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Ruby Walsh: Augusta Kate could give her celebrity owners something to shout about at Aintree

The top jock gives us the skinny on his rides on day one of the Aintree Festival

I kick-off at Aintree with Triumph Hurdle third Footpad in the 2.15pm.

My tactics at Cheltenham were to follow the favourite and eventual winner Ivanovich Gorbatov but Footpad dwelt at the start and I ended up being detached for most of the way.

A smaller field and the prospect of softer ground will help but he still has to improve a bit to reverse the form.

I wouldn’t put anyone off Apple’s Jade though as Aintree’s Flat track could Footpad’s stablemate who was second in the Triumph Hurdle. She beat Jer’s Girl on her Irish debut in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown at Christmas in testing conditions and could improve again for her Festival run as she’s very lightly-raced.

 

Djakadam gave his all but finished second (again!) to Don Cossack in the  Gold Cup and goes for the Grade 1 Chase where he’ll take on Cheltenham rivals Cue Card and Don Poli.

It’s a hard one to call and it may boil down to which of them have gotten over their March exertions best.

The track will probably suit Cue Card but you’d have to take on trust that he’s gotten over what looked a heavy fall in the Blue Riband. Don Poli was outpaced early on that day, but stayed on up the hill to snatch third.

He mightn’t have had as hard a race as the others and could be the freshest of the three of them.

If there was one to take advantage of any chinks in the leading players’ armour it could be Paul Nicholls’ Saphir Du Rheu. He won a novice chase around Aintree last year, is lightly-raced over the larger obstacles, and open to improvement.

 

Annie Power seems in great form since winning the Champion Hurdle. The big worry going to the Cotswolds was whether she’d be quick enough to win over two miles, so the step back up to 2m 4f really should suit her.

My Tent or Yours needs to prove he stays 2m 4f, Nicholls Canyon is a course and distance winner and The New One is too and really needs a 2m 4f test these days.

But Annie Power won’t mind the ground whatever way it rides and looks the one to beat.

My pleasure

I have the rare pleasure of riding in a bumper for the last ride on the card when I partner Augusta Kate.

She went off favourite for the Cheltenham bumper and wasn’t disgraced in finishing seventh (beaten about five lengths) against the geldings. The ground was quick enough for her that day and she’ll definitely appreciate any rain that falls.

She’s back racing against her own sex now and could give her celebrity owners some to shout about.

What do you think?