I should have waited longer on Annie

I was absolutely kicking myself after Annie Power had got beaten by More Of That in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday.

I should have waited longer on Annie

I’m probably my own worst critic, but I’m convinced I went too soon on the mare.

I followed At Fishers Cross and should have followed Barry Geraghty on the winner.

Annie Power was doing too much in the early stages, she was too free.

She then dropped the bridle for a while, before becoming keen again.

But I should have waited longer, I should have tracked Barry and had one good go at him.

Perhaps, the result would have been the same, but I would have come in after the race feeling a lot better.

I hate thinking I might have done things differently, it’s a horrible feeling. She got the trip, no problem, but that is scant consolation.

It wasn’t my best day at the office, although Boston Bob ran respectably in the Ryanair Chase.

Felix Yonger never raised a gallop in the JLT Chase. He jumped up in the air, I was never happy, there are no excuses.

I have been lucky enough to win two Cheltenham Gold Cups in my career, on Kauto Star, and would love to think I could do it again today aboard On His Own.

Willie Mullins decided it was worth supplementing him and why not?

He has been winning on heavy ground and comes here on the back of two excellent displays.

On His Own won the Thyestes at Gowran Park in fine style and followed by slamming Mount Benbulben by 12 lengths at Fairyhouse.

Because he’s by Presenting he should handle the ground, but this is an entirely different test to what he has faced up to now.

We are realistic people and if On His Own gets into the first three or four will be delighted.

My idea of the winner is Bobs Worth. Both Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson think he is a far better horse on a sound surface and that’s a big plus.

I know he won the Gold Cup last year and was impressive when taking the Hennessy at Newbury before that, but I wasn’t really sold on him.

I wasn’t, at least not until I saw Bobs Worth win the Hennessy at Leopardstown at Christmas. I had him down as a grinder, but was very impressed with the way he quickened in the straight that day. It was the day Bobs Worth convinced me.

The other major player is Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti, which I rode in last year’s Gold Cup.

We were certainly travelling well going down to the third last, holding every chance at the time.

But Silviniaco fell and that surprised me and it would surprise me as well if he fell today.

Would we have won a year ago? I couldn’t possibly be too dogmatic about that, because it was simply too far from home.

Silviniaco has come back strongly this season and was a very good winner of the King George at Kempton at Christmas. He will be partnered now by a top man in Noel Fehily.

You couldn’t fail to be impressed by Last Instalment when winning the Hennessy at Leopardstown, but he’s a big, heavy horse and the ground has gone against him.

The other Gigginstown candidate, First Lieutenant, should run a big race, on the basis that he will relish the ground.

I’d expect Silviniaco Conti to go close, but believe will be outstayed over this track by Bobs Worth.

I’ve gone with Abbyssial, over Adriana Des Mottes, in the first, the Triumph Hurdle. I rode Adriana against Abbyssial at Fairyhouse and he was too strong for us.

I think Abbyssial will be very much at home on this track and can’t see why the placings can be reversed.

My worry about both horses, however, is that they are chasers in the making and wonder just how happy they will be on the ground.

Willie runs three in the County Hurdle and I had little hesitation deciding to go with Arctic Fire.

He had a cracking run in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in the middle of December, third to The Tullow Tank and Renneti. That represents smart form, on good ground.

Then he ran at Leopardstown at Christmas, on soft ground, to finish fourth behind The Tullow Tank, when far too free for his own good.

Arctic Fire hasn’t been seen since, basically because Willie has been waiting for good ground before asking him to race again.

This will be his first venture into handicap company, but he is a strong traveller and has a grand weight.

Look there is a huge field and we will need plenty of luck in running. I’d imagine I will be trying to produce him heading to the final flight.

This type of contest can be a real lottery, of course, but what I will say is that Arctic Fire is my best chance of landing a handicap this week.

And then we come to Briar Hill in the Albert Bartlett. Our novice hurdlers are flying and he is obviously another that we rate particularly highly.

Briar Hill is a notoriously lazy worker at home, but is working fine of late and is in super form and looking really well.

He has done everything asked of him by Willie in Ireland and is three from three over hurdles.

As well as that he was brilliant when winning the bumper here last year and so we already know handles the track.

Briar Hill will revel in the good ground, the whole yard believes in the horse and, indeed, so do I.

I wouldn’t like to be still seeking a winner when throwing my leg over Passage Vendome in the Grand annual, while I feel the booking of Mikey Fogarty will be a big help to Willie’s Don Poli in the Martin Pipe for conditional jockeys.

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Saturday, December 4, 2021

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