Katie Walsh: Lightning will strike twice in the Gold Cup
The Betway ambassador reveals her fancies for Friday at the Cheltenham Festival, including the reigning champion in the Gold Cup.
We wait all year for these four days and then when they arrive they absolutely fly by, but it all builds up to Friday.
Still the biggest test of a racehorse is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It’s the race everyone dreams of winning.
13:30 TRIUMPH HURDLE
I think there'll be an English winner in the Triumph Hurdle. Their juveniles just seem a bit better than those from Ireland this season and the one who has impressed me most this season is Solo from Paul Nicholls' stable.
It was great to see Paul win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday and I think he’ll have another winner here. Solo looked very good at Kempton on the only time we saw him run and the handicapper must have been impressed too as he gave him a mark of 157.
Goshen has been impressive in his three starts and his trainer Gary Moore has been incredibly bullish in the lead up to Cheltenham, but I’m not convinced he’ll have it all his own way around here.
14:10 COUNTY HURDLE
The County Hurdle is a race I was lucky enough to win a few years back and, from experience, I know it’s a race where you need to be a strong traveller.
Thatsy fits the bill and he's been steadily improving on each occasion this year. He’s the type that will keep improving with racing and he has the right jockey in Davy Russell to get him in the best possible position and give him every chance.
There’s plenty of hustle and bustle and I expect him to be ridden on the inside, going the shortest way around. He’s a fantastic each way price.
14:50 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES' HURDLE
The Albert Bartlett is a real tough test and you need both mental and physical strength.
Latest Exhibition has it all. He’s a real tough hardy horse who’ll end up being a cracking staying chaser over the next few years.
He was good in victory at the Dublin Racing Festival and everything will suit him in the race. As I said earlier this week, Paul Nolan only brings them over if he thinks they’ll have a very good chance and that’s telling.
15:30 CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
The Gold Cup is always a superb spectacle and is a race everyone dreams of winning. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a trainer, an owner, a jockey or any of the stable staff, everyone in racing wants to win it.
I think lightning might strike twice as last year’s winner, Al Boum Photo , was very good when he won here 12 months ago, and the way he’s been campaigned should give him the best possible chance.
Willie Mullins is a master trainer and if he thinks this is the best way to get his horse ready in A1 condition then I’d never argue!
It worked last year and should work again.
I also think Delta Work will give him a proper race. He jumps, travels and stays and, barring any accidents, he’ll be right there coming down to the final fence. It’s going to be a proper race and I can’t wait for it.
17:30 MARTIN PIPE HANDICAP HURDLE
The Martin Pipe is a great race for the young conditional jockeys to ride on the biggest stage and this race is often won by the weighing room's brightest hopes.
Jonjo O’Neill Jr won this race last year and it looks as though he'll win it again on Friday.
Front View has obviously been trained for this race and some of his form has been franked this week. In November he was second – and staying on – behind Envoi Allen, who won the Grade 1 Ballymore on Wednesday.
He won his next start and suffered all sorts of bad luck on his latest start in March. He has a lovely racing weight and, as I said, he has a superb talent on his back and should take all of the beating.