Keith Donoghue Blog: Cheltenham Festival Day One

Cheltenham Festival winning jockey Keith Donoghue takes a look at the first day of top class racing at Prestbury Park.

Keith Donoghue Blog: Cheltenham Festival Day One

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We're landed and all the horses have arrived had a trot around Cheltenham today. I thought the ground was quite soft today, and that could be an issue for a few of horses over the next few days.

Tiger Roll is very well and I'd be hoping the ground dries up a bit for him, but hopefully his class will see him through!


Race 1 - Fiddlerontheroof - Supreme Novices Hurdle

The ground is a major worry now for Abacadabras. I think he's a very good horse and he would've been very well suited to this race, but the properly soft ground is a big issue.

Puppy Power is a very good judge and a good friend of mine, and he really fancies Fiddlerontheroof for this. You can see that horse will love the conditions and you'd have to think he'll go very well in a very open race.


Race 2 – Fakir D’oudaries - Arkle Novices' Chase

We've no runner in the Arkle, but it's a very impressive looking field and it will be some race!

Notebook has been very good all season and it would be great for everyone involved if he could win, but I think Fakir D'oudaries is the one I think. He was very unlucky at Christmas when tactics just didn't work out, and while he is worse at the weights today, he's a brilliant jumper, probably stays further and that will leave him in a good place here.


Race 3 - Discorama - Ultima Handicap Chase

This handicap is a very hard race, better judges than me are struggling!

Elwood runs here for Gordon and he should run well, will handle the ground - but I'm just not sure if he's quite good enough to win this. Discorama looks to be on a good mark and I'd be delighted if he can win for Paul Nolan and Bryan Cooper.

Festival form is so important, and this lad has plenty of it.


Race 4 – Coeur Sublime - Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle might not be the best renewal you'll every see, but it should suit Coeur Sublime who I think has a definite chance.

He's always been a brilliant work horse at home, but lately he's been really impressive. He's had his breathing sorted and it seems to really have kicked him on. I hope he can translate his homework to the racecourse, something he hasn't always done, but if he does he is talented enough to get involved.

Apart from needing the operation his work has been very good, and I'm hopeful of a very big run. Puppy was quite confident on a recent preview night about Supasundae, and he'll really love the ground as well.

However, it’s not the strongest Champion Hurdle in the world and if Coeur Sublime can bring his homework to the racecourse, he would have every chance at big odds.


Race 5 – Benie Des Dieux - Mares Novices Hurdle

This is a proper clash, but I think Benie Des Dieux will be too good for Honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle has been good this season, but for me Benie is one of the best horses in training. She was absolutely brilliant at Gowran Park and I'd be shocked if she was beaten in this.


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Race 6 - Trainwreck - Novices' Handicap Chase

I'm a big fan of Galvin and I really thought he'd have a big chance, but the rain is a big negative for him and I'd worried about his chances after the rain falling all evening.

He is more than good enough to win this, but his work to me has always suggested that he wants better ground and I'm not sure the testing ground is much to his liking at all. He might get away with it, but I don't think he will!

Trainwreck ran a huge race at the Dublin Racing Festival and will handle the ground better for Henry De Bromhead. He's interesting, but I wouldn’t be too confident on anything in such a compressed handicap.


Race 7 - Ravenhill - National Hunt Chase

Finally, we have the National Hunt Chase and away from the favourite, it's a handicap really isn't it?

Carefully Selected is head and shoulders above these really, if he jumps around, he wins. The problem is for favourite backers is that so far that hasn't looked guaranteed.

We run Ravenhill, and while I think he'll prefer better ground, he will love the trip and is extremely interesting here if the favourite doesn't get around. Ravenhill will be one for the Irish Grand National anyway if the ground improves regardless of what happens tomorrow.


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