Top jock and Paddy Power Blog columnist Ruby Walsh – fresh from a winning nap aboard Tarla yesterday – gives Paddy Power punters the lowdown on the first day of the Open meeting at Cheltenham.
I’ve three mounts at Cheltenham today with Paul Nicholls’ Unioniste (1.15) getting the ball rolling in the Novices’ Chase. It’s a very good race.
Fingal Bay was impressive at Chepstow on his jumping debut and was a high-class hurdler before that. David Pipe’s Dynaste is a cracking horse and the stable won this race last year with Grands Crus.
Paul is pleased with Unioniste and expects him to run a big race and I’m hopeful he will too.
Shooters Wood (1.50) got 6lb for finishing second the last day at Taunton but this is a better race. He’s a free-running sort, likes to be up at the front and jumps well and hopefully will jump well again today. It’s such a competitive race that if he could get in the money we’d all be delighted.
Dodging Bullets (2.25) was fourth in the Triumph Hurdle last season and won well here a month ago on his reappearance. My big worry is that there’s no real pace in the race and he’s a free-running sort who likes to be tucked in behind the other runners. That could make it tricky for him. Johnjo O’Neill’s Tominator was a good flat horse, third in the Cesarewitch and won well at Bangor on his hurdling debut.
River Maigue for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty might be the one to take us along. He’s a former point-to-point winner and mightn’t want to hang about either.
Of the others I know about, Willie Mullins has two in the cross-country chase (3.00). Uncle Junior won this a year ago and knows his way around here but Deutschland is a cracking work horse and has schooled very well. I wouldn’t put anyone off having a small bit each-way on him.