herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Cheltenham 2015: Jockeys and horses have to make it to Prestbury Park first

A Hardy Nailer, with Mark Walsh up, centre frame, leads eventual winner Arctic Skipper, with Andrew Lynch up, left, in the Paddy Power Shops 10.30am Sunday Service Maiden Hurdle
A Hardy Nailer, with Mark Walsh up, centre frame, leads eventual winner Arctic Skipper, with Andrew Lynch up, left, in the Paddy Power Shops 10.30am Sunday Service Maiden Hurdle

People will always crib about the fact that Ruby Walsh won’t declare in advance what he’s going to ride in this race or that or why those like Willie Mullins or Gigginstown with numerous entries in numerous races won’t give us a steer in advance.

Unfortunately a week ago today we saw just why.

Mark Walsh, the current leader at the head of the Irish jockeys championship, suffered a fall in a maiden hurdle at Thurles which not only ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival but more than likely robbed him of his chance to be crowned champion jockey for the fist time.

Ruby Walsh is in the enviable position that he has more decisions than most to make but he is also more than experienced enough to know that the horses have to make it there first and then, most importantly of all, he has to make it there himself.

Take Faugheen and Hurricane Fly for example. The odds suggest he’ll go with Faugheen but until it is necessary to declare his decision why disappoint Hurricane Fly’s owners or Faugheen’s if he stays loyal to Hurricane Fly until you know both horses are going to be there working well and in tip top shape.

And while we all look forward to what is going to be a fantastic week, as well as the jockeys, spare a thought for the connections of horses that don’t make it there.

At this stage we’re going to hear all about any horse that’s forced to miss one of the bigger races but to some of the smaller trainers or owners, having to rule their horse out of one of the handicaps is a major blow too. While dreams will be realised next week, some will be dashed before we even land.

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