I start on Irish Saint in a Grade 2 hurdle for juveniles and, basically, he is putting his Triumph credentials on the line. The bottom line is that he has to win to have any chance at the festival.
Irish Saint won at Auteuil and Kempton and then couldn’t hold Nicky Henderson’s Rolling Star at Cheltenham. Rolling Star, of course, was subsequently promoted to favouritism for the Triumph Hurdle. Irish Saint clearly has more than a life now, but I’m still not getting too carried away with him.
Grandioso won a modest handicap at Ludlow by 37 lengths and moves into Graded company for Paul Nicholls and I in the Pendil Chase.
He is improving, will appreciate the drying ground and, I’d say, will win if managing to finish in front of Molotof.
Lac Fontana does duty for us in the third Grade 2 of the afternoon, another hurdle. I rode him at Newbury, when we were second to a smart horse of Nicky’s, Chatterbox.
He is bound to improve both jumping and experience-wise and you’d have to think will go close, at worst.
Then it is Rolling Aces in what looks a fiercely competitive three-mile handicap chase. I liked this horse when we won at Newbury and he followed by scoring for Nick Scholfield at Wincanton.
Obviously, Rolling Aces has paid the penalty for those two successes and went up 19lbs. But he started off a low enough base anyway and, as a seven-year-old, has lots of scope for improvement. This is easily his stiffest test to date, but I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t run a cracker.
I finish aboard a horse I know absolutely nothing about, Black Cow, in the bumper, except that he is by Presenting.
Tomorrow, I’m off to Naas and punters are in for a real treat here with some big guns set to take each other on in a Grade 2 novice hurdle.
This is only a Grade 2 in name and is actually a proper Grade 1. Indeed, I’ve often ridden in far worse Grade 1’s.
Defy Logic, Don Cossack, Moscow Mannon and my horse, Annie Power, are four terrific talents, but something has to give.
Defy Logic has looked awesome so far and chances are will go a right gallop in front for A.P McCoy. That will be ideal for Don Cossack and it is more than a possibility the race will be run perfectly to suit him.
Moscow Mannon is trained by a shrewd operator in Brian Hamilton and is is a horse I’m definitely not going to underestimate.
and unbeaten in five races, three bumpers and two over flights.
I’m not confident she will be good enough to win, but am confident of a big run at the same time. I simply love Annie.
I’ll be disappointed should Mikael d’Haguenet fail to deliver in a novice chase. I think he’s a better horse travelling right-handed but. staying wide at Naas when the ground is bad is often the right course of action, so I’m not at all worried about that.
His jumping has been a problem in the past, but he was fine when winning by 12 lengths at Thurles and continues in good form at home.
Call The Police disappointed me a little when we won at Thurles last time, so I’m hoping for better in a conditions chase.
I was happier with him at Clonmel previously and whether we can now beat Days Hotel, I just don’t know.
in the first, a maiden hurdle. She’s owned by J P McManus and will be partnered by A.P.
Upsie won twice in France, will be suited by two miles and is more than capable of taking a race which looks short on quality.
I’ll be hoping to catch a glimpse of one of my possible Grand National mounts, Prince De Beauchene, in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse today. This is a decent contest, but I think he’ll win.
Willie runs Dogora, a horse I won on narrowly at Gowran Park, in the opener, a juvenile hurdle.
This has the making of a match between him and Stocktons Wing and Dogora, who is tough, might squeeze through.
Willie has a strong hand with Glens Melody and Tasitiocht in a mares’ hurdle and I wouldn’t have liked to make a decision between that pair.
The more the ground dries out the more you would fancy Willie’s Marasonnien in a beginners chase.
-, Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh spoke to racing correspondent Pat Keane about his hopes for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.
The conversation was captured on video and you can catch-up with Ruby’s thoughts by following this link.
In this interview, the rider encourages punters not to be put off by Hurricane Fly’s below-par performance in last season’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, insisting this year’s longer, slower build-up has the nine-year-old in great shape in his bid to become the first horse since Comedy Of Errors to regain the Champion Hurdle.
He also discusses the chances of his Gold Cup mount, Silviniaco Conti, while the unblemished career of novice hurdler Pont Alexandre, which he believes will be even better on good ground, is also discussed. Follow the link to hear Ruby’s thoughts.