PAT HEALY: As Cheltenham approaches, Pat reflects on his yard visits this past week and picks out a horse for the Champion Bumper.

Cheltenham Fever

We’re now well into the countdown to Cheltenham and we had two media mornings at Gordon Elliott’s and Willie Mullins’. It’s great that both Willie and Gordon take the time to do these mornings, they obviously don’t need to, and I can imagine it’s like a pain in the head for them at this time of the year, but in the world that we live in its every day for media, be that social media or print media, you need fresh content and images. It’s fantastic from our point of view as the images are used widely across all platforms – print and social. I just wanted to thank the pair of them for allowing these mornings to happen. It’s a great help and the public obviously love seeing the images. We wish them both the best of luck heading for Cheltenham with their big battalions, as they both look like they are going to have over 50 runners at the meeting, so it’s going to be a huge undertaking logistically. I suppose we just hope that everything goes according to plan for them, and the horses get over safe and well.

Point to Point

I was at Farmacaffley Point-to-Point in County Armagh on Saturday where former amateur rider John Joe Bryce, who had a bad accident at Tyrella Point-to-Point a couple of years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair, had a five-year-old runner called Marronstown, who was very impressive. He is by Frozen Fire, trained by Stuart Crawford, and ridden by Ben Crawford, he beat Gordon Elliott’s horse called An Mhi who himself is by Walk In The Park and has been well touted for the past few months, and although this is his second point-to-point run, he came off second best here to Marronstown. The fact that Elliott arrived on site and then went back down to Fairyhouse the same day tells you the regard that he holds this son of Walk In The Park in. It was obviously no mean feat by Marronstown to put him away and win well, so there are two names to keep an eye on going forward. There was a great crowd at Farmacaffley Point-to-Point, it’s obviously a great local crowd being just outside Armagh City. The committee did a great job, and they were well rewarded with a fantastic crowd.


We were in Naas on Sunday where we had the Grade Three with Captain Guinness winning; and he’s not going to Cheltenham. Flame Bearer won for the Doyle family, trained by Pat Doyle who was on hand to say that he thinks a lot of Flame Bearer. Of course, Pat sold good horses from point-to-points, and they have gone on to big things, for example Bob Olinger and Appreciate It. Pat was saying that he is going to miss Cheltenham with his horse and go straight on to Fairyhouse and maybe Punchestown, but he holds him in high regard. Pat knows what he is talking about, so I look forward to seeing Flame Bearer’s progression in the future.

Champion Bumper

Music Drive won the bumper and beat Paul Nolan’s Sandor Clegane. It’s going to be interesting because Sandor Clegane was well beaten by Facile Vega, and of course Music Drive was well beaten by Redemption Day at Leopardstown at Christmas. I think outside of American Mike and Facile Vega, Redemption Day is the one horse at Cheltenham that can take down the two big names in the bumper. Music Drive did no harm to his form the other day by winning. Redemption Day is around 6/1 for the Cheltenham bumper, and he’s going there with a big chance.