It’s a wide open contest and, quite honestly, if he finishes in the first three I’ll be delighted. Fistral Beach was second five times in-row, prior to winning here, but is in no way ungenuine. He has just been meeting horses who were better than him.
This is a decent race, with some very useful sorts involved, and is an entirely different ball-game to the contest he won last month.
To my way of thinking a career-best performance will be required. I will be riding him handy and it is simply a case of whether he will be able to keep going or not.
I know you won’t get rich backing The Nightingale in the Grade 2 novice chase. I can’t do anything about his price, but will be disappointed if he fails to win.
He scored by 16 lengths at Fontwell and it was a really good start over fences and to the campaign, after he came back into training quite late.
It was an ordinary heat at Fontwell, but he jumped brilliantly and you could not fault him. He’s straightforward to ride and this is a good pot.
River D’or tries again in a handicap hurdle. I felt he might win at Doncaster, but we trailed in a less than satisfactory seventh.
On reflection I rode the horse too far back and will certainly be making more use of him now. I haven’t given up and expect he will at least do better than Doncaster.
Escort’men is another on a bit of a retrieving mission in a hot looking Grade 2 novice hurdle. Ex-French, he fell at the first at Taunton and, if getting to the second now, that will represent improvement!
I’m on Toubab in the juvenile hurdle and he is another whose chance is hardly obvious, especially with Triumph Hurdle favourite, Mille Chief, in the field.
He was only fifth at Taunton, pulling far too hard for his own good. If failing to settle now, he may as well stay in the parade ring!
Oracle Des Mottes runs in a handicap chase and is what he is, an 11-year-old with no scope for improvement. He has his share of weight, 11-12, but is well capable of a big run, as he loves to travel right-handed.
Ballagio, owned by John Hales and by Beneficial, makes his debut in the Bumper. Nicky Henderson seems to win most bumpers in England and much will depend on what his first-timer, Morcambe, is like.
What I can tell you about my lad, anyway, is they like him in Paul Nicholls’, that he is doing things well at home and is heading in the right direction.
I have every chance of getting away to the ideal start at Leopardstown tomorrow aboard King Of The Refs for Tony Martin in a maiden hurdle.
This doesn’t appears to be the best of races for this track and King Of The Refs, who won a point-to-point, did run with promise when fourth to Stonemaster at Punchestown.
I’d be no more than hopeful about Beau Michael’s prospects in the conditions hurdle. A very good four-year-old, he did me proud one day at Limerick, but has struggled of late and needs to improve to take a hand.
The 20-runner handicap hurdle could hardly be more competitive, but I have a real chance on Tarkari, who ran a cracker when fourth to Puyol in the MCR Hurdle on this track.
Can the frustrating Cadspeed leave a serious bout of seconditis behind him in a maiden hurdle? He has now managed to fill the runner-up spot in his last four races.
Just like Fistral Beach, I do not think he’s ungenuine, he’s simply one-paced. As well as that, Cadspeed has been beaten by alright horses, so we will give it another go.
Citizen Vic, who won the Grade 1 Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown, drops down in class and distance in a novice chase. In theory, two miles and a furlong is short of his best, but he is not short of speed.
Major Finnegan is in the race and my worry is that he will take us on from the start and we will cut each others throats. My fellow is a big, free-going type and it wouldn’t be easy to get him anchored.
Snowy Morning is consistent, has been knocking on the door for a while and now takes his chance in the Grade 2 chase. Bottom line, I’d say, is if we finish in front of Tranquil Sea then we’ll win.
A word about Mikael D’Haguenet, who has been on the easy-list all season, but schooled at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.
I rode and we went around a full circuit, a mile and an half, with Barker. He jumped and felt great and I was happy with him.
It was just a pity, however, he wasn’t able to do that last November. I will schooll him again at Leopardstown tomorrow. If he is to go to Cheltenham it will now have to be without an outing.
People will say that’s an impossibility, winning at the Festival I mean, but nothing is impossible to Mikael. We will know a lot more after Leopardstown.
On Monday I’m off to Hereford to ride Montan in a handicap hurdle for Tony Martin. He’s only 2lbs higher over there, compared to here, and let’s just say we’re not going for the fresh air!