Matchbook Ambassador Donn McClean returns to preview today’s action.
Jamie Codd has had two rides at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival so far. He rode Le Breuil in the National Hunt Chase, the last race on Tuesday, and he rode Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper, the last race at Wednesday, and he won on both.
He has one ride today, Measureofmydreams in the Kim Muir, the last race on Thursday. Too much to expect?
Maybe, but a strong case can be made. Measureofmydreams was a talented novice chaser when he was with Gigginstown House. He won the Grade 2 Ten Up Chase, and he finished third behind Minella Rocco and Native River in the National Hunt Chase in 2016. That proved that he could operate under Cheltenham Festival conditions.
He lost his way a little after that, and he was off the track for almost two years after finishing down the field in the 2017 Irish Grand National before he made his debut for his new owners and for Gordon Elliott in a three-mile chase at Fairyhouse last month. He ran well that day too to finish third behind Snugsborough Benny and Call It Magic.
The handicapper left him on his mark of 137 after that, which is 10lb lower than his peak, and that gives him a chance. He could come on appreciably for that Fairyhouse run, we know that he can operate under Cheltenham Festival conditions, and the easier ground that he should get today will suit. As well as that, Gordon Elliott had two winners yesterday, and Jamie Codd is one of the top amateur riders in the land who is on the crest of a wave.
Earlier in the day, Monalee could be the answer to an intriguing Ryanair Chase. Henry de Bromhead’s horse was a high-class novice chaser last season. He won the Flogas Chase last year as a novice and he was in front in the Grade 1 Growise Chase at Punchestown when he came down at the second last fence.
He has continued his progress this season too. He finished second behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas, and last time he was impressive in winning the Red Mills Chase.
That was over two and a half miles, and he seemed to enjoy that. It isn’t that he doesn’t stay three miles, he finished second in an Albert Bartlett Hurdle and an RSA Chase and a Savills Chase. It’s just that, he is probably at his best over two and a half miles and ridden aggressively.
Those runs in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle and the RSA Chase tell us that he can operate under Cheltenham Festival conditions, and Rachael Blackmore, who rode him so well the last day at Gowran Park, retains the ride. He could run a big race.
Your host Tom Stanley is joined by Sam Turner, Brendan Powell and Matchbook’s Micheál Deasy to preview Day 3 and 4 of the Festival with the Gold Cup of course leading to lots of different opinions.