Barry Geraghty: The RSA Chase could be the best race at the Cheltenham Festival, and I’m confident More of That will win it

Top jockey Barry Geraghty gives us the run-down on his main runners at the Cheltenham Festival

Get stuck into Barry Geraghty's exclusive insight on My Tent Or Yours, More of That, Yanworth and more

Barry Geraghty should know a thing or two about picking Cheltenham Festival winners – he’s ridden 33 of them after all. From Moscow Flyer in the 2002 Arkle to Peace and Co in last year’s Triumph Hurdle, Barry Geraghty has had at least one Cheltenham Festival winner every year for the past 14 years. So it’s no surprise we were delighted to get his insight into his key rides when he popped into Paddy Power.

A Journey into the Unknown

Two years ago Barry won the Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) on board Jezki and he aims to do so yet again this year on the returning My Tent Or Yours. It is more than 750 days since My Tent Or Yours last run a race, and Barry is fully aware that they’re going into the unknown.

‘My Tent Or Yours has missed two years and it’s far from an ideal preparation. He’s been to Kempton twice and worked there, but you’d love to have had a run. He has proven his class in the past, and if he retains that ability he has a chance in an open race. This is a step up for Annie Power despite the fact she’s won the Hattons Grace. Nichols Canyon and Identity Thief are proven, while The New One has a massive chance if he runs to his best form.

‘It wouldn’t surprise me if My Tent Or Yours won the race, but we’re all heading into the unknown.’

The opening race of the day is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm) and Barry fancies a shock to kick-off the week.

Min is the horse everyone is talking about, but I wonder about his style of race. He’s very keen and he could get lit up by the occasion. He might not enjoy getting hassle up front either. There’s good chat for Yorkhill but Altior was very impressive in Kempton. He was a good bumper horse last year, his work was very good and he’s grown into himself. With good ground and a fast pace Altior can oppose Min and upset the odds.’

But if there’s going to be an upset in the opening race, the Arkle looks far more straightforward and Douvan is Barry’s banker on the opening day of the Festival.

‘Douvan is very hard to get away from. He’s very good over fences and is a very good hurdle as well. He’d have a great shout if he ran in the Champion Hurdle. He jumps well, he’s very measured and calculated and doesn’t take risks. He’s forward-going, has scope and oozes class. Douvan is absolutely impossible to oppose.’

Everyone Wants a Bit More of That

Wednesday’s feature is the Champion Chase, but the best race of the Festival according to Barry Geraghty is the RSA Chase (2.10pm). It looks a straight match bet between More of That and No More Heroes, and while the odds suggest it’s almost too close to call, Geraghty is sounding confident.

‘No More Heroes has been very impressive in everything he’s done, but so has More Of That. He’s won a World Hurdle beating Annie Power so that’s a good level of form and both his chases have been in Cheltenham. It would have been good to get another run into him but he schooled nicely in Newbury last week so that covers that base. He seems in good shape and he looks well at home.

‘He hasn’t run since December but both his runs this season have been at Cheltenham and that’s probably the trickiest track in England so he was good and accurate in his jumping. He has lovely course form and will go well again.

‘No More Heroes who is no pushover, but I’m confident.’

As for the Champion Chase (3.30pm) Barry isn’t convinced that Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceuax is as unbeatable as the hype suggests.

‘Un De Sceaux is the one they have to beat but I don’t know if that is a true reflection of the race. SprinterSacre is in great shape at home and has got back to winning ways at Kempton. Nicky Henderson is a great man to get them ready and if Sprinter Sacre could return to within a stone of his best form, that would give Un De Sceaux something to do. He’s in far better shape than this time last year.’

SpecialTiara could makes things complicated for Un De Sceaux at the front and run a fast pace on drying ground. It could leave Un De Sceaux vulnerable at the bottom of the hill. There are no hiding places in this race. Sprinter Sacre is a superstar and Special Tiara is fantastic – These are the ones to trouble Un De Sceaux.’

My Best Ride of the Week

Wednesday’s banker of the day may well come in the first race however as Yanworth lines up in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm).

‘Yanworth is four from four over hurdles and continues to improve with each run. He’s a winner around Cheltenham as well and that was on soft ground over 2m 4f so stamina shouldn’t be an issue, and he should prefer better ground. He’s probably my best chance of the entire week.’

‘He has improved a lot since finishing fourth in the Bumper at the Festival last year on nice ground, and he’s got a fantastic shout. Long Dog will appreciate better ground and a step up in trip, but Yanworth is a deserving favourite.’

Thistlecrack Will Pay for Paddy’s Day

Barry is a two-time World Hurdle winner, but he thinks this year’s renewal is as much as won. Thistlecrack is a red-hot favourite for the race at odds as short as 6/5, and Geraghty believes he looks every part a winner.

‘He’d be an even shorter price if he was from a fashionable yard. His form is rock solid and his last performance at Cheltenham was really eye-opening. He’s beaten the best of them and beaten them well. There’s nothing to oppose him. Thistlecrack is head and shoulders above the rest of this field. He’s a good thing.’

Djak The Lad Can Go for Gold

Three years ago Barry Geraghty picked up his second Gold Cup courtesy of a mighty run from Bobs Worth. The Gold Cup is a horse’s toughest test, and Barry is expecting a fiercely competitive renewal.

‘You can forgive Don Cossack the fall at Kempton at Christmas, because the track was probably a little sharp for him. He was entitled to jump rusty next time out at Thurles, and then he schooled brilliantly after racing at Leopardstown so that should remove any doubts about his jumping. Cheltenham should suit him a lot better than Kempton so he’s a worthy favourite.’

‘You have to have doubts about Vatour’s ability to get the trip the way he got collared in the King George at Kempton. This is 3m 2f around Cheltenham and you see a lot of horses getting found out.’

Djakadam is a horse I loved last year. I loved him when he tipped up in the JLT, he travelled so well two years ago in that. He was as big as a bull in the Hennessey when he disappointed, then he was still big as a bull when he won the Thyestes. He was second in the Gold Cup as a six-year-old which is a great run and then you can forgive his run at Punchestown. He’s a massive player.’

‘You could run the race five times and get five different results, but Djakadam is my pick for the big one.’

One of Barry’s most eagerly anticipated rides on the final day will be in the Triumph Hurdle (1.30pm). Ivanovich Gorbatov flopped at Leopardstown much to punter’s dismay last time out, but Geraghty is hoping that better ground will see him bounce back to his best.

‘Ivanovich Gorbatov was very disappointing, but the ground was soft so we’re hoping that was the reason the edge was taken off him. We were very sweet on Ivanovich after his first win at Christmas when he beat LetsDance in impressive fashion, but it does throw in an element of doubt when you see a horse getting turned over like that. Hopefully we’ll get better ground.’

‘The way Lets Dance came home after being headed last time out was impressive. Cheltenham is a stiff track and a fast pace will suit Lets Dance. It could all pay to her strengths and she could be the each-way value at 12/1.’

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