I was originally set to partner what may well be the next superstar mare — Annie Power — but Willie Mullins just wasn’t happy with her yesterday morning.
Tarla is a great substitute to have, however, and will take all of the beating, both on form and ratings.
David Casey did the driving when she beat Rebel Fitz at Cork and you had to be impressed by that display.
She bucked out, made all and never flinched all the way up the long straight. She’s a smart sort and that bare form alone seems to give her an edge now.
Willie also runs Glens Melody and she chased home Annie Power at Fairyhouse. Glens was beaten 12 lengths, but there was little shame in that.
She is rated 13lbs below Tarla though, so has plenty to find. There are three other smart enough horses in the race also, but I have to be confident.
Willie hasn’t half set a poser in the other Grade 1 on the card, the Champion four-year-old Hurdle, by running no less than four.
It is hard enough at times deciding between two of Willie’s, but four takes it onto a new level. I’ve gone with Diakali, who is the highest rated in the race.
I thought he ran a cracker at Cheltenham when fourth behind Our Conor in the Triumph Hurdle.
Blood Cotil is a wonderful jumper and wasn’t disgraced in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham — sixth to Flaxen Flare.
There isn’t much between Djakadam and Dogora, who were second and third respectively behind One Fine Day at Fairyhouse, on ground that was too fast for both of them.
I could have got this totally wrong, but I like Diakali and just hope he can deliver the type pf performance of which he is capable.
My day begins on the frustrating Mikael d’Haguenet in a novice chase. All that matters with this horse is how quickly he can get from A to B.
He was third to Realt Mor at Fairyhouse last time, when his jumping in the early stages wasn’t good enough. Mikael will love the heavy ground, so that is a plus.
Willie’s other runner, Aupcharlie, is an obvious worry. In contrast to Mikael, he is a terrific jumper. Aupcharlie did run badly in the Jewson at Cheltenham, but if bouncing back from that is going to be hard enough to beat.
Another that needs to bounce back is On His Own, which I partner in a valuable three-mile plus handicap chase.
He fell at the 25th (Valentines) in the Grand National at Aintree and was struggling a bit at the time.
The nine-year-old has a big engine, as he proved last season when winning the Thyestes at Gowran Park by a street.
He has to carry top weight now and that certainly won’t be easy. At the end of the day much will depend on how he has come out of Aintree and what sort of mark that has left on him.
Willie runs three in another valuable contest — a 25-runner handicap hurdle — and only a real optimist will think this can be solved.
I’m on The Paparrazi Kid. He was too free at Naas and then last time, with that in mind, I got too far back at Fairyhouse. He stayed on to claim third and I’m just hoping for the best.
Looking back at the campaign overall, I have no complaints. I broke my ankle at Galway in July but have, touch wood, been injury-free ever since.
I’ve ridden about 150 winners, between Ireland and Britain, had lots of big days, enjoyed a great Cheltenham and an excellent Punchestown.
I have to say this has been a superb Punchestown and the highlight had to be the appearance of Sprinter Sacre on Tuesday.
When I was a kid, I stood at the fence past the stands watching the match between Dawn Run and Buck House at the track.
I also remember Desert Orchid winning the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and the excitement both of those days was incredible.
Sprinter Sacre was on a par with them and well done to Barry Geraghty, who certainly had a hand in the horse coming across.
Wasn’t Quevega magical? She’s mustard, a little diamond and if all of the world was as reliable as her living would be so simple.