Ed Quigley caught up with the master of Barbury Castle, as he talks through his small but select squad for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, including Arkle hope Edwardstone.
“He has been a smashing horse this season. In some ways he is a little bit of a late bloomer, but I think all the experience he had over hurdles when running in the likes of the County Hurdle and Betfair Hurdle really toughened him up – mentally more than anything.
“Now he’s a bit older he is relaxing throughout his races and fences have brought out the best in him. He has really filled out now too and is big and strong; his breeding suggests he would get 3m no bother, but clearly isn’t devoid of pace. I don’t think the track (Cheltenham) or the occasion will be a problem for him – it will probably be me who is a bag of nerves instead!
“We will keep our fingers and toes crossed that everything goes smoothly between now and the race, and I suppose he will head there with every chance. It is very exciting”
Forever William (Boodles Juvenile H’Cap Hurdle)
“I think he was a tad unlucky not to win on the Flat, and he has run well over hurdles so far. I was happy with him and Chepstow (behind Porticello) and then again when third behind Pied Piper at Cheltenham.
“That told us he isn’t a Triumph Hurdle horse, but in the Boodles he could run well. Softer ground would help, and I might pop some headgear on him – just to get him to travel. You don’t want to be on the backfoot from the get-go in a race like that otherwise it is game over.”
The Glancing Queen (Paddy Power Plate or Mares’ Chase)
“In truth, she is probably a few pounds shy of what is required if all the top Irish runners come over for the Mares race, so off 141 I would be leaning towards running her in the Plate.
“She has had a lot of experience in big fields and around Cheltenham, so I won’t be worried about the hurly-burly with her, and she is a sound jumper. Ideally she would like some cut in the ground, so we will probably make up our minds late doors and see how the races are shaping up, but as things stand, I think she would have a better chance of winning the Plate than taking on all those top Irish mares.”
Tritonic (County Hurdle)
“On his day he is very smart as we saw at Ascot. You can put a line through his Newbury run – he was too keen, and his jumping fell apart down the back-straight.
“It has been suggested that perhaps he doesn’t act at Cheltenham, but I am not sure I agree with that, I thought he ran a good race when fifth in the Greatwood and that experience will have done him the world of good. Off 145, I think he can be competitive”
Nina The Terrier (Mares’ Novices Hurdle)
“She would need some spring ground. If we had a dry week at Cheltenham she could run a big race. She jumped and travelled nicely at Sandown last time out, but just got tired on the ground. She didn’t have a hard race, and has come out of that bouncing. She has a lot of ability, and it could just be that the ground is key to her. I think we will give it a go”