With just under a week to go until the tapes are lifted in the Supreme Novices Hurdle to kick-start the Cheltenham Festival, people are talking – talking, a lot.
Opinions on a variety of races from a variety of people could be tempting a few punters to sway their Festival punting decisions. The main thing for a punter to do in these talky times is to filter what information is gold and what can be discarded. One man certainly worth listening to is top-jockey Barry Geraghty – he has the golden touch on and off the track.
You’re likely to hear a lot of him over the next week or so due to his working relationship with leading trainer Nicky Henderson. He bagged five wins at National Hunt’s HQ last season and could better it this season.
The man himself sat down with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power yesterday and gave his opinions on everything Cheltenham.
Starting with the Supreme Novices Hurdle, Geraghty, who will be riding either 10/1 River Maigue or 20/1 Chatterbox, stated that River Maigue has good each-way claims in the race but had a downbeat message for any Chatterbox fan.
Although not decided what race he’ll run in yet (he’s 14/1 for the Neptune), the jockey admitted that he would “not confident of getting the better of the top three in the Supreme” and the horse “shows nowt at home”.
He thinks the Supreme has plenty of depth this year and feels that AP McCoy who has the choice of the two market leaders, My Tent Or Yours at 7/4 and Jezki at 5/1 (both best priced with Paddy Power), could have made the wrong decision siding with the Henderson trained runner rather than the classy Irish raider.
Geraghty’s best chance of a winner on the opening day lies with the chances of Simonsig in the Racing Post Arkle Chase, for which he is a 4/6 chance with Paddy Power.
He called Simonsig an “unbelievable horse to work” and that he has so much raw ability that he could win a Listed race on the Flat with him. The fact that he revealed that he, in time, could win a King George too, suggest there really are no stamina issues either for this year’s two mile novice championship.
He rides Grandouet in the Champion Hurdle also on the Tuesday, and revealed that the horse “really needed” his latest racecourse gallop after his minor set-back last month.
He is a 6/1 chance with Paddy Power. Geraghty deemed the “jury is very much out” on favourite Hurricane Fly and that Rock On Ruby at 11/2 has a great chance at the prices.
Quevega is being mooted by many punters as the potential banker of the Festival, but Geraghty could dethrone her this year with 5/1 second favourite Une Artiste.
He said: “Une Artiste suited by step up in trip & ground but Quevega very hard to beat. She could be best Quevega has come up against.”
Geraghty, who has one Gold Cup win to his name with Kicking King in 2005, is riding the favourite Bobs Worth this year.
The 3/1 favourite loves Cheltenham and Geraghty said: “Bobs Worth is in great shape and working very well, I’m very sweet on him. I told Nicky I need him fitter than the last day and he told me that he is. This was always is main target and he is ready.”
Of his potential rivals he thinks stablemate Long Run at 6/1 is the “forgotten horse” in the race and that Sir Des Champs, the 4/1 second favourite, has not impressed him this saying. His exact words were: “I’ve not seen a run from him to say that he is a gold cup winner!!!”