Equine Flu is the talk of racing at the moment. I don’t know what’s going to happen or what the repercussions might be. The BHA are obviously trying to contain it. But one of the horses that ran in Ayr the other day has it now, so I don’t know how long racing in the UK will be off, writes Ruby Walsh
But to me, flu is flu, be it equine or human, and it will run its course, so I don’t see racing being affected for too long in the UK. I don’t blame the BHA though in being careful with the bigger fixtures coming down the line. You have to look at the big picture and if that’s what they’re doing, I would applaud them for that.
The cancellation of the racing in UK is Naas’s gain. It’s front and centre today with coverage on ITV4 as well as Racing TV. The three big races last week had half a million people in the UK looking at them so it’s good exposure.
I have just one ride on the card, on Baie Des Iles for my brother-in-law Ross O’Sullivan in the Opera Hat Chase. All Baie Des Isle’s form in Ireland is over much further. She won a National Trial with Katie, she was placed in one. They were over three and a half miles. She was disappointing in the Welsh National but won over 2m 6f in France in June with Paul on board.
She has won over two miles in France, albeit when she was a bit younger. The small field will suit her but you’d imagine two miles would be a bit sharp for her now. If she can get into a rhythm and catch onto their tails she might pick up some place money.
Paul stays on Pravalaguna. He won on her in Limerick. She worked well during the week and schooled well yesterday morning. She’s come on a bit form her win in Limerick and with 10-7 on her back, she’ll be hard to beat.
Paul rides Willie’s other two today. Pont Aven has to improve dramatically on what he’s achieved so far. His runs are fairly average and he would have to step up quite a bit to get involved.
Maze Runner beat Band Of Outlaws in a maiden hurdle at Cork but disappointed at Christmas. He wears the cheekpieces that he won with on the Flat but I think Joseph’s other horse Konitho will be hard to beat. He’s been bought by JP McManus since he won his maiden at this track and this looks a nice sort of race for him.
City Island is arguably the best horse on show today. The trainers turning up in the opening Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle would not have been expecting to turn up encounter a horse of this calibre. He beat Getareason at Galway but was disqualified and then won at Leopardstown at Christmas. He’s a hell of a good horse.
They have reconfigured these races to rule out the likes of Relegate and Felix Desjy, that have won certain races, and I don’t really think that’s right. If they qualify, they qualify. It just goes to show the type of horse you can get without having to fork out that massive money and that’s a positive message to be sending out. City Island is just another example of that.
Ballycasey continues his cross-country career at Punchestown after running nicely at Cheltenham in December, and he’s been back there since for a school. He seems to be in good order. I think he’ll run well but you’d be a brave man to think he’ll beat Josies Orders around there just year.
I’m on Prince D’Aubrelle in the next. He didn’t run last Sunday because the ground was too quick. There’s rain forecast before tomorrow and that would suit him. He’s been plagued with injury, is obviously a fragile sort but he’s in good form and in an open race, we’re hoping he can give a good account of himself.
La Sorelita hasn’t really finished out her races for us yet. Maybe with a couple of runs under her belt she will now and with 10-2 on her back, who knows? But Prince D’Aubrelle is in good order.
The only other interest I have is in the National Trial, which seems to be a meeting of Thyestes and Paddy Power form. Some Neck hadn’t even gone a circuit when he fell in the Thyestes. I schooled him yesterday morning and he jumped well. I think the extra half mile will suit him. He’s won around the track and has a nice weight. If he jumps well enough I don’t think he’ll be far away.
I think Orion d’Aubrelle ran better than his finishing position would suggest in the Paddy Power. He raced a bit keenly and faded from the second last. He has his best run for us in a handicap hurdle at Punchestown so he’s shown a liking for the track.
Isleofhopendreams pulled up in the Thyestes. He did the same last year and finished second in this so maybe there’s an omen in that. It’s a wide open race as you’d expect for the prizemoney tomorrow.