By Johnny Ward at Cheltenham
The drying day on Tuesday was badly needed at Cheltenham. Even seasoned Irish journalists who walked the track felt the need to comment on how deep conditions were.
Even in a Festival with seniors like Buveur D’Air, Altior, Might Bite and Douvan, a novice – Samcro – is the one many of us want to see most this week, sensing the second coming.
He should get punters off to a winning start in the opening race, yet the ground would rate something of a concern.
I have been really excited about Samcro but wonder if 24-hour declarations had prevailed at Cheltenham, would connections have run him in the Supreme – considering the ground went against Mengli Khan and also how impressive he was at the Dublin Racing Festival when beating Duc Des Genievres.
That was a hell of a run from Duc Des Genievres, who in my view is far too big a price – at least relative to stablemate Next Destination, who admittedly beat him readily at Naas but that was the French-bred's first start for Willie Mullins. Trip and ground are fine.
Pat Kelly has been aiming this horse at this race pretty much since last summer, so we can excuse an utterly unconventional prep for a prospective RSA Chase winner: 3m5f handicap chase, senior grade-two hurdle, senior grade-two chase.
In truth, they will be a little concerned about the ground, but main rival Monalee might be less effective on it too – especially if he runs as freely as he did 12 months ago in the Albert Bartlett.
Presenting Percy was superb at that Festival and, given how cleanly he jumps, and how this race looks liable to be run to suit him, he warrants support under Davy Russell (who of course could have ridden Monalee).
Gordon Elliott and I spent a recent evening on a preview panel. Horsemen are accustomed to Michael O’Leary’s aversion to the only race of the 28 that takes place on the flat at the Cheltenham Festival, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
Gigginstown’s number of bumper runners in Britain is just nine since the operation was formed, and none did better than third.
The panel with his exception having discussed the bumper on Tuesday, Elliott was asked more out of courtesy than any other consideration if he had a view, and he surprised the audience by saying that Felix Desjy was a certain runner.
Felix Desjy is partly forgotten, since his last outing was when scoring at Down Royal on November 3. Patrick Mullins rode him then and was effusive in his praise.
Speaking to Racing UK, Jack Kennedy was also very sweet on his chance last week, and a hood may help him settle.
Johnny's top tips for day two: