History has proven the Festival to be a ruthless environment where only the toughest, most talented survive. This week will be no different. Some hotpots will enhance already lofty reputations while, for others, the bubble will burst. As ever, the challenge is what to trust and what to oppose, writesmakes his picks.
In the latter stages of his career in the saddle he may be but the joy of riding a winner at the Cheltenham Festival commands a broader-than-ever smile from Ruby Walsh, who didn’t have to wait long to make that familiar walk back to the winner’s enclosure.
Tuesday, the opening day of the Punchestown, was to be Willie Mullins’ day. Expectation was high that the stable could make the necessary start in its bid to reel in championship leader Gordon Elliott in the race for the trainers’ title. And so it did.
The hype that surrounds Presenting Percy should ensure Monalee goes off a tasty price in today’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase and Henry De Bromhead’s charge is fancied to do the business in a race that historically separates the men from the boys.
Lost amid the fanfare of the Jockey Club’s recent £45m (€51.6m) facelift of Prestbury Park, with its 6,500-capacity grandstand, new members’ facilities and improved bars, was a fresh expanse of artificial grass about the size of a tennis court just to the left of the jockeys’ weighing room.
It’s been less than a week since a 26ft statue of Pharoah Ramses II, or Ozymandias as the Greeks liked to call him, was rescued from its ignoble resting place beneath a suburban Cairo slum and surrounded by dirty, running water.