With the weather taking a turn for the worse at Cheltenham from Wednesday onwards, we asked former jockeys Ruby Walsh and Fran Berry just how much the conditions on the day can affect the outcome of any given race.
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And, well, an awful lot is the answer. Here’s what the lads had to say on a special Punters’ Panel edition of the From The Horse’s Mouth podcast.
Ruby Walsh: Conditions on the day can make a huge difference and there’s so many factors. The horse’s conformation, its make up, its stride pattern, how it breathes, all those things are affected by different circumstances.
Some horses aren’t balanced enough to handle undulating tracks, some horses have huge strides and they like to be galloping on a level track that maximises their talent. You see horses that are very good at Kempton or Newbury that aren’t quite as good at Cheltenham or Exeter and places like that.
Windy days definitely wouldn’t be a plus for horses with wind issues, trying to gallop into a strong wind it can be harder to catch your breath and I would say it definitely affects horses with wind issues. Some horses are just not affected by the weather at all, rain or snow they’re puffing hard, others are a bit softer.
Fran Berry: The key is trying to find out in advance but rhythm is everything. No matter what track or trip your horse is running at, if they don’t find a rhythm then generally you’re going to struggle and probably not win.
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