I have fancied Willie Mullins’ mare for the race since I rode her to finish second at the Punchestown festival in early May.
As I am sure you are all well aware by now, I took a fall off Michael Hourigan’s Friendly Society at the first hurdle at Killarney on July 12.
The following day I went to the hospital in Cork and was diagnosed as having two crushed vertebrae and damage to a ligament.
The vertebrae are no real problem, but the ligament is. The ligament is not like a bone, you just don’t know when it will heal.
I could be out for another four weeks, six weeks, even eight weeks, whatever. It is simply a case of patience being a virtue and waiting to get the all-clear to return.
People probably wonder how I’m coping, but truth to tell I’m almost used to it at this stage. I’m working for RTE today and tomorrow and have been busying myself at home.
I won’t be winning any races in the near future, but maybe I’ll get house-dad of the year!
The dream of partnering Blazing Tempo is now gone and Paul Townend, who has just returned after nearly a three months absence through injury, takes over.
I believe there is every possibility it will prove a dream comeback for Paul. My one worry, regarding Blazing Tempo, was quick ground, but the surface has looked beautiful at Galway this week and that should not be a problem.
Her performance at Punchestown speaks for itself. She ran the race of her life to be second to Wishfull Thinking and that represents high-class form.
My opinion is that Wishfull Thinking was the best novice in Britain and Ireland last season. I’m aware he got beaten by Noble Prince at Cheltenham, but improved plenty when going to Aintree subsequently and again at Punchestown.
I will go so far as to say that Wishfull Thinking will be in no way out of place in the King George against Long Run and Master Minded.
Willie runs a couple of others, Scotsirish and Hampshire Express. Scotsirish will appreciate the ground, but I doubt his ability to concede weight all around.
Hampshire Express is as tough as nails and will fly up the hill. He does, however, seem safely held by Blazing Tempo on their running at Punchestown.
Majestic Concorde has his share of weight and is a thorough stayer, but lacks the tactical speed required for this test.
Paul Nicholls brings across Rebel Du Marquis and he has surprised both of us a little. But he’s rated at 153 and I just don’t think is actually as good as that.
David Pipe’s Quilton bolted in at Market Rasen. Pipe is a bit of a genius and didn’t lick it off the ground! I watched that contest, however, and concluded it was a weak heat and a 12lbs penalty is no help.
I don’t overly fancy Bahrain Storm, on the basis he made heavy weather of winning at Killarney.
People say the trip was too short, but that should not have been the case for a former winner of the Galway Hurdle.
I don’t fancy Nicky Henderson’s Aigle d’Or either. He won’t like the course and is much more suited to a flat track.
John Kiely runs two, Wise Old Owl and Head Of The Posse. You have to respect both, because Kiely more than knows the time of day and his horses are rarely making up the numbers.
I give Dr Whizz a life off bottom weight. His trainer, Tom Mullins, won the big one here on Monday with Fosters Cross and Dr Whizz impressed me at Punchestown.
I am a firm believer that winter form is always far superior to summer form. Blazing Tempo is a winter mare, on the upgrade, and will more than do for me.
Elsewhere, I want to be with my father’s Royal Reveille and Corrick Bridge in a pair of handicap hurdles.
I won a moderate race on Royal Reveille at Roscommon, but he stays and will like the track.
Corrick Bridge broke my leg at Down Royal on James Nicholson afternoon, but I won’t hold that against him. He’s another who stays really well.
I fancy Captain Cee Be in tomorrow’s Hurdle. I know he only beat The Real Article a short head in that contest at Tipperary and will be 23lbs worse in.
But Captain Cee Bee will strip fitter now and is a class act. I cannot see any other horse in the contest who would be capable of winning a Supreme Novices at Cheltenham, a Grade 1 over hurdles, and finish third in a two-mile Champion Chase. Captain Cee Bee has achieved all of that.
I don’t care what The Real Article has in hand, in theory, I still want to be with Captain Cee Bee.