Paul Townend previews his rides on day three of the Cheltenham Festival
There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since Asterion Forlonge (13:20) lined up at Cheltenham as the favourite for the Supreme a year ago. He is back for the Marsh Chase.
He hasn’t become a bad horse or lost his ability, he has just blotted his copybook with two falls over fences. He was jumping brilliant with me in Limerick and I was really happy with him until he tipped up. He fell at the first the next day.
So a clear round was really important in Leopardstown the last day in the race won by Monkfish.
If he behaves himself and does things reasonably well then he has a chance. Obviously Envoi Allen is a huge worry in the race. He looks exceptional. But we would be hoping our lad can run a good race.
Dandy Mag (13:55) was a nice winner of the Pertemps qualifier in Leopardstown but has disappointed since then. He has an awful lot of weight and I would be surprised if there wasn’t something better handicapped than him but hopefully he can run well and rob a bit of prize-money.
I had a tricky choice in the Ryanair and went with the defending champion Min (14:30). He seems in great form. I’ve sat on him since I got over. He loves it at Cheltenham where he has a great record, albeit last year was the first time he had got his head in front.
He is the highest rated horse in the race and drying ground will suit him. He has a lot in his favour. The other two of ours Allaho and Melon are very good horses in their own right but they have to improve up to Min’s level. I think he sets the standard.
He made a couple of mistakes with Patrick in Leopardstown but he pulled him and looked after him. He has schooled well since then and overall I am happy with my decision.
Bacardys (15:05) has decent track form and could be a good each way bet in the Stayers Hurdle. Drying ground will be huge for him.
He isn’t too far behind last year’s winner, Lisnagar Oscar. Paisley Park is the one to beat. The ground would have been far too heavy for Bacardys in his last couple of runs in Ireland and he was only three or four lengths behind Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace at the start of the season.
Picking the right horse in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle gave me a bigger headache than the Ryanair. I’ve gone for Gauloise (16:15) who I think underperformed a lot the last day in Fairyhouse.
I forgave her that. I thought she was tough to keep going as well as she did. I was never really comfortable on her that day.
I was very taken by her two wins previous to that. Hook Up’s run in Leopardstown looks very good now on the back of Appreciate It’s Supreme win but I’ve gone with Gauloise.
Let’s see if I’m on the right one.