Martin Keighley column: Cheltenham buzz and Frankel
IT’S always exciting when the first Cheltenham meeting arrives as it feels like the start of the proper winter season and there is no better place to be racing.
In the past it has been a lucky meeting for me because it was back in 2009 that Benbane Head gave me my first-ever Cheltenham success, winning under my then stable jockey and great friend Warren Marston and in doing so fulfilled my first big ambition as a trainer.
I also trained a winner at the Showcase meeting last season when Court In Session also won over hurdles, surviving a very long stewards’ inquiry.
He’d drifted right on the run-in but luckily it was deemed to not have affected the result.
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Benbane Head runs in the Ryman The Stationer Handicap Chase (3.40) tomorrow under stable jockey Ian Popham.
If he bounces back to form he definitely has a big race like this in him.
Havingotascoobydo runs in the feature race tomorrow, the BetVictor Handicap Chase (2.30pm).
As I mentioned in my article last week, it will be an achievement in itself just to get him to the start having sustained a potentially career-ending injury schooling last January.
He has some cracking form around Cheltenham and he’ll love the ground and the trip so, with a clear round, he’ll hopefully be bang there.
Creepy runs in the Guy Knights Memorial Bumper (5.30pm) and is a nice horse for the future when he goes jumping.
He won on his debut for me at Fontwell two weeks ago and therefore has a penalty to carry, which always makes winning another bumper a lot more difficult and especially one at Cheltenham.
Therefore if he ran into a place I’d be delighted with him.
Finally in the charity race, which is run after the bumper, we run Sky Calling.
She is becoming a bit of a queen of charity races having already appeared at Aintree on the last two Grand National days in the Legends Race.
This time she is partnered by Mark Caswell and it is 25 years to the day that he rode in his last race as a jockey.
Mark has worked tirelessly on both his fitness and raised a considerable amount of money for charity so deserves to do well.
One thing is for sure, Mark is such a popular guy, the amount of people through the gate will be up just to watch him ride!
FRANKEL IS THE GREATEST
WHILE for us all roads lead to Cheltenham on Saturday, for many others all roads lead to Ascot where Frankel is aiming to win his 14th and final start after an unbelievable unbeaten run stretching over three seasons.
His fantastic trainer Sir Henry Cecil believes that not only is Frankel the best horse he has ever trained, but he is the best horse he has ever seen and I am certainly in no position to disagree with him.
I hope, especially if this does prove to be his final race, that he wins it with the same explosive turn of foot and breathtaking fashion that he seems to find so easy.
* For more details about Martin’s stable, visit Martinkeighleyracing.com