Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Festival Day Three

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

Keith Donoghue's Blog: Cheltenham Festival Day Three

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It just wasn't to be today unfortunately for Tiger Roll. Everything went to plan really and I was very happy with my position throughout the race, he just got very tired on the ground, which was dead and tacky. His jumping was still brilliant and there was nothing, except the result obviously, that I would've changed.

I'm delighted to report that he's absolutely fine, he just was tired after the race so I jumped off him to make sure he was ok.

Simply though he was beaten by a better horse on the day in Easysland who was brilliant. I'm very proud of his performance and Its been some thrill riding this horse. He's won four Cheltenham Festival races and is the horse of a lifetime! Hopefully now he can kick on from this again and win another Grand National!

Away from Tiger, it's great how well Gordon's are running overall. Envoi Allen is very special to me, as readers of this column will know, and he was top class today. He's a superstar in the making and we're very lucky in the yard to have one as good as him.

The sky is the limit for him and I can't imagine there is too many doubters left now!

Race 1 - Samcro - Marsh Novices' Chase

This is a very deep Marsh Chase with plenty of depth and I'm hoping Samcro can bounce back to his best here. I'd definitely be hopeful rather than confident.

It's been tough with Samcro over these last 2 years really as he just keeps scoping poorly. He can be working really well for a few weeks and then all of a sudden he can be flat. He seems well in himself though and it would be no surprise to me at all if he went well here. I rode him earlier in the season at Down Royal and he was brilliant. We were very excited about him, but he was a bit flat at Christmas.

That form has worked out though, as Faugheen backed that up at Leopardstown. I definitely wouldn't be giving up on him!


Race 2 - Sire Du Berlais - Pertemps Handicap Hurdle

The Storyteller has his chance here and looks nicely weighted too, but I'm quite keen on Sire Du Berlais really.

He's taken a while to come to himself this year, but the headgear has sorted him out and that was far more like it. It was a really good performance last year and with the way this race is framed he actually only carries three pounds more than last year. Festival form is huge here, as we all know, and he looks rock solid for this.

Barry Geraghty rides him and he's like a man possessed at the minute!


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Race 3 - Min - Ryanair Chase

Gordon has Shattered Love in this and while she could go well, it's hard to see her win it.

A Plus Tard has been good this season, but I think Min is definitely the one to beat. He beat Hardline, who I was riding, earlier in the season and his overall form is probably just stronger than the Henry De Bromhead runner.

There's not much at all between them, but I think Willie Mullins might take this for Paul Townend and the Ricci's.


Race 4 - Paisley Park - Stayers Hurdle

This isn't a race I'll spend too much time on, Paisley Park should be very hard to beat. He's just been excellent over this trip and was brilliant last season.

One at bigger odds who could go well here is Ronald Pump for Matthew Smyth who I rode to finish second over Christmas at Leopardstown. I doubt he's good enough to win this, but I wouldn't be at all shocked if he placed. He's a talented horse on his day.


Race 5 - Ben Dundee - Festival Plate

I've said on this column a few times, I think there is a big one in Ben Dundee and this could be it.

He ran a huge race for me at the festival last season when 3rd behind A Plus Tard. I've won on him twice and he's a horse I've great time for. This is a very tough handicap, but he definitely will have his say in it.

He has Cheltenham Festival form, has been running well this season and there could well be a handicap like this in him off his current mark.


Race 6 - Colreevy - Mares Novices' Hurdle

Ard Abhainn runs here for Gordon and she was very good last time and definitely has an each way chance.

She beat Rebel Og at Thurles and the third that day, Heaven Help Us was a really good seventh in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

This is a very tough race though and Colreevy could go well here for Paul Townend. She's a very good horse who actually beat Abacadabras in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival and she could be too strong for everyone in this.


Race 7 - Fitzhenry - Kim Muir

Milan Native runs here and he could go well in this, but you'd have to worry that he hasn't won a race yet over fences and there might be more experienced horses here to beat him.

You could pick 10 horses in this and not find the winner, it's that competitive! I do like Fitzhenry though for Paul Nolan who ran very well at Christmas and this longer trip might just suit him.


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