Jockey Ryan Mania pleased with Vintage Clouds’ preparation for Cheltenham

RYAN MANIA is looking forward to Vintage Clouds rolling back the years for Sue and Harvey Smith on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.

Former Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania partners Vintage Clouds at Cheltenham today.

The popular grey, with five career wins to his name, lines up in the Ultima Handicap Chase following a pleasing comeback run at Kelso for the Yorkshire racing legends.

And Mania believes a wind operation to assist the 11-year-old horse’s breathing will be to the advantage of the Trevor Hemmings-owned Vintage Clouds in today’s renewal of the Ultima.

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Runner-up two years ago when ridden by Danny Cook, it was Mania, the 2013 Grand National-winning jockey, who was in the saddle 12 months ago.

Trainer Sue Smith on the gallops with Vintage Clouds who lines up at Cheltenham today.

He enjoyed a dream round of jumping on Vintage Clouds before the Yorkshire challenger began to struggle, and fade to seventh, as the pace quickened at the business end of the race.

“I think he has a realistic each-way chance,” the jockey told The Yorkshire Post.

“He’s had his wind done and I thought he ran really, really well at Kelso last month when third and he will have come on a heap for that run. He took me through the race and finished his race well which he had not been doing.”

Connections also intend to add cheekpieces to aid the horse’s focus. “It’s just to help me more than anything,” says Mania. “He can be a bit slow and hesitant at his fences and you can’t afford to lose your position at Cheltenham.”

Reece Jarosiewicz idolises Vintage Clouds at trainer Sue Smith's yard.

The jockey also hopes rain-softened ground will help dent the speed of younger horses in this 16-runner contest – those facing Vintage Clouds include Nietzsche for Malton trainer Brian Ellison.

But Mania, who is on the 31-winner mark for the current campaign after coming out retirement 18 months ago, suspects Vintage Clouds will be his only ride at Cheltenham this week. It comes after the Smith-trained Midnight Shadow suffererd a slight setback that will force him to miss Thursday’s Paddy Power Plate.

Meanwhile Middleham jockey Henry Brooke partners Homme Public for Oliver Greenall in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle just weeks after returning to race-riding following serious neck injuries.

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