"It's the Olympics of National Hunt Racing" - Robbie Power's tips ahead of Cheltenham festival
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The waiting is nearly over.
The Cheltenham festival is almost here. All the prep-races have been ran by this stage and so, from a trainer’s perspective, most of the hard work has been done.
From a jockey’s perspective, it’s time for the biggest week of the year.
Robbie Power knows the feeling, he’s been there. Having ridden at countless festivals in years gone by, he’s felt the excitement, and he’s been addled by the nerves.
The same nerves that will float around the weigh-room this week, as if travelling from one jockey to the next.
But this will be Robbie Power’s first as a retired jockey.
"I've no doubt in my mind that when I see the horses walking down the chute for the first race on the first day that I'll get that little tingle down my spine to say 'did I retire too soon?’” says the BoyleSports ambassador.
“But that just shows the kind of occasion you’re talking about, I'm looking forward to it."
Cheltenham is all about thrills, spills and excitement. It’s where some dreams come to life and where others go to die.
The same can be said for a lot of race-meetings but what makes Cheltenham really stand out, head and shoulders above the rest, is that all the best horses are running. That’s what puts it out on its own.
Some of the bigger clashes will see Gallopin Des Champs taking on Bravemansgame, A Plus Tard and Noble Yeats in the Gold Cup. Tuesday's Arkle, meanwhile, is being billed as one of the races of the festival with Jonbon pitted against El Fabiolo and Dysart Dynamo.
Constitution Hill's Champion Hurdle clash with State Man could be another race for the ages. You can find prices for all of those races on the BoyleSports site.
“It’s the Olympics of national hunt racing,” says Robbie Power.
“Everyone dreams of having a winner at the Cheltenham festival.
"But more are shattered than achieved. A lot of people will come home empty handed, but that’s what makes it all the more special if you win - whether you’re a jockey, punter, trainer or whoever you are."
It is Cheltenham, and the festival is all about the horses and the tips. As racing planner for Henry De Bromhead, Power still has his finger on the racing pulse and he gives us his top-tips ahead of this year's renewal, which kicks off on March 15.
Quickfire round with Robbie Power
One horse to ride at this Cheltenham festival: Constitution Hill - A because I never won a champion hurdle. He looks like the best I've seen since Istabraq. Obviously, he has to go and do it on the big stage but he looks exceptionally manager.
Tip from Henry De Bromhead's yard for this Cheltenham festival: Honeysuckle will have a huge chance. A Plus Tard seems in very good form ahead of the Gold Cup. He'll be hard to beat if he turns up close to that. Outside of Henry's string of main ones, the one I'd like to ride the most is Hidden Valley Lake in the Albert Bartlett.
Value Bet at this Cheltenham festival: At around the 4/1 mark, I think Appreciate It in the Turners is very good value. Stepping up in trip, I think he'll improve for it. Two and a half miles over fences will suit him.
Choose between winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Grand National (Power won both): The Gold Cup on Sizing John stands out a bit more. I was only 25 when I won the Grand National (On Silver Birch) and probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have done.
But to win the Gold Cup on Sizing John, for Jessie, who had been steadfast in my whole career, that meant so much for me to win it for her. It was her first time to win it as well.