Barry Geraghty: Cheltenham Festival Insights - Day 1

Barry Geraghty - Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Preview

This looks like one of the best book of rides I’ve ever had at Cheltenham, particularly the first couple of days. It’s got a bit of a similar feeling to 2005 actually, where I had a couple of nice chances lined up in the feature races with Moscow Flyer in the Champion Chase and Kicking King in the Gold Cup. However, I know that a good book of rides doesn’t always guarantee success.

Classy Chantry has Supreme chance

I’ll have a bit of a pipe-opener and jog round both the hurdle and chase tracks before the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm), where I ride Chantry House.

He felt great when I was down at Seven Barrows last week and he schooled very well. He’s done well so far this season and was still green at Cheltenham but then sharpened up a bit and put in a nice performance at Newbury. He’s classy, has a good deal of pace and I’m hoping he’s one of the more unexposed runners in the field.

It looks a very competitive race and I think Shishkin is a worthy favourite. I schooled behind him last week and he’s an absolutely gorgeous horse who travels so well.

Nicky [Henderson] rates him very highly and I think he’s the one we all have to beat.

Fancies in the Arkle and Ultima

I’ve no ride in the Arkle (2.10pm) but I do quite like Brewin’upastorm. He really caught my eye up at Carlisle and then followed that up at Taunton last time out too. There’s a strong Irish contingent but I think Brewin’upastorm could be the way to go and is a fair price.

No Comment lines up in the Ultima (2.50pm) but I can’t do 10st 4lb.

I’m riding in the Supreme and Champion Hurdle and wouldn’t want to compromise my performance there by going too light. I’ve not ridden that light in a long time, whereas Dickie [Johnson] should be able to do that with breakfast!

If the horse can put his best foot forward, then he’s got a nice weight and could go close.

Epatante a worthy Champion Hurdle favourite

This year’s Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) has an open look to it and I’d say Epatante is a worthy favourite based on her run at Kempton. Straight after the race at Christmas, Nicky asked me, “what do we do now?”, so I told him, “win the Champion Hurdle!” She’s been in great form since and he’s a master at preparing horses for the big day, particularly mares.

She got very worked up and didn’t run her race in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle at the Festival last year, but she handled the big crowd on Boxing Day at Kempton very well and I think she’s grown up. Pentland Hills would be a big danger if recapturing his form from last year, while I also think Silver Streak has a chance at a big price. He was second to us at Kempton, third in last year’s Champion Hurdle and I remember thinking he was a nice type when riding him to finish second in the International Hurdle two years ago. I’d say he’s been overlooked somewhat in the betting.

Benie should beat Honeysuckle

The clash of the day looks to be between Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm).

It’s a massive race and I find it hard to oppose Willie’s [Mullins] mare. Honeysuckle is clearly very good too but I’m not sure she’s as good going left handed – we’ll have to wait and see.

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