Thursday 5 March 2020

Tom Queally open to Cheltenham offers

Tom Queally open to Cheltenham offers.

The Cheltenham Festival is not the obvious place to find Frankel’s regular rider but Tom Queally would dearly love to ride at the top National Hunt meeting. The 35-year-old obtained a National Hunt licence to ride for his brother Declan. They successfully teamed up to win at Tramore with Owenacurra Lass in the New Year and Queally would love a ride in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper. 

Queally impresses on 9-1 winner.

Owenacurra Lass was by no means “expected” when winning her maiden hurdle at odds of 9-1. Queally impressed on the mare, tracking the leader before kicking on from the second last to win by a length and three-quarters. He beat National Hunt racing’s rising star Rachael Blackmore on Tune The Chello. Owenacurra Lass was well beaten in a valuable Leopardstown hurdle next time but her victory has sparked a dream for Queally to ride at the Festival. 

The Champion Bumper was won by leading flat jockey Jamie Spencer aboard Pizarro in 2002. He had to survive a lengthy stewards’ enquiry into possible interference with the well-backed runner-up Rhinestone Cowboy before being declared the winner. Queally was twice successful in the hurdle race for flat jockeys at Lingfield and has also schooled for Gary Moore. He is open to offers for Cheltenham but his main priority remains the flat. 

Tiger Roll among Cheltenham declarations.

The progeny of Frankel are yet to make their mark at the top jumps fixture, although it is over two years since Solo Saxophone gave him his first winner over hurdles. Dan Skelton trained that horse to finish sixth in the Fred Winter Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Commentariolus was another son of Frankel to score over hurdles, winning a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle in 2018 for Gordon Elliott. 

Elliott will be one of the busiest men at the Cheltenham Festival this year but one horse stands out above all others. Dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll has been confirmed for the Cross Country Chase on day 2. He has won the race for the past two seasons on the way to Aintree and it is all systems go for his hat-trick bid. 

The excellent website provides expert analysis and tips for Cheltenham Festival 2020. The long-established racing forum encourages intelligent debate on all the top racing issues. There are detailed statistics for leading trainers and jockeys and all the information you need to assess the top Cheltenham races. 

Altior chasing third Champion Chase victory.

Another horse that will have the crowd on their feet is Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. His record-breaking run of 19 successive victories came to an end at Ascot in November. Trainer Nicky Henderson blamed himself for that defeat and the horse looked as good as ever when back to his optimum trip at Newbury next time. He is seeking a third successive Champion Chase and a fifth Festival victory in a row. 

French-bred horses currently head the market for the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. Epatante will be difficult to beat in the Champion if she can reproduce her excellent run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Al Boum Photo defends his Gold Cup crown while Frodon (Ryanair Chase) and Paisley Park (Stayers’ Hurdle) will also bid to repeat their 2019 victories. The meeting runs from 10th to 13th March with the first five races televised live on ITV each day. 

By Harvey Mayson