Front-runners can set it up nicely for Footpad in Ryanair

Envoi Allen, right, with Jamie Codd up, races alongside Blue Sari, with Barry Geraghty up, on their way to winning the Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Day Two of the Cheltenham Racing Festival at Prestbury Park in Cheltenham, England. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

We drew a blank yesterday but most of the horses ran very well. Wicklow Brave was particularly unlucky to be touched off in the Coral Cup, and Blue Sari ran a great race in the Bumper, as did my mount, Ciel De Neige, in the Fred Winter on what was his first run for us. Moving on to today’s action, Willie runs three in today’s first race, the JLT Novice Chase, and I suppose they’re playing for place money, with the big two being Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation.

I’m probably a Defi Du Seuil man myself but I hope my mount, Voix Du Reve, can go well. He has learned to relax a lot better and to settle more, and I’ll be able to ride a race on him. I schooled him the other morning and he jumped super, and I think he’ll run a good race. He’s in good order - all the horses are in good order - and while I know Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation will be hard to beat, I wouldn’t be surprised if my horse ran into a place.

Of our other horses, I think Real Steel is a better horse going the other way around, and I think the trip will be far enough for Pravalaguna. We don’t have any runner in the Pertemps Handicap but the one I think is most interesting is A Toi Phil. He’s way down in grade running in a handicap hurdle at this level but he’s a genuine graded chaser when he’s right and in good form. He’s worth a look each-way. We run Footpad and Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase and I chose Footpad purely because of the shape of the race.

It wasn’t easy not to choose Un De Sceaux as I’ve had many great days here on him, but I just think this race will be run to suit horses that are held up. The rain was a lot slower to come here on Monday than was forecast but it did come eventually. But even the difference in the ground between the Supreme and the Mares’ Hurdle was noticeable – it dried very quickly. With Charbel, Frodon, Monalee, Sub Lieutenant and Un De Sceaux in the race there are a lot of front runners and I thought that could set it up for one coming from off the pace a bit. That’s why I went for Footpad.

He must recapture his form of last year, but he’s a young horse and hopefully he can. We have four runners in the Stayers Hurdle, and I think Faugheen has a great chance. There’s a big field, with 18 runners, but there are quite a few I don’t really fancy to have a say in the finish. The bottom few have a bit to do to get involved, and I’m not certain Supasundae really gets this trip. Paisley Park is an obvious favourite as he has been rock-solid all year, but I question whether there is huge depth to his form. I’m not sure.

Bacardys was running a great race until falling at the last in this race last year, while Bapaume ran well behind Presenting Percy at Gowran Park. Coquin Mans has been disappointing and I’m sure Willie will change tactics with him, but I ride Faugheen and I think he has a great chance. He’s in great form. I’m delighted with the way he has progressed since Christmas. I’ve no worries about him staying, no worries about the track, and I’m really looking forward to the race.

Paul rides Polidam in the Brown Advisory Plate. He’s a bit in and out and hard to fancy. His only win for Willie was over two and a half miles at Navan when he beat Acapella Bourgeois, but he’s a difficult horse to get a handle on and if he ran into the money it would be great. We run six in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle but Nicky Henderson’s Epatante will be a warm order. I’m on the bottom one, My Sister Sarah. She’s a nice mare, she jumps well and she’s sure to stay.

I can’t understand why Elfile is a 50-1 chance. She’s also a good jumper, she stays well, and Paul rides her. Concertista is having her first run over hurdles, and this is a hard race to win first time up. Buildmeupbuttercup is a very fast mare and I’m not sure she’ll stay the trip around here. Allez Dance won well on Punchestown on her first run for us but she didn’t back up her runs in France so who knows what will happen with her. Our other runner, Sancta Simona, is a little bit like Buildmeupbuttercup insofar as she’s a fast mare and I don’t know if this track will suit her.

Willie has the top-weight, Livelovelaugh, in the Kim Muir and this one has been the subject of some banter in the yard. I’m not sure he’ll stay three and a quarter miles but Willie Mullins is absolutely adamant he wants the trip, so there’ll be some bragging rights when this race is over. He’s in great order and if Willie is right, the horse will be bang there, but if I’m right he won’t.

Dad runs Any Second Now, who is a bit of a ‘nearly horse’ but I think it’s a bit of a drop in class for him and he could go well. Looking further afield, I think Arkwrist has a good chance as this will be the first time he’s had soft ground in a long time.

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