DAVY RUSSELL BLOG: Cheltenham Festival Friday

Delighted to celebrate another Cheltenham winner on Thursday with Samcro in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Did I think I’d won it? Check out my interview below!

The Storyteller ran a blinder in the Pertemps. Myself and Barry (Geraghty) who rode the winner Sure Du Berlais were side by side throughout the race and we both thought afterwards that we had each other to beat from a very early stage.

The Storyteller gave it everything and as the owners said ‘you couldn’t even be disappointed as he ran so well’.

Ben Dundee didn’t get the rub of the green in the Brown Advisory when we got hampered by the fallers two out. At Cheltenham it’s very hard to recover from anything like that. Not sure it made the difference between winning or losing but we would certainly have been closer.

My final ride of the day was Ard Abhainn in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. She’s as tough as teak but was never on the bridle. I was caught wide and she just used up all her stamina. I’m sure she’ll get her chance to win again on another day.

And now on to my rides and thoughts on the other races on Gold Cup day.



1.30pm Triumph Hurdle

No ride for me which is a shame as I’ve been enjoying the opening races on the card this week! I’m leaning towards the Henry de Bromhead trained Aspire Tower to continue a great week for the stable. He’s been so impressive in his two wins this season and comes here on the back of a fall at the last in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown when he was still very much in contention. The English trained Goshen might be the best horse in the race but as we saw on Tuesday with Asterion Forlonge, jumping right on a left handed track is not ideal.

THATSY (2.10pm County Handicap Hurdle)

He’s knocking on the door and stays really well but my only concern might be whether this trip might be on the sharp side for him. I won on him around Navan over 2m 4f. In a wide open race you could pick any number of dangers – I thought Embittered ran a blinder at the Dublin Racing Festival on his first start in a handicap and could be a dark horse. The Skelton’s have a great record in the race and Mohaayed is another interesting one on his first start since a wind op.

FURY ROAD (2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

He’s been very impressive all year except for the last day in Leopardstown where he was fourth to Latest Exhibition who we have to beat again today. My fella is up a bit in trip but I think he stays well and won a Point earlier in his career. Cobbler’s Way’s chance improves with the drying ground and in a wide open race I wouldn’t be surprised to see good runs from Monkfish and David Pipe’s Ramses De Teillee.

PRESENTING PERCY (3.30pm Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase)

They’ve all turned up and it looks a rock solid Gold Cup. My own lad Presenting Percy (pictured) hasn’t really been finishing his races this season and needs to do much more. We need to see some of the old magic rekindled. He handles Cheltenham, despite having a disappointing run in this 12 months ago. Last year’s winner Al Boum Photo and Delta Work have the obvious chances with preference just for Delta Work as best of the Irish but there’s plenty you could see winning including Clan Des Obeaux for Paul Nicholls.

4.10pm Foxhunter

I’ve won on Shantou Flyer before and he was fancied for this last year and ran a huge race to finish second to Hazel Hill who is back for a repeat. Minella Rocco has the excellent Derek O’Connor riding and the pair beat Hazel Hill at Wetherby the last day but were getting a bit of weight. It looks a terrific renewal and I could also see Don Poli running a big race. He’s plenty of big race experience including the Grand National and Gold Cup!

CHOSEN MATE (4.50pm Grand Annual)

My last ride of the meeting is Chosen Mate for Gordon (Elliott). The guys at home are really happy with him – he lacks experience but is also unexposed so could easily improve. He jumps well but can be a little slow at his fences which is not ideal. It’s wide open, towards the top of the weights Marracudja ran really well when third to Defi Du Seuil at Ascot, Paul Nicholls runs the fast improving Greaneteen and you’ve always got to consider Nicky Henderson’s runners in a race that he targets for obvious reasons. He relies on Theinval this year.

5.30pm Martin Pipe

Every time I rode a maiden hurdle winner for Gordon this year he said you won’t be riding him at Cheltenham as he’s going for the boys race! The stable have got a good looking entry including Column Of Fire who gave me a good spin when winning in Punchestown. JP has had a great meeting and has a couple of strong contenders to finish it off nicely including Ilikedwayurthinkin.

Good Luck

If you have a question for Davy drop us a line at content@starsportsbet.co.uk and we’ll try and include in the next blog…