Paul Townend previews his rides on day two of the Cheltenham Festival
Day two at Cheltenham starts with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. There are only seven runners but the main ones have all stood their ground.
Bob Olinger is the horse we all have to beat but I think my lad Gaillard Du Mesnil (13:20) has improved and you can’t rule out Paul Nicholls’s horse Bravemansgame either.
I beat Bob Olinger on Ferny Hollow in what was more or less a two horse race earlier in the season but I would judge Bob Olinger more on his form with Blue Judge in Naas where he was very impressive. We know how good he is.
It’s a good race. Gaillard Du Mesnil has improved with every race and I think he has improved again since his win at Leopardstown, but Bob Olinger is going to take a lot of beating.
Monkfish (13.55) has done all the talking on the track and I’m lucky to be on his back. He’s improved hugely for the switch to fences. He has really grown up.
To be honest I am hoping and praying that everything goes right. He seems to have travelled over really well and he’s been here before so I am keeping everything crossed.
I ride Koshari (14:30) in the Coral Cup in which typically you can make a case for nearly every horse. He made a very bad mistake early in the race he ran in Leopardstown but stayed on very well at the finish. It’s hard to see a nine-year-old improving too much but it’s a Coral Cup so anything could happen.
There is no Altior in the Champion Chase and that can only be a help to Chacun Pour Soi (15:05). He is here at Cheltenham. He was here last year, when he didn’t get to run. I can’t wait to get down to the start with him.
He has been exceptional at home this year and I am hoping he can show himself off on this side of the pond. He deserves to do it. He’s not been the easiest horse to train and was so close to running last year.
On to the Bumper where I had a choice to make. It was a headache. I could only ride one and I’ve gone with Kilcruit (16:50).
In normal times you would be delighted to ride any one of Willie’s in this. I hope I’ve picked the right one. I can’t ride in the bumpers at home and up to a fortnight ago I didn’t have a choice between Kilcruit or Sir Gerhard, if Patrick was coming.
Kilcruit has done nothing wrong. He was hugely impressive in Leopardstown but his run in Navan before that was very impressive as well. The Masterson’s have been runner-up in this twice so hopefully we will be third time lucky for them.