Allmankind in much better shape for this year's Cheltenham Festival and Arkle Chase bid
Tim Gredley is confident Allmankind will give a better account of himself at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.
Twelve months ago the five-year-old, who is owned by Tim and his father Bill of Stetchworth & Middle Park Studs, was a disappointing third in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Dan Skelton – the son of Sea The Moon’s Warwickshire-based trainer – described the performance that day as ‘very flat’, having come on the back of a campaign on the Flat under the guidance of Michael Bell back in Newmarket.
However, after being rested for much of the summer and with three straight wins under his belt either side of Christmas, Gredley believes Allmankind is in much better shape heading into Tuesday’s top level Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (1.55pm).
“He had a hard campaign on the Flat on what was very hard ground,” said Gredley.
“Because of the way the juvenile dates were set out there was no real time for him to take a break before Cheltenham.
“I remember seeing him going round before the race at Cheltenham and he didn’t look himself. He didn’t have that kind of swagger.
“He was still third so it was no disaster, but I know there was some disappointment.
“He had a good break in the summer. He went away with Big Orange and a couple of my point-to-pointers and when he came back he was the size of a bull. I almost didn’t recognise him.
“Dan has told me he’s a completely different horse this time around. It was hard to keep weight on him before, he was tense, but his mentality is a lot more relaxed now.
“The runs this season have really sharpened him up and the Arkle has always been the plan. We really believe in this horse.”
Allmankind is the 7/1 third favourite with bookmakers to triumph down in Gloucestershire behind the odds-on Shishkin and 9/4 shot Energumene.
Both have churned out impressive victories already this year at Doncaster and Leopardstown respectively, while the former also has a Grade 1 win at the Festival on his impressive CV.
Nevertheless, Gredley feels his horse is primed to give the duo a good run for their money.
“We’re up against two cracking horses and fantastic talents,” he added.
“But as long as Allmankind is sitting well and runs his race, he has enough to put them under pressure.
“We’re third favourite for a reason but he’s won two Grade 1s and he’s fit and healthy.
“This is why you own horses – for races like this. It’s all well and good being a big odds-on favourite against others that nobody respects, but this is a proper race. It’s really exciting.”
Gredley and his father are no strangers to winning on the biggest stage. Yet those victories – provided by the likes of Environment Friend, User Friendly and the mightily popular Big Orange – all came on the Flat.
“This is new to us, even though I’ve been to watch the Cheltenham Festival many times,” said Gredley.
“It’s a massive shame we can’t go because of all the restrictions but the build up to the Festival has been very much like Royal Ascot.
“The build up is almost as fun as the day itself and my father and I are really enjoying it.
“It would be amazing if Allmandkind gives us a Cheltenham Festival winner and the fact that he’s a homebred would make it extra special.”