More about that in a little while, but let’s start today with Newbury and the Totesport Trophy Handicap Hurdle.
This is a seriously wide-open contest, but what makes it particularly interesting is the fact Willie Mullins sends two over for the race, Final Approach and Sweet My Lord.
Davy Condon partners Final Approach and my sister, Katie, has been given the nod by Willie for Sweet My Lord.
The handicapper says there is just 5lbs between them and, I’d say, that’s a fair enough summing up of the situation.
Final Approach bolted away with the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown and there is a precedent for a five-year-old, namely Essex, winning that race and then going on to triumph at Newbury.
Sweet My Lord is totally unexposed and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility could be really nicely in.
The problem is a lack of experience and this will be his run in a handicap, which is always a problem.
Blood is thicker than water and, obviously, I will be cheering Katie on. But I can assure you it is not just sentiment that makes me think Sweet My Lord will be on the premises and you should have a little each-way on him.
Paul Nicholls runs Al Ferof in the opener, a novice hurdle, and he must go close. He was long odds-on when winning by 20 lengths at Taunton, but my worry now is that two miles could be on the short side.
Harry Skelton will surely have him near the front all the way and there won’t be much tactics involved.
Kid Cassidy is a dangerous opponent and, to my way of thinking, it is a question of whether he will outspeed Al Ferof in the closing stages.
I will be watching Paul’s Valentine Vic closely in the three mile plus handicap hurdle. This doesn’t seem overly competitive, but he has been off for 375 days.
Valentine Vic stays forever and the trip and track will suit him down to the ground. He shouldn’t be too far away.
You have got to feel that either Paul’s What A Friend or Nicky Henderson’s Riverside Theatre will win the Aon Chase.
I favour What A Friend, although Riversaide Theatre was second in the King George at Kempton to Long Run and has to be respected.
What A Friend disappointed behind Imperial Commander at Haydock in November, but Paul is happy with him now and feels he might be a live outsider for the Gold Cup.
Aiteen Thirtythree cannot be opposed in the three-runner novice chase. It will give him a second spin over fences, but won tell us much.
Paul’s Balding Banker can win the bumper and, in the process, reverse form with Persian Snow, who beat him Ascot.
Paul tells me has improved a fair bit since then and Balding Banker did subsequently win by ten lengths on this track.
No Cooldine, who has developed a wind problem and will need an operation, and no Pride Of Dulcote makes solving today’s Hennessy at Leopardstown only marginally easier.
Last week I intimated I wanted to sit on the fence and my thoughts have not changed sigificantly.
I feel the ground has gone for Kempes and, I suppose, Joncol is probably the one to beat. But, perhaps, Money Trix’s day has finally arrived and, gun to my head, I’ll just about side with him.
Paul Nicholls runs Indian Daudaie in the juvenile hurdle and the horse has spent the week with my dad.
Tony McCoy was due to ride him last Sunday, but stays in England and so, on my recommendation, Slippers Madden takes over.
I’ve seen Indian Daudaie over the last few days and he looks great and is very fit. He jumps and stays, will love the ground and I will be passing on Paul’s orders to Slippers.
Willie Mullins has thrown the cat among the pigeons by running Quel Esprit and Mikael D’Haguenent in the Moriarty Chase.
I still favour Mikael and just hope the real one turns up and not the horse who was so disappointing at Leopardstown at Christmas.
Two others of Willie’s I want to be with are Zaidpour, will relish the conditions, in the Deloite Novice Hurdle and Champagne Agent in the bumper.
Willie’s best at Navan tomorrow has to be Lios A Choill in a maiden hurdle, considering he was well clear when falling at the last at Thurles.
racing suffered the tragic loss of the talented Jack Tyner, when he died as a result of injuries suffered in a fall at a point-to-point at Dungarvan.
Everyone in our close-knit sport has been badly shaken and deeply saddened. I have ridden, successfully on occasions, for his father Robert and, although I did not know Jack personally, I certainly knew of him.
This was a youngster chasing his dream, of being a national hunt jockey, and making a great fist of the opportunities presented to him.
Jack, like me, was a trainer’s son and, with that, often arrive chances others mightn’t get. For people like us that can be the best start to adult life any parent can offer a son or daughter.
All Jack, the same as any jockey, wanted to do was to ride winners, to feel that special rush and thrill when you get it exactly right.
Robert and Mary Tyner were doing all they could to help Jack, helping him to be exactly what he wanted to be.
Racing has lost a fine young man, but, far more importantly, Robert and Mary have lost their wonderful son and his five sisters a great brother. Jack Tyner is gone now, but will never be forgotten.