We're finally nearly there, it's the week before Cheltenham and the excitement is really starting to build here.
I love this time of the year, no reputations have been destroyed yet and you'd nearly think every horse heading over is a winner!
Tiger Roll is in great form and you can only be excited by how he is these past few days. As I've said he's not a horse who needs a lot of galloping, it's mostly waking him up mentally that is the trick. You know Tiger is in good form when he's acting up and he's been a headcase the last few days. I think he'll be right at his best on the day.
Lisa O'Neill rode him in his last piece of work at Leopardstown and she was delighted with him. He's won on soft ground the last twice, but I am hoping it dries up a bit for him. I don't think he'd love it if it was bottomless.
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Tiger Roll is a great ride to have, I'm absolutely delighted to be involved in his story and hopefully we can make it three in a row on Wednesday!
As much as Tiger's chance is obvious, I think Envoi Allen is probably our banker of the week. I worked him at the Curragh last week and at Leopardstown this week and I think he's in the best form we've had him in all season.
This is a serious challenge in front of him in the Ballymore with the likes of Sporting John, The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway who are all very smart horses, but it will take a very special one to beat him. This is his biggest challenge by some way, but I think he'll come through it.
It will be a race to savour anyway as Envoi, even during his work at home, never puts a horse away by that far. He tends to let them get near him to power away again like he did in the Champion Bumper last year. Whoever gets near him, or possibly even beats him, will know they've had a race anyway!
I've been saying this all year though, I just think he wins whatever he wants!
I've given 5 horses to follow at bigger prices below for the handicaps and I hope we all have a good week. There are a few that didn't make the list who I think could go well such as Fury Road in the Albert Bartlett, who should come right back to form after disappointing us at Leopardstown. I worked him this week and he seems in great form.
Cheltenham Festival 5 To Follow
Everybreathyoutake is another one who could go well at big odds in a handicap if he gets in somewhere. He could go well off a mark of 137 and he's a horse who is improving quickly. He's a big price for the two handicaps he is entered in, and he could surprise a few. Let's just hope he gets in first!
Galvin - Novices' Handicap Chase (Tuesday)
Galvin is a high class horse and a mark of 140 is very fair on his ability. He wasn't at all far away from being a Grade One horse over hurdles and if translating that to fences, he could be well in here.
He's had a few niggly problems all year, but his work has been very good these past few weeks and he looks like he's coming back to himself. His chase form has to improve, but he's showing at home that it might and he could go well here.
He is one though who would definitely want the ground to keep drying. The better the ground is, the better his chances are.
Tronador - Boodles Handicap Hurdle (Wednesday)
Tronador is one I think could be very well in for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap on Wednesday.
He's a very tough horse and that's precisely the kind you need for this. He won well at Thurles and was unlucky last time at Navan to not win there, but that was a better race than this. It's a very open race, but if I could pick one to ride here from the yard it would be him.
He'll get blinkers on the day and they'll really sharpen him up.
Eskylane - Champion Bumper (Wednesday)
Eskylane should go very well in the Champion Bumper, but he's one who would definitely want more rain!
Appreciate It is a valid favourite, but he's very short for a Champion Bumper. I was shocked Eskylane was beaten first time out this season, I genuinely couldn't believe it as his work at home had been so good. He learned from that experience and was brilliant at Navan. He doesn't seem to have got enough praise for that and he could surprise a few here.
Sire Du Berlais - Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Thursday)
Sire Du Berlais won this race last year and he could well do it again. He's not that much higher and he's a classy horse when he's right.
He has definitely taken his time this season to come to himself, but that was a much better run last time in fourth at Warwick to qualify. Hopefully he'll have Barry Geraghty on his back and repeat the feat.
Column Of Fire - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle (Friday)
Gordon loves this race and Column Of Fire has a big chance here. He will run in the Martin Pipe and he ran a big race at Leopardstown last time. He looks exactly the type you need to win this race.
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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