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Exclusive: Lucinda Russell on her Friday and Saturday Cheltenham runners

As jumps racing returns to Cheltenham, bet365 speaks to Lucinda Russell to discuss her runners in the Cotswolds this weekend.

Friday – Apple Away – 2.45 Cheltenham – 20/1

She won really nicely at Bangor; it looks like she’ll stay further but we’re starting her off at 2m3f. It’s obviously a staying track and her stamina should hopefully kick in up the long Cheltenham hill.

She’s a very nice filly – quite a big filly – and she’ll definitely be better when she goes chasing, but if we can get this one under her belt, there’s another mares’ handicap at Cheltenham which should be fun for her. We also have the option of dropping her back down in Grade and coming back up north with her.

2.45 Cheltenham odds

Friday – Aurora Thunder – 3.55 Cheltenham – 16/1

She’s been around a few years now. She’s one of my favourites, and she can be very strong with you, but when she’s right she’s very easy to ride and I’m excited about her. 

We went chasing with her last year but that didn’t go very well and as a result she’ll be going back over hurdles.

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Graeme Rodway's Cheltenham Tips

She’s won mostly on flat tracks, but we wanted to try her at Cheltenham and see how she gets on there. She’s starting off over 2m4f. She’s a filly that just stays 3m – not really, really well, but she does stay 3m, so over 2m4f around Cheltenham should suit.

However it’s a very tough race, but she’s got a light weight and she should be fine.

3.55 Cheltenham odds

Saturday – Serious Operator – 1.30 Cheltenham – SP

He’s improved massively – I can’t take the credit for this one. We’ve got a lovely girl called Hannah who’s been riding Serious Operator and she kept saying to me “this horse has improved, this horse has improved” and she’s absolutely right. I rode him the other day and I was just so impressed. 

For those who don’t ride, when you run these horses up the gallops, it’s a bit like driving a car, you feel them going up at the ride pace, and then you just click at them and you get this power, and it’s like the afterburners are turned on, and that’s what we got from him.

He won his race at Kelso; he was staying on, he was up against a very good horse of Fergal O’Brien’s in Mortlach. Derek asked him for his effort and off he went, winning hands and heels.

For long-term aims, we’re pretty traditional and we do target certain races that we really like winning and one of them is the Brindisi Breeze race, the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham over 3m. 

Whether it’s with him or not, we do have another couple of ex-Irish point-to-pointers that we have coming through that might head that way.

1.30 Cheltenham odds

Saturday – Jem In Em – 5.00 Cheltenham – SP

We decided that rather than him going straight over hurdles, we’d put him in a bumper at Perth and get him some experience. We had two horses in that race – we love Bix Beiderbecke, he’s a fantastic horse, and he was unlucky through the race. The seas parted and he ended up in front a little bit too soon, and without noticing, Jem In Em came flying through to win on the line. 

It’s going to be a very tough race for him on Saturday, it’s definitely a step up for him, but it will be great to get him a run around Cheltenham.

5.00 Cheltenham odds

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