We’re delighted with the way Djakadam has been working recently, and think he is in great order, writes Ruby Walsh.
Even disregarding the way things had gone over the two previous days, I don’t think I could have expected what happened yesterday.
It was a super day, beyond my dreams. When Annie Power fell at the last in the Mares’ Hurdle in 2015 I honestly thought my chance of being the first jockey ever to ride a four-timer on one day at the festival had gone. To get another chance, and to achieve it, was amazing. It was a remarkable day.
Obviously, we fancied Yorkhill — I think he’s an incredible, and could be a Gold Cup horse — and Let’s Dance.
I was just a passenger on Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase. He just took me every step of the way, and jumped like a buck, but I was just a passenger.
Nichols Canyon was a brilliant surprise. I didn’t do anything special, I just got to the start and decided to follow Noel Fehily on favourite, Unowhatimeanharry, and that’s all I did. He came alive and won.
In Let’s Dance’s race, they were going a really strong gallop, and I thought that would suit me — and it did.
Yesterday’s results would give you great confidence going into today’s racing, and I’m really looking forward to riding Djakadam in the Gold Cup.
He was second in each of the last two runnings of the race, and has been trained for this race since Christmas. We’re delighted with the way he has been working recently, and think he is in great order.
He ran a brilliant race when runner-up to Don Cossack last year, and if he could reproduce that effort I think it could be good enough.
And, I think he could run a bit better than that.
It’s a decent race, and Native River is undoubtedly the improver, while More Of That is a former Stayers’ Hurdle winner, and has the class. Outlander, who won the Lexus, and Sizing John, who won the Irish Gold Cup last time, are very good horses, while Cue Card was very good on his day, but is an 11-year-old now.
All that said, I couldn’t be happier with Djakadam, think he has a great chance, and can’t wait to ride him.
Bapaume needs to improve to win the Triumph Hurdle, but the dryer ground might help in that regard. He’s in really good form, actually, and has matured a bit since his last run. Mega Fortune has proved himself the best of the Irish, and deserves consideration, but the English form looks stronger, and Defi Du Seuil, who is unbeaten over hurdles, is probably the one we all have to beat.
Willie also runs Dandy Mag, who was a good winner of a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park on his only start for us. He’s a nice horse for the future, but this is a very big ask at this stage of his career.
I’m on Renneti in the County Hurdle, and he’s in really good order, but is a bit of a quirky individual.
If he jumps off in reasonable time with the rest of the field, I really think he could run a good race, but he’s hard to recommend, given his tendencies.
Willie also runs Arctic Fire, who hasn’t been out since finishing second behind Faugheen in last season’s Irish Champion Hurdle. He seems well, but it’s a big ask off top weight after such a lay-off.
We have four in the Albert Bartlett, and I’ve gone with Augusta Kate because her form ties in with that of Death Duty, who is favourite for the race.
Much of the talk has been about Death Duty, and his form looks rock-solid, but Augusta Kate was going to giving him a real race until falling at the last in Naas. She was a very smart sort in bumpers, and that was only her second run over hurdles, so there should be plenty more to come. She is getting 7lbs from the geldings, which is a good start, and I think she’ll go really well.
Of Willie’s other runners, Penhill has his own way of jumping, but his form is good, he won over three miles in Limerick, and I could see him running a good race. C’est Jersey is a horse we always thought a lot of, but he has taken a while to come to himself. We gave him that time, and he won his most recent race, when ridden patiently. The cover seemed to suit, and he should get that here. Turcagua was beaten by Death Duty at Naas, and pulled up behind Monalee last time, so needs to improve on that form to figure.
The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, for conditional jockeys, is a race Willie has won three times, and he runs two today — Castello Sforza and Battleford.
Castello Sforza has been disappointing so far, as, I suppose, has Battleford, but they have attractive marks for the level of ability we think they have.
It’s always a very competitive race, and it wouldn’t surprise me if either or both of them ran into the frame.
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