Weblog: A young jockey making a name for himself
Sprinter Sacre: could do it on the bridle in the Racing Post ArklePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
It's going to be a fantastic four days
LIKE everyone else on Tuesday who isn't lucky enough to be there, I will be watching all the action from Cheltenham. I was meant to be riding at Sedgefield, but mine is a non-runner, so I'll be on the sofa cheering our horses on and we could be in for a very good day.
Mr Henderson has ten runners at Cheltenham on the opening day and two in the first. We have the favourite Darlan and he'll take some beating. He was travelling well when he took a heavy fall at Newbury, but he bounced straight up and carried on galloping so there was obviously loads left in the tank and it hasn't had any effect on him as he's schooled very well since.
He's the classier of our two but Tetlami has done nothing wrong, will love the hustle and bustle of the Supreme and is a massive price. It's madness, he's won a Listed bumper around Cheltenham and is unbeaten over hurdles. He won't be far away.
Sprinter Sacre is many people's idea of the banker of the week and I think we could see him do it on the bridle in the Racing Post Arkle. The small field won't matter to him and although there are three previous festival winners in there against him, he is just so frighteningly good. The way he won at Newbury, in a record time, on the bridle - Barry Geraghty even eased him down - I can't see anything being able to live with him. They could crawl and sprint or make it a real test, it doesn't matter, he'll win either way.
Julio to hold on
We run two in the next handicap and while Quantitativeeasing has a great chance, Hold On Julio is a horse that has really impressed me this season and he's the one they have to beat. The Package has been off the track a long time, but there is no better man than his trainer David Pipe to ready one first time up and he nearly won this two years ago.
It's a tough race but Quantitativeeasing will appreciate the step up to 3m. Mossley may just struggle as he is just a bit small and jumping takes more out of him but he has a huge heart. At a big price I like Pentiffic. He was out on his feet when he fell last time but it was an impressive performance and I think they'll try and make it again.
Two Champion Hurdlers but only one can win
Hurricane Fly looks bombproof in the big race and he's a horse I really like but I think Binocular could at least give him a real race. Peddlers Cross got close last year and he's a two-and-a-half miler, whereas Binocular is an out-and-out two-miler so could scare him. He's flying and Corky Brown (Nicky Henderson's head lad) is super confident. He can change his mind a bit and loves to jump ship from time to time but he's never lost faith in Binocular and he's never been as confident as he is right now. I'd love to see the two of them turning for home on the bridle, it'd be some race from there.
Two to repeat
The Cross Country isn't everyone's cup of tea but it's one race I'd love a ride in as it looks great fun and I think Sizing Australia will take a lot of beating. I know Scotsirish is the class act in the field but Sizing Australia won it last year and I think he'll win it again.
Quevega also won last year and I can't see anything getting close to her. We run Kells Belle, but she's got 26lb to find and I think they're all playing for second place. Nick Williams' mare Swincombe Flame could be one at an each-way price as she's so consistent and game.
An owner who is having a Ball
Finally the opening day closes with the novice handicap. We run three but like everyone else I'll be cheering for Hunt Ball. He's just the most remarkable story, to think he started the season rated 69 and runs in this off 142. He has possibly the greatest owner in racing as well. Anthony Knott's a real character and it'd be great if he could do it for Kieran Burke as he is a fantastic young trainer.
Everyone is talking about Triolo D'Alene and while he won at Ascot and will improve for that, he was all out to beat Ackertac and that one is nearly double the price so I'd rather side with him. Cucumber Run will appreciate the first-time blinkers but he thinks a bit at his fences, while Owen Glendower is a lovely horse but may lack the class for a race like this.
Obviously I could be totally wrong, but that's what makes racing so much fun. When it comes to the festival everyone has their own opinions and I will be sharing mine with you throughout the week. Between blogs you can follow me on Twitter @JerrymcGrath.