Friday, March 19, 2021

Jockey Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden.




It’s Gold Cup day at Cheltenham and Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden puts his head on the block in predicting how some of Friday’s big races might transpire…


There seems to be a great deal of excitement around Alan King’s horse for this race, Tritonic. He’s two out of two and was very impressive last time out in Kempton where he won by ten lengths. He showed a great turn of foot that day and he could be very good. He came off the flat where he was rated 99. He stays well too.

The horse I really like though is another that came off the flat, Sneezy Foster’s Zanahiyr. He’s three for three and was rated 82 on the flat. He came out of Mick Halford’s and is an Aga Khan horse. He’s been very impressive, especially last time out in Leopardstown since Christmas and he’s been given a break since that run.

From what I hear from the stable he’s going really well at home. I think this could be one of our big chances of the week.

VERDICT: Zanahiyr


Stattler has been running really well behind some of the horses who will go for the shorter distances during the week so it will be interesting to see how they go. He’s a Ronnie Bartlett horse, he is definitely a stayer, he won at Christmas at Leopardstown when he beat a mare of Willie Mullins’, Glens of Antrim and she will probably go in the Stayers Hurdle earlier in the week and that will be a lovely form guide.

Paul Nicholls has a horse here, Barbados Bucks, who has won his last three races and was very impressive last time in Kempton when he won a Novice Hurdle over three miles, which is the Albert Bartlett trip. He travelled really well and jumped super. He’s going to be hard to beat in this race. He came from Ireland where he was second in a point-to-point. We know he stays and we know he jumps so I will probably be siding with Barbados Bucks in this race.

VERDICT: Barbados Bucks


I think this is going to be a fascinating race. Al Boum Photo going for three in a row — the last horse to do that was Best Mate. I feel he was very impressive to do what he did last year because they didn’t go that quick. Paul Townend was in front, where he wanted to be but he had to be because of the pace the rest of them went and he did extremely well to win from there.

They will definitely go a gallop this year with Tizzard’s horse, Native River who won in 2018, making the running. It’s going to be a true run race this year and I think that will only play into the hands of Al Boum Photo, he stays really well. I thought Champ had a very good run last time out for his first run in well over a year over two miles in Newbury.

He is stepping up another mile and two furlongs for a Gold Cup, I’d just be hoping he doesn’t run too keen. A Plus Tard of Henry De Bromhead stepped up massively in trip to win the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. I thought that was a very race and A Plus Tard stayed very well. He is a winner around Cheltenham before so he knows the track.

Minella Indo is another one belonging to Henry, he was beaten narrowly there last year and then unfortunately had a fall at Leopardstown and was disappointing next time out. As far as I know, Rachael (Blackmore) is favouring riding A Plus Tard and Jack Kennedy will take the ride on Minella Indo.

Kemboy won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown but I heard Willie (Mullins) talking about him afterwards and he said that Kemboy had a couple of runs around Cheltenham and never really ran well and that just turns me off him. Horses know that kind of thing and sometimes just don’t like a venue, he was seventh in the Gold Cup last year when Patrick rode him.

Paul Nicholls says Frodon is flying, Nicky Henderson has Santini who was second last year when he was only beaten by a neck but I thought the race suited him last year when they didn’t go that quick.

I find it hard to get away from Al Boum Photo. Willie did what he usually does, one run at Tramore and then straight to Cheltenham and then maybe Punchestown afterwards. He has no miles on the clock and I think if anything will beat him, they’ll win the Gold Cup so that’s why I’ll be siding with him.

VERDICT: Al Boum Photo

*In an interview with Pat Costello

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