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Magic Cheltenham memories as Power gets set this year with contenders for Harrington and Tizzard

Donn McClean chats with jockey Robbie Power on his big hopes for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival next month.

Robbie Power celebrates after Supasundae's victory at Cheltenham in 2017.
Robbie Power celebrates after Supasundae's victory at Cheltenham in 2017.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JUST SHOWS YOU. Sport. Horse racing. The ups and downs.

Robbie Power lined up on Oscars Well in the 2011 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the Neptune Hurdle as it was then, full of optimism, full of hope that he could ride his first ever Cheltenham Festival winner.

The race went well too. The early throes. The rider got his horse settled back in the field and along the inside behind a decent pace that Harry Haynes set on outsider Aikman. Davy Russell was just in front of him on First Lieutenant, Daryl Jacob was just beside him on Rock On Ruby.

Oscars Well was a little keen, but he travelled and he jumped. As they started to race down the hill, a nice gap opened up on the inside and Power allowed his horse make progress into it. He joined the front rank on the run to the second last flight and rounded the home turn in the lead. He kicked off the home turn and led down to the last, Rock On Ruby challenging on his left, First Lieutenant on his right.

Oscars Well was meeting the final flight on a good stride and Power asked him up. The Oscar gelding responded too, picked up in front and pinged the obstacle. Then, disaster. He stumbled on landing and lost his hind legs. The horse did remarkably well to stand up and Power did well to remain on board, but they lost all momentum and all chance. Oscars Well finished fourth and Robbie Power was distraught. It could have been his first Cheltenham Festival winner. His best chance of the week, up in smoke.

“Put that behind you,” trainer Jessica Harrington told him 20 minutes later, as she legged him up on 16/1 shot Bostons Angel for the RSA Chase. “This will win.”

Bostons Angel did win. Magic.

The 2017 Cheltenham Festival was magic too. A Coral Cup on Supasundae and a Grand Annual on Rock The World. They were brilliant, but they weren’t the magic. Sizing John was the magic. A Cheltenham Gold Cup. A first Cheltenham Gold Cup win on your first Cheltenham Gold Cup ride. Childhood dreams.

robbie-power-onboard-sizing-john-celebrates-winning Glory for Robbie Power on board Sizing John at the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Next month, Robbie Power will bid for his second Cheltenham Gold Cup when he lines up on the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation.

“He’s coming into it a little like Sizing John did three years ago,” the rider said at Punchestown on Tuesday. “He’s a little bit under the radar. They’ve kind of written him off a bit since the King George.”

Lostintranslation didn’t give his true running in the King George, we know that. He ran in snatches, came under pressure as they left the back straight, and his rider pulled him up at the third last fence. Maybe the race came up too quickly after his Betfair Chase win at Haydock. He had a break of less than five weeks and, while it looked like he won easily at Haydock, he had to have had a hard race. You don’t beat Bristol De Mai in a Betfair Chase at Haydock without having a hard race.

Also, they had been talking about cauterising Lostintranslation’s palate even before the King George. That’s done now, and he’s zinging.

“He’s in great form,” said Power. “His form last year with Defi Du Seuil is strong, we know that he goes well at the track, and he goes into the Gold Cup with a big chance.”

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Robbie Power will have other big chances too at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. He is in an enviable position, riding for Jessica Harrington and riding for Colin Tizzard. The Tizzard novice hurdlers look strong.

“Fiddlerontheroof could go in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He was impressive in winning the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time, and a stiff two miles on easy ground would be ideal.”

The Big Breakaway could go for the Ballymore Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs, Harry Senior could go for the Albert Bartlett over three. That may be how they will be split up. We haven’t seen The Big Breakaway since he won at Newbury in December, and you would ideally like for him to have more than two runs over hurdles under his belt going to the Cheltenham Festival, but he is reportedly in really good form, and it is obvious that his rider holds him in high regard. As he does Harry Senior.

“Harry Senior stayed on well to win a Grade 2 race over two and a half miles at Cheltenham in November, and he could do even better with a greater test of stamina.”

Copperhead could go for the National Hunt Chase or he could go for the RSA Chase. Power is angling for the latter, obviously, the National Hunt Chase being an amateur riders’ race and all. The rider was at Haydock on Saturday when Copperhead won the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, but he was impressed.

“I rode him to win at Wincanton in December, and he is a horse that we have always liked.”

It looks like Silver Sheen should get into the Pertemps Final all right. Jessica Harrington’s horse was game in battling back to win a Pertemps qualifier at Warwick in January, he is progressive, he has won his last three, and he could get into the final on a nice racing weight. And then there is Supasundae.

“Supasundae is 10 years old,” said Power, “but he is in great form and he could surprise a few people in the Champion Hurdle. He beat Buveur D’Air in the Aintree Hurdle last April and, if Buveur D’Air was still in the Champion Hurdle, what price would he be?

“Two and a half miles is probably Supasundae’s ideal trip, but you need stamina as well in a Champion Hurdle. He has won a Coral Cup and he has finished second in a Stayers’ Hurdle, and he has won an Irish Champion Hurdle and a Punchestown Champion Hurdle over two miles. He was only beaten five lengths by Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle earlier this month on his seasonal debut, and he should come on for that. He could run a big race.”

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Donn McClean

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