed field down the hill.
Rachael didn’t have much daylight seemingly but she kept her cool, and the way they were stacked meant she was able to push the speed button that A Plus Tard has to burst clear and sprint through the line. A seriously awesome moment!
I’d also like to mention the ride Tom Cannon gave Edwardstone in the Arkle for his first Cheltenham win. It could all have ended in tears in front of the stands with a circuit to go when one fell in front of them, but Tom was very sharp and Edwardstone was incredibly nimble.
I should also mention the Prestbury Cup score, which was very respectable considering all the doom and gloom beforehand. Some people seemed to think that we would do well to equal last year’s total of five winners, but we doubled it with ten wins and we were still almost upsides going into the last day. I think most of us would have settled for that at the start of the week.
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