Big Buck’s put more than a smile on my face with a great performance in the World Hurdle yesterday.
We went a good gallop and I was happy at the top of the hill. I never felt anything was going to be capable of passing me from the second last.
Full marks, though, to Andrew Lynch and Voler La Vedette for a terrific show and they can be proud of their efforts.
I came here this week with three great chances, Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Big Buck’s and two have now delivered.
I’m obviously pleased with that, because it doesn’t take the public long to start blaming the lad on top!
If you believe in fairytales then Kauto Star will win the Gold Cup this afternoon.
I don’t, preferring to rely on logic, and think that we are up against it taking on Long Run, especially the way Nicky Henderson’s horses are operating.
Kauto has been a revelation this season and there are no negatives. He has recovered well from that much-publicised fall he took at Paul Nicholls’ and it’s not an issue.
I’ve sat on him of late and schooled the horse and he will arrive in really good shape. But he’s now a 12-year-old and the question is whether he has it in his legs over three and a quarter miles plus on this track?
I know we’ve beaten Long Run twice this season, at Haydock and Kempton, but it mightn’t pay to be getting carried away with that.
I thought Long Run was quite big in the ring at Haydock and the hard race he had may have taken the edge off him for Kempton.
I was impressed when he won last time at Newbury and we can expect him to come on plenty again.
He beat Burton Port then, but I don’t rate that horse’s chance at all. I just feel he isn’t good enough.
I took the Hennessy at Leopardstown on Quel Esprit, but there is a long way from beating Roberto Goldback to winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup.
I think Synchronised, who won the Lexus at Leopardstown, has a life. He stays forever, but the worry is that he might get lost in the middle of the contest.
I’m a bit surprised there are so many runners, fifteen in all. Looking though them yesterday morning, I could see five, or even six, who might want to make the running.
I’m still, however, going to ride Kauto Star on the pace. I don’t know how long all of them will last near the front, but as they crack I’ll be edging on.
We will be giving it our very best shot, but I greatly fear that Long Run may come sweeping by at some stage.
I’ve gone with Paul’s Pearl Swan in the Triumph Hurdle, in preference to Willie Mullins’ pair, Ut Se Sivola and Darroun.
Pearl Swan was disqualified after beating Grumeti here in January and we certainly know he acts on the track.
But this is savagely competitive and there is no way anyone can be dogmatic regarding the likely outcome.
I know Gordon Elliott likes Shadow Catcher, Dermot Weld’s Hisaabaat seems to stay particularly well and Alan King rates both Grumeti and Balder Success.
I was a fan of Ut De Sivola’s, but he’s lost his way a bit, although you cannot dismiss him, and Darroun also has to be on the short-list.
As well as that the booking of Barry Geraghty, who is flying, for John Ferguson’s Asaid is significant.
Ted Spread, who disappointed in the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday, tries again in the County Hurdle.
The ground was too heavy for him and he couldn’t pick up from the second last. This ground will suit a lot better and we can at least anticipate a more satisfactory effort.
I have sneaky feeling here, though, for Tony Martin’s Redera. He’s a horse I know well and think will love the place.
I must confess to harbouring great hopes for Boston Bob in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
I know the Irish novices have been largely blown out of the water this week and that has to be taken into consideration.
But Boston Bob is, without doubt, the best of them and the best novice I have ridden for a while.
He is three from three for Willie Mullins and has done everything we have asked of him, since he came from Howard Johnson’s.
He buckled down in some style at Leopardstown last time and giving Lyreen Legend 10lbs and a beating should not be underestimated.
You can argue that this will be the quickest surface he has encountered, but I definitely will not be using that as an excuse if we are beaten.
I round off the festival on Toubab in the Grand Annual and this extended two miles is as far as he wants to go.
Toubab is a flashy grey, who will travel like a dream and probably look like winning for most of the journey.
In-running punters may well be knocking themselves over to get on, but I won’t be counting my chickens.
I don’t know if he has the bottle to face the hill and won’t believe he’s won, until we’ve crossed the line!