Cork riders Aidan Coleman and Paul Townend are ready to fight it out for the leading rider award at Cheltenham this week. Both Jockeys will be looking ahead to the prestigious Cheltenham Festival with relish.
It is most likely that the winner of all four principal races, i.e: the Champion Chase, Stayers Hurdle, Gold Cup, and the Champion Hurdle will be ridden by either rider. Irish jockey Paul Townend who competes in Irish National Hunt racing has been brilliant ever since taking over as first jockey to trainer Willie Mullins from the peerless Ruby Walsh.
The native of Lisgoold, Midleton in County Cork, has a brilliant set of rides throughout the week including French-bred, Irish-trained racehorse Al Boum Photo who is aiming for a third consecutive Gold Cup as well as horse racing immortality. The last three time winner of the race was Best Mate in 2002-4 and before that Arkle 1964-66, making this potentially all the more remarkable.
Owned by a Cork man and Joe Donnelly, a former bookmaker who also owns Arkel contender Shiskin and Gaillard Du Mesnil, Al Boum Photo is a major contender this coming Friday.
Ex-bookmaker Joe Donnelly is exceedingly private but his late investment in National Hunt horses has earned him immense dividends. Townend will also ride the odds-on favourite, Mullins’ trained Chacun Pour Soi in the Champion Chase which is the feature race for Wednesday.
This fantastic chaser will be participating for the first time on the Cotswolds track after incurring an injury on the morning of the race last year. However, the horse has looked devastating this term with wins at Cork and Leopardstown on two occasions.
British-based Aidan Coleman will rely on the quality of Epatante with the hope of defending her Champion Hurdle title which is the feature race on day one of the Festival – a festival that has been covered with fair odds by BoyleSports ahead of time just so punters can have huge chances to win big.
Meanwhile, Horseracing appears very unlikely to feature in the government’s programme of up to 12 pilot events planned to inform the return of large-scale events across culture and sport.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has disclosed that the Emirates FA Cup Final billed to take place at Wembley stadium on May 15 and the World Snooker Championships at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre on 17 April, are both in line to be part of the four-step plan out of COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Racing is scheduled to return to limited spectators in step 3, which starts on 15th May, with officials presently consulting as to if the threshold for spectators will be 4,000 or 10,000 fans at that point.
While many racecourses, including Goodwood and Chester, had indicated a willingness to take part in any pilots run, there is already a good deal of experience across the racing market amassed from test events at Warwick and Doncaster last year, including from the period when limited spectators were permitted during the short-lived period of regional COVID-19 tiers last year December.
The Racecourse Association (RCA) has liaised with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport on the return of spectators since the government first revealed its plans to ease restrictions last month. Racing’s response to the Covid protocols is being upheld as a best practice which may lead to a swifter return to normality, and of course, Pointing’s spectator return will take a lead from the Rules example. We are dependant upon their successful implementation.
Including football and snooker, the scheduled program is set to have in it a number of events across the hospitality and arts sector, with Liverpool hosting a number of outdoor and indoor projects ranging from weddings and comedy clubs.