Stomach churning as the moment of truth looms

The stomach is churning now and I can’t wait for the second race today, when my own involvement in Cheltenham begins in earnest with Oscars Well in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle.

He travelled great and I couldn’t be happier with him but there’s a terrific confidence behind Willie Mullins’ horse, So Young. Someone asked Willie what were his chances and he said the three he thought would win were Hurricane Fly, Quevega and So Young and the first two have come up.

They say So Young is a hell of a horse but we can only take him on and my fellow is in great form. The ground is slow there, it’s no way quick. There’s plenty of juice in it and you could see that in a lot of the finishes where the winners came from behind. From my point of view, that is grand.

What we can say about Oscars Well is that he has the form in the book by winning two Grade 1s. He jumps and travels well and has a good turn of foot. I’m hoping it might take a good one to beat him.

Bostons Angel also has two Grade 1s but he seems to be completely disregarded in the RSA Chase. To me, he represents very good value as he jumps well and will be keeping on when others are crying enough.

Time for Rupert is the big fancy though and rightly so. He was a class hurdler, he jumps like a dream and has form on the track.

Sizing Europe is probably the forgotten horse of the Champion Chase but he comes here with proven pedigree and Henry (De Bromhead) has a winner on the board after Sizing Australia won the Cross Country.

He might have to settle for third behind Big Zeb and Master Minded. Master Minded had a really hard race when just getting up by a short head to beat Somersby at Ascot and that might have left its mark. I know Big Zeb was beaten by Golden Silver on bad ground last time but Barry has admitted himself that it wasn’t his greatest ride ever. I think it will be different this time, especially as his jumping has been pretty good.

In the bumper, Nicky Henderson’s horse Ericht is the one to beat. Michael Buckley fancies Titan De Sarti, which he owns, in the Fred Winter. Another lurking away at the bottom of the handicap is What A Charm, who has very good flat form but has disappointed since.

Alfa Beat has run up a great sequence of wins and must have a great chance in the opener but the better ground will suit Arabella Boy.

Yesterday was a brilliant day’s racing. Hurricane Fly was very good but Peddlers Cross is very tough. Going to the last it looked as if Ruby was going to win really easy and he didn’t. He ended up winning a length and a quarter but the other fella made him work all the way.

It was a terrific atmosphere around the parade ring, lots of shouting and screaming. Ruby got a great reception coming in after riding the first winner, Al Ferof for Paul Nicholls. They appreciate him and the fact that he is only back riding a few days after being out for four months with a broken leg. So to ride three winners was great.

There will hardly ever be an easier Cheltenham winner than Quevega in the Mares’ Hurdle and if there is it will probably be her in the race next year. She was different class. Sparky May ran a big race to be best of the rest, as I suggested she might.

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