“THE best I’ve ever trained” – those words are enough to excite the coolest of customers yet fill the most optimistic of folk with dread.
We’ve heard it all before, from Samcro to Australia and many in between. Of course, it is refreshing to hear trainers share their thoughts with such honesty and candour but one can only hope those horses live up to their lofty reputations.
Just last week we witnessed Colin Tizzard’s star novice chaser The Big Breakaway get beaten at odds of 2/9f while 24 hours later, Willie Mullins’ The Big Getaway was trounced on his chasing debut.
So who’s the talking horse this weekend? Well, Gary Moore is a quietly spoken gentleman, never one to get carried away despite the incredible exploits of both himself and his family on the track.
Yet on Monday, while speaking candidly about his Champion Hurdle hopeful Goshen, Moore told the press “I've never trained a horse as good as this before. I think he is better because he has more speed.
"Sire De Grugy had an unbelievable amount of speed, but he would never have been a Champion Hurdle horse.”
The mount of Moore’s son Jamie, Gosden returns over hurdles in tomorrow’s Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Silver Streak, Sceau Royal and Ballyandy are just some of Goshen’s opponents but the reality is that if Moore has a genuine Champion Hurdle candidate on his hands then he should beat these rivals, particularly as he is in receipt of the useful 6lb age allowance.
The time for dwelling on his Triumph misfortune has passed. The best way to diminish the mistakes of the past is to use those experiences to achieve greatness in the future.
Earlier on the same card, Gordon Elliott saddles likely favourite Fakiera in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Runner up in three hurdles last season, this horse has stepped up markedly this season from breaking his maiden at Fairyhouse to winning the Monksfield Hurdle at Navan last month.
He appeared to relish every yard of the trip at Navan so one would be forgiven for thinking a step up to three miles will bring about further improvement in what seems to be a very progressive horse.
Elliott has dominated the juvenile hurdle division this year with horses like Zanahiyr and Quilixios but Duffle Coat has also been a winning machine for the yard since breaking his maiden at Punchestown in September. A winner of the Triumph Hurdle Trial on his most recent start, Duffle Coat goes in search of further glory over course and distance in the opening race tomorrow afternoon.
The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is the most lucrative race of the afternoon and from a punter’s perspective, it’s somewhat of a lottery trying to identify the winner of the handicap chase at 1.50pm.
Paul Nicholls has his string in brilliant health since the jumps season returned and he saddles suspect jumper Master Tommytucker while Nigel Twiston-Davis sends Al Dancer but it could be the turn of Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher to steal the plaudits on this occasion.
Henderson was in the news last weekend for a heated interview with Lydia Hislop following his withdrawal of Altior from the Tingle Creek but the former champion trainer will be hoping for a more pleasant media exchange if Mister Fisher can finally get his act together in handicap company.
Like Altior, this horse doesn’t appreciate deep ground so rain would impede his chances but on his day, Mister Fisher is a classy horse who is very effective at this trip. He never looked comfortable in the Paddy Power Gold Cup over course and distance last time but the going was atrocious.
Ground is a major factor Mister Fisher but if he gets his desired conditions then he could reproduce his best form. Were he to replicate his fourth-place effort behind Samcro, Melon and Faugheen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase then that could well suffice in handicap company.