Identity Thief will try to get back on track on Sunday in the Novice Chase at Leopardstown, but he’s the only runner I’ll have at the traditional ‘Cheltenham gallops’ day, as we’ve done most of our preparations at home.
All the horses are running well and seem in good form so we’ll just keep them in that rhythm as we prepare for the Festival.
While it is unlikely Identity Thief will make the bus to the Cotswolds, you can never say never. It has been a while since he’s completed a race, so a nice round of jumping is the priority this weekend.
The rest of the Cheltenham team like Petit Mouchoir, Monalee and Champagne West will have their final piece of work early next week. We did a good bit of schooling at home in Co. Waterford last week.
So far, it’s all gone fine, touch wood.
Runner and riders
I’ve a fair idea about what races the majority of our runners will run in, but there’s still a few discussions to be had with some owners about certain targets. That should all get finalised from next Wednesday, when final confirmations are made.
We’ll send those running on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Festival over on the Saturday evening or Sunday morning, while Thursday and Friday’s contenders will travel on the Monday night or Tuesday morning. Most are used to travelling, so the journey over shouldn’t bother them and we’ll aim to have them there 24 to 48 hours before they’re due to run.
On the morning of the races all the Irish horses exercise in the centre of the course so they can stretch their legs there on the grass or the all-weather gallop.
Generally, we’ve a window from about 7am to 9.30am when they can limber up.
You’d generally keep yourself to yourself at exercise as it can be a little tense – particularly before the first day on Tuesday week. But generally I’d chat away to the Irish trainers and it’s pretty social after that.
I’ll make the final call on what races we’re going for when I’ve all the information I can possibly have to hand. The final confirmations are next Wednesday to Saturday for Cheltenham week.
Once you confirm your entries, then the Festival really starts to take shape and the excitement start to build.