Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Festival Review

By Keith Donoghue
 |  5 mins
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Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Festival Review

I wasn't sure if racing would get the go-ahead here at all, but it's good to see the industry can continue behind closed doors for the time being.

A lot of people in rural Ireland rely on the horse racing industry as their livelihood so it's obviously great to be able to keep it going as safely as possible. Stable workers put in a massive shift all year and obviously making ends meet would be very difficult without work.

We all just need to continue to be as safe as possible. The coronavirus is very serious, as you all know, so I just hope that everyone involved stays on top of this. I can't imagine that racing will continue indefinitely if the condition continues to worsen like it has been, but for now we can enjoy having it on and everyone involved on race days so far have been brilliant as far as social distancing goes.

If and when the time comes, I'm confident those in power will continue to make the right decisions. Our health is much more important long term after all!

Tiger Roll To Go Again

Obviously its a massive pity that Tiger won't get the chance this year to try and win his third Aintree Grand National, but he'll stay in training next season which is great news for me.

After the dust has settled I can now see how brilliant a run it was from him. He really hated the ground - even walking on it at the start was annoying him! He was just so tired after it that everything he did on the day can be marked up.

As good as the winner Easysland was on the day, I really want another shot at him on better ground. Tiger Roll just couldn't get into the natural flow he always does on the properly soft ground, which was particularly bad this year.

If it's on, Tiger Roll will probably head to the Punchestown Festival or maybe even the Irish Grand National, but to be honest I've no idea what race it would be for. He's a dream horse to be involved with, he's come out of Cheltenham well and I'm over the moon I'll have him around for another year!

Cheltenham Festival Winners

It was a brilliant week for the yard with seven winners, nearly every horse pretty much ran a career best and we were absolutely chuffed with them all.

I always find it interesting when everything just clicks like that. I put it down to every horse just being completely fit and healthy at the same time, but it's amazing when it goes as well as that. If we could we'd have them run like that every week, but it's only now and then that it comes together perfectly like that!

Envoi Allen was superb, he really was. He still idled a bit after hitting the front and was keen enough too early on. He went from being a bit keen to then being asleep turning in, and just powered ahead when he needed to. He's just so good that he'll continue to improve as he meets better opponents.

I've said it all year, but we have a very special horse in the yard - Envoi Allen something else!

Samcro bounced back and it was great to see. That win will have done his confidence the world of good and to be fair to him he toughed it out at the end to just about hang on. He's very talented and it's great to see him win again. I thought Davy gave him a brilliant ride as well and was plenty patient with him.

I was delighted with Sire Du Berlais, a horse I'd tipped up a few times coming up to the festival and he won the Pertemps comfortably enough in the end from The Storyteller, who also ran an absolute blinder! It's funny, with the way Paisley Park ended up running, Sire Du Berlais probably could've won the Stayers in the end!

Ravenhill was a brilliant winner of the National Hunt Chase, although that race did cut up badly in the end with the favourite not really firing. I'd be very interested in him now in the Irish Grand National, if it was to go ahead on better ground.

Aramax, Milan Native and Chosen Mate all really surprised me personally, although Gordon seemed to fancy each of them!

Aramax was very comfortable in the Boodles Handicap and seemed well clear of them, I really wasn't sure that he was that good to be honest. He'd potentially be interesting now in something like a Galway Hurdle potentially, although I won't be guessing his targets!

Milan Native was very good as well on the day in the Kim Muir and looks a very good stayer now to take forward. Chosen Mate surprised me the most, and Davy seemed quite shocked afterwards too. That performance was unbelievably strong in the Grand Annual and I didn't see it coming. On that basis he should be well capable of competing at graded level next - watch this space!

Cheltenham Festival Eye-Catchers

Obviously Tiger Roll was a major eye-catcher, but there was a few others who didn't quite manage to win, but who should be taken forward from the festival.

Easywork ran a huge race in the Ballymore, probably a career best, behind Envoi Allen and he'll be a very good horse as well over fences.

Abacadabras ran a massive race in the Supreme and proved he handles the ground no problem, Galvin ran huge in the Novices Handicap before the ground caught him out and Fury Road was probably a bit unlucky in the end to come out the wrong way of a bunched finish in the Albert Bartlett! Fury Road is a horse I really believe in and he'll be some sight over fences next season.

Two horses from the last race of the week, the Martin Pipe, are also worth keeping on side going forward. Column Of Fire was probably going to win the race before falling so he's clearly well handicapped.

The Bosses Oscar was the other one to take forward as he ran absolutely massively to finish fifth from a near impossible position. He finished distressed and nothing went at all right for him on the day. He can be definitely marked up for that.

So many horses ran huge races during the week, almost too many to mention them all!

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Keith Donoghue is one of the top National Hunt jockeys in the world, famed for his partnership with Tiger Roll winning two Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Keith also boasts a Grade 1 winner over fences, and is a great writer to boot. Keith covered the day to day of being a jockey in his weekly blog exclusive to Bookmakers.

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