Slate house on solid ground
Conditions won't halt Tizzard in search of Cheltenham gold
With no racing yesterday, I was able to sit down and go through the BetVictor Gold Cup in detail and I find it very hard to pick out any reason to get off SLATE HOUSE (2.25, Cheltenham).
Thankfully Cheltenham got the go ahead, although there is no doubt conditions are going to be testing there today. But Slate House is proven over the course and distance, most importantly on heavy ground, so he ticks a lot of the boxes.
I really liked this horse as a novice hurdler but things didn't really go right for him last season. Colin Tizzard has done a fantastic job to get him back and the horse has had a couple of wind operations which seem to have done the trick.
Because he didn't run to his true level last season, the case could be made that he is on the right side of the handicapper now and hopefully he'll prove that today.
The other one of my rides I am most looking forward to is WEST APPROACH (1.50, Cheltenham).
The small field today will suit him. He travelled like a winner on this ground here last month and just got touched off. I don't think producing him any later would have made a difference that day, but I certainly won't be getting to the front too soon today.
L'AIR DU VENT (12.05, Cheltenham) is a smashing novice hurdler to look forward to, but I'd be concerned about him on this really testing ground so he might now have just an each-way chance, while Conron will struggle on the surface.
I was disappointed with the switch of the Morgiana Hurdle to today at Punchestown as I'd love to have got the chance to ride Saldier.
I won a four-year-old hurdle on Saldier at the Punchestown Festival a couple of seasons ago and his only run last season was at Naas when he fell upsides Espoir D'allen at the last. We all know now how good that form is.
That said, KLASSICAL DREAM (2.00, Punchestown) is coming out of novice company and is open to more improvement. It's no surprise to see Paul Townend go for him this afternoon, although I do think Saldier will give him a run for his money.
My best chance at Punchestown tomorrow looks to come for Henry de Bromhead in the three-year-old hurdle.
This looks a very competitive race but Henry gives an Irish debut to ZARKAREVA (12.35, Punchestown) who won a hurdle in France and is now trying to make a winning debut in Ireland.
She looks to be a very exciting prospect and we hope that her French form might stack up to be stronger than the Irish form on offer in this race. We get a 7lbs mares' allowance which is a bit of a help and if Zarkareva is as good as we think she is, she'll hopefully take care of these.
1.50 West Approach
2.25 Slate House
2.00 KlassiCal Dream