Shay Barry is not worried about the prospect of good ground at Cheltenham tomorrow ahead of Justified’s run in the Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The Dusty Sheehy-trained six-year-old is the 7-2 favourite with Ladbrokes for the opening event of the Festival after winning a Grade Two event at Punchestown last time.
Justified was ridden by Mick Fitzgerald on that occasion, but Barry will back on board tomorrow.
“I’m looking forward to the race. He’s in great order. I sat on him during the week and gave him a couple of pops and he seems to me to have improved since his Punchestown run, so I’m looking forward to riding him,” he told At The Races.
Justified has only encountered ground officially on the easy side so far, but Barry is not worried by the prospect of quicker conditions.
“I wouldn’t mind good ground. I’ve ridden before on good ground and he handled it well, but I wouldn’t like it firm all the same. He’s as effective on good ground as he is on soft,” he added.
The Martin Pipe-trained Marcel is next best in the betting at a general 7-1 as he bids for a 10th win of the season.
Marcel was disappointing last time though, when only third behind My Way De Solzen at Exeter, and that rival will re-oppose tomorrow.
There are four other Irish raiders besides Justified, with Akhtari, Akshar, Publican and Wild Passion making the trip.
A total of 21 horses have been declared, with other interesting runners including Howard Johnson’s Arcalis, the Philip Hobbs-trained Chilling Place and Gary Moore’s former decent Flat performer Dusky Warbler.
The field is completed by Aleron, Cherub, Madiba, Manorson, Only Vintage, Perfect Sotrm, Prins Willem, Shuhood, Stan, Villon and Dalriath.