BRENDAN POWELL, one of the most exciting young jockeys in the country, hopes to uphold family honour aboard Present View in today’s Paddy Power Gold Cup – one of steeplechasing’s most historic handicaps.
He was just 10-months-old when his father Brendan senior won the corresponding race in 1995 when the doughty Dublin Flyer got the better of Jenny Pitman’s Egypt Mill Price on the run-in.
Now the talented teenager has a chance to replicate this success aboard Present View who came to prominence when denying the Yorkshire-trained Attaglance in a frantic finish to Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Nineteeen-year-old Powell’s task is slightly easier after it was announced last night that Attaglance is a non-runner because the ground in the Cotswolds is deemed to be too soft for Malcolm Jefferson’s horse.
However his rivals in this £160,000 contest still include horses of the calibre of Nicky Henderson’s former top class hurdler Oscar Whisky and Jonjo O’Neill’s defending champion Johns Spirit who is bidding to become just the third horse, after Half Free and Bradbury Star, to win successive renewals of this illustrious Cheltenham contest which dates back to 1960.
And Powell could not be happier with the preparation of the Jamie Snowden-trained Present View who runs in the colours of Arsenal Football Club’s chairman Sir Chips Keswick.
“He ran in a hurdles race at Cheltenham last month and was beaten just a head by Vicente. It should put him right for the Paddy Power,” the jockey told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s always been better over fences than hurdles and he should have a great chance. I schooled him the other day and he jumped great. Everything is grand.”
Though Powell is attached to the Westcountry stable of Colin Tizzard, he has endured a slightly slow start to the current campaign. However his horsemanship has never been in doubt and there are many senior jockeys who would happily swap places with the talented teenager who caught the eye when recording his first Cheltenham Festival winner in March 2013 aboard the Tizzard-trained Golden Chieftain before Present View’s success earlier this year.
“Young jockeys like myself, we need the winners just to keep our names in the limelight and, hopefully, get more rides in the future,” said Powell as he explained the importance of today’s opportunity. “I don’t remember the old man’s win – I was just a few months old – but I’ve certainly seen the replay enough times! It is one of those races that every jockey dreams of winning.”
It was inevitable that Powell and his sister Jenny - now a successful Flat rider – would follow their father, the winner of the 1988 Grand National on Rhyme ‘N’ Reason for David Elsworth, and become jockeys. “It’s bred into me; it’s in my blood,” said the rider.
Powell’s optimism is shared by Present View’s trainer. “I wouldn’t swap him for anything,” said the aforementioned Snowden “It was a fantastic prep run at Cheltenham in a novice hurdle and arguably he should have won but for making a bad mistake at the last. I’m not scared of any one horse. He’s handled the hurly-burly of Cheltenham and proved that he handles the track and the occasion.”
One person who will not be at the home of National Hunt racing today is Powell senior who is now a successful trainer after winning 700 races over jumps.
He told The Yorkshire Post that he has missed both of his son’s Festival winners to date and does not want to become a distraction.
His one bit of advice is for Powell junior not to be caught out by the likely fast pace and remember that it is a long way from the top of Cleeve Hill to the winning post.
Much can happen – as he testifies from personal experience. “Between the last two fences on Dublin Flyer, Warren Marston came to me on Egpyt Mill Prince and headed my horse at the last,” he said.
“He probably went a length up but Dublin Flyer was so tough and so resilient that he got up on the rail and won. It was a very, very happy day.
“It will help Brendan that Present View stays. Hopefully he will be able to pick off the pacesetters, but he knows what he is doing. He is already far more accomplished than I ever was. At his age, I hadn’t even ridden a winner. He’s way ahead of me on that front – and he’s a lot tidier in the saddle. I wasn’t there for his first two Festival winners so I’ll be staying at home for this one.”