Harry Cobden considers the Paul Nicholls-trained Bravemansgame to be one of the most exciting rides he has at The Festival™ supporting WellChild this year and has hailed him as “the best novice hurdler we’ve had since I’ve been at Ditcheat”.
The French-bred six-year-old, owned by John Dance and Bryan Drew, runs in Wednesday’s Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
And Cobden said: “He’s probably the best novice hurdler we’ve had since I’ve been at Ditcheat. He won the Challow Hurdle by 10 lengths last time and, although it probably wasn’t the most competitive running, just the way he went about it and the way he jumped and travelled - any horse that wins a Grade One by 10 lengths must be pretty decent.
“He’s just got something about him; he does stuff very easily, and did even when he came over from Ireland after winning a point-to-point and was a shell of a horse. He went into the school and showed so much natural ability that we’ve thought he was special since day one.
“I’m going to ride him like he’s the best horse in the race. Willie Mullins’ horse [Gaillard Du Mesnil] looks very, very good, and Bob Olinga (trained by Henry de Bromhead) I think is probably the main one to beat.
“Seven runners - it’s fairly straightforward. It’s not like previous years with 17 or 18, so hopefully there won’t be any traffic problems and I’ll just ride him handy, keep the others in our sights and fingers crossed he’s the fastest going up the hill.”
Cobden rides the Hales family’s popular grey Politologue in tomorrow’s feature race, the Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
And he added: “Politologue is coming here in great form again. The race looks a little more competitive than when he won it last year, but he’s the sort of horse who comes out and gives his all every time, so hopefully he will run a good race.
“He’s come back year after year. I think this is his fifth or sixth Festival, and for any horse that is a huge achievement. They’ve got to stay sound and want to do the game - he absolutely loves it and is an amazing horse to have.
“Chacun Pour Soir looks the real deal, and I’m sure Paul Townend will drop him in, take his time and follow us around. We won’t be taking any prisoners from the third-last and will try to go on from there.”
His mount in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase is The Big Breakaway, trained by Colin Tizzard.
Cobden said: “The Big Breakaway has a great chance. I’ve never ridden him on the track, although I’ve schooled him loads at home, and he could be the sort of horse who’s a little bit unexposed, because I don’t think we’ve seen his best running all year.
“I think he’s coming into himself now, he’s jumping better and is in a good place. There might be a slight change of tactics in that I’ll probably be fairly forward on him rather than dropping him in.”
Asked how different this year’s Festival would feel to previous meetings, he replied: “We’re grateful to be here and ready to go. Unfortunately there are no spectators, but we’re just pleased to be here.
“I suppose we have ridden without crowds all year, but Cheltenham is a place where the crowds really make a difference. It’s the biggest four days of our racing calendar, and when you ride a winner here, the atmosphere is fantastic.
“You go out to ride in the Supreme Novices’ and you can hear the cheers as you are jumping off and obviously that’s not going to happen this year.”
Cobden, 22, has ridden two Festival winners so far.