Rich Ricci on Limini's Cheltenham Festival hopes

Rich Ricci appears to have cooled over of the prospects of supplementing Limini into the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham later this month.

Limini emerged as an unexpected possible candidate for the race when outpointing Apple’s Jade in a conditions event at Punchestown last month, her first appearance since last April. 

With Ricci’s previous two winners of the race, Faugheen and Annie Power, both sidelined through injury, Limini appeared to have given her owners an interesting new option, although they would need to pay the £20,000 supplementary fee next week.

Ricci, the chairman of bookmakers BetBright, was appearing at a BetBright-backed Festival preview night in London on Thursday evening. 

On the same night 12 months ago, Ricci had assured the audience that Vautour would run in the Gold Cup or not run at all, only for the horse to line up instead in the Ryanair Chase and blow his rivals away in a performance of sheer quality, marginally mired by the controversy over his participation in the race. 

Ricci began proceedings a year on by apologising to the audience and promising lessons had been learned. 

There was consequently a more circumspect feel to many of his pronouncements, and although despite some raucous audience encouragement to let Limini line up, he seemed far from fully committed. 

“Susannah (Ricci’s wife who co-owns Limini) and I have discussed it and if she’d been originally entered, it would be a different matter, but to be supplementing, you really want to be doing that if you think you have a good chance of winning the race,” he said. 

“Do you really want to be doing that and just finishing fourth? “I’m going to talk to a few experts and see what they say. It’s a possibility but nothing has been decided.” 

Ricci briefly excited the crowd by going on to say: “A lot depends on what happens with Vroum Vrum Mag. I remember when Willie supplemented Annie Power into the race last year and he said to me ‘I’m not sure we’ve put the right one in – maybe we should have put Vroum Vroum Mag in’.” 

However, no sooner had he said that the option to instead run Vroum Vroum Mag in the Champion was “potentially” still open, he added: “I think it’s unlikely. I think her trip is now two and a half miles. 

“I think Limini might run, but I think Yanworth is the one to beat. Before Limini came along, I was talking to Ruby about what he would ride given the choice of everything and he said Yanworth – that meant a lot to me.” 

Meanwhile, fellow panellist Joe Tizzard offered encouragement for the backers of the remarkable Cue Card, who along with stablemate Native River heads the betting for the Timico Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival. 

Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, Colin, said: “I watched every horse in our yard work this morning and I’d ride Cue Card. 

“Don’t get me wrong, Native River worked well too, but he has to take another step up. Cue Card looked fantastic.”   

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