Ruby Walsh: My A-Z of what the Cheltenham Festival means this year

A pundit's eye view from the winning-most former jockey at the Festival.



A – A is for Al Boum Photo, Altior & A Plus Tard – That would be a triple A & it could happen. But I’d be hoping for only one of them to win.

B – B is for Banker & B is also for Benie Des Dieux. I thought she was my banker last year until she fell at the last. I’d be willing to give her that title again.

C – C is for Chacun Pour Soi – He runs in the best race of the week. This is the race that everybody will want to watch and it promises to be a cracker.


D – D is for Delta Work, Davy Russell & Defi Du Seuil – Delta Work has a little bit to improve to win the Gold Cup, Davy Russell has an excellent record in Cheltenham & Defi Du Seuil makes up that incredible trio in the Champion Chase.

E – E is for Envoi Allen – He’ll have Davy Russell on board him and he was a brilliant winner of last year’s Champion Bumper. I think he’ll be very hard to beat in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

F – F is for Faugheen – He’s already won at two Cheltenham Festivals and wouldn’t it be great if he could make it a third, this time over fences.


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G – G is for Goshen – He looked very strong in the Triumph Hurdle until Solo appeared in the Adonis Hurdle. I’m still in the Goshen camp though.

H – H is for Honeysuckle & Henderson – Honeysuckle is a great mare but she’s taking on my Banker in Benie. So the more reliable ‘H’ is Henderson, as in Nicky Henderson. He could have another great week.

I – I is for Itchy Feet – He runs in the Marsh Novices’ Chase and he’s got his chance. But I think the Irish could have a big say here.

J – J is for Janadil – He’s been on a roll and he could be a dark horse in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

K – K is for Kemboy – He runs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup but I think he’s going to have to improve to win that race. I’m not sure he’s going to like soft ground either.


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L – L is for Latest Exhibition – He is Paul Nolan’s big runner of the week and he’s got a big chance in the Albert Bartlett. He jumps, he stays and he’s got everything going for him. He’ll be a popular winner if he can come home in front.

M – M is for Min – He runs in the Ryanair Chase and 2m5f really seems to suit him. He takes on A Plus Tard and Frodon and I think A Plus Tard is his big danger.

N – N is for Notebook – Can he get Henry & Rachael off to a flying start in the Arkle? I’ll have a bit of cash and I think Cash Back might just have his measure.

O – O is for Oakley Brown – He’s a young jockey to look out for during the week. He’s had a great season so far and don’t be surprised if he pops up with a winner.


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P – P is for Paisley Park – He’s the outstanding runner in the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle. He was a great winner last year and I think he’ll be the same this year.

Q – Q is for Quel Destin – I think he holds a solid it of form in the County Hurdle. Also, he beat Soviet Pimpernel at Cheltenham in October and I think those two could fight out the ‘County’ between them.

R – R is for Relegate & Rain – Relegate runs in the Pertemps Final and she’s got a great chance. And Rain. There’s going to be loads of it so watch out for those soft ground horses.


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S – S is for Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – It’s the opening race of the week and I fancy Asterion Forlonge. I won this race on plenty of stayers and this lad has loads of stamina.

T – T is for Tiger Roll – He runs in the Cross Country Chase and he’s a great warrior. He’ll be a popular winner and being honest, he could have gone under B is for Banker as well.

U – U is for Ultima Handicap Chase – This is a race I managed to win once and I think this time around, Who Dares Wins holds a great chance.

V – V is for Victory – There will be 28 winners during the Cheltenham Festival and I hope every one of them enjoys it.


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W – W is for Willie Mullins – He’s got 65 Cheltenham Festival winners to date & you can be sure he’ll add to that tally this year. He’s not favourite to be leading trainer for nothing.

X – X is for Xenephon – He won the Coral Cup back in the day & it wasn’t a race that I had much luck in either. However, Canardier might be one to go well here on his first start for Willie.

Y – Y is for You Raised Me Up – I’ve been following him since his bumper days and he could one to watch in one of the handicaps over the four days.

Z – Z is for Zero. Like 2002, the one certainty this week is that’s the amount of winners I’m going to ride!

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What do you think?