Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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A PLUS TARD is fancied to win the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup and continue a superb week for Rachael Blackmore at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
The ultra-consistent A Plus Tard has won six times and has yet to finish out of the first three in 15 starts; highlighted by success at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and last-start win in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December.
At three miles, the Leopardstown victory represented a step up in trip for the Henry de Bromhead-trained seven-year-old, who has successfully campaigned over shorter distances and provided Blackmore with her first Cheltenham Festival winner when landing the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, over two and a half miles, at the 2019 Festival.
Blackmore has been unstoppable at Cheltenham this week, riding a double again today [Thursday] to increase her tally for the week to five.
The 31-year-old engineered a sublime front-running performance to win the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase on the Willie Mullins-trained Allaho and followed up with a tactically superb ride to win the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on Tellmesomethinggirl.
Blackmore won the Unibet Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle on Tuesday, before adding the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle with Bob Olinger and the Weatherbys Champion Bumper with Sir Gerhard yesterday.
After winning the Ryanair Chase, Blackmore, speaking to Jockey Club News, described her week as “out of this world” and said: “It’s incredible! I’m very grateful to be getting these opportunities. He put in a fair performance; he jumped and galloped everywhere. I never felt like I was out of my comfort zone anywhere. It was fantastic.
“I was happy to let my lad gallop and jump and it worked today. He was happy, travelling underneath me and comfortable [in front]; when they aren’t comfortable and you are forcing them, that’s when you are maybe going too quick.
“Every horse is different and I was just letting him gallop and jump at the speed he wanted and trying to get breathers into him in a few places. I got a great thrill riding him. It takes a lot of the complication out of it, I suppose, with instructions like that. It’s fairly black and white and if it comes off, it’s fantastic.
“When you are riding for two powerful stables it makes a jockey’s job a lot easier, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in this position and be getting these types of chances. You have to have the engine underneath you – it’s very hard to do it up that hill without the engine.
“How would I describe this week? Out of this world.”
Looking ahead to A Plus Tard in the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup, (when speaking in a separate interview with ITV Racing), she added: “He has an unbelievable chance. Al Boum Photo is the horse to beat in it and we will be giving it our best shot.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.