Sunday 17 December 2017

Katie Walsh Cheltenham Diary 2015: Big day ahead tomorrow but great start to week

It's been a great start to the week for the Irish at Cheltenham
It's been a great start to the week for the Irish at Cheltenham

With both Foxrock running in the Ryanair Chase and Champagne James in the Kim Muir, tomorrow is going to be a massive day for us as a family but what a great start to the week it was for Irish runners and for Willie Mullins in particular.

Obviously, we have spent a few months going to Cheltenham previews discussing all those favourites inside and out, dissecting their chances and obviously three didn’t disappoint and Annie Power was home and hosed until she fell at the last.

That’s racing though and that’s sport, obviously Annie Power was the best horse in the race but she got up and walked away, Ruby got up and walked away and Willie went on to win the race anyway with Glens Melody and to have four Grade One winners is an incredible achievement.

I heard Clare Balding say it was very sad to see Ruby walking back with his saddle in his hand after Annie Power.

That’s not sad. That’s not sad at all.

It would have been sad if Annie Power was hurt or Ruby was injured and that would have taken some gloss off the day no matter how many winners Willie had, but they’re all fine and live to fight another day.

Annie Power will undoubtedly go on now to either Aintree or Punchestown and it surely won’t be long before she is back to winning ways on the evidence of yesterday.

Faugheen was very good in the Champion Hurdle, he certainly lived up to his promise that everyone felt he had and it was a once in a lifetime achievement by Willie to saddle the 1-2-3 in a Champion Hurdle with Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly running fantastic races and losing nothing in defeat.

Douvan was excellent in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and won the race in a time that was three-seconds faster than the Champion Hurdle and he is the future whichever route he goes down but I’d imagine chasing will probably be his game.

I have to admit that while I wasn’t surprised to see Un De Sceaux win - I think I was like most people in believing he’d win once he jumped around, - I was very surprised with how clever he was in his jumping. He was awesome.

On the basis of how intelligent he was yesterday he was like a horse that had the experience to run in a Champion Chase and there was hardly a moment yesterday when you feared he might fall.

Glens Melody was there to pick up the pieces when Annie Power fell and she deserved her day in the sun like that.

With five Irish winners and all seven ridden by jockeys based in Ireland, it was a fantastic day for Irish racing and hopefully it’ll continue for the rest of the week.

I had a great spin on Broadway Buffalo in the four-miler and unfortunately we just met one too good in Cause Of Causes but he was the obvious horse in the race.

We made a mistake at the ditch and that shafted me as I had to give him a chance to get back into it and I don’t know if it cost me, but the horse ran a cracker and everyone is happy.

Looking ahead to tomorrow and Foxrock and Champagne James have travelled over well and we’ll see how they get on in their respective assignments.

Foxrock takes on Don Cossack and Hidden Cyclone but it certainly looks an easier option for him than the Gold Cup and I suppose we’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t finish in the first three.

Champagne James runs in the Kim Muir and I’m looking forward to riding him.

We’re due a bit of rain today I think and that will do him no harm if that arrives and they both come here in good form.

I didn’t think he’d get into the race initially but I’m obviously delighted he did and neither of the horses are no-hopers so we’ll see how we get on.

Cause Of Causes gave Gordon Elliott a winner yesterday and Don Cossack is the form horse of the Ryanair and he’s the one we all have to beat.

The World Hurdle looks wide open. I fancied Rock On Ruby for the race but now he doesn’t run and I suppose Zarkandar could be the one to give Paul Nicholls a big feature race winner for the week.


Katie's Choice Cheltenham Thursday

1.30pm Vautour

2.40pm Don Cossack

3.20pm Zarkandar

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