Sean Bowen Blog | Cheltenham Day One

11 Mar 2024
Coral Racing Ambassador, Sean Bowen, previews his three rides on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, including his mount, Not So Sleepy, in the Champion Hurdle.

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Found On

She is a big price, but Found On is actually a very talented mare, and I’d have given her a squeak if we were going to get decent ground, but it looks like the ground will probably be too testing for her. I did school her the other day, and she looks as well as she’s ever looked, so it’s just a shame the ground has gone against us.

She goes really well fresh, so I know Martin was keen to bring her here as fresh as he could, and she’s had a nice break since her last run in November, so she’ll certainly be coming here at the very top of her game. Some of her form reads very well, so I’m sure she’ll win races off this mark, but whether she’s up to winning a handicap as competitive as this on this ground I’m not so sure.

I know the team at Willie Mullins’ think a lot of Meetingofthewaters, so he could be the one we all have to beat, but I’d say The Goffer would have a really good chance too. That run behind Corach Rambler and Fastorslow last year is practically Grade 1 form, so it appears the Irish have a good chance of winning this race for the first time in quite a while.

15:30 Champion Hurdle – Not So Sleepy

We all know State Man is going to be incredibly hard to beat, but funny things can happen in these races, and if you take the favourite out of it, it does look a very open race. Although he’s now a 12-y-o, Not So Sleepy still retains plenty of ability, and I know Hughie (Morrison) will have him absolutely primed for the big day.

We are the third highest rated horse in the race behind State Man and Irish Point, and quite a few of the others have plenty to find on the ratings, so I’d be very hopeful we can make the frame at the very least. It could be a strongly run race as State Man likes to go forward, and Irish Point obviously has form over further, but my lad stays incredibly well too, so it will suit me if they go hard up front and I can just take a lead. He has made the running plenty of times, so if the pace isn’t as strong as anticipated, then I wouldn’t be afraid to go on and make it either.

It will be good fun to ride against James (Bowen) in a Champion Hurdle, and I’d say I’ll never hear the end of it if he beats me on Luccia. I don’t think there’s any danger of that though, and I’m very confident that I’ll be able get the better of him tomorrow afternoon!

16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Roaring Legend

He’s very similar to Found On because he’s another who I’d say would have a chance on better ground, but my gut feeling is that the ground will be a bit too soft for him here. He’d shown good form when only a few lengths behind Liari at Musselburgh last month, but he was disappointing last time when we got beat at odds-on at Market Rasen, and he just didn’t get home on very soft ground that day.

This is always one of the most competitive handicaps of the week, so it’s going to be extremely difficult to win, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran a decent race and was able to come home in the first 5 or 6. Having said that, it also wouldn’t surprise me if he just found it all a bit competitive on this ground, so we’ll just be hoping he can cope with it and run a nice race.

Sean Bowen, Coral Racing Ambassador
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