Rachael Blackmore’s Best Rides At The 2021 Cheltenham Festival
2021 Cheltenham Festival Tips – Rachael Blackmore’s Top Rides
Rachael Blackmore has three Cheltenham Festival winners under her belt; A Plus Tard and Minella Indo (2019) and Honeysuckle (2020). All three were trained by Henry de Bromhead and are due to reappear at this year’s meeting.
The County Tipperary-born jockey rode 90 winners in 2018-19 to finish second to Paul Townend in the Irish jockey’s championship. She goes into this meeting with high hopes of landing one of Cheltenham’s most prestigious prizes.
Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle, Tuesday)
Honeysuckle won last season’s Mares’ Hurdle after a great battle with odds-on favourite Benie Des Dieux. Connections of the mare had considered a tilt at the Champion Hurdle but opted for the easier option. Now that the daughter of Sulamani has her Cheltenham victory, she will take on the best in the Champion Hurdle.
Blackmore has ridden Honeysuckle to all ten career victories, most recently storming to a 10 lengths victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle. That was their second successive win in the race and resulted in her replacing reigning champion Epatante in the Cheltenham betting. Seven of her ten victories have been in excess of two miles so Blackmore will be keen to lay up with the pace. With Goshen also preferring to lie handy, it promises to be a fascinating tactical battle this year.
A Plus Tard or Minella Indo (Gold Cup, Friday)
A Plus Tard and Minella Indo are both set to line-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Darragh O’Keeffe rode A Plus Tard to victory in the Savills Chase in which Minella Indo and Blackmore came down at the eighth fence. She had partnered the gelding on all nine previous outings in Ireland, including a victory in the Close Brothers’ Novices’ Chase at the 2019 Festival. Last year he finished third in the Ryanair Chase when starting favourite and he is still unproven beyond three miles.
Minella Indo had looked to be the stable’s Gold Cup horse prior to the Savills Chase. He was a 50-1 winner of the Albert Bartlett in 2019 and second to Champ in the RSA Chase in 2020. He was slightly disappointing when only fourth to Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup last time but De Bromhead believes that he will be a better horse at Cheltenham. If both horses arrive fresh and well at Cheltenham, it seems likely that Blackmore will partner Minella Indo with O’Keeffe retaining the ride on A Plus Tard. Both horses have excellent each-way prospects.
Bob Olinger (Ballymore Hurdle, Wednesday)
Bob Olinger is prominent in the betting for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle after winning the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January. He comfortably beat Blue Lord who has since finished third to Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Appreciate It. The Ballymore looks quite open this year and Blackmore will be hoping that Bob Olinger has the class to provide her with another festival victory.
Eklat De Rire (Brown Advisory Novice Chase, Wednesday)
She also has high hopes for Eklat De Rire in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (formerly the RSA Chase). The three-mile race can be a gruelling experience for novices and stamina is the key factor.
There are no concerns on that score for the seven-year-old son of Saddex who has won twice over an extended three miles on heavy ground. He is around the 14-1 mark to topple the hot favourite Monkfish.
Best Of The Rest
Captain Guinness faces an equally daunting task if lining up for the Arkle Trophy. He was still in contention when falling at the second last behind Energumene at Leopardstown in February. He was beaten eight and a half lengths by that horse on his previous start at Naas. Captain Guinness needs to improve to trouble Shishkin but could be one for your Cheltenham Free Bets.
Notebook has been well beaten by Chacun Pour Soi twice this season and looks to have an impossible task in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The gelding started favourite for the Arkle last year but finished a moderate sixth behind stable companion Put The Kettle On.
Blackmore has place prospects on the consistent Minella Melody (Mares’ Hurdle) and Champagne Gold. The latter finished second in the valuable Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown in February and would be worth a second look in one of the festival handicaps.