I really will be over the moon if sixpence can land big one

I’ll be pleasantly surprised should I manage to win the Kerry National at Listowel today.

I partner Themoonandsixpence for Willie Mullins and it certainly requires a leap of faith to think him capable of delivering.

It’s not that Themoonandsixpence isn’t a talented horse, he is, but there are two factors that are going to work against him.

Firstly, there’s the little matter of not having run for a massive 784 days. The nine-year-old hasn’t been seen since finishing second to Finger Onthe Pulse in the Galway Plate of 2010.

He has done plenty of work and will not want for fitness but, even trained by Willie, he faces an uphill task.

The other consideration, of course, is the ground, which has been horrible all week, very deep and testing.

Themoonandsixpence likes a decent surface and we can say with absolute certainty he is not going to get that.

The weights going up 14lbs means that Casey Top moves to the top of the handicap, having run a cracker in this year’s Galway Plate when second to Bob Lingo.

But there is only 19lbs between first and last and his task is far from insurmountable.

Casey Top is, arguably, the form horse and I won this on a top weight called Euro Leader.

Alpine Eagle finished fifth in the Galway Plate, but even Tony McCoy will struggle to get him to stay the trip.

That’s a remark I would also apply to Fosters Cross. He’s been in good form of late, but simply won’t stay as far as I’m concerned.

Start Me Up has a life. I rode him one day at Navan, liked the horse and he is one I definitely want on my short list.

David Pipe brings Premier Dane across from England and he is seeking a four-timer, having won at Newton Abbot, Stratford and Market Rasen. But I believe they were ordinary enough contests and this represents a far stiffer test.

Pat Hughes’ Caduceus is interesting, having won at Punchestown and Fairyhouse. But they are big galloping tracks and it remains to be seen how suited to Listowel he will be.

Wellforth is on the upgrade and Ponmeoath has won the race twice, although now getting rather long in the tooth.

I’m obviously hoping Themoonandsixpence can deliver and overcome everything that is against him.

You’d imagine, however, that it won’t happen and so, if you put a gun to my head, I’d probably want to be with Start Me Up.

My day begins aboard Letherbelucky in a two and a half mile novice hurdle. She hasn’t run since finishing second to Tugboat at the Galway festival.

Things didn’t really work out then, because she was mangled at the first bend, got the fright of her life and we were always in the wrong place afterwards.

She is in great form right now and I expect her to go well, but the ground really is an imponderable.

I ride Askmeroe for Tony Martin in a handicap chase and it is hard enough to make a case for him as well.

He jumps and stays and will handle the ground, a real plus. But he just doesn’t win very often and has his share of weight.

I end on Pique Sous in a maiden hurdle. A very smart bumper horse, it has to be said he was most disappointing when getting beaten on his debut over flights at Cork.

Pique Sous is good, but highly-strung and needs to calm down and relax before he can realise his potential.

I’m hoping he can win, but fear he may just need time and experience to fully learn his trade.

As I’m sure you know I only returned to action at Listowel on Sunday and it was great to be back.

My main ambition for the season is to stay in one piece, but that is very much in the lap of the gods.

I normally give a nap and a double at the end of this column, but am going to resist doing that on this occasion, because I’m just not strong on anything and don’t want to lead people astray.

I do think, though, that Willie has some very decent novice chasers to come in the next few weeks and want to recommend one of them, Back In Focus, here tomorrow. I expect him to do the business.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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