No inquisition - Spanish-bred Alonso can make winning start

I have only two rides this afternoon and I start off on Alonso who will be the first Spanish-bred horse I've ever ridden. If I've ever ridden one before, I certainly don't recall it.

No inquisition - Spanish-bred Alonso can make winning start

He was bred in Spain but did his racing in France and is now owned by Graham and Andrea Wylie.

He's just a four-year-old and he’s making his debut for the stable but he’s been going very well at home, jumps nicely and starts over two and a half. He's not slow but he should stay and we think he's a nice horse. I'm going to be very honest - I'll be surprised if he doesn't win.

The danger is Davy Russell's mount, Aircraftman, a newcomer from Gigginstown. He could be anything, but I really, really like my horse and will be disappointed if we don't draw.

My other mount for the day is Vicky de l'Oasis, in the following mares' hurdle. She was very impressive on her hurdling debut at Galway, where she did things right - she settled well and jumped very well. She was very clean over them.

They were the EasyFix hurdles and this afternoon she’s over the contemporary ones, but that shouldn’t pose any problem.

It was a good performance at Galway and I'd be hopeful she can build on it. She is well in at the weights and she's the one to beat, but Mulleady might be the biggest danger.

I rode her at Gowran on her comeback a few weeks ago and she went well for a very long way before getting tired. She should be better for that and looks the best each-way option.

I only have the two rides but I'd be hoping the two of them might win.

I'll be back in Wexford tomorrow for one ride, on Laganbank in the listed chase over two and three-quarter miles.

He did win a beginners' chase over two and a half and, with the way he kept going behind Sizing Europe over that trip last time out, you'd be hopeful he'll stay.

He seems to be in pretty good order at home but the one thing he wouldn't want is rain.

He's by Norwich and all his good form is on dry ground. I think that's why we're going to Wexford - although there's plenty of rain forecast for the country, the sunny southeast is expected to be the driest place and hopefully the forecast is right.

Dad runs a nice horse, called Foxrock, in Galway tomorrow. Barry Connell owns him and he's having his first run over fences.

He's in a winner's race and Shrapnel looks like he'll take all the beating, but I think Foxrock is a right horse, is progressive and he might one to keep an eye on throughout the winter months.

Obviously Danny Mullins is retained rider to Barry but I gave him a pop over fences the other morning and he does jump very well.

It’s a quiet weekend but we had a very busy week and Willie’s horses are only beginning to get going. Renneti was very impressive at Down Royal last week. He's only a four-year-old and I'll be disappointed if he can't add two or even three more hurdles to his haul for the winter.

On Tuesday we were on the Curragh and Hurricane Fly did his first serious bit of work, as did Sir Des Champs. We had 25 in total and I’d imagine we’ll have 25 more next Tuesday.

We have a lot of new horses and things are really ramping up. The screw is being turned and we’re getting ready to go.

On Monday, the first of what we call ‘the winter horses’ will be out. Twinlight and Upsie are entered and hopefully they might run at Naas.

Lucky Bridle and Sure Reef are both in the maiden hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday. They’re two very nice horses and if either of them runs, they’ll be hard enough to beat.

Down Royal is next weekend we’ll have a couple for there but the big ones probably aren’t ready to be competitive in that Grade 1 race. We’ll be there without being overly competitive.

I’d imagine Willie will be in Australia the following Tuesday with Simenon for the Melbourne Cup and when he gets back from there it will be all systems go.

Timing is everything

When you look at Champions Day at Ascot last weekend, which had no Frankel, the crowd was down 12,000.

I’m a firm believer in tradition but time does play a big part and I’m not sure it is the right time for that meeting.

England has the Guineas in May, the Derby in early June and Royal Ascot shortly afterwards. Then you have the King George and Glorious Goodwood. Traditionally, they have the early season and summer races but when it gets to the autumn, the focus moves to races elsewhere.

Where it is now, Champions Day is caught between the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders’ Cup, and then you have races like the Japan Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the big day in Hong Kong also coming up.

I wasn’t riding last Saturday and so I sat down to watch it but I wouldn’t have made the effort if I had been riding.

The English racing authorities are putting prestigious races with huge prizemoney into this meeting but they’re running it at the wrong time.

Horse Racing Ireland have moved next year’s Champion Stakes to twin it with the Leger in order to make a big weekend (Leopardstown on Saturday and the Curragh on Sunday) and I think that’s a great idea and something which will work.

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