Paul Townend looks ahead to his rides on day one of the Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival has arrived and I’m pretty pleased with my first day book of rides.
I start with Appreciate It (13:20) in the Supreme. I think he sets the standard. There will be plenty of pace in the race with Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory in the field.
I don’t think that will make an awful lot of difference to me. We didn’t make it at Christmas time. He is a good, straightforward horse to start on. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to kick the week off to the flyer?
It was unfortunate to lose Energumene from the Arkle but Franco De Port (13:55) is still a decent ride. He has it all to do to get up to Shishkin and Allmankind’s level and the ratings show that as well.
But he is no back number. He is a Grade 1 winner and he will be coming home as well or better than anything in the race.
I am on Sharjah (15:05) in the Champion Hurdle. He has good course form but I think the two mares, Honeysuckle and Epatante, will be very hard to beat and Goshen showed he was back to himself the last day.
I think Sharjah is over-priced and overlooked. If anything does happen to one of the top two I think he’ll be the one to take advantage. There looks to be plenty of pace in the race so that should suit him.
It’s really exciting to be riding Concertista (15:40) in the Mares’ Hurdle. Her course form is very good, albeit it is on the New Course.
She has done nothing wrong this year, and been very impressive over two and a half miles. She has loads of speed too. Roksana looks the obvious danger with Dame De Compagnie.
I am grateful to the owners for leaving me on Concertista after winning on her a couple of times this year already.
I ride Saint Sam (16:15) in the Boodles but it will be a hard ask with all the weight he has to carry. He has been running creditably behind the main hopes for the Triumph so he has the weight for a reason and experience as well. We would be hopeful of a good run and in a big field will need a bit of luck.
I am riding Lord Royal (16:50) in the last. He has it all to do to get up to the standard of Galvin and Next Destination, who we previously trained. His last run was better. Stepping up to this trip will suit and if we can get him into a good rhythm and keep him jumping he could run a nice race.