Cheltenham Chatter – Nervous Ruby Taking Nothing For Granted

With just 7 days remaining, until the start of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, who has been talking the talk?

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Walsh’s Worries

Ruby Walsh is master of all he surveys, at Cheltenham, but the jockey admits that he is getting nervous as the Festival approaches.

“It has been a busy week, working horses for Cheltenham, and, touch-wood, things are going right thus far – for a change, this season.

“But, next wek will be vital. You’re tuning them up, and the last couple of bits of work and schooling sessions have to be done, and there’s the ever-present potential for something to go wrong.

“We’re lucky at the minute, though. It has been a funny season for the yard, but they seem to be in good order now. We’ve had stop-start campaigns with horses, and horses getting injured.

“The ball hasn’t bounced in the way we’ve been used to it bouncing in the last couple of years, but I’d be very happy with the way they are at the moment. We still have a lot of work to do with the horses next week, and you don’t need much to go wrong to miss out in Cheltenham. It’s a tense time for every yard.”

Hamer Inmate In Hunt For The Pertemps

Debra Hamer feels that Tobefair will relish taking on top-class rivals, in the Pertemps final. He’s won 5 times this season already and will be a serious contender for the 3-mile contest.

“I think he needed time to strengthen up. He’s quite a big horse and he’s just come into himself and he obviously enjoys a small yard,” Hamer opined.

“Cheltenham is a nice, stiff track. Fingers crossed he’ll enjoy the track. He tends to like the tougher tracks. He’s an out-and-out stayer so it should probably suit him.

“He’s not a horse that gets geed up. He’s quite a laid-back sort, so I don’t think the whole Cheltenham thing will be an issue for him. He seems to have come out of his last race at Newbury very well.

“I’d like to think there’s more improvement in him. When he runs his races you never know how much he’s got left.”.

Gordon’s Going For It

There were some wild rumours flying about, at the weekend. Whispers had it that not only Barry Geraghty was going to get fit in time for the Festival, but that the great Tony McCoy was also planning a Cheltenham comeback!

One thing we can confirm is that Gordon Elliott is having a sensational season and he isn’t ruling out finishing as the Champion Trainer.

“There’s nowhere like Cheltenham but there’s plenty of pressure on Cheltenham as well. It’s all go but we’re very lucky to have the horses to go there so it’s great. You probably put the pressure on yourself a little bit too much as well but you have to do it.

“It would be nice to win it but we know Willie Mullins is going to be very hard to beat. He’s on top of his game. We’d love to win it but once we keep getting on well we’ll be happy.”.

Nicholls To Send Another

Paul Nicholls will have sent a chill down the spines of his rivals, after indicating that he is likely to send Antartica De Thaix to Cheltenham. The mare has just won the Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon and continues on an upward curve.

Speaking after the race, Nicholls commented “I thought she would go OK today. She needed a bit of a confidence booster at Bangor last time out and was beaten by the horse that won the big race at Kempton last weekend (Pilgrims Bay) at Sandown in December.

“On the ground, I thought she would question Desert Queen as she is a good mare. She has just taken time to settle and relax in her races, but she is getting there. Sam took his time and gave her a good ride.

“She will probably go for a mares’ race at Cheltenham in April. It has been a good weekend, we have had four nice winners and that was our 130th of the season.

“I want to try and beat our record of 155 and we will do the best we can and if we can get four or five each weekend that would be great.”.

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