Walsh to the fore with Footpad in the Arkle

Filed on 13 Mar 2018 @ 16:17

The Willie Mullins-trained Footpad emulated stable companions Douvan and Un De Sceaux with a scintillating performance in the £175,000 Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase, the second race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

The 5/6 favourite travelled kindly throughout the two-mile contest despite one bad mistake midway through the contest as Petit Mouchoir and Saint Calvados set a frenetic early pace. However, the two front-runners paid for their early exertions and Footpad swept past the leaders entering the home straight under a motionless Walsh.

A fine leap at the last sealed victory for the six-year-old son of Creachadoir, who came clear to score by 14 lengths over the Nicky Henderson-trained Brain Power (14/1) in second.

A delighted Walsh, who only returned to the saddle last Thursday after breaking his leg and was delighted to ride his 57th victory at The Festival.

"Aidan Coleman [jockey Saint Calvados] and Davy Russell [jockey Petit Mouchoir] set off to lead with the choke out like Getabird in the first and I was happy to sit third.

"I was happy going the pace I was going. I didn't want them getting any further away from me but I thought on this ground they might capitulate up front. You can make it on this ground from the front but you have to make it on your own terms, not making it on the horses' terms.

"I was probably in front too early (over two out), but I was worried about Davy putting on pressure down the hill, but Footpad jumped super except for one mistake down the back - I wanted to pop the fence and he wanted to come as I thought it was too early to come.

"He was very good at the second last and pinged the last and he galloped all the way to the line. His performance was reflective of his homework.

"He was too free in last year's Champion Hurdle when he was fourth and I thought he would have been third if he had settled.

"Today was a good performance and he jumps very well. He has a great way of jumping and that's a big help.

"The way he stayed as a four-year-old suggests he would stay further, particularly as he is getting older.

"He has brains, he has pace and he has stamina. He is not a work horse at home, he is a racehorse and he saves himself for the racecourse. He is high class.

"It was great of connections to put me back on him and it's great to be here.

"Footpad was brilliant. I cannot say I was confident down the back when he landed on the first one, but I said to myself that they were going too fast in front and can't keep going.

"I knew when Davy [Russell] got the better of Saint Calvados that he would try to get a breather into Petit Mouchoir. That is why I got up to him and kept him honest, but then I was thinking 'hang on, Nico has been following me, so he is going to be coming on too.' Maybe you can think too much at times.

"Footpad's work at home was spectacular and his jumping has been brilliant all year."

Filed on 13 Mar 2018 @ 16:17