It’s hard to rule anyone out in the Gold Cup. It’s a very open race. If you look at the first 10 in the betting when the race is over, you’ll be able to say, “yeah, I can see how that won”. I don’t see there being a shock. The winner will have won it on merit.
Might Bite has a bit to prove. Nicky Henderson’s done his wind and he’s very happy with him, Nicky has some record in Cheltenham so I’m certainly not going to doubt him, but Native River, because he’s the defending champion, and Clan Des Obeaux because he’s the most improved of the English ones, have a chance.
Then in Ireland, there’s Willie’s four and whoever Gordon runs. Shattered Love is probably overlooked a little bit. She was very good last year in the JLT. Noel Meade’s Road To Respect, if he’s to run, would have a chance too. It’s a very open field.
Presenting Percy is a very good horse though. I thought he’d turn up in Gowran against horses who should have been race-fitter than he was. The second, third, and fourth had all had a couple of runs. He didn’t look like he lacked fitness to me.
People are getting carried away with the lack of runs this year. Normally, if you had a horse like Presenting Percy who didn’t run in the whole autumn or at Christmas, it would be because of an injury. But these aren’t injured horses. The likes of him or Al Boum Photo with one run, or Bellshill with only two, they’ve all been in training since August. They have a lot of mileage in galloping done.
They haven’t been able to run because the ground is too quick. People are looking at those starts and those preps and not realising that so many horses going to Cheltenham haven’t run because of the ground, not because of injury, so they’ll have had a whole different training regime.
I mean, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, he’d have seven months’ training under his belt. He’s not going to lack fitness.
His trainer Patrick Kelly’s perfectly entitled to do what he wants too. His job is to train Presenting Percy. It’s not his job to promote racing, or to promote himself, or to promote his horse. He’s training his racehorse, and if he doesn’t want to talk the press, that’s his own prerogative.
He doesn’t have any responsibility to promote racing at all. He’s a racehorse trainer.
Are some people promoting racing or are they promoting themselves to get as much as they can, or to try and maximise the opportunities they have? That’s the other way of looking at it. His only responsibility is to his owners and training the horse to the best of his ability.
And after the festival… Brexit and racing
What will happen will happen. There’ll be way more paperwork, and there will be taxes, and there will be charges. In 12 months we’ll all get used to it and accept it as the new norm.
My worry about Brexit will be what will happen in Northern Ireland, but what happens as regards the movement of horses, trade and all of that. It’ll be awkward, and it’ll cost a few quid, but we’ll all get used to it.
You’d probably need to be far more politically tuned-in than me to understand how you could make a statement at Cheltenham about it, but racing, like rugby, and most sports, has always shown that countries can work together and compete. But I don’t think the issue of Brexit revolves around sport. I think it revolves around an awful lot more.
If you go to Dublin airport on Sunday afternoon and you watch how many people commute to the UK to work, I’d say there are as many people doing that every week as are going to be at Cheltenham. We can jump up and down about the importance of racing, but I think there are way bigger communities that Brexit’s going to affect harder than the horse business.
There’s the Common Travel Area anyway too. We’ve become so used to no delays, not queuing, but there were borders before. If you’re going to America you have to go to immigration. People still do it. So, if they do put in a border, it’ll be an inconvenience, but we’ll get used to it. We’ll have to.
For racing, thankfully, I only have to worry about Ruby. Willie has to worry about all the horses and his staff. I know all about the Common Travel Area because I was worried about Ruby. I know I can survive with that.