Ruby Walsh: The A-Z of my best rides at Cheltenham 2017

The winning-most jockey at Cheltenham holds the key to our Festival fortunes. He gives the Paddy Power Blog the skinny on who might deliver.

Ruby Walsh 1900

Airlie Beach

She’s a prolific winner but hasn’t run since early December. That was just a ground thing really.  She seems in really good form and she’ll give a good account of herself wherever she goes. She’s plenty of options including the Supreme Novices, the Mare’s Hurdle and the Neptune Novices Hurdle on Wednesday next week.

Arctic Fire

His only entry is in the County Hurdle on St Patrick’s Day but he hasn’t ran since he chased home Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle over 12 months ago.  He faces a stiff task off top weight off such a long lay-off.

Augusta Kate

Again, she has multiple entries but will most likely run in the Albert Bartlett on Friday and take on Gordon Elliott’s Death Duty again.  She was running a fine race at Naas when she fell at the last when upsides Death Duty.

She gets a handy 7lbs allowance off the geldings, is in good form and will run a big race wherever she ends up.


He won well in Leopardstown on his last start over 2m 2f where Patrick Mullins rode him, so he’s now Grade 1 winner now. He’s likely to step up and trip and will probably run in the Neptune Novices Hurdle.

He was placed in the Champion bumper last year behind Ballyandy before falling on his first run over hurdles. He’s done nothing wrong in his last two starts but there’s plenty of chat for Neon Wolf  in this contest.


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He runs in the Triumph Hurdle on Friday and he’s a hardy little horse who does things well.  There’s not much to choose between the Irish juveniles this season as he, Landofhopenadglory and Mega Fortune have all beaten each other this term. His best performance was on better ground at Leopardstown over Christmas but then Megafortune reversed the form in February.

It could be that the English juveniles are a bit ahead of us and Philip Hobbs’ favourite Defi Du Seuil will be hard to beat in Friday’s race.


He jumped and schooled last Tuesday after taking a tumble at Leopardstown last Sunday in schooling and in a race there in February. . He’s He’s in the four mile amateur race and the RSA Chase on Wednesday.  He seems in good form , is a very good horse, but hasn’t enjoyed much luck at Cheltenham in the past.

Bon Papa

He won a maiden hurdle in Gowran Park after falling on his debut in Cork.  A fine, big horse, who is relatively unexposed.  He’s most likely to run in the Neptune Novice Hurdle on Tuesday and is open to improvement. He may be a big price but he has a shout.

Bunk off Early

Won well at Leopardstown at Christmas and then found only Bacardys too good at the Dublin track in February.  He’s come out of the race well and should appreciate the better ground he’s likely to get at Cheltenham rather than the heavy ground at Leopardstown the last day.  He has to be a leading player in the Supreme Novices Hurdle where I’ve to decide between him and Melon.

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Carter Mackay

He’s two wins from two starts and was probably more impressive on his second start, than his first start.  He seems in good order at home and I know Patrick Mullins likes him. He’s probably our number one candidate in the Champion Bumper.

Clondaw Warrior

He will run in Thursday’s Stayers Hurdle.  Would want dry ground to have a chance.  He’s been a great servant for connections and if he could run into a place behind the favourite Unowhatimeanharry it would be a brilliant run.


He hasn’t raced since December but is in great form at home.  He galloped and jumped really well in the schooling at Leopardstown last Sunday. He’s already had two great runs when second in the last two in Gold Cups when he only found Coneygree and Don Cossack too good for him.

He’s had a great preparation this year and we’re very happy with him.  A reproduction of his run last year puts him bang in the Gold Cup frame on Friday.


Douvan is doing what Douvan does, he just tips away, making everything look easy.  He’s been brilliant so far in his career and all he needs is average luck.  He just needs not to have bad luck.  Unsurprisingly, he’s the best ride I have at Cheltenham.


Seems to have improved throughout the season and will go for the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday. Was a good bit behind Petit Mouchoir at Christmas but improved to get a good bit closer to that rival in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the end of January.  I’d be slightly concerned that traditionally the Champion Hurdle is a hard race for five-year-old to win.

However, he’s in really good form, stays well and the more juice in the ground the better his chance.

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He’ll probably run in the four mile National Hunt Chase on the Tuesday. If he gets good ground though it means Footpad won’t be getting his in the Champion Hurdle. If it was good ground, he could out-run his odds.

Invitation Only

He’s 50/50 to run and holds entries in the Neptune Novice Hurdle and Albert Bartlett. Whether Cheltenham comes too soon or not, only time will tell.   He was lacklustre in Navan behind Death Duty and has taken a long time to sparkle since.

He’s coming back to himself though, but whether he comes back time for Cheltenham or not we’ll have to see.


He was second to Let’s Dance in January in a Grade 2 race over 2m 4f.  He was impeded in his run that day and is entitled to improve for the experience.  He’ll probably run in the Neptune Novices Hurdle and could have a good each-way shout.

He’ll run better than his odds suggest and could be a bit of a forgotten horse in that race.

Let’s Dance

She’s been a bit of a revelation this season.  She was fourth in the Triumph hurdle and then ran second to Apples Jade at Punchestown but is unbeaten in four runs this term. Her last two runs have been very good.  She destroyed Slowmotion at Christmas and was far too good for Kemboy and Joey Sasa in January.

She’s in really good order and has a lot of experience. She could run in the Mare’s Novice Hurdle on the Thursday or the Neptune Novice Hurdle the day before. We’re looking forward to her in whatever contest she ends up in.


She wasn’t supplemented for the Champion Hurdle in the end so will go for the Mare’s Hurdle on the Tuesday instead and I’ve picked her over last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag. I’ve a few decision to make this week like that and they’re never easy.

She beat Apple’s Jade cosily at Punchestown last month and if you took that form literally, she has to have a major chance.  She has a rating of 152, stays well and is a very good mare.



He’s an exciting horse who has won his only start for us and his homework and schooling has been very good ahead of Tuesday’s Supreme Novices Hurdle.

The form of his victory isn’t great, but that’s not Melon’s fault.  He can only win the race he ran in. Maybe lacks a bit of experience in public, but he has a lot of experience got at home.  He’s in really good form.

He probably isn’t much value, but that’s not Melon’s fault either.  He’s a horse we like a lot and we think he’ll run a massive race.

Merie Devie

Slightly disappointed when fourth to Mega Fortune in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle in February after winning really well at Christmas from Housesofparliament. She seems to be improving with the more homework she’s getting.

She’s always worked well and is starting to come to herself now. We like her a lot, she has a couple of entries but if she was to end up in the Triumph Hurdle will the Irish Juvenile form be good enough against Defi Du Seuil.

Nichols Canyon

I don’t know if Willie Mullins will run him. He didn’t confirm him for the Champion Hurdle. He’s still in the Stayers Hurdle, but he might not travel to the Festival. His last two runs have been very lack-lustre. He might be freshened up and aimed at some of the other festivals maybe.


Will probably takes his chance in Friday’s Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.  Has a lot of experience. Probably needs the 3m trip to ensure he jumps well enough to win a Grade 1 Novice hurdle. He stays well and was good in Limerick at Christmas in a Grade 3 contest and should appreciate good ground.

The 3m trip will allow him to go that half-a-pace slower to help his jumping as he’ll need to get into a good rhythm around Cheltenham.

Royal Caviar

He’ll run in the 2m Arkle Chase on Tuesday, but is probably running for place money behind Altior – like the rest of the field.

If he reproduces his Leopardstown run – bar falling at the last  he could be the one to chase Nicky Henderson’s hot-pot home.



He was disappointing in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last month but there were genuine excuses for that. He was a Grade One winner at Leopardstown before that over Christmas. He wants good ground, a step up in trip and will probably run in the 2m 5f Neptune Novices Hurdle.


He’ll run in Thursday’s Stayers Hurdle and has had some great runs at the Festival. He won the Galmoy Hurdle on his last start and would have been placed behind Vroum Vroum Mag if he didn’t tip up at the last. He’s consistent horse and probably deserves a bit of luck.

He acts on soft but appreciates good ground but the favourite Unowhatimeanharry will be hard to beat.

Un de Sceaux

I’m looking forward to him running in the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase on Thursday.  He’s in great order.  The weather forecast looks a bit muddled and the more muddled the better for this fella.

I’d sooner soft ground, but if there’s no dig in it, then there’s no dig.  He’ll still run a good race and the step up in trip will help counter quicker ground. He’s won a hurdle race over 2m 5f  in Auteuil last May, so the trip shouldn’t be an issue.

Vroum Vroum Mag

She’s in the Mare’s Hurdle (that she won last year) and even though I’ve opted for Limini, she seems to be coming back to herself after being quite disappointing at Doncaster – even though she won.  Jackie Mullins is very happy with her at home.

She’s a very versatile mare, seems to be in good order and she’ll be one of our big runners wherever she goes.

Wicklow Brave

He’ll run in the Champion Hurdle even though he hasn’t run over timber for a long time.  His last start was in the Melbourne Cup, where he was disappointing.  He won the Irish St Leger prior to that.  He’s a bit of an odd ball but when he’s in the right frame of mind, he’s a very good horse and was an easy winner of the County Hurdle two years back.


Some people crabbed about his Leopardstown schooling session but I was happy with him.

He’ll run in the JLT Novice Chase on Thursday. I think he’s a very, very good horse and I can’t wait to ride him.

What do you think?