I’m quite excited to write my first blog for Paddy Power ahead of the Paddy Power Gold Cup this weekend at Cheltenham. I am a massive fan of Paddy Power’s gung-ho attitude. Paddy Power always sparks attention within the National Hunt media bubble – that is what I love about them.
A bit about me (before we get to the horses). I’m a sports performance consultant, training to be a chartered sports psychologist. I do a bit of work too for Racing for Girls, headed by Stephanie King, working to improve the profiles of some of the females within the industry – jockeys, trainers, assistants, photographers, milliners, fashion experts etc. The general objective is to evoke more interest from the general population (male or female) and to encourage more of the younger generation to come racing.
Back to the track. I can’t claim that tipping horses is my forte and don’t bet often (although, I did just wager on who killed Lucy Beale). However, I have a great passion for racing. Well, how can one not, when I am lucky enough to look out the window every day to see the picturesque Seven Barrows filled yard of athletic equine beasts like Sprinter Sacre (below).
If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen my little rant a week ago, saying the next person to ask about tips, tickets or updates on Sprinter will get blocked! (Many saw the funny side and took the opportunity to wind me up even more, with one of the Bristol rugby boys tweeting: ‘Hey Cam, could you sort me 8 tickets out for the weekend? Also what’s your fancies from the Hendo Stable?’)
What I can do here is shed a little light on life at Seven Barrows, what my father likes to see in a horse, and our entries and expectations for the three-day Open meeting.
Inside Seven Barrows
Everything has been running smoothly at Seven Barrows. It has been really fun recently, particularly watching the schooling sessions before the start of the jumps season – especially at the beginning of the autumn, when the poor jockeys are given the delightful task of getting the ‘babies’ out for the first time over the easy-fix hurdles.
We have had six or so winners already this month and quite a few seconds (nothing annoys NJH more). You will see that the horses this weekend from Seven Barrows will look a million dollars in the paddock. Most have just been clipped with their winter coats coming through. My father will not run a horse that is looking a bit shabby in his coat or a horse that needs to build on a bit of condition. He will wait until he is 100% happy with their progress and training, looking spritely.
There are so many indicators when looking at a horse to see if they are race ready. My father will go round examining every horse most nights during evening stables. He feels their legs and backs and any particular problem areas, then a pat, polo and bed!
My father insists on giving his horses all the time they need when coming back after their summer holidays grazing in the fields. He has never brought them back to work too quickly or expects too much early on. You cannot necessarily prevent injury but NJH is careful in this sense to not overdo things early in the season. They are not machines and we try to keep in mind the longevity of the long season ahead, and the importance of peak performance around that crucial month… March!
Team Henderson’s shot at the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Oscar Whisky (below) is running in the Paddy Power Gold Cup under top weight 11.12, his first start in a handicap. Unfortunately, he came to grief in the Jewson at the Festival but rounded off his campaign with a good effort defeat when runner up at Aintree in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle. He has struck twice at Cheltenham as a novice over fences last season so I hope he can remember his capabilities around this track and do it again.
Present View is ante-post favorite, and Oscar will be giving him 10lbs, so he is one to be very wary of after Jamie Snowden (former assistant to NJH) reported he is in terrific form. Vaniteux is all set for Sunday in The Greatwood Hurdle, (Champion Hurdle Trial), and the vibe is that the team are getting excited about his run; after his highly respectable third in the Supreme behind Josses Hill, he is an exciting prospect.
Barry Geraghty |(above) has decided (rightly so, of course..) to stay in England on Sunday to ride the Henderson horses. Hargam, who is owned and bred by the Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre the same connections who sold us Zaynar. He came with an official flat rating of 97 and is clearly one to watch. He runs in the Juvenile Hurdle on Saturday at Cheltenham (JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial). He is very much going out to learn his job but looks a nice prospect.
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