The Ups And Downs Of National Hunt Racing At Cheltenham

We were treated to some excellent racing performances over the weekend with plenty of horses looking promising for the national hunt season.

West Approach
It worked out great with West Approach at Cheltenham on Saturday. I rode the horse at Cheltenham in the October meeting and I thought he was going to win that day. I said to Colin Tizzard and the owners when I was going out that I was going to play my hand very late and thankfully it worked out well.

He quickened up well when I gave him a squeeze halfway up the hill and he won well. He’s a horse with plenty of ability and is a half-brother of Thistlecrack. I’m not sure where connections will go next with him but I imagine something like the Welsh National would be a good target for him.

Slate House
The BV Gold Cup half an hour later showed the ups and downs of national hunt racing. I was on a high after West Approach and then with Slate House I thought I had the race at my mercy. He was going at a lovely stride then crumbled at the second last fence. He’s not the first horse to do it and he won’t be the last.

That second last fence at Cheltenham is tricky and it was just unfortunate that he crumbled at the back of it having jumped it so well.

I’m not taking it away from the winner Happy Diva though. It was a good performance from her. She’s a great mare and beat Magical Light in a mares’ chase at Huntingdon earlier in the year.

Saldier performed well to win the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday. He gave me a great feel the day I won the Champion 4yo Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last year. He is a horse with an awful lot of pace.

Klassical Dream was very disappointing in third place. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good horse on his day but he looks a long way off a Champion Hurdle horse. Saldier will be one to keep on the right side of this winter; he will only improve.

Faugheen The Machine
Faugheen again displayed a great training performance by Willie Mullins at Naas on Saturday. He was pulled up on his last start at Aintree and it looked like his career was over.

Connections kept faith in the horse and brought him to novice chasing this year.

It’s very unusual to see an 11 year-old having his first run over fences.

He showed terrific turn of foot at the second last.

He did make a few little mistakes and his jumping will need to improve when he goes into better company but it would be no surprise if a 12 year-old was to win the RSA or the JLT at Cheltenham. I imagine the RSA is where he would go.

Defi Du Seuil jumped very well in his Shloer Chase win at Cheltenham on Sunday and Barry Geraghty gave him a good ride.

He will have to improve again to be a Champion Chase horse but I think the Tingle Creek at Sandown could be his for the taking especially with Altior stepping away from the two mile division this year.