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IT’S great to be back at Cheltenham this weekend. The season is starting to hit top gear and I can’t wait to get going.
It’s a course that’s been good to me over the years from Coneygree’s Gold Cup win and the Champion Chase victory on Sprinter Sacre to last season’s Festival when I won on Altior and Might Bite.
My guv’nor Nicky Henderson has been quiet for the past month – they’re all just waiting to come out.
From now on it’s going to get very busy for us. There’s some nice horses bubbling under at the moment – I’m sure they’ll be out in the next couple of weeks – and we’ve got a good army of novice chasers of novice chasers.
I’m just desperate to get going. We’re doing a lot of riding out to make sure they’re all in the best possible shape.
You see everyone else riding winners and I’m gagging to get out on the track on some good horses.
Luckily I’ve got plenty of them to look forward to.
Altior has been brilliant. He’s unbeaten over hurdles and fences and I’m hoping he can go all the way.
From what he showed last season when he won the Arkle and the end-of-season Celebration Chase at Sandown you’d like to think it was definitely possible.
For him to come along so soon after Sprinter Sacre is incredible.
Don’t get me wrong – I know how lucky I am. I’ve been very fortunate to have such good horses come in quick succession.
Sprinter is a horse very close to my heart and the public really loved him.
He arrived at Seven Barrows when I arrived. I used to ride him every day and that was just the luck of the draw I got given him to ride. To then ride him on the track was incredible.
The thing was, because he had had time off with his fibrillating heart, there was actually no expectation. Everything he did was a bonus.
The guv’nor managed to bring him back to his best but there was no pressure.
When he won the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting it was really special. The whole place was packed when he came back in – it made for an incredible day.
The year before I’d won the Gold Cup on Coneygree – it’s quite surreal to think I was still a conditional in name although I’d ridden out my claim.
Originally the partnership with Mark and Sara Bradstock came when they wanted to claim off Carruthers.
They said I could ride Coneygree the following season and he was faultless. To win the Gold Cup as a 25-year-old is a day you dream of.
He goes for the Charlie Hall Chase next week. The Bradstocks did wonders with him to get him back to run so well at Punchestown.
He’s goes to Wetherby without a penalty so fingers crossed it all goes well. He’s a really special horse to me and he seems in very good order.
Might Bite is another I’m particularly looking forward to.
I schooled him yesterday. He did a fabulous bit of work the other day and he’s showing a bit of pace. You could almost drop him back to 2m4f and he’d be almost as good.
He gave me a great day when winning the RSA Chase last season. He nearly threw it all away on the run-in and I half thought all was lost.
It just shows how easily he was doing it all. He’s gone from all out to nothing – almost pulling himself up – to then flying flat out again. It was a very good performance.
He’s some horse and hopefully we can iron out those quirks.
I’m not sure where we’re starting out with him but the King George is the main priority.
It all seems a long time ago I was at Newcastle University – for six weeks.
I’d done my A-levels and then spent six months working for Richard Gibson. He gave me my first rides as an amateur and after that it was all I ever wanted to do.
My brothers and sisters all work in London in the city but I think I’d have probably got bored of that.
We grew up just outside Newbury so we were in the heart of racing country. It’s been great so far and hopefully it will be another good season.
Racing Tips – Top Tipster Templegate’s best horse racing selections for Saturday, January 28
fury over ‘fake’ 50-1winner
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HAVE A DABBLE
Templegate’s tips for ITV’s races at Newbury, Newmarket and Ripon on Saturday, August 19
Today I’m looking forward to getting on Thomas Campbell (3.45). I thought at the back end of last year – after he ran well over 2m4f at Aintree – I definitely thought he would improve for a step up in trip.
It’s a qualifier for the Pertemps Final at the Festival in March so that looks one of the aims for him this season.
He’s a funny character at home – let’s just say he keeps everyone on their toes.
We were debating whether to go over fences with him but they’ve decided to stay over hurdles. I think he’ll benefit from another year over hurdles.
He’s been doing everything the right way, working well, schooling well – he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
We’re not quite sure where we are at the moment so it’ll be nice to know where they are fitness wise.
He’s one who is quite forward in being able to get him ready. He won at this meeting last year as well so it’s a good starting point.
Cultivator (4.20) has his first run over fences. It looks quite a nice novice chase but it’s a nice place to start. You’ve got to start somewhere.
I wasn’t quite sure how he was going to take to fences at the start but he’s taken to them really well – he makes a nice shape. I’d like to think he’d progress for fences.
I schooled him yesterday morning and he seems in good order. We go to Cheltenham hopeful.
I’m off to Aintree tomorrow. On The Blindside (12.40) is a very nice horse. He won his point-to-point in Ireland and he was very slick over his hurdles when I schooled him yesterday.
Two-and-a-half miles on lovely ground should suit him so we’re hopeful.
I rode Oriental Cross (4.10) at Market Rasen when we beaten by two horses that went on to make a bit at the sales.
I liked her – she was quite green. She’ll come on a bundle and, if she got in the frame, I’d be very happy with her.