Is Cheltenham a special place for you to come:
Very much so, obviously every year our biggest week of the year is at Cheltenham. Thankfully I have a lot of happy memories there. The races are always more competitive because everybody wants to win at Cheltenham. So yeah, I would say it is a special place.
Looking at the entries, you’re sending Blue Cavalier and Move With The Times this weekend, what can we expect from them?
Their participation will very much depend on whether the ground is deemed safe enough for them. Move With The Times would probably want a bit more cut from the ground, as would Blue Cavalier. They’re both on very good form, and Move With The Times is in particularly good order so hopefully he’ll have a really good season this year. Blue Cavalier is not the easiest in the world to train. So I imagine when he does make his reappearance, he will improve on the run slightly, but we probably need a bit of rain for Blue [Cavalier] to run.
Working with Paul Nicholls, do you always have one eye on the festival in March?
It depends. You always have to plan for the horses to be good enough for the festival, if you have a novice chaser that wins in November, then you’re going to be hoping that he’s going to turn into a Cheltenham horse. I think over the year and throughout the season, horses will tell you whether or not they are good enough for Cheltenham and after Christmas, you’ve got more of an idea as to whether or not they are going to be good enough, and if they are then you can have half an idea, or keep half an eye on it from then on.
I read on your blog you’ve been riding on Politouge, what’s his summer work been like?
He’s been all good! He’s not a particularly good work horse, he just gets on with his job – a very professional horse. We’re all happy with him, and he will probably run either the Betfred chase or a race at Ascot, which take place on the same day. Paul and his owner will discuss that nearer the time, but he’s absolutely fine and his work is good.
You had a brilliant weekend last weekend in Chepstow, how important is it to get the jump season off to a flier?
I think for us we’ve always said that Chepstow is the main starter, so we target it. It gives us confidence in that the horses are where we want them to be and that they were fit and well. It’s great to have winners there, and –historically – we’ve always done well there and I’m pleased we’ve managed to keep that up.
Previous Cheltenham winners include Frodon and Pacha du Polder, can we expect them to have a big season?
Pacha [du polder] will be trained to go back to the Fox-hunters in March, so we may have one run before that, but as long as he is fit and healthy and well he will go back to Cheltenham in March. Frodon could make his reappearance on Sunday at Aintree. He is in good form, loves Cheltenham. He’s a very consistent horse and is just short of top-class. I’d like to think he’d have another good year.
Do you have one horse that’s stood out for you this season so far?
There’s a horse called McFabulous, he won at Chepstow at the weekend, he’s quite green and would’ve learnt an awful lot from the experience and the fact that he was good enough to do that on his first start says a lot to me, so he’d worth a watch.