Matt Chapman reflects on an eventful weekend on and off the track at Cheltenham in his latest column

THREE days of Cheltenham banged in and the jumps season is well and truly in full swing.

But who or what has made my latest Good, Bad and Ugly column? Let's find out…


I'm delighted this section is packed full of goodies.

Top of the pack has to be The Big Breakaway, who blew me away in a way I haven't be blown for a long time with a scintillating success at Cheltenham Sunday.

I was all over him at the Festival, where he flopped, but he was always going to be a chaser. I took a picture of him in the paddock afterwards and he's not only got huge ability but is an absolute beauty as well.

He could be a monster in the making for Colin Tizzard.

I'm still trying to work out how Coole Cody landed the Paddy Power Gold Cup after belting most of the fences, but take a bow trainer Evan Williams and particularly jockey Tom O'Brien.

The latter has always had loads of talent but doesn't really sell himself like he should. Tom can ride and ride well. He definitely should get more chances in the big races and won't be letting anyone down that's for sure. 

Nico de Boinville was oh-so-strong on aboard On the Blind Side at Cheltenham, as he told me tongue-in-cheek straight after the race before I interviewed him for ITV.

To be honest, though, de Boinville is a class act in my book and he can drive one if needed. I think he's a star of the game and I always love chatting to him. He's like a posh Oisin Murphy!

And finally well done to George Baker, the trainer, who is about to go Bahrain crazy with a satellite yard in the Middle East country.

The concept has come a little late for his former stable star Belgium Bill, who loved his trips to Turkey, but this could be an exciting move for Baker.

Ironically, Baker's yard has just been sponsored by the boozy Coolhurst Wines, although I suspect it's unlikely that support will be carried over to his Bahrain base when Baker will have to be careful to keep his gaff alcohol free!


Some have questioned if Harry Cobden is nasty enough to be a champion jockey, which in some ways is a complement but in other ways questions whether he has that streak in him that marks a man who just needs success to survive.

I can quash this mister nice guy image here and now once and for all.

I was lucky enough to be at the pull up area after the races at Cheltenham for ITV, and there you see the reaction of riders to victory and defeat.

I can tell you Cobden had the look of a mass murderer on his face after he got chinned on Duc des Genievres in the big Shloer Chase. It was very similar to the look Ryan Moore has after he gets defeated.

Trust me Cobden is hard enough to be champion. You would not want to meet him in a dark tunnel.


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There was panic just outside of Cheltenham when water started to leak into the ITV chief Ed Chamberlin's hotel room.

Rumour has it Chamberlin jumped up and down in a more agitated way than when Southampton briefly topped the Premier League table.

Alas like the Saints, the only way for the water was downward.

Anyway, Chamberlin sprinted to reception in fear that whoever was above him had fallen asleep in their bath with the taps running.

The receptionist promptly revealed that the guilty room was occupied by a certain Sir AP McCoy!

Anyway, amid mass panic all was eventually well and the leak was stopped. One can only imagine AP was trying to get rid of a few pounds before he truly goes down the Jason Weaver route!


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