Robbie Power talks life as a 2022 Cheltenham Festival jockey and the top five horses to follow
On the run-up to the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, BoyleSports speak to Cheltenham Gold Cup winning rider Robbie Power to find out more about his daily routine, the pressure of riding at the meeting and leading rides ahead of next week’s racing action. Don’t forget to take note of Robbie’s top five to follow at this year’s Cheltenham Festival!
“I try not to answer the phone the week before the Cheltenham Festival.”
In terms of the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, I guess you try not to answer the phone too much! But joking aside, I’ve got some nice rides in Ireland at Navan and Naas this weekend. They are the most important and you just have to keep doing the day job.
I’ll get on the 6.45pm flight on Sunday evening and then it really begins. I don’t really get too stressed or worried in the build-up to Cheltenham. You hear people in the week before Cheltenham thinking about a plan for their respective races. I have an idea of what I’m riding, but I don’t get worried or make any plans until I see the final declarations.
“My routine at the Cheltenham Festival.”
If someone at the airport comes up to me and asks about my thoughts on Minella Indo or whatever, you just deal with it. The good thing about the 6.45pm flight is that it is usually full of jockeys, trainers and owners going over so you’re ahead of the punters going over. There is just a great buzz at the airport and everyone is just excited to get there.
There is just a great buzz at the airport and everyone is just excited to get there” Robbie Power
My routine during Cheltenham is that I’m staying with Johnny Burke who lives about 20 minutes away from the track. I get up around 6.30am, jump in the shower and have some porridge for breakfast. That gets me through till about 11am.
I will then drive to the track and get there around 7am/7.15am. I will then ride out on Tuesday morning, I’ll probably be riding the horses I would be riding that day and also the Wednesday. It would probably be riding two lots.
Then I will go back to Johnny’s and get changed and I would then head back out at 10/10.30am to avoid the busy traffic on the way to the racecourse and arrive at the track. I might then catch up with some friends I have in England at the track and have a chat.
Then for lunch, I would get something like chicken. The catering at Cheltenham is top-class and I would probably have to be in the weighing room about two and a half-hours before racing begins so I can get a few bits and pieces to eat before that at around 11am/11.30am. That keeps you nice and relaxed for the day and then in the evening we’d go back for a nice meal at Johnny’s and see what he is cooking!
“Liverpool are playing Arsenal on Wednesday – that will break the week up.”
It’s very relaxed in the evening. We’ll have a bit of dinner, chat about the day’s racing and horses that impressed you. There will be plenty of craic in the weighing room and then you will be looking ahead to the racing the next day. You might watch a bit of television, but I do sit down and watch the form of my next day’s rides. That takes up probably an hour, hour and a half of your time.
Liverpool are playing Arsenal on the Wednesday night of the Cheltenham Festival so that will be great as it will just break up the week. It will be good to have something to watch during the week and we need three points to help keep the pressure on Man City. I’m a Liverpool fan and obviously, at the minute we are still trying to do the quadruple so it is an exciting time.
I don’t have any lucky rituals – I’m not really that way inclined I just try to keep everything the same. Then when the racing finishes, I just head back home on the 8.30pm Ryanair flight on Friday night and am back to reality.
“There has been a lot of ups and downs over the years, including with injuries this year and in the past, I’ve broken a lot of bones”.
However, I’ve got some great memories from the Cheltenham Festival. We knew going over there that we had a good team. To have three winners was unbelievable but to win the Gold Cup, that was one of the greatest days I’ve ever had racing. And in my very first ride in the race, it was very special.
To have the crowds back this year is going to be very special. I found last year very subdued and boring without the them there. Jockeys feed off the crowd and the atmosphere and that is something I’m really looking forward to.
To have the crowds back this year is going to be very special” Robbie Power
“Defending Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Minella Indo is in great form”
I was at Henry’s last week and I jumped eight fences on Minella Indo and he was really good. He has come out of Leopardstown in great form and I’m looking forward to riding him in the Gold Cup.
He seems in fantastic form. Henry and everyone are very happy with him. Every year he goes to Cheltenham he seems to improve and hopefully, fingers crossed he will do the same this year. His run in the Irish Gold Cup was a very good run anyway.
It’s a Gold Cup and I do think A Plus Tard and Galvin are big dangers. Al Boum Photo and Protektorat cannot also be written off.
It is a very open and competitive Cheltenham Gold Cup. You could make a case for a lot of horses, but Minella Indo is the one with proven Cheltenham form, he has been there and done it before so fingers crossed he can go and do the same again.
“Teahupoo has each-way claims in the Champion Hurdle.”
Teahupoo seems in great form at home, he needs to improve a lot to trouble Honeysuckle, but he is open to that improvement and it is hard to get a handle on his work at home as he only does what he has to do. We don’t know how good he could be, but he was impressive at Gowran Park and he is a ride I’m really looking forward to do.
I think he’s got live each-way claims. Giving 7lb to Honeysuckle is going to be really difficult. She is a fabulous mare, is 14 from 14 and is the defending champion. Appreciate It was impressive in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year and I think it is the stiffest task that Honeysuckle has faced so far.
Both Appreciate It and Teahupoo both need to improve to give Honeysuckle a challenge. Obviously for Appreciate It, the plan was to go chasing but he had a hold up. However, if any trainer can get a horse ready to win first time out at the Cheltenham Festival – it’s Willie Mullins. The vibes coming from Cloustton are very strong and he has to be respected.
“If I could ride one horse it would be Shishkin.”
I think Saint Felicien has a big chance in the Coral Cup. He is a horse we think a lot of and he does have to overcome his lack of experience, but that is something I will have to try and negotiate in the race. He is a very talented horse and I think he could be very well-handicapped. I’m looking forward to him.
I’m on Discordantly in the Ultima. He won at Leopardstown last time out and he runs off 10st 5lb in this event and he was sixth in the race last year off a 1lb lower mark than he has this year. He is obviously coming into the race in form and I think he has an each-way chance.
I also ride Say Goodbye in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. I think she has a big chance. She was only a length and three-quarters behind Party Central at Leopardstown. She is 5/1 for this race, whereas Say Goodbye is 33/1. I think she is a little bit overpriced.
If I could ride one horse at the Cheltenham Festival it would be Shishkin. Two-mile chasers definitely float my boat, so I would love to ride Shishkin.
Robbie Power’s five to follow at the Cheltenham Festival
Teahupoo (Champion Hurdle)
Minella Indo (Cheltenham Gold Cup)
Shishkin (Champion Chase)
Saint Felicien (Coral Cup)
Discordantly (Ultima Handicap Chase)
Provided by BoyleSports