It’s an exciting day having my first Cheltenham Festival runners as the licence holder, and I start the week with two in the 14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase.
does handle cut in the ground, but is probably best on good ground, while THE BIG BREAKAWAY
goes well in soft ground, so whatever happens with the going, it should at least suit one of my pair.
If I was guessing, I would expect the ground to be absolutely fine for both though, as the strong wind will be drying any rain that falls, and as it’s the first day, the ground will be fresh and not cut up. I certainly don’t expect to be using the going as an excuse for either horse!
Oscar Elite won the Reynoldstown well, and I’m delighted to have Harry Cobden ride him again, as he gets on well with him and is riding really well this season. He’s only a pound higher than last season, when he finished third here, and he comes into this year’s race in better form, so there’s every reason to think he can be involved in the business end.
The Big Breakaway has been in terrific form this season, finishing second at Haydock and Chepstow, he’s got winning course form, and while he carries much more weight than Oscar Elite, it’s a fair mark based on his achievements. This is very much a target in its own right, and not just a prep for Aintree [Grand National]. there’s a decent gap between the meetings, so let’s get this out of the way and then worry about the National.
Can I pick one over the other? No, I really can’t! The ground could be the deciding factor, but what matters is that we are running two contenders who I think both have excellent chances.
What would it mean to have a winner here this week? In a word, everything. This is the most important week of the year for jumps trainers, we’ve had great success here over the years, but that’s in the past. I start afresh this season, and if we can get on the board, it sends out a message that this yard can still train festival winners, and that’s such an important message to put out there.
I’ve been feeling nervous, yes, but excited also. We’ve had a good season, but this would take it to a different level. My job is almost done now, the horses are fit, running well, and now we just need that little bit of luck.
Joe Tizzard, Coral Racing Club Trainer