It's a big weekend coming up with Tiger Roll heading for the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Here's hoping he gets through everything fine on the day and we can head to Cheltenham together in one piece.
There has been a lot of talk about Tiger Roll's weight for the Aintree Grand National, but to be honest I think his mark is fair enough on what the horse has achieved really. He heads into this race after winning everything he has basically entered over these past few years and because of his setback he hasn't given the handicapper any reason to lower his mark either.
I completely understand some frustration in regards to his mark compared to others in the race, but even Native River is understandably lower than him. He is a Gold Cup winner, and Tiger Roll would probably never be good enough to win that race, but Native River hasn't been running to anywhere near that level since and crucially has no experience over the National fences.
Tiger is a bit of a victim of his own success, but I don't think that weight will stop him doing three in a row if he's in good form. He loves Aintree and will be hard to stop there no matter what.
Let's get through Sunday and the Cross Country Chase first before any big plans need to be made with him. Tiger Roll will come on a lot for the run, but he's in good form heading into Navan and it will just be great to have him back out there.
Let's just hope it all goes to plan, and he comes back in good order as my whole season revolves around him - he's a proper living legend already!
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🏆 Tiger Roll wins the Cross Country 🏆#CheltenhamFestival wins: FOUR— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 13, 2019
(Joins select group including Arkle)
🏇 Reigning Grand National champion
💷 Prize-money won: £867,282#TheFestival pic.twitter.com/6TuZB70hgJ
As regular readers will know, I'm a big fan of The Bosses Oscar and while I was expecting him to win last week, it was a satisfactory run at least in second.
He will definitely have to improve heading into Cheltenham, but he's probably just better going left handed and his jumping will improve in a better race with a better pace. The horse that beat him could be decent too. The Bosses Oscar could end up in something like the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle and I still think a lot of him.
A few have asked me on Twitter about Coeur Sublime, and I'm happy to report that he's working away fine. He had his procedure and while he hasn't faced very hard work yet, he's in good form and is building up towards the festival. You have to remember that he had a similar setback before the festival last year and still ran a blinder in the Triumph!
The Champion Hurdle is weaker than other years and I still think he has his chance.
Next week we'll do another Twitter Q&A with you all and I'm looking forward to your questions!
For the next few weeks we'll take a look at a different Cheltenham Festival race each week, and this week we'll start with the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I love Delta Work so I thought this made sense as a starting point.
Again, regular readers will know how much I love this horse. I work him every day at home and you just always knew with Delta Work that he was set for the very top. I still maintain that with a better pace he would've won the RSA Chase last season and he's improved this year again.
I rode him on his first start this season and that race just didn't work out at all with no pace to bring him into the equation. He has had better race conditions the last two times and he has been very good on both starts, winning two Grade Ones.
When he won the Savills Chase at Christmas people suggested that this was because Presenting Percy and Kemboy needed the run more, but he destroyed that thinking completely last time in the Irish Gold Cup when beating both these rivals comfortably enough again. These are two very talented horses, but I think Delta Work will only continue to improve, and he holds both of them now for me.
🥊 Delta Work vs Kemboy vs Presenting Percy - three warriors, one fine finish— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 2, 2020
Delta Work wins the Irish Gold Cup for @gelliott_racing & @jackkennedy15 at @LeopardstownRC
🏆 Grade One Savills Chase
🏆 Grade One Irish Gold Cup
✅ Double completed... next stop Cheltenham pic.twitter.com/tEX89HE7vy
Delta Work's jumping has really improved, he loves Cheltenham and I think he'll actually love the extra distance in the Gold Cup. He has a big chance.
There wasn't much between Santini and Delta Work in the RSA last season, and I expect him to be a big challenger once again. The extra trip will suit him as well - it just goes to show how strong the first three in that RSA were. However, I don't believe that Santini carries in the same level of form this season as our lad, but he's a big challenger nonetheless.
I was talking to Robbie Power after Christmas and he was very happy to draw a line through Lostintranslation's last run. He said the horse was just never going in the King George and he wasn't happy with him at any point throughout. Robbie is a brilliant judge of a horse and he's convinced this horse will stay the extra trip so there can be no doubt that he's another big challenger in it.
We all have to beat Al Boum Photo who's coming into the race very quietly again. He was brilliant last year, was excellent at Tramore in January on his reappearance and takes all the beating again here. I don't think he got enough respect for how easily he put them all away last year, it was a huge performance.
Whoever beats Al Boum Photo will win the Gold Cup in my opinion and I'm hoping that Delta Work will be good enough to do it. I believe he is.