News Power charged up for Festival surge

Power charged up for Festival surge


Everything Robbie Power touched last spring turned to gold - highlighted by the Cheltenham Festival heroics of Sizing John.

Power had already won the Coral Cup on Supasundae for his boss Jessica Harrington before he brilliantly claimed the Gold Cup aboard the fellow Commonstown inmate.

Just for good measure, the pair also took the closing Grand Annual with Rock The World - not bad considering Harrington only took a handful of horses to the meeting.

The popular jockey went on to enjoy a fruitful Aintree thanks to his link-up with Colin Tizzard through late owners Alan and Ann Potts.

And the show rolled on to Fairyhouse, where he landed the Irish Grand National aboard Our Duke, and the Punchestown Festival, which concludes the Irish season.

He has not been quite as prolific so far this term, but with the Festival looming once more, 'Puppy' Power is again the envy of most of his weighing-room colleagues.

"I never set myself goals going into Cheltenham because if you do, you'd be very disappointed on the Friday evening," said Power.

"I'm hoping for the same again and if you walk out of there on the Friday evening and the only race you've won is the Gold Cup, you'd be fairly happy."

Sizing John returns to defend his Gold Cup crown on something of a recovery mission, with his winning run having come to an abrupt end when he flopped in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown.

However, recent vibes from the Harrington camp have been much more encouraging and Power is in confident mood as his mount bids to become the first back-to-back winner of the blue riband since the legendary three-times victor Best Mate.

"I think he'll have to be as good as he was last year, he might even have to improve a little bit, but I think he has," said Power.

"Physically he feels a stronger horse this year than he was last year and he's only an eight-year-old now.

"He might need to improve a bit, but I still think the best line of form for this year's Gold Cup is last year's Gold Cup. I don't think the King George form or any of the other form is as good as last year's Gold Cup form."

Due to his ties with the Potts family, Power is committed to riding Sizing John over his stablemate Our Duke, who reignited his Gold Cup dream with victory in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last month.

Not for the first time, Noel Fehily will bid to act as super-sub on Our Duke and Power acknowledges he poses a massive threat.

"They're two very good horses and it wasn't easy to have to get off Our Duke. I'm not just saying it, but if something is going to beat Sizing John, I hope it is Our Duke," he said.

"I wouldn't say there's really a rivalry in the yard between the two horses. Kate (Harrington) rides out Sizing John and Tracy (Piggott) rides out Our Duke, so maybe the two of them have a little bit going on between the two of them, I don't know."

Supasundae bids for a second successive Festival victory and while he claimed the scalp of the great Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles, he is set to line up over three miles as favourite for the Sun Bet Stayers' Hurdle.

"I'm really looking forward to him - I think he's got a massive chance," said Power.

"He's by Galileo so ground is going to be crucial for him.

"He's got course form, which is all important, and if he gets good ground he'll take plenty of whacking.

"Before Leopardstown he never showed us anything to suggest he was a Champion Hurdle horse and I still don't think he's a Champion Hurdle horse, but hopefully he's a Stayers' Hurdle horse."

Power will have the pick of all the horses that carry the Potts' colours at Cheltenham.

Fox Norton, arguably the most high-profile horse of those based in Britain, was recently ruled out of the meeting, but Power feels he has a couple of potential dark horses to ride in the novice hurdles.

"It was disappointing when Fox Norton got ruled out as I was looking forward to him, but that's horse racing and these things happen. I'm sure he won't be the last horse to miss out," he said.

"There's a couple of novice hurdlers I'm excited about. I won on Ainchea at Sandown on Tingle Creek day and I liked him a lot. He was going to win in Sandown a couple of weeks ago when he fell at the last.

"Vision Des Flos was very impressive in Exeter the last day, so he's another I'm excited about.

"They're two exciting horses and at big prices they'll be good each-way bets."