Cheltenham hosts its first meeting of the season and top jock and Paddy Power columnist Ruby Walsh gives us the inside track on his four rides .
I ride Grandioso for Paul Nicholls in the 2.1o over 2m 5f but this one has to improve a bit to challenge the like of Nigel Twiston Davies’ The New One and Jeremy Scott’s Special Account. Grandioso finished up last season by winning at Ayr and is rated 124. He would have to improve to win this race and whether he stays over hurdles or goes over fences could depend on what happens today.
I won this race last year on That’ll Do but I’d imagine that Domtaline who’s’ won his last two starts over fences is a better horse. He’ll need to be as this year’s renewal looks a better race. The trip should suit, he’s won his season opener the last two years at Chepstow and carries a penalty for his win at Stratford. He has a chance in what is quite a competitive race.
Paul use to train King of the Night who was a good hurdle horse and is now with Harry Fry. Harry had a big input to Rock on Ruby’s Champion Hurdle win last year and knows what he’s at. Gordon Elliott’s Carlito Brigante should appreciate the better ground and Go All The Way has won twice in Ireland.
Wiffy Chatsby is unexposed and has a rating of 125. He’s trying the trip for the first time but I’m looking forward to riding him. It’s very competitive and the top one Cross Kenyon is no back number and the Pipe team have fancied Raslan a few times to win a big handicap. Tom Taaffe’s Heaney looked very good in Gowran Park the last day. Dessie Hughes’ Action Master will love this type of race where he can arrive late. Three miles should suit him. You’d need an each-way price in a race like this.
Paul likes Sire Collognes and it’s just as well because Sea of Thunder and White Star Line are very good horses. Sea of Thunder was winning a novice hurdle well here when he fell at the last and bolted in at Clonmel on his chase debut. Sire Collognes hasn’t run for 156 days and has had his issues but we’re hoping chasing will bring out the best in him.
I ride French import Landscape in this maiden hurdle dominated by bumper winners. He who won a maiden on the flat in France but you always like a horse with a little bit of experience over timber going into these races. John Ferguson’s Population was a good bumper horse while Nicky Henderson has only two runners on the card and one of them is the Titan De Sarti. AP McCoy is booked to ride The Romford Pele for Rebecca Curtis. We’re hoping for a good run and he’s schooled well and has his chance.