Andrews and Morris relishing a Festival first

  • Posted: Monday, 12th March 2018
  • Author: Carl Evans
  • Photo: Carl Evans

Jack Andrews is relishing the prospect of first ride at the Cheltenham Festival in Friday’s St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase.

Andrews, 19, will be lining up on Volnay De Thaix, who is trained in Northamptonshire by former top-flight point-to-point rider Stuart Morris (the pair pictured above) for owner Judy Wilson. Some of Morris's finest moments in the saddle came in Wilson's colours when her pointers were trained by Bill Warner.

Of his big-race ride, Andrews says: "I'm just trying to keep everything the same and going through the routine to let the race come round. It's been going through my mind, not out of anxiety, but just thinking about how the race will pan out.

"Burning Ambition has looked like he cannot be beaten and is clearly a very useful horse, but he'll have to be that good to win. Wonderful Charm is another obvious danger, but the ground is not in his favour, while Virak won on bad ground at Haydock and is also a candidate."

Nine-year-old Volnay De Thaix joined his current yard from Nicky Henderson in the summer and has since won open races at Thorpe Lodge and Brocklesby Park to gain qualification for Friday's £45,000 race. His current BHA rating of 147 is top of the list in Friday's race, one point above Burning Ambition, who runs for the stable of Ireland's Pierce Power.

Andrews, whose sister Gina is the reigning Fuller's women's champion, says he is not worried about the three-and-a-quarter mile trip for his mount, despite the fact that he raced over sub-three-mile trips when landing six races for Henderson. He says: "Both Stuart and I think he's not a speedy horse, he's more of a stayer – everything about his wins over three miles in points suggest that, and he's been strong at the end of those races.

"It was a pity Arthur's Secret [a winner on Sunday at Hackwood Park] unseated two out at Brocklesby Park, because he would have given us a race and we could have learned a bit more, but I believe we would have beaten him."

Morris plans to run Volnay De Thaix in first-time cheekpieces, and says: "He's schooled in them and was fine, and it will just help Jack to get a good place."

Andrews says his sister has given him one piece of advice, saying: "Get a good start and get into position early. She has yet to win the Foxhunter Chase, but she took last year's Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase [on Domesday Book for trainer Stuart Edmunds]."