CHARLIE LONGSDON: We continue to countdown to the Cheltenham Festival – this time with trainer CHARLIE LONGSDON and how is preparation is going. The stable have a runner in the opening Supreme Hurdle with Rare Edition …..
We’re a few days away from Cheltenham and it is always a little bit stressful, especially when the weather seems to have turned against us.
Most of our hard work is now done. The likes of Rare Edition, I schooled him on Monday and did a good bit of work with him on Tuesday, predicting that the weather might not be perfect.
It’s the same for everyone, but we’re the week before Cheltenham and suddenly we’re getting snow. It worries everyone, but I’m pretty sure everyone will have finished their main bits of preparation by now and it’s more a case of putting the finishing touches in place. I think come the week of the 13th, most of the snow will have gone and we’ll be back to warmer temperatures.
Cheltenham runners on Tuesday and Wednesday
I’ve probably said it before, but I think he’s the best novice hurdler we’ve trained to date. That would be unfair on some others; we had a place in the Triumph Hurdle with Songe and Killala Quay was placed only a few lengths behind Faugheen in the Ballymore, so we’ve had some very good novice hurdlers in the past, but nothing has quite struck the eye like him.
Rare Edition won his first two starts over hurdles very comfortably and then he was very impressive on Boxing Day at Kempton. He came seven or eight lengths clear of a horse of Paul Nicholls’ who has won a Grade 2 since. That form is very, very strong.
We fluffed our lines a bit in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon. He came back pretty sore in his muscles behind that day, and he didn’t have the cleanest tracheal wash. We know he’s better than that.
He did a very nice bit of work on Tuesday. He’s been confirmed for the Supreme, he’ll do a bit of work at the end of the week and then it’s all systems go. This little bit of rain will be helpful, he wouldn’t want it too quick, and I think he just wants a quickly run race where he can keep up with the pace. He travels very strongly, he’s a very exciting prospect and I’d like to think he’s slightly overpriced at the moment at 26.
She’s been a superstar for us. She’s been running well this season but it’s only the last few weeks that she’s come out bouncing. I think running in the Cross-Country race at the January meeting was a big thing for her and I do think she’ll come on lots for that. She schooled extremely well at the beginning of this week before the snow arrived. If the ground is like it was there a few days ago, then she will definitely go for the Cross-Country race.
We’ll probably ride her a bit more forcefully this time. I’m guessing she’ll be around a 14s shot and I think she’ll have a nice each-way chance.
There’s no doubt that Delta Work will be hard to beat. He and Galvin are the best two horses in the race. Where we might be different from them is that they’ve done their best over those fences already whereas we’ve still got room for improvement. We’ll probably ride her a bit more forcefully this time. If you look at all her wins last season, she had horses beaten in the second third of the race, stretching out and having horses beaten early doors. That’s what we’ll try and do this time. I do think the seven-pound allowance will be helpful, but it’ll still be hard to beat Delta Work and Galvin.
A first Cheltenham winner?
I’d normally like to try and brush over that question nowadays! It’s a sore point, not having had a Cheltenham Festival winner. It’s been a topic of conversation leading up to the Festival every year. It’s slightly different this year in the fact that we’ve actually got horses that might have a little bit of a chance.
Cheltenham is the yearly Olympics of the National Hunt racing world. It is the be-all and end-all for a lot of people and while there’s a lot of very good prize money elsewhere, it is a massive event.
It would be massive to have a Festival winner, but it won’t define my career.
I think it’s the timing that wound everyone up, bring the new rules in a few weeks before the biggest event in the National Hunt season.
The Cheltenham Festival is the most highly pressured week of the year and I’d be amazed if some jockeys don’t get it wrong. The last thing they’re trying to do is intentionally get it wrong, but it’s a heat of the moment thing, they’re competitive, professional sports people.
I really pray nothing will get disqualified or anything like that. We want to be celebrating, hopefully Constitution Hill winning and being the next superstar, not see some poor jockey being disqualified and getting an 18-day whip ban. If that’s on the front pages rather than a horse like Constitution Hill’s brilliant win, it’ll be sad for the sport.
Champion Hurdle: Constitution Hill looks something special
Constitution Hill could become the next superstar of the racing ranks and I think that State Man will give him a good run for his money, but I really hope that Constitution Hill will win. He looks something special.
I don’t know how good his last bit of work at Kempton was, but it looked pretty impressive. I know Nico [de Boinville] and Mr Buckley and Mr Henderson have been giving him glowing reports, whereas Mr Mullins has been slightly quieter [about State Man]. That might be the cleverer way of doing it! But I still think Constitution Hill will win the race.
State Man will chase him home, but I think Constitution Hill will win. I think it’ll be four or five lengths – I don’t think he’ll win by the 10 or 15 lengths some people are saying he will. State Man is a Cheltenham Festival winner and he’ll be up for the fight.
Champion Chase: Edwardstone to keep the home side up
Energumene is the reigning champion over two miles and while he got beaten last time, I’m sure that Willie Mullins left a bit to work on with him. I really hope Edwardstone wins, to be honest. We’ve got to keep the English side up!
Editeur Du Gite will go a merry dance like he did last time, but Energueme and Edwardstone won’t lay off him this time around, they’ll be snapping at his heels straight away. I think he’ll run a fine race and finish third. He’ll make it a proper race. I think Edwardstone will win and Energumene will be second.