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Cheltenham Betting: Richard Johnson Betway Blog day 1

12 Mar | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Cheltenham Betting: Richard Johnson Betway Blog day 1

In his day one preview of the Festival, the champion jockey discusses his rides in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Mares' Hurdle and Novices' Handicap Chase.

Cheltenham has been all people have been talking about over the past few weeks and I can’t wait for it to get under way.

The recent bad weather means we’re going to have very different conditions to what we’d normally expect in the middle of March, but I’m not too worried.

We’ll be racing on fresh ground and it’s likely to be wet, so we’ll get through it rather than the horrible sticky stuff you sometimes get in the winter.


It’s always great to be part of the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as the roar goes up from the crowd.

I’m on Western Ryder  for Warren Greatrex. He won at the course in December and his form is pretty solid.

We’ve always felt he’s better going left-handed, he ran well in the Champion Bumper last year.

We had the option of the Supreme or the Ballymore but we decided on the Supreme because of the soft ground.

You need to stay in a Supreme and he does just that. I really can’t understand why he’s as big as 33/1.

I’m not saying he’s going to win, but he’s definitely got a very good each-way chance. I think he’s the forgotten horse in the race.

We don’t know too much about Getabird, he’s favourite because of his connections, but obviously he could be very good.

I think Summerville Boy  might be the biggest danger, though the Tolworth Hurdle form has worked out well.


I don’t have a ride in the Arkle and even though there are only five runners it looks like a cracking race.

For me it’s between Footpad  and I’m in the Saint Calvados camp

He has been really impressive on all three starts in England and no-one knows quite how good he could be. He’s only been beaten once, in a hurdle race in France.


We were going to run Rock The Kasbah in this, but the ground is too soft so we’ll wait for Aintree or somewhere else with him.

I’ll be watching this from the weighing room, but I was very impressed with Coo Star Sivola  at Exeter last time when I finished second on Ice Cool Champs.

He appreciated the step up in trip that day and on this ground you’re going to need a really strong stayer.


It’s very hard to see Buveur D’Air  getting beaten in the Champion Hurdle.

Faugheen  used to be a flying machine, but he will need to improve a lot based on his run behind Supasundae last time.

My Tent Or Yours  loves Cheltenham and I can see him chasing home his stablemate like he did last year.

His win in the International Hurdle was really good and he always runs well at Cheltenham.


I’m on La Bague Au Roi  in the Mares’ Hurdle and she’s one of my best rides of the week.

I schooled her on Friday morning and she went really nicely. If you took Apple’s Jade  out of it, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t win the race.

La Bague Au Roi stays three miles, so coming back in trip on this ground won’t be a problem. She’s improved all season and has matured into a really nice filly.


The National Hunt Chase is a race for amateur jockeys. Jamie Codd rides Jury Duty  for Gordon Elliott and he looks the obvious one.

Philip Hobbs runs No Comment  in this and he is open to lots of improvement. Derek O’Connor is a top class jockey and came over to school him the other day.

He comes here off the back of a good start over fences at Sandown.

Like with many others in the field, the trip is a slight question mark, but he’s an exciting horse for the future.


My final ride of the day is Kayf Adventure  for Philip Hobbs and it’s a case of the softer the ground the better for him.

He’s been consistent all season and it would be amazing if I was to win on him as I actually bred him myself. I don’t know what I’ll do if he wins!

We’ve been breeding for about eight years and have six mares in foal this year.

It’s great to see them do really well and, to be honest, it’s nice just to breed a horse good enough to run at the Festival.

He’s a horse we’ve always liked and he’ll stay the trip really well. Look, it’s a very competitive handicap, but with a bit of luck he’ll run a very big race.

It would be incredible if he could win, as good as anything I could imagine.


Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.

Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.