ONE part of my day job is to write about racing. Well, it beats working… Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get to talk to leading figures in the sport of kings and while he might be in a different league financially to Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, I was delighted to chat to Sandy Thomson, the trainer of the leading northern/Scottish hope at this week’s Cheltenham Festival, Seeyouatmidnight.
You can read the Sunday Express feature here. There is a lovely back story to how the Thomsons acquired the horse and I don’t think there will be a more popular winner at the Festival if he repels all-comers in Wednesday’s RSA Chase.
Similarly, I was lucky to interview a more high profile trainer in Alan King. He has a great record at the Cheltenham Festival with 15 winners since the grey Fork Lightning won in 2004 and another grey could give him the biggest moment in his training career on Friday.
Smad Place has been a revelation this season and has sound each-way claims in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. If he is allowed to dominate and if he can get into a rhythm with his jumping then he can crank up the pressure on the opposition’s jumping, especially the more inexperienced Irish horses who form the backbone of the so-called golden generation of young chasers, You can read the Alan King feature in the Daily Star Sunday here where he offers an insight into most of his Cheltenham contenders.
Among them is a horse who I backed a while ago for the Triumph Hurdle. That’s Sceau Royal and King was particulary animated when talking about the chances of this very slick jumper.
Cheltenham is the ultimate equine amphitheatre and I can’t wait. I had a quick read of a few words that I wrote after last year’s Festival here and apart from the absence of Coneygree, the Gold Cup is looking like an absolute classic. One thing I never expected a year ago was that Cue Card would be going for the £1million bonus after winning the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase and I also never thought Smad Place would have a realistic chance. But they are both Cheltenham veterans: as is Somersby who, remarkably, is running in his eighth Festival. Amazing.
For the record here are a few horses who will be burdened with my shillings.
Supasundae each-way (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
Ardamir (Fred Winter)
Garde La Victoire (JLT)
Josses Hill (Ryanair)
Sceau Royal (Triumph)
Cue Card and Smad Place ew (Gold Cup)
What do you fancy? Feel free to leave a comment below.
If you’re going, then enjoy. But, most of all, be lucky…