For the first time in a long time I’m heading across the pond to ride, and I’m very much looking forward to it, says Ruby Walsh.
The Tingle Creek is a brilliant race to ride in and today’s is a brilliant renewal. I’ve been lucky enough to win the race four times, on Cenkos, Kauto Star, Twist Magic and Un De Sceaux, but I’ve also missed on another four winners through injury: Kauto Star’s first win in the race, Master Minded’s two wins and Twist Magic’s first.
Today’s race has everything a good race needs: it has a pace angle, a hold-up angle, and a superstar. Who says you need a big field to have a great race?
Whatever way you look at the race, Altior is an incredible racehorse and the one to beat. Nicky Henderson had Buveur D’Air in amazing form last weekend and I’d be hoping Altior isn’t in quite the same form today. He has everything and will take beating, but Un De Sceaux has been incredible throughout his career as well.
He signed off on a high last year, winning a Grade 1 at Punchestown and is in great order for his return. I schooled him last week and David Casey rode him in his work earlier this week and he has all his old enthusiasm. How the race will pan out will be interesting, but he goes there in fighting form and you don’t know how you’ll beat a horse like Altior until you take him on.
Sceau Royal was a very good novice before he got injured, and he won the Henry VIII Novice Chase on this card last year, while Saint Calvados was beaten in the Arkle but has done nothing wrong other than that, and he was very good at Naas on his comeback run. It’s a terrific race to be involved in.
In Navan, Willie has just two runners, starting off with Buildmeupbuttercup in the maiden hurdle which opens the card. She won a couple of bumpers and then went back on the flat before joining us. She goes really well at home and has schooled well so I’d expect her to put up a bold show.
We run Dionysis in the bumper, and he’s a half-brother to Bacardys. He’s working well, should handle the good ground, and is our only bumper runner of the weekend and I know Patrick is looking forward to riding him.
I’m in Punchestown tomorrow for three cracking rides, the first of which is Tornado Flyer, who makes his jumping debut in the maiden hurdle.
He is schooling well at home and has done plenty of work. He was one of our better bumper horses last year, when he was placed in Cheltenham, and went back to Punchestown and beat Blackbow and Carefully Selected. We have really high hopes for him this winter and hopefully he can make a winning debut over two and a half tomorrow.
I’m on Min in the John Durkan Memorial. He started last season over two and a half miles in Gowran, where he absolutely romped in, and he ended up being touched of by Politologue at Aintree at the backend of the season.
He was also second to Altior in the Champion Chase and placed behind Un De Sceaux at Punchestown. He’s a high-class horse in really good form and he’ll like the dry ground. I don’t think the trip is any problem to him. Obviously, you have some smart sorts to beat, but I think Min is in great order and I’m looking forward to riding him.
I finish up on Getabird in the Beginners’ Chase and going right-handed will definitely be a help to him. He schools well and seems to be in good form, so hopefully he can make a nice debut over fences.
It’s a bit different to Tornado Flyer making his debut over hurdles insofar with a beginners’ chase you’re hoping for them to jump around first and have a good experience. If he could go and win tomorrow, he might go for the new Grade 1 Novice Chase at Limerick over Christmas.
We have seven runners in Cork, for their Hilly Way Chase meeting, and we start off with Maze Runner in the juvenile hurdle. He was a bit frustrating on the flat, a bit in and out, and struggled to get his head in front until doing so on his last outing.
He is probably vulnerable to a decent three-year-old but he’s fit and well and has schooled well, so hopefully he won’t be far away.
Come To Me, who runs in the maiden hurdle, has been hard enough to train but the ground will be plenty soft enough so he’s going to take his chance. Castlebawn West ran very well in Clonmel on Thursday and Defy De Mee was just touched off last Saturday, which was a huge step up on his previous runs, so we think the horses are in really good form. Tornado Flyer and Come To Me are on a similar level of work so hopefully they’re just a little bit better than the other two and should be able to collect.
We have two in the Grade 3 novice hurdle and they’re hard enough to split. On ratings and taking into account the weight she receives, Pleasure Dome is marginally in front. She has earned her mark in handicaps, while Robin De Carlow earned hers through winning graded races.
Robin De Carlow’s mark is probably more open to improvement and Paul has won on her twice and is sticking with her here, but it must have been a tough call as both of them should go well.
The Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase looks a cracking race and we run Great Field, who has been off the track for a long time. He’s in great order, his schooling has been very good and it’s great to see him back on the track.
It’ll be a very interesting race as he and Special Tiara like to go forward and there will be no hiding place. With the two confirmed front-running two-milers, it will be difficult for the horses that want further to get on their feet and get travelling as they’ll be going a good bit faster than they’re used to going.
Camelia De Cotte runs in the Grade 3 Mares’ Novice Chase and Paul was brilliant on her the last day, in Clonmel. She slipped at the second fence and he did amazingly well to stay on her. She has improved through the season and I think the real soft ground will bring about more improvement. In fact, I think she wants it, and I think she can continue to improve through the season.
Eight And Bob runs in the finale. It was disappointing he got beaten the last day but the third horse, Fintown Boy, has won a couple of times since. The step up in trip might suit him and the only worry would be a Big Bad Bob on soft ground, but he will take his chance and hopefully go well.